A Wife on the Ocean Wave

Crossing the bar at Cardigan is always something of an experience even in benign conditions. You surf out on waves breaking on the beach at Poppit and then bear right aiming at the rocks at the foot of the Cliff Hotel. Sometimes you can have conversations with your neighbour fishing off the same rocks as you pass. Once you’re out there’s nothing but sea and even on the calmest days the waters lurch and roll with the last of the Atlantic swell. In bad conditions there’s nowhere safe to run except Fishguard or Holyhead.

Today we’re off to Fishguard, it takes three hours motoring, because there’s no wind. We spend a blissful afternoon in the rare sunshine before watching the sun bleach to apricot and the amethyst clouds darken to pewter. Lights twinkle in Goodwick and we raise a glass of malt whisky to a good day.

The next morning we motor to Cwm yr Eglwys, a sheltered bay, where we drop the anchor and settle down for another peaceful day in the sun. Peaceful that is until two yachts from Cardigan appear and we get a visit from groovy old retired vicar, Godfrey. Godfrey’s one of the breed of what we call ‘Bloody Buggering Old Boys’ a term coined when the girls, Tom and I were berthed next to a crew of them in Cherbourg and had to listen to them shouting ‘Bloody this’ or ‘Bugger that’ deep into the night.

Actually, I’ve got a lot of time for Godfrey who seems to get roped in to conduct funerals for most of his chums. Tom and I were present when Godfrey conducted the funeral for our yacht club’s founding member, Ian, a long-term sailing friend of Godfrey’s. He must have been hurting terribly, yet his concern was all for others. Today, Godfrey doesn’t stay because he has plans for a light lunch on another boat but before he leaves he gives us news of another club member, Colin who is sailing round Britain. ‘He’s got as far as Scotland,’ Godfrey tells us, ‘simply by turning left and left again. He’ll probably write a little book about it.’

Next morning we’re up at six to catch the tide home. Although I don’t ‘do’ early even I can appreciate the beautiful pale lemon dawn. There are no other vessels in sight but we are visited by a harbour porpoise riding alongside the boat. A pair of gannets dive into the sea, straight as arrows, oystercatchers ‘kipkip’ as they pass and a gathering of Manx shearwaters cloud the surface of the water only scattering at the last moment. It’s times like this that make sailing worthwhile.

The Captain Prepares to Repel Boarders

Cardiff Half Marathon Training
Runner’s World SmartCoach Programme Week 6 = 18 slightly nervous miles since the dog bite. A 2 mile deficit (lost at sea). Backside on the mend. Rogue dog caged in with new fencing. Also given quite a scare by yet another JRT on the lonely farm where Lily once suggested they might keep me and turn me into sausages if they saw me. Plenty to keep me on my toes then.


KittyB said…
Is it feasible to run with a cattle prod in your hand? Pesky dogs.

Well done on the distinction - clever, clever. Ah, well, we all knew you were a good writer, didn't we? Lots of nodding and 'told you so' faces from your PC chums.

The sailing sounds lovely 'watching the sun bleach to apricot and the amethyst clouds darken to pewter' I could deal with that. And the whisky!
Jude said…
Yes, I have to admit life at sea is..rewarding, scary, gob smackingly stunningly beautiful, all in a matter of hours. I just loved the sky and the colours, when you anchored as much as we did, we saw many dawns and dusks. Geoff loved sailing at night just to watch the night sky.
Take care
Emerald green with envy here. We always talked of having a boat but it never actually happened. Anyway I wouldn't be able to express the delights of sailing as well as you have. Lovely post.
MelRoXx said…
Lolvely post. agreed with KittyB
Frances said…
Chris, reading your words, I could really see those changes in the sky.

I also felt as if I got to know that vicar pretty well. I liked the way you gave us several shades of his personality.

Best wishes with the running, and ... how I hope that those pesky dogs stay far away.

