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nomads away day to barry (cold knap) - oct 2001

Saturday night and Michael Fish proclaimed - Oh yea Oh yea there will be wind on the Morrow. So I and a number of other trusting Souls / Nomads seduced by his honeyed words, set off for Cold Knap early-ish on Sunday morning.

He also promised rain and sure enough just as I started loading the kit in & on the motor, down it came. Getting me nicely soaked just before setting off to the land of somebody else's father. Still the motorway was empty with no hold ups except for a five minute delay in the toll queue stuck behind the guy who firstly can't find his wallet then drops his money all over the road. Why do I always pick the slow queue ??.

When approaching Cardiff I spot a loaded windsurfing trailer, and drawing up alongside, discover Gerry and Chris pulling it; with the aid of their motor of course. We then form a small Nomads convoy and head towards Barry, and, after only taking the wrong turning once (My fault I was dreaming) duly arrived at Cold Knap. It's was the first time I have been to Cold Knap and the first impression is one of greyness. A steep dusty hill covered in scrub bushes behind a long thin grey concrete car park that joins a grey deeply sloping pebble beach that in turn meets a grey sea, and all of this under a grey cloudy sky, spitting the occasional drop of rain. - Made me think of Barbados. Enviously, not comparatively.

We stand at the top of the steep pebble beach & test the wind - feels ok - a mild amount of trouser flap, on the Tony Low scale of wind strength. Look down on the water from on high and see numerous dark & light scattered patches on the water as the wind gusts and lulls over its surface. Looks like its going to be one of those days. The wind direction is southerly which for Cold Knap is directly onshore. A brief chat to a couple of locals who are rigging 6 mtr sails and tell us this is an unusual wind direction. The norm is southwesterly which is cross onshore & has you sailing out on starboard tack (eastwards). We are also warned about the rip that pulls you round the headland to the east if you get too close - unlikely today, as due to the wind direction we will be sailing out in the opposite direction i.e. port tack (to westward).

An excursion to the waters edge follows - not so windy down there (there is nothing like a steep beach to accelerate the wind and make you think there is more than there really is). Typical Bristol Channel conditions - tightly spaced erratically broken waves with plenty of lumps & bumps. So although the wind is light & gusty, the water conditions are not the best for large boards. The two local test pilots return with news that they are under-powered with 6's.

So that's it - we have all the information available - It's decision time!
I opt for the biggest sail practical with a short board (7 mtrs on a 278 Gecko).

Similar choices were being made all around dependant upon kit availability & sailing ability Tony Low leisurely rigged up the biggest sail he had brought - a 5.3 and in a confident manner announced he would wait until the wind picked up - he was sure it would - hadn't Michael Fish promised him ??? All around, Nomads and locals were in the various stags of rigging, the sails adding a bit of colour to a grey beach on a grey day. Neil Bass had the dubious accolade of the 1st wet Nomad that day, beating yours truly to the water by a few minutes.

Out on the water and it's time to experience the joys of sailing upwind through the shore break in a marginal wind full of dirty great big holes. I manage however to clear the breaking waves, but it's one of those occasions when, no sooner do find a gust & get on the plane, then the hole appears and you start wallowing. In the midst of all the ups, downs and wipe-outs the wind managed to just hold for a couple or three pleasant runs out & back.

Back for a breather and coffee and by now a bevy of nomads, (Mike and Peirette Simmons, Gerry and Chris Sanders, Al Donald, Keith Shepherd, Carl Edgar & Dave Morgan), were out playing with the waves enjoying the experience of being battered by the shore break whilst waiting for a sustained gust. Some making it through others not. Scrabble to the top of the beach - it was far easier going down, then grab a coffee & have a bit of a wander and chat. Tony Low was a little dejected now, an hour or so has passed since he rigged up and the wind strength had still not increased - but of course there was still time - some windsurfers are just born optimists.

Ian & Neroli, Steve & Viv had arrived and were busy rigging up / surveying the situation. Carl Edgar was out sailing with his new J.P. board that he had brought out to play. We were also joined by an old member we haven't seen for a long time, Pete Robinson and a new member Dave Morgan - hi Dave & Welcome.

So after a very pleasant time wandering around, chatting and giving sustenance to the inner man, it's back to the business of getting wet. A gaggle of surfers had arrived and were on the water showing off their stuff, and I soon found out why - The wind had dropped and the waves had grown. So if I found it a pain to get out before my break, I found it bloody difficult to get out now. But always game for battle with the elements, it's try, try & try again, but this time I can find no sustained gust to pull me through the now larger then before shore break. So it's an hour or so of waiting for the gust, jumping quickly on to the board, perhaps managing to crest a few breakers, before being hit by a complete absence of wind at the same time as a breaker and sh…t - wiped out again. Sailors with a greater skill quotient of course could and did get out, but only just, so I didn't feel too bad. The conditions were ideal for one thing and that duly happened. After wiping out yet again, this time losing grip on the rig, and so not able to stop board & rig going through the rinse cycle - I picked up the kit to find a full flow ventilation system installed in the lower panel of my sail courtesy of the shore break.

I was not the only one. Throughout the day Cold Knap had certainly not been very friendly to us Nomads:

  • Gerry holed and pushed a batton through on his Retro.

  • Steve cut his arm and discovered some stitching parting in the sail he had borrowed from Viv.

  • Al Donald suffered the worst - with a broken mast

  • Neil had a UJ pin shear.

  • Keith broke a batten.

  • Poor Tony and Pete didn't even get a sail.

With the tide coming in and reaching the pebble bank, the sailing finished relatively early, I rounded the day of by removing the front foot straps and practised surfing on the Gecko. All in all an Interesting sort of day - The sailing wasn't the greatest, breakage's high, but a new location visited and its details logged in the data bank for future use. And an experience shared with pleasant and affable company. So bring on the next away day - Oh and can we have a windy one next, - please Michael Fish?

Brian Derrick

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