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nomads half-term week to w wales, oct '98

Part 1:

Saturday

It was Saturday morning - the beginning of half term week. Rosemary and the two boys were off to stay at Granny's, having turned down the chance of staying in a caravan at the end of October - this was later deemed to have been a good move. Things were fairly chaotic. Me trying to throw windsurfing things and rapidly packed bags into/onto my car. Rosemary trying to load bags and boys into her car. The weather looked "interesting". Floods in Wales and motorists advised to make journeys only if absolutely necessary. Well Martin had said he was heading off early and there was a chance of windsurfing - so it was necessary. Eventually we left.

I headed across into deepest Wales. It was VERY wet and windy. 30 m.p.h. signs through Cardiff and Swansea. Torrential rain. By the end of the motorway it was clearing up but still very windy. Eventually I found Nolton Cross caravan site - without getting lost - just a very slow journey - 3 hours. I'd arrived before Martin so had to explain to the lady at reception who I was. Because the grass was very water logged we got an upgrade to a bigger caravan - it was nearer to the tarmac. Opening the caravan door in a force 8 was difficult. If you got your footing wrong you went flying back with the door - similar to catapulting. It would get harder. A quick explanation of where everything was and then she was off. Could I manage to unload the car and get back into the caravan without getting blown away? Well, yes. Martin turned up just after I'd finished. He very gallantly let me have the double bed because of my height disability. It does not pay to be tall as far as caravan beds are concerned. My feet still stuck out of the end. I'm not quite sure how Martin managed to sleep in the other bedroom even though he did have the choice of three small beds.

Mike and Pierette's trailer was at the site but there was no sign of them.

We decided to go and have a look round the beaches with Martin's windsurfing trailer on the back just in case (ha,ha). First Newgale. The waves were huge - for England anyway. Out came the anemometer. Force 8 or so. Windsurfing I don't think. Then on to Broad Haven. Here we find Adrian and his wife - well we find his wife. Adrian is out in the waves somewhere on a 3.3m handkerchief. (By the way it's been used 3 times now). Mike and Pierrette have been and gone. Would we like a cup of tea? Most certainly. Just measure the wind strength first. Gusting a force 9. Dale next. Here it was offshore, whipping spray off very short chop and trying to blow us in. A group of people were standing, rather helplessly, trying to remove a dinghy from a lamppost.

Next back to Broad Haven to try and find Phil and Judy's caravan. It was now dark. Martin knew the number but not the location and had to demonstrate that he was pretty good at trailer manoeuvres. A quick visit and then back to our caravan. Mike and Pierette had been back because their trailer had now gone - or else it had been blown away. By now the caravan was shaking and it took both of us to hang on to the door. Due to a feeling of impending disaster it was decided to head for a more solid building - otherwise known as the Galleon at Broad Haven. We blew in through the back door. Two pints of 6X, a steak and guinness pudding for me and a sandwich for Martin. I never got my meal. The power went off. We both ended up with sandwiches. Fortunately hand pumps don't need electricity. All the doors of the pub were now locked because of the wind so we had to ask to be let out (a likely story).

Not a very good nights sleep in the vibrating caravan. The shipping forecast had said gusting storm force 10 during the night.

Sunday.

The clocks had gone back. The wind had dropped. Only a 5 or 6 now. Rather a slow breakfast but we eventually leave and go down to Broad Haven. Here we eventually meet Mike and Pierrette who'd spent the night in a more sheltered lay-by. We watched two guys go out on 4.3 and 4.5 sails. They were under powered. Out with the anemometers. Can anyone join this club? Force 4 to 6 directly onshore. My finger said it was windy. A bit more discussion. Why is it this part takes so long? Do we all need to convince ourselves that this is a good idea? Must be the fear of the first dunking or chasing flapping things round windy car parks.

5m sails were the choice and things got under way. Phil had now arrived. Pierrette decided to watch. By the time we were rigged up and down on the beach the water had receded another couple of hundred yards. Then it was out to play in the sea. Waves plus onshore wind - I never made it past the shore break. Mike and Phil had the same problem. Falling off, getting the sail back up out of the water, swinging the board round, all before the next wave got you was exhausting. Martin fared a lot better - must have done this before - but admitted he didn't know what he'd have done if he'd got past the shore break. There were some big lumps out back. Adrian shot off out the back and seemed to remain there all day. Pierette had actually got wet - body boarding - reported as excellent fun.

Casualties of the day :-

Phil - one mast extension - "It's ok. I've still got two to go".

Martin - foot through sail - temporarily fixed with a mega supply of stickers from Haven Sports.

