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mf's www diary - oct '99 (west wales week, that is)

Martin's bit:

I decided to write this since I think I was the only person there from Saturday to following Sunday. So here goes (E&OE!):

Sat 23/10/99:

Wind S. Sailed @ Broad Haven on 274 Bee with 5.5m2. S is not the greatest direction since the beach is largely sheltered until the tide is right out, and even then it's still gusty. Had a good few hours sailing. Also out were - Tony Low, Nigel Walker, Bob Jones, Phil Baker, Adrian Johnson, Steve WR. Waves not huge but held up reasonably well. Evening - ate en masse upstairs in Galleon whilst being kippered by overpowering smoke from kitchens below. I think Steve & Viv Powell & family were discovered lurking in a far-flung corner of some foreign field some time in the evening or early the next day.

Sun 24/10/99:

Mind blank (too long ago) - certainly have no record of sailing so can only assume it wasn't windy. I seem to remember Joy body boarding at Broad Haven. The Powells had taken to being instructed @ Dale. John & Liz Surowiec departed, Ian & Neroli, Paul, Jill & Ben arrived. Wined & dined at the Harbour Inn, Solva (I think).

Mon 25/10/99:

Phil Baker departed. Definitely no wind, but bright & (relatively) warm - Newgale was the place & body boards the manner. Ian, Paul & myself spent a happy hour or two trying - and mostly failing - to catch the fairly small waves. Tony Low & Joy departed. Ate in, then Ian, Neroli & I joined Steve & Liz WR & the Powells in the Royal in order to aid their indigestion.

Tue 26/10/99:

Getting boring, this - bright, sunny, warm & windless. Dale seemed the place to be so for some reason the mob descended there. This didn't change the state of wind but had a dramatic effect on the water which made every attempt to drain out the Haven entirely - obviously scared to death from the unprovoked Nomadic invasion. Optimistically, several Nomads decided to venture out anyway, despite needing to walk about 4km through ankle-depth water to find skeg depth (especially for a Techno skeg!). I decided to play alternative silly buggers by taking a solo walk along the coastal path all round St Anne's Head, underestimating the duration this would take! However, I can thoroughly recommend the walk, some of the tiny beaches, bays & cliffs are spectacular. Give yourselves 3 ˝ hours min - I raced round in 2 ˝ hrs (including duelling with a field of overly interested Bullocks) in order to get back before it got dark! Geoff Pook & Keith Shepherd arrived. Keith & I hosted a bijou soiree in the caravan with everyone bring copious amounts of drinking stuff.

Wed 27/10/99:

Wind again, at last. Sailed @ Broad Haven in almost identical conditions as Saturday. Again, sailed 274 Bee with 5.5m2 sail, eventually switching to 260 Bee. I think Geoff chanced Broad Haven also, as did Keith & Ian. Can't remember who else sailed that day, nor where they sailed - sorry! By process of elimination, I think we must have eaten at the Harbour Inn in Solva again.

Thur 28/10/99:

Not only was there no wind, it was also dull, overcast, damp & cold. Geoff & I decided to visit the Bishop's Palace @ St David's, followed by the Cathedral, a bite to eat in a local café, then a trip out in Geoff's van to St Justinian's which overlooks Ramsey Island with it's famous Bitches (that's a tidal race - they weren't racing while we were there). The sun had just come out in time for it to set & Geoff & I walked a stretch of the coastal path.

Returning, we proceeded to drive back through St David's when Geoff suddenly remembered I'd taken my car too! Quickly firing the retro rockets & reverse thrust, we returned for me to collect said erstwhile-forgotten vehicle. Phil Baker returned. Joined in the curry night dining at the Galleon.

Photo of Ian Heys, mid aerial

A well-known Broad Haven windsurf shop proprietor - Obviously spends too much time on (or even out of) the water!

Fri 29/10/99:

Another dull, overcast day with, despite the curries all round, a not considerable amount of wind. Dale, again, with big boards & big sails. Apart from Phil who decided to go for his 266 with 6.5m2 sail & have a really hard time. Actually had a fairly good blast back & forth, back & forth with 7.5m2 sail on Xantos 310.