Celtic Heart said…
I was born with a rusty fish hook in my mouth, no silver spoon here, and salt water running in my veins, so I think you are doing brilliantly. Next year, now that you are finding your sea legs with aplomb, I shall expect to see you pootling past St Davids Head on your way to Ramesey Sound, Grasholm and beyond. Well, maybe not Grasholm and beyond.
Pondside said…
Brave Chris! I felt a little lurch in my stomach at the thought that "In bad conditions there’s nowhere safe to run except Fishguard or Holyhead" but then YOU are the one having the experience on behalf of all of us landlubbers and sailors alike.
I can imagine your friend the Vicar and hear the laughing and rude comments as if I were on the water too.
pinkfairygran said…
Well, unlike most of the commentors on here (surely that should be commentators, it's just that's 'COMMENTORS' is what I see other people calling themselves?)I have no interest in boats, or boating, but am always interested in reading about other people's interests, which are usually more energetic than mine! As for the pesky dogs.... what is it with you and JRTs?
JJ Beattie said…
I couldn't get onto your blog earlier!

So congratulations on the result of your OU course... and I feel a bit sick just reading the account of your sea faring.
Calico Kate said…
Sea trip sounds fab and am madly envious, but you can keep the JRT's!
Exmoorjane said…
Oh god, JRTs.....they don't change do they?
Your trip sounds magical - and a HUGE belated congratulations on the distinction.....YES, Kitty - we knew, we know.....certainly well-deserved. jxx
gaelikaa said…
It's great that you had a nice time and glad to see you're back on form again - I'm so glad you enjoyed your sailing trip! I certainly enjoyed reading about it. It sounds so fresh and healthy, the sea spray in the air and all that. I used to live in coastal Dublin and now I'm in inland Lucknow, where the air is somewhat drier!
Cottage Garden said…
A wonderfully descriptive read Chris, I can so imagine the colours of the sea and the sky and I think you are beginning to REALLY enjoy sailing now, which is great after the shaky start you had!

I like the sound of Godfrey - he seems to be a real character!

Well done on the running.
ChrisH said…
Aw, Kitty, you're making me blush! But good idea about the cattle prod!

Jude, you've seen more than I have - Mrs Bay of Biscay (I wouldn't have seen that at all!).

Rosie, reluctantly I have to agree that the good bits are good, trouble is the bad bits are terrible!

Mel, thanks sweetheart.

Frances, you certainly meet some characters when you're sailing... something to do with the fear factor or lack of!
ChrisH said…
CH, thanks, I appreciate that. Actually St David's Head is another headland with awful memories of when the sea became very hostile, so I hope next time's better.

Pondside, I bet your stomach wasn't lurching as much as mine! I decided to err on the side of caution when it came to reporting the behaviour of the Cherbourg BB Old Boys... they misbehaved terribly!

Pfg, thank you - and I wish I knew what it is! I adore JRTs but they're not too keen on me!

JJ, glad you got here in the end... did you bring a pineapple with you? Thanks for the congrats.

Kate, you and Rosie will have to get yourselves out for a sail together. Glad you've signed up for the OU course.

Hi Jane, good to see you and thanks. If I ever meet Asbo I shall be sure not to wear my running gear - just in case!

Gaelikaa, I shall have to look up where you are. You must miss the sea, but you have so many other sights and sounds now. Thanks for your good wishes.
ChrisH said…
Jeanne, the bad bits will come again, I know they will! Thanks though for your kind comments.
LittleBrownDog said…
Wow - that sailing trip sounded almost nice. What's happening to you Chris - are you slowly being converted? (Mind you, it does help when there's no wind and no swinging boom to contend with, I find. And malt whisky under a fine sunset sounds mighty good, too.)

Reminds me of one of my favourite Tennyson poems: Sunset and evening star / and one clear call for me / And let there be no moaning of the bar / when I put out to sea

Excellent title, too (and glad to hear you're managing to outwit the terriers en route - must add a whole new challenge to running).

Lovely, atmospheric blog, Chris. xx
elizabethm said…
Lovely blog, you remind me that there is reason to sail! Loved your skies. I think you had earned a trip like this one.
Fia said…
Loved reading this.

We lived in Goodwick for a while - my great uncle was the local alcoholic doctor. Bless.
bradan said…
Trying to catch up here - