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Daymer Bay, 21st/22nd June 2003.

The portents were not good for the weekend – Sunday was Rosie’s birthday and the forecast didn’t look very promising either. But having missed this trip for the past 3 years I decided to risk the great loss of Brownie points and go for it.

The Thursday social evening at the Swan showed that possibly ten people were going. Nice pint of Greene King IPA as well.

Since I now finish work on Fridays at 1 p.m. I decided to go down on Friday afternoon. Not being renowned for my fast packing I eventually left at about 3 p.m. Got down as far as Bridgwater when a car pulled alongside with the passenger waving and pointing at my roof rack. Looking up I saw that my sail bag was not quite as on top of the car as it should be so had to make an unscheduled stop at Sedgemoor Services to tie everything on again. It took me ‘til the end of the weekend to remember that I usually put a couple of roof rack foamy type things under the sail bag to stop this – lack of packing practice.

Arrived at South Winds campsite, just outside Polzeath, at about 6 p.m. Quite a bit of traffic and stopping for food and petrol made for a slow journey. The campsite was nearly empty, only a couple of families, but I assumed it would fill up for the weekend. The campsite policy was to prove quite interesting. I paid for 2 nights and then sorted out the tent etc. Part of the reason for going down early was so that I wouldn’t have to put my tent up on Saturday evening after a day’s windsurfing. Phoned Ian and Neroli to see if they’d be arriving soon but they were going to drive down later and stop on the way. Also phoned Gerry because disposable bar-b-qs weren’t allowed on the campsite – a wise precaution - and we had thought of bar-b-q’ing on Saturday night. Gerry also said Steve and Viv weren’t going to make it because Viv had suddenly been told that she had to be in Brazil for a Monday morning meeting. Then went for a walk down into Polzeath. Loads of surfers still out at 9 p.m. Checked out where the two pubs were – might be needed for Saturday night. The Oyster Catcher had been tarted up since my last trip and looked even more to be avoided.

Back at the camp site another two windsurfers had arrived. They weren’t from the Nomads but one of them did originate from Iron Acton (!). They couldn’t stay at the campsites in Polzeath because they had a dog but thought they’d be all right on this site. The next day they found they couldn’t stay another night here either since they were expecting friends and so would become a group, which weren’t allowed. You get the feel of the camp site?

Next morning there wasn’t much wind. Since I was awake early I had breakfast and then headed for Daymer Bay. Got to the car park about 8:30 a.m. to find myself second in a queue behind a familiar van. Ian and Neroli had been there for an hour and a half already. Why wasn’t the car park open? They’d put off cooking breakfast assuming it would be open soon.

Settled down in the van with a welcome cup of coffee, a demonstration of the interior fittings and a slide show of Moon Beach photos. By 9 the lane was rather blocked with queuing cars because the car park was still locked.

Just before 10:00 the gate was opened by someone who was just passing by and happened to have a key, but unfortunately someone else then also arrived to collect money. Breakfast had just started to be cooked. We parked up overlooking beach, breakfast continued, and we thought that there wasn’t much wind. I then spotted Andy at the top of the steps, doing the “well, where are they all then?” bit. His B&B breakfast had been excellent so sinking was to be expected. So we stood and chatted a bit more.

Chris and Gerry, Phil and Judy, and Al then all turned up together. Judy said that Phil had packed everything just in case. Bit more chatting. Then the herd instinct took over and we all started carrying windsurfing stuff down to the beach and started rigging up. Big boards and big sails were the order of the day. Phil then found he was missing something - the big sail was still at home!

Someone was then spotted planing. How could this be? The wind had got up. It was blowing a south easterly and we realised that we were standing in a large wind shadow. In fact there were two. One at the top of the beach and in the car park, and one a bit further out on the water caused by the big hill to the south of the beach. But the wind was picking up so everyone speeded up.

What followed was an unexpected excellent days sailing – the forecast was wrong again, except for the direction. The wind blew, the sun shone and we weren’t dreaming.

The wind shadow from the hill gave some interesting effects. Launching from the beach, the wind was blowing well and you planed out, heading SW, until hitting the wind shadow from the hill. Plodded through the wind shadow and then hit the wind again which was bending round the hill and planed off again heading almost East. The wind was also gusty.

We had a few interesting happenings during the day. I saw that Chris had been in the water for rather a long time and went over to see if she was all right. She was - just stuck in the wind shadow and slowly drifting out of it. Next Al was asked to help right a capsized catamaran. The two crew just couldn’t quite manage it. What would’ve happened if a trusty Nomad hadn’t passed by? So Al abandoned his kit, which I then hung onto, and sorted them out. Then, for the after lunch entertainment, Gerry towed in the girl from Iron Acton, after the wind had dropped a bit and she found her board and sail were a bit too small.