The real bugger was the amount of seaweed floating around, particularly over the far side of the Gann. If someone ever makes a weed repellent fin, they could make a fortune. The feeling of having somewhat too much power in the sail not equating to the board speed (or lack of it), combined with the ominous slurping sounds from the board's rear and the not-so-occasional spin-out became all too familiar. Gerry & Chris Sanders arrived & had a good sail - Gerry irritatingly overtaking me on his 320 Phoenix from time to time.

Sat 30/10/99:

A thoroughly unpleasant day with very heavy rainfall being driven on the strong SE wind. Adrian arrived & we decided to go to Newgale where we sat in Adrian's van watching the rain & deliberated. After an hour's deliberation, we drove further down the beach for another spot of deliberation as the wind swung almost dead onshore, building up the already large waves into huge mush balls. Returned to Broad Haven where the wind had died with the rain. Adrian drove back to Newgale hoping to find wind again (which he did).

Eventually, the wind filled in @ Broad Haven from the SW - again very gusty - & I went out with 260 Bee & 4.7m2 Zeta in the fairly large waves. I must say, I didn't have a happy time of it, feeling very underpowered going out - especially when about to encounter a huge wave reaching its critical point right in front of you & yet having plenty of wind coming in. Adrian seemed to be having no such problems, so I guess I can only blame myself. Actually, my arms were really suffering from the previous day's sailing @ Dale & I found the all the trashings in the surf didn't improve them.

Gerry & Chris kindly offered to play host & provide the evening banquet for the remaining hardy survivors - by this time just Keith & myself & the returned Adrian & Jackie. Keith made a significant tactical blunder in offering to do the washing up & then persuading me to dry, forcing Adrian & Jackie to look stoically on & produce the none-too-occasional wisecrack.

Sun 31/10/99:

Last day & my arms are killing me - keep getting stabbing pains in the crook of my elbows. My head is suffering from the copious quantities of wine the previous evening. Had it been windy, I'm sure the pain would have been made to subside, but it wasn't so it didn't! Packed up slowly & drove down to Broad Haven where I discovered it actually was fairly windy. Windy enough for several people to be out ripping up the waves including one pony-tailed youth with the irritating habit of pulling-off back loops off just about every ramp he encountered. Phil seemed to be having about as little fun as I'd had the previous day, and in exactly the same way. Adrian, as usual, was boringly ripping backwards & forwards. So boring, I drove down to Dale to pay my last respects to Keith, Chris & Gerry. Again, the wind direction was not entirely suitable for Dale, falling in great big dollops on the beach, but becoming stronger & more consistent on the far side - which Gerry seemed to be making perfectly good use of. Farewell WW - until next year.

Martin Farrimond

photo of Adrian Johnson, mid aerial

Adrian Johnson taking flying lessons at Broad Haven

Martin Farrimond

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Geoff's bit

You want a holiday resort that is exotic, easy access without having to drive to Stanstead or the channel ports, in a foreign country where they understand English, walks and mountain bike trails or games such as boule as alternatives to windsurfing, free car parking, no launch fees, windsurfer friendly, choice of sailing locations for various wind directions and sea states, good chance of wind???

Then why not try Nolton?

YES, Nolton is all that and more: AND NO, the title is not a Website. It stands for West Wales Windsurfing Nomads half term holiday organisation.

EASY PEASY!

Access is certainly easy (from Almondsbury head west and keep going) although ACCESS (or Visa) will not get you there as Ian and Neroli found out at the border crossing on the M4. When they got to the toll booths they found out that greasing the palm of the border guard with coin of the realm is the only way to get into the Land of the Taff. Since the Celtic war lord Offa built his dyke to keep foreigners out of Wales, the only Offa's they accept is money, so our illustrious Commodore had to go back and break into the piggy-bank. Then, later into the journey, a nut dropped off of the exhaust manifold necessitating a hot and hasty repair. Things could only get better, and did.

EARLY STARTERS.

John and Liz Surowiec, Adrian Johnson, Bob Jones and Nigel Walker were among the first arrivals, although, by the time I got there on Tuesday they had already returned home. Steve Wynne-Roberts arrived too late on Saturday to sail but as he and Elizabeth were staying the whole week he had ample opportunity.

Sunday was windless (allegedly) but with waves at Newgale the body-boarding and surfing experts had a chance to do their thing.

BACK TO SCHOOL.

