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The planning meeting for the incursion into deepest Pembrokeshire was held at the Old Crown, Kelston on May 22nd. It was clear from the start that the troops would be thin on the ground. Feeble excuses like holiday in Egypt, decorating the kitchen, calculating the value of pi were trotted out and very few were prepared to commit to the campaign. In the end the odds against us were overwhelming - Pembrokeshire Coast National Park 620 (Square Kilometres, that is) Nomads 6 (+ one cat) . Outnumbered as we were, it was clear we could not Conquer the County but we could try to Defeat Dale.

In order to infiltrate unintrusively we set off at different times and different routes. Adrian and Jacqui Johnson travelled early but I decided to set off at a civilised hour. I soon realised that I would be caught up in the footy fans if I used the M4 so I diverted through Chepstow, Usk and Abergavenny: Caerphilly avoiding the motorway.

Having selected a campsite at Hasguards Cross and introducing myself as an innocent board sailor, I made my way to the car park at Dale to be greeted by Adrian shouting "At last, another Nomad!" He had been out sailing in the Gann for some time and had come in for a rest and a drink. I made haste to park up and unpack only to find that my 7.5m Demon sail had broken a batten which I had not spotted last time I packed it away. No time to mess with that now. Rig the 6.5m, leave it full for maximum power and see what it’s like.

As it turned out, it wasn’t half bad. As the westerly wind funnels through the Gann it makes the most of what breeze there is. Adrian was planing quickly with the 7.4 on his JP and although I was not as fast with the 6.4 on the Bee it was still an enjoyable sail. I don’t know how long the evening session lasted but it was nine o’clock by the time I got back to the campsite and started to cook my pasta and chilli sauce.

Sunday morning turned out to be a bit on the grey side but at the altitude of the caravan club site, there was wind. After brekkers I took a trip to Broadhaven and a long walk down the beach. No windsurfers about and, apart from a few locals being walked by their dogs, no people either. I walked the length of the beach and up the hill towards Haroldston West (yes, this is the name of a place, not an old Shakespearian actor) where I took out my anemometer and took a reading. A healthy 18 knots! But then, I was on top the cliff and there was no water up there. Down where the water was, I read not such a healthy (in fact, a rather sick) 6 knots of wind - and dead onshore at that.

I gave Steve Powell (our Commanding Officer was leading from the rear [at home] as usual) a ring and told him the news. He was optimistic and said the forecast was good for Monday. He suggested we all meet at the Galleon for a meal that evening. Time for a change of scenery, so I took off for Freddie’s favourite car park at Dale. Selecting a space between the divers' Land Rovers I made sure there was enough room behind the van to repair the broken batten in my Demon Design sail. I found a batten that was long enough and another batten which was stiff enough so by binding the two together with adhesive tape I was able to make a batten long enough and stiff enough.

Adrian and Jacqui arrived as I finished the repair so after a bit of lunch we went out to take advantage of the increasing breeze. Once again, it was a pleasant sail in the Gann, with the breeze tempting you out to find the strongest wind lanes well off shore. Getting back was best accomplished by using the frequent shifts to gain advantage but even then, the last couple of hundred yards was a struggle.

Back at camp I talked to the divers about the day’s delights, threw frisbee for a Bull Terrier (much to the disgust of Freddie) congratulated the owner who was awarded "Caravan Club Certified Site of the Year" in 2002. So I was in the company of a Certified Owner! What an honour. Just time for a shower before dinner.

Back at Broadhaven, Steve, Viv and I found that The Galleon was a little crowded. The upstairs restaurant was full too. We are debating on what to do when some people start to leave a table. While Steve stands in the doorway, making himself as large as possible, Viv and I bagged as many seats as we could with coats, hooded sweaties and whatever else we could find to fill chairs. Luckily, it was not too long before Neil Bass walked in with Adrian and Jacqui. Conversation inevitably turned to the forecast for the morrow. The day that, according to the long range forecast, should have been best for wind now looked as if it would be a disappointment. The wind would back to a southerly direction so Dale would probably not be good. We planned to meet back here in the car park in the morning.

Well, this was it. The last day and, as forecast, the wind was backing 3 to 4. That’s MPH, not Beaufort. Neil decides to go to Newgale and I follow him. While he rigs up, I make a sandwich for the journey home which I think I’ll be starting soon. The water is still a fair ways out so I help with the kit. Off he goes, struggling a bit through the breakers. I expect things to get better further out - but no. I walk north, keeping pace with Neil as he rides the swell in ever decreasing wind till he goes down. Waterstarts are a bad choice, uphauling is worse. After an uncomfortable ten minutes he is back on the beach cursing the wind which, by now, has deserted us completely.

Steve and Viv wisely plumped for a walk around Saint Brides. Through the village and down to the sea where you can look out past wooltack point to Skomer Island. This wild life haven had a surprise in store. Around a corner came a herd of Welsh Ponies. Quite a mixed herd - piebald, dappled, chestnuts and greys. The only time this week-end that anyone had seen White Horses.

Geoff Pook

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This page last updated: 3rd Sep, 2021.