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  • Writer's pictureMark

A game of two halves

Altor and her crew are still in Milford Haven but since the last blog we moved to a new area called Dale Anchorage in order to hide from some stiff northerly wind. We took shelter behind a pretty big cliff about three hundred feet from it’s base and we stayed there for five nights while the wind blew. During that time it was my birthday and Asha had the perfect presents for me! I hate clothes shopping and to be completely honest I don’t take much pride in my wardrobe. To me good clothes are clothes that I haven’t had to go out and buy! Sometimes I might be out walking, my mind wandering and I come to the realisation that other than my sunglasses and pants, every item of clothing that I am wearing has been gifted to me. I don’t just mean in a birthday or Christmas present kind of way either. I have a very good friend called Adrian who has a strange mindset when it comes to shoes. Sometimes he doesn’t ‘bond’ with them! When this happens they will live at the bottom of his wardrobe until there are several non bonded with pairs piled up there and then he remembers his friend who lives on a boat and is always grateful for any kind of shoe donation. Actually, it’s not just shoes. As I type I am wearing a fleece of his which I presume he didn’t bond with either! I’m always happy to hear about a clothing relationship breakdown because I don’t suffer from the same peculiarity at all. I bond with all clothes that keep me dry and covered. It’s lucky that Adrian’s feet are almost the same size as mine. That stroke of luck saves me from having to cut perfectly good shoes in order to make them fit. I like all clothes, brand new or donated. In fact, if someone gave me a nice dress I’d wear it although I would stop short of women’s shoes because the heels might damage the deck! So, as you can now appreciate, what with Christmas or birthday gifts and a friend who has frequent personality clashes with his clothes, I am often a walking charity case.

It works so well for me because I don’t have to factor in the hell that is going to the shops or the total emasculation of pondering whether or not my arse looks big in this!

What Asha did was spectacular. She bought me clothes but far better than that, the clothes she bought for me were some of Musto’s finest sailing apparel. That made me one happy birthday boy. I now look like a proper yachtie, I still haven’t gone to the shops and I don’t think my arse looks big at all. I can happily mince down the road, or river full of confidence and style! The only issue looming on the horizon is an impending pant shortage. Holy underpants, as Batman would say! This has only become a problem since learning how ludicrously unsupportive ladies underwear really is…..Oh well, I’ll manage and maybe I should keep an eye out for one of those clothing recycling bins and do some dumpster diving!

Our anchorage at Dale served us very well but it did become a little rolly after a few days. The wind constantly blew out of the north but some waves rolled in from the southwest so I can only assume that they travelled a couple of thousand miles from the Atlantic where a storm had been blowing. We don’t mind a bit of rock ’n’ roll but after a while it does get a little tedious so we upped anchor and decided to head upriver. We anchored outside Milford Marina and this meant we could again go to the shops but without a very long, rough and wet dinghy ride. We restocked with food, diesel and gas, stayed for one night and then headed further upriver under the Cleddau Bridge and into a different world! I had previously been as far as the bridge on a trip last year when I helped my mate Russ get his boat from Solva to Neyland Marina for the winter but on passing under the bridge, the almost instantaneous change is remarkable. I will be unkind to the place and say that its not as pretty as the upper reaches of the Fal River but I will be kind enough to say that it is a close second!

The tide runs hard and fast so there is no point in trying to fight it. No. Time it right and go with the flow. We drifted under the bridge and upriver in very little wind but a strong tide and watched the landscape transform from power stations, LNG terminals and oil refineries into unspoiled nature, greenery, peace and quiet. The variety is a huge part of what makes this life so special. It keeps things fresh and whilst I would never suggest that a beautifully scenic anchorage such as West Angle Bay or Dale could ever get boring, moving inland via a meandering river with flat water and warmer breeze was wonderful. In fact it was as much of a welcome change as it will be to leave this place in a few days and enter the world west of the bridge again. Put simply, change is good.

Our biggest challenge has been 4g coverage. Good internet is preferable for me in order to obsess about the weather, watch sailing stuff on YouTube and indeed upload my own videos. However, good internet is essential for Asha in order for her to keep working. We have resorted to hoisting a phone up the mast to boost it’s signal but not too far that the computers at deck level can’t connect with the hotspot! Honestly, the pressures of this life are quite hard to bear sometimes but so far Asha has managed to keep working which keeps her quiet (ish) and allows me to do my own thing and potter around keeping Altor shipshape and ready for sea.

We have been in Wales for two weeks and it, and the Welsh, have been fantastic but we are now keeping a close eye on the weather for a passage north. The plan is to sail 200 nautical miles to Bangor, Northern Ireland and anchor in Bangor Bay if the weather is settled enough. If it isn’t we will sail 230 miles and seek shelter in a bay or loch in Bonnie Scotland!

Oh how my excitement builds when I type those words. I loved my time sailing in Scotland and the thought of getting back up there almost makes me giddy with excitement! The added bonus this time around is that Asha is onboard and I am extremely keen to introduce her to Scotland’s finest West Coast whiskies, along with traditional pipe blowing and, of course, tossing of the caber! Come on weather, please do your best so we can get this show on the road!

The lovely St. Ishmael's Church and the memorial to the 300 people who died aboard a Japanese liner when it was torpedoed by the Germans and sank in seven minutes which was not enough time to launch the life rafts. The US destroyer that was there to protect against submarine attacks was also attacked which prevented them from being able to rescue those struggling in the stormy sea. Many bodies washed up along the Pembrokeshire coast.

Great to see boats out playing once again

Lovely little cove in which to land and explore

Altor anchored off Dale with the refineries in the background

This was our landing place in order to go to Tesco! Provisioning is always a mission but still good fun!

It really is a game of two halves. Beauty and the beasts

Another Moody 44 out stretching her legs

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