On Monday morning Steve, Viv, Ashley and Danny Powell started two days of Windsurfing tuition at West Wales Windsurfing. Gentle winds and calm sea made ideal conditions for the boys who both got their RYA level one certificates: imagine our surprise when Danny interrupted one of our discussions on the merits of cam and no cam sails to ask, "what's a luff tube?" Mum and Dad would have liked a bit more wind to practice tacks and gybes but agreed that the lessons had been well worth it as they now know a few freestyle tricks such as sailing clew first, helicopter-tack, nose-sink, reverse-leeside-back-to-sail-railride. I said they know them, I didn't say they can do them.

I arrived on Tuesday after a late start and a visit to the supermarket in Downend to buy ships biscuits, hard tack, salt pork, a barrel of grog, a jar of pickled mice (treats for the cat) and other essential provisions for a long voyage. I had no trouble with Celtic border guards, making supplication by tossing money into the holy coin bin and genuflecting reverently as I passed the sign which says "You are now entering Wales - Please drive Caerphilly".

WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND.

As I drove through Dale (missing the car park) I spotted Viv gybing on the simulator and Steve looking on. Three minuets later, after negotiating the largest traffic island in Wales (Dale's one way system) I was Shepherded (pun) into the car park by Keith, which saved me doing another lap of the town. Keith got there shortly before me having had to bodge a repair to his carburetter return spring which broke on the M4. I left puss in van and joined the onlookers on the grass at the top of the beach. Elizabeth was sat in her car, Neroli and Jill were sat on the grass while father and son Byrne were down by the water's edge. We watched him jumping in the pools left by the ebbing tide and heard the shrieks of delight as the water splashed over his wellingtons and wetted his trousers. Son Ben was also enjoying himself.

Apart from the Powells there were three Nomads on the water that afternoon, all three on Bic Techno's, all three practising light wind tricks. As the tide receded one of the locals told us it was the lowest spring tide of the year. From the bottom of the steep shingle bank, more and more of the flat sandy bottom became visible. The first to come ashore was John White with the feeble excuse that he had to go home. He was soon followed by Steve W R and last of all (of course) was Ian.

HOME FROM HOME.

I followed Keith back to Nolton Cross Caravan Park, paid Mrs. Thomas and set up home next to Paul and Jill Byrne. This was to be a short association as they were leaving later that night. Freddie had a look around the Byrne's caravan and seemed to approve. She was less happy about Nolton Park as it was far too clinical with neatly spaced vans, short cropped grass and no rough hedges or ditches for wild life to hide in. Even worse, there was no loose earth to bury things in so she had to use the kitty-litter.

I had coffee and a chat with Jill and Paul, then walked round to Keith and Martin's home from home to see what was planned for the evening. Martin was planning to cook a gourmet meal of spaghetti with a vegetable and cheese sauce followed by fruit and cream with coffee and after eights to finish. I was more than a bit miffed as I walked back to Bedfred and warmed up my Sainsbury's packet meal for one. I had eaten about half of it when Ian popped his head through the door and said, "Do you want a lift, we're going to the Harbour Inn for a meal." Ah well, I should have known Martin can be easily persuaded where food is concerned. Off we went to Solva.

A GAME OF CHASE.

Wednesday dawned windy and got windier. First we drove to Newgale to check out the conditions:- on-shore and dumping. Then to Broad Haven, Ian in the lead, I follow. At Roach we see Keith and wait for him to turn round. Then we meet Martin in the lane between Homer's Angry and Nolton. At Nolton Ian tells Steve and Viv where we are going and the convoy sets off once again. I'm not sure whether we met or missed Steve W R on this occasion. This game of motorised hide and seek was a regular feature of the holiday.

WICKED WAVES.

The car park at Broad Haven was sheltered from the strong cross shore wind so sail selection was a bit of a lottery. Most people rigged something between 5m and 6.5 and set off over the vast expanse of sand to launch in the foaming surf. Steve W R struggled to get going at first but once up and going quickly disappeared into the distance. The dedicated sea sailors were enjoying the experience but I am more of a pond person and rarely venture out in conditions like this so I chose to play in the waves close to shore. Martin made three sail changes before getting wet but once one the water he revelled in the conditions and pulled off some beautiful manoeuvres.

Photo montage of Keith Shepherd photo montage of Ian

Keith Shepherd - Broad Haven

Ian Long - Broad Haven

The car park is on a tee junction just across the road from a vivid yellow coloured pub called "The Galleon". We were being entertained by two very long, articulated flat bed lorries delivering to a construction site up a narrow lane. In spite of the double yellows there were cars parked all around and the lorry drivers needed all their skill and experience to negotiate the obstacles, man made and natural. Suddenly a Boddingtons delivery lorry came down the road and parked outside the pub. The colour match was so good that it almost disappeared! You had to look twice to know it was there at all. If you've ever seen a Brimstone Yellow butterfly in a field of Rape Seed you'll know what I mean. Whilst admiring this wonderful camouflage, Judy Baker came into the car park with news of Phil who had been back to work but was aiming to return before the week-end.

WHAT TO AND WHERE TO.

The evening was spent drinking in Martin and Keith's caravan and talking about this and that and what to do in Pembroke when the wind doesn't blow; tomorrow we would find out. The conversation turned to the subject of replacing damaged kit as there had been some problems with breakages (nothing new there, then). Ian had broken a harness line at Broad Haven, no replacement found: Keith tried three shops for rope, same result: Powells were after foot straps, they were offered one new and one used one, well, almost a pair. The message seems to be take what you need plus extras as getting spares is like Monty Python in the Cheese Shop.

WICKED WIND, I WONDER?

Back in Bedfred I prepared for a good nights kip. The stars were shining brightly and the wind was rocking the van. Would the conditions be too severe next day? No they would not! Some time in the early hours the rain came down and the wind vanished like an old oak table.

About 9am. I thought I ought to get up and see what the others planned to do. Keith was going to continue his quest for rope and find a garage which might have a replacement spring for his carburettor. Martin thought he might go to Fishguard or St Davids or both. Steve and Viv were going to take the boys back to Dale.

I went to see Ian and Neroli; sat in their van and drank a coffee while studying some interesting cloud formations. They had formed below the dull, grey, all-over cloud cover and looked like two giant, pre-historic birds with tiny heads, big fat bodies and enormous chicken-drum-stick-legs hanging down. Half an hour later when they were still in exactly the same position we decided that this was a bad sign as far as wind was concerned. Ian said the conditions were perfect for replacing tyres and manifold nuts so he too would be looking for a garage.

DOING THE TOURIST THING.

Martin and I headed for St. Davids, birth place of the patron saint of Wales and the smallest city in U.K. The main points of interest are the ruins of the Bishop's Palace, the oldest parts of which were built in the 12th century; the 14th century Cathedral and the 20th century Oceanarium with it's variety of sharks, rays, crabs and eels.

We found a nice little café and went in for a snack. We had kind of Welsh ploughman's lunch called a Caerfai Cheese Platter - three local cheeses, salad, fresh bread and a selection of pickles; highly recommended.

Just to the south of St. Davids lies Porth Clais, a sheltered harbour where, on the 26th May 1994, Tim Batstone and his support team stopped during the epic Round Britain Windsurf.

The day before he had set off from a point south of St. Govan's Head and covered the 38 miles past Milford Haven, around Skokholm and Skomer, across St. Brides Bay and into Ramsey Sound where the adverse tide forced him to stop. They motored back to Porth Clais to shelter from the strong north westerly wind for the night. The next day was a record breaker for Tim: half an hour sailing, half a mile progress. But he was trying to sail out of Ramsey Sound into a force eight northerly gale!

We drove to St. Justinians to have a look at the lifeboat station and watch the sun set over Ramsey Island. What an impressive place this is. We walked about a mile on the cliff top path and I took some photo's to try to capture the grandeur of this rocky headland before returning to camp. When we got back we learned that the others had all met up at Dale where a 45 Boule tournament was arranged. For those unfamiliar with the game, it is similar to French Boule but played on a steep sandy beach. I'm told that the Powells lost to the rest of the world so Ian, as team captain, now claims the world title.

POOL IS COOL.

Martin declared that he was on an alcohol-free diet and he devoutly kept his word for about five and a half minutes - the time it takes to drive from Nolton to Broad Haven. Thursday night is Ruby Murray night at the Galleon, except for Ian who has to have steak. Very nice selection of Indian dishes and the quality of the food is only exceeded by the grumpiness of the barman. Ashley and Danny eat up as quickly as possible so they can play Pool. Ashley wins and then I am invited to join him in a game of doubles. Of course we win: how could a mega-star like me and a cool dude like him possibly lose?