We sailed until the tide went out too far and the wind dropped off. This was my first sail for quite a while so of course I ended up with the usual painful hole in the hand. It was an effort lugging boards and sails back up the beach. We’d all packed up by about 5 p.m. Judy and Andy reported that Polzeath was packed, loads of surfers out and some sort of wave canoeing competition. So we decided to give Polzeath a miss and to meet at a pub in Port Isaac for food. Neroli, being organised, rang up and booked a table. Ian, Neroli and I headed for the campsite, while the others headed for B&Bs.

It was interesting at the campsite. The van was deemed to be a bit big – Ian said it was smaller with the doors closed - and it wasn’t parked quite in the right place. It was vaguely near an electrical hook up – none of the other electrical hook ups were being used – so had to be moved a bit. We succeeded in not looking like a group and not being in possession of disposable bar-b-q’s. Then the showers cost 50p. I think Ian was close to leaving. But anyway we were ready quite quickly - no tent putting up to be done – apart from tea and biscuits just to keep us going. I was persuaded to drive to the pub, a most unusual occurrence, because the roads in Port Isaac are pretty narrow and Ian’s van is pretty big.

When we reached the pub we couldn’t park so it was back up the narrow road, back up the hill, to park on the seafront. Here we met all the others including a red faced Andy who’d forgotten to do the sun tan cream bit earlier on in the day. We found our table (reserved for Lake!) and started on the beer and menus. The food was good and so was the Doom Bar bitter (and the orange juice and lemonade).

After food we headed back to the campsite and then walked down into Polzeath. This was a special concession to the drivers so that they could have headaches the next morning as well. We met the B&B’ers on the way in and continued down the hill to the beach and up the hill on the other side. Lots of muttering about this being a bl**dy long walk. We gave the Oyster Catcher a miss and had to walk further to Carters at the top of the hill. But we were rewarded with more Doom Bar. The pub had been done up since I was last there and was very busy. We left when it shut. Then we had the long walk all the way back down the hill to the beach and all the way up the hill on the other side. It was very dark on the last bit back to the campsite but luckily not many nutters came speeding out of Polzeath. At the campsite it was very windy and the tent was flapping away. Doesn’t make for a peaceful nights sleep.

Woke up Sunday morning to notice it was very peaceful – no flapping tent – no wind. Packed tent etc. up and headed down to the shop in Polzeath for some milk so that I could then head for the car park for breakfast. Ian and Neroli stayed at the campsite to cook breakfast assuming that the car park would still be locked. It was. But it was opened shortly after 9 so I did have breakfast overlooking the beach.

Soon everyone else appeared and we were also joined by Martin and Jeremy. This time the impression of wind in the car park matched the wind on the beach and on the water – not a lot. Ian reported 8 m.p.h. at the waters edge. The sun was out and it was very warm and pleasant. So it was coffees all round and much talking. There were a few trips down to the beach and back just to make sure we weren’t missing anything.

One such trip turned into a walk round to Rock. On the way there we went round the hill and on the way back we came over the hill. We didn’t quite make it all the way into Rock but stopped at the ferry. Coming back over the hill was Chris’s idea – it was a steep climb. When we got back Martin was out on the water having decided that this was what he’d driven 3 hours for. Ian decided to have a try as well. Around lunchtime the clouds started building up and it looked as though the forecast of thundery showers might be right. The wind picked up for nanosecond or two which allowed Ian to get planing for the length of the beach. Then it started raining and thunder rumbled a couple of times so windsurfing stopped for the day. The wind totally disappeared with the rain. Most of us were watching all this from the comfort of Ian and Neroli’s van, whilst depleting their stock of tea and coffee.

I’m sure Martin and Jeremy were fairly fed up with the lack of sailing, having driven so far and having to put up with the rest of us saying “You should’ve been here yesterday”.

By about 2 p.m. most people were ready for or had started the journey home. I left about 3. Plenty of rain and thunder on the way home, which made for a slow journey all the way home. But arrived in time for tea – micro-waved curry from lunchtime(yum, yum). The door fell off the fridge. Unloaded the car and just dumped everything in the garage. Had shower, had beer, went to bed very tired.

Was it worth all that driving? What’s a days planing conditions worth?

Those who made the long trip:-
Keith Shepherd, Ian Long, Neroli Blake, Gerry and Chris Sanders, Phil and Judy Baker, Al Donald, Andy ???????, Martin Payne, Jeremy Diamond

Keith Shepherd

P.S. Have had to invest in a new fridge which has somewhat depleted funds I’d thought of using for much more interesting things.

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