Six of us met that evening - once again in the Galleon. This time I got my Steak & Guinness pudding. Mike had one as well. It was a heavy duty meal. Those who had the Fish Pie commented on the lack of it's main ingredient. The 6X went down well again. One irate customer, fed up with the draught, made the quote of the night, extremely loudly. "Who's left that %*$#ing door open again?" Unfortunately it was the chef. He got a bit upset about this. The pub went very quiet for a while.

Back to our caravan once again. Mike and Pierette came in for a nightcap. They admired our wetsuit drying arrangements. We were chatting away when the power went off again. No candles in the caravan. Fortunately gas fires give out quite a good light.

Monday.

The power was back on. The wind was the same - this may have accounted for a very slow breakfast - the thought of the shore break once again. We eventually met up again at Broad Haven. Me, Martin, Phil and Judy, Mike and Pierette. Everyone who was in the water yesterday is suffering from wobbly insides. Was it the water or the 6X? Mike and Pierette decide not to sail and head off home. Three of us decide to sail. There is then a major dithering session - Dale or Broad Haven? In the end Broad Haven is the choice simply because we're already there. 5m sails again. The wind is not as strong and more gusty than yesterday, and still straight onshore. A 5m was ok in the gusts. The sailing was better - maybe we'd learnt something. I managed the whole length of the beach - once. This wave stuff makes you feel like a beginner again.

The stickers fell off Martins sail so he changed up to a 5.5m - he could now fall off faster. Phil seemed to be doing much better. He certainly stayed out the longest. We weren't really sure that Dale wouldn't have been better.

Mondays casualties - Phil - mast extension very firmly stuck in mast (he still had one to go). But with the judicious use of the downhaul, a boom and a Pembrokeshire County bottle bank, the problem was solved. There was a lot of sand in there.

Back to the caravan, quickish shower, then, funnily enough, back to the Galleon for beer and food. Phil and Judy obviously decided to stay in because they didn't appear. By the time we returned to the caravan the wind had picked up again and the caravan was once again shaking. We both slept badly. Gale force winds and rain drumming on the roof.

Tuesday

Morning: Breakfast TV weather ( all mod cons here) showed 30 m.p.h. wind and gales for the day and more tomorrow. I decided to head back home, thus saving a days holiday. This left Martin on his own for the day with the promise/threat of Tony Lowe's presence the next day. It had been a truly windy time. Pity it was onshore. I was extremely glad I'd been sailing with my ding- proof Hi-Fly, non mono-film North Sail(3rd or 4th hand from a car boot sale), and 100% epoxy mast. I think I'd like to go again next year.

Someone else will have to continue from here.

(Rosemary has corrected this and says the grammer's awful, but ok for a windsurf mag.)

Keith Shepherd

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Part 2:

Following on from Keith's excellent account of WWI, here's my addition to cover the remaining part of the week; Tue - Sun:

Like Keith, I'd managed to get a pass-out from home. Unlike Keith, mine was for a full week as I'd persuaded wife & son that I really wasn't expected to go to Germany to visit my daughter, was I?

Retrospectively, writing this more than one month after it all happened, most of the week has gone a bit hazy. Although that could be something to do with the quantity of beer consumed, a large part is due to the fact that it rained all week and it was windy almost all week - nothing really to separate the days from one another. Another lasting impression is that it wasn't proper wind! At no time could it termed constant, making the choice of sail size (and board, for that matter) a bit of a lottery. Most of the time it was westerly, but sometimes - just for a change - it was WSW or WNW. Anyway, down to the details:

Tuesday:

P!**!ng it down all morning - a contributory factor in Keith's sharp exit; England-bound. The forecast couldn't promise anything better longer-term - I've never seen the TV weather forecasters look so gloomy. Down to Broad Haven. A slightly balmy 15 degrees, wind: Force 4 - 7 SW. After boring Ian in the shop all morning, I decided I couldn't make any more excuses to hang around any longer. I hit the water & 15:00 on 265 Gecko & 4.0m2 sail. The water very quickly hit back; me being so underpowered in the lulls. Furthermore, it continued to hit back - usually after getting planing on a gust, heading up to face a wave and having the wind die at what was - with unerring accuracy - almost exactly the wrong moment. I gave up after about 1 hour. I suppose I could have changed up, but it was late in the day & I had tea to think of!

I have a feeling that Phil Baker was out at this time & that he seemed to be having a better time of it that I was. Or is this haze?

Tea was taken solo, back in the vibra-van, then off to the Swan @ Little Haven with Phil & Judy - perchance to sample their malty wares. Unbeknown to us, the Swan had other plans; viz. the dreaded pub quiz. Get this: Most pubs that have quizzes do so in order to get the punters in to drink lots of beer. So far, so good. The Swan in Little Haven actually charges 50p for the privilege!! On the other hand, I suppose the quiz did drag on until 23:30, so perhaps not bad value for money after all. In the end, I got split off from Phil & Judy to team up with a late arriving local. The benefit of this was that a number of the quiz questions - being fairly parochial - were easily answered by my erstwhile team colleague (eg: Name at least 8 pubs on the Haven which are reachable by boat. We (he) named 12 pubs!).

Wednesday:

Awoken at the crack of mid-morning by the arrival of Steve Wynne-Roberts. After hastily offloading the contents of his van into the vibra-van, pausing only to allow the wind to get behind the vibra-van door, whipping it backwards in the gentle force 8 gust & destroying the bathroom window in the process. Steve - being a man of great resources - resourced a roll of duck tape to keep the glass in the hole. Forecast for today: Rain (just for a change) & winds easing slightly.

Down to Broad Haven, we passed Tony Low going in the wrong direction - did he know something we didn't? The forecasters got it wrong again: Force 4 - 8 by my anemometer's reckoning; WSW for a change. This was the day I decided to try out the pretty looking, new, green Fanatic 260 Bee from the shop - purely for interest, of course. Despite being grossly overpowered with my smallest sail (4.0m2), I found the board to be a peach (No, not red, yellow & hairy). I had problems for quite a while in the shorebreak: Trying to line the board up, a wave passing under the board would lift the very rockered nose, allowing the wind to get underneath & lift still further. The very low weight of the board then contributed further to the resulting airborne-ness of the ensemble, with the net effect of a lot of sense-of-humour failures. I guess I got the knack eventually, but not such that I could describe it!

As I said, the board was a bit of a peach, seemingly planing more readily than my 265 Gecko despite the lower volume, accelerated better and was slightly more forgiving in waves & chop. Definitely had a "slashier" feel to it. That said, I still never got out through the break to the monsters beyond. The sanity chip keeps cutting-in. On the other hand, totally overpowered in a force 8 cross-onshore wind was not ideal conditions.

Tony gave the sharks a scare on the trusty old Vit Sea, eventually trashing his 4.2m2 whilst Steve & Phil decided to sail Dale, where it was blowing 4 -7 & dead offshore. Getting off & back to the beach looked like a serious struggle, whilst over by the Gann, the wind came in great big dollops.

Steve - who'd rigged up his 4.0m2 on the 295 Xantos - was persuaded by a youngster (relatively) to swap for his 274 Bee with 5.5m2 sail. Quite why Steve did this is a bit of a mystery since a) Steve ended up very overpowered, b) the footstraps on the Bee were too small for his size 12's, and c) said youth slashed Steve's nice new(ish) sail during a wipe-out. Amazing that reinforced scrim mesh monofilm should tear like that. Youth 1 - Gaastra 0.

Back at the shop in Broad Haven, I very reluctantly handed back the 260, collected my recently repaired 5.0m2, whilst Tony & Steve handed in their burnt offerings for resurrection. It has to be said - Ian Heys does a fairly tidy sail repair job these days, as long as he finds the time. Tony took to eyeing-up a (from a distance) tasty looking little Shockwaves custom job. Its most appealing feature was the price tag being less than its volume (quoted at 75 litres).

In the evening, I volunteered the use of my car - as long as Tony drove - to convey us to the Harbour Inn, Solva, where we ate, drank (except Tony!) & gassed for the evening. Oddly enough, Phil & Judy just happened to drop-in at the same pub. Funny, that!

Thursday:

Oddly enough, the wind was lighter and, although not a conscious decision, I didn't actually sail all day! I spent the morning on & off the phone negotiating the price & availability of Fanatic 260 Bees with Mike Hodge @ Wet & Windy. Tony had gone off for breakfast @ Planet Dale (read greasy café), & got a hour or so's sail in @ Broad Haven in about a force 6 before returning to greasy café. Steve had gone orf to sail Dale again.

Having drawn my negotiations to an undetermined close, I drove down to Dale & met Tony in the café where I forced down a bacon butty. We decided to sail from the Gann & thus drove round there & started rigging. Whilst rigging up my 5.5 m2, I couldn't help the feeling that the wind was not as strong as it had been. Looking up revealed Phil entirely failing to plane whilst trying to beat up the Gann towards where we were. We watched for 10 minutes or so. What would it do? Eventually, Tony had the foresight to look windward, whereupon all thoughts of sailing instantly disappeared, to be replaced with "I-need-to-de-rig- &-pack-up-within-the-next-2-minutes-before-the-extremely-ominous-looking-black-cloud-arrives" type of thoughts. I had just thrown my sail into the trailer when the stones began to hail. I threw myself into the back of the car & pulled the back down, wondering how I'd get myself out if the back actually closed! The obligatory lock-preventing foot in the door also meant the obligatory hailstones in the back of the car. No 73 on the list of things not to do whilst lying cramped in the back of an estate car with the shelf still in place whilst trying to prevent the door from closing with your foot during a hail storm is: Eat a banana (or anything else for that matter). Bent up almost double, with head cranked over to one side because of the door makes swallowing a less than delicate process.

I suppose my discomfort was nothing compared to Phil's, who was taking the full brunt of the hail like a man. I suppose he'd have had trouble taking it like a stoat or a seabird. I think he'd all but reached shore when the storm arrived & was thus able to shelter under his rig.

Storm gone, wind gone, Nomads gone for curry in the Galleon (Thursday night = curry night), pausing only to negotiate the purchase of the aforementioned 260 Bee with Ian Heys. The deed was done - I was gagging to try it out again.

Friday:

Tony the keen out again early. The keenness to get out is matched only by the total absence of any desire to actually make breakfast for himself. Breakfast - in Tony's book - is something that has to be served, not prepared! On 2nd thoughts, not a bad philosophy. He'd rung the changes & Broad Haven; initially using the recently-repaired & retrieved 4.2m2, followed by the 5.8m2 , followed by a hired surfboard. By this time it was force 3 - 4, NW with some large lumps @ Broad Haven. Obviously no point removing the 260 Bee from the shop just yet, so off to Dale leaving Tony playing in the surf.

Dale greeted me with the sight of Steve changing up to his 7.5m2. Doing likewise, I went out on the 278 Gecko for 45 minutes - planing about ½ of that time. Taking a coffee break, discussing whether or not to rig 8.5's, the wind died completely. Funny that - especially as Tony had just arrived. Amusement was provided when a double-decker bus screeched to a halt in the car park and disgorged itself of its (almost entirely Asian) contents. Said contents then proceeded to deck themselves up with boots, backpacks, maps, compasses, camels, machete's, elephant guns, etc. whereupon they were driven into the wilderness at the top of the Gann by a motley crew of teachers - never to be seen again (the teachers, that is).

Phil left, leaving Tony, Steve & myself to do a little of our own exploring - up to the field centre on St Anne's head - The Griffin being closed.

Calling in at the Duke of Edinburgh in Newgale provided an excellent example of how the customer is wrong: Asking (as is all too commonly necessary these days) the spotty yoof behind the bar to remove the sparkler from the beer spout (or Swan Neck for the aficionados) prior to pouring said liquid (or pulverising - if sparkler is in place), earned the response - "Ve bere won' pul fru 'bout it. O corn tayk I roff". Pausing only to open the door prior to passing through it, we drove on to the Harbour Inn in Solva again, where they were only too happy to remove the offending article. Like magic, they were able to pull the Old Speckled Hen through almost without any problems at all. Almost, but not quite, exactly as few problems as we had drinking it.

Saturday:

Forecast - SW force 8. Actual - force 1, fog, rain. There being nothing else to do, Tony & Steve each left for home, leaving me alone to bemoan the conditions. Bemoan? Actually, I think I was grateful. Except I couldn't sail my newly-acquired little green thing yet again. However, Tony didn't leave empty-handed: The siren-call of the Shockwaves was irresistible and it is now happy with its new owner & looking forward to providing long & faithful service.

Adrian Johnson duly turned-up, so we sat in his van, chatted & drank tea. Sometimes we stood outside the van & chatted, sometimes we stood inside the shop & chatted. Sometimes we stood inside the shop & didn't chat. At some point, I bought several metres of rope & changed all the lines on my booms. Thus the day went by, terminated by dinner & beer in the Penry Inn.

Sunday:

fairly light force something or other NWish (or something). I optimistically sailed the 278 with 6.5m2 V8 - not a perfect combination with the large lumps still rolling in. Pretty much underpowered I soon gave up. I was not as underpowered as Adrian, however. He'd optimistically borrowed a 252 Fly from the shop. With the 5.3m2 sail, he didn't have a happy time & eventually switched to his 280 Copello & 7.5m2.

Enough was enough, I collected my unused-since-purchase Bee & began the long slog back home. Will I be back again next year? Dead right I will. Only not quite so much wind, please & a little less gusty & perhaps more southerly, less rain, with slightly nicer shaped waves...

martin farrimond
(still with an unused-since-purchase 260 Bee!)

Stop Press - Final Scores:

Broad Haven - 2 sails, Nomads - 0

Dale - 1 sail, Nomad - 0 (youth escaped without penalties)

Broad Haven - 1 mast extension, Nomad 0

Haven Sports - minus 2 boards, Nomads plus 2 boards

Tony Low - minus Hifly 265, Haven Sports plus Hifly 265 (mast-score draw)

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