FREE RIDE FRIDAY.

The new day dawned with a hint of wind and the promise of more to come up from the south later in the day. Dale seemed like a good idea and it turned out to be almost perfect. Sail selection ranged from 5.5 to 7.5 and choice of board was anything from 278 to 385. I chose to sail my Mistral Shredder with 6.4 sail and after a hesitant start, a failed gybe and a return to the beach for minor adjustments I got on fine. Sailing in the lee of the gurt big lump of land known as St. Ann's Head meant a bit of a wallow for the first 100 metres until you got clear of the wind shadow. Then you felt the true strength of the wind across Dale Roads till you gybed on the far side, near the rocky shore more than a kilometre away.

Gerry and Chris came to stay for the rest of the week, Chris bringing her cold with her and taking it onto the water. Despite feeling rotten she couldn't resist sailing in such perfect conditions. Martin was the last to arrive on the beach because he refused to believe the conditions could be so good. Ian thought he would give Steve Powell some hints on water starts and was amazed at how quickly Steve got his rig flying; Steve didn't tell him he was touching the bottom!

HEAD BANGER.

Ian had been blasting past and waving at Viv whenever she lay in the water after a failed tack or gybe. On one occasion Ian wiped out with a mighty catapult right in front of Viv and she sailed past waving and laughing. She did wonder if she should have laughed so much as it looked like a bad fall. Ian had cut his head but lived to tell the tale. Last to stop sailing was Martin but then, he was the last onto the water so it's only fair.

I left Dale before the rain started but by the time I got back to Nolton it was hissing down. The weather was so bad the cat refused to get out the van. I waited to see if the others were coming back but as there was no sign, I decided there was time for a shower before dinner.

COOL IS NOT COOL.

The weather was so bad that I drove the 200 metres to the shower block. The shower control was set to maximum and as I undressed I wondered if I needed it that hot. After standing naked and running the water for five minutes I realised that it was not going to get hot so I would have to make the best of it. I was in and out as quick as I could and as I towelled I kept punching the hand drier to get some warm air flowing. Then I had the brilliant idea of dragging the wooden bench seat over to the hand drier so that I could stand on it and warm my naughty bits; what a relief to get some feeling back.

Fish and Chip take-away had got the unanimous vote in the "where shall we eat to-night" debate but when I returned from the Roch Fish Fryer I noticed that Martin and Keith were not back yet. Later they returned with some story about being lured into the Griffin and forced to drink beer before leaving. The rest of the evening was spent chatting and drinking in the caravan which Martin dubbed "Chez Long" which I thought was a couch with one raised end. A pleasant time passed and all too soon it was time to don waterproofs and return to our own pads.

The wind continued to blow through the night and all next morning. I drove to Dale to find Steve Wynne Roberts already rigging his smallest board and 5M sail. From my safe position on shore I watched as he tried to beach start in the swirling wind. It was well nigh impossible as the wind came over St. Ann's head one minute and round the corner the next, slamming him down whenever he got up. He let himself drift down the beach where the wind was cleaner and eventually got going only to be slammed down again when he got further out. Someone told the people in the windsurfing shop that he was in trouble and the rescue boat was launched but by the time the got to him, Steve was walking his board back towards the beach. Not the best exhibition of windsurfing I have seen but you have to give Steve full marks for trying: I didn't dare to go out!

There is only one snag with the car park at Dale: T.V. reception is lousy. I wanted to see the Qualifying hour for the Japanese Grand Prix so I reluctantly left Dale and headed for the hills. Finding a convenient gateway I parked up, sorted out a bit of lunch and sat down to enjoy a thrilling hour of G.P. with Murray Walker shouting things like "Yes! Yes! Yes! This is going to be provisional pole - Oh no he spun out." or "And Mika matches Michael Schumacher's time exactly. The last time that happened was last year and then it was three."

I didn't go back to Dale so I missed the return of Adrian Johnson and I also missed (allegedly) some good sailing conditions. I'm told that the wind calmed down and lots of people took to the water, mostly on long boards with big sails. I shall have to arrange my holidays better next year and avoid having to working on the Sunday after a week away.

Ian is going to organise a holiday at Moon Beach on the Red Sea in the spring. I'll see you in Egypt.

Geoff Pook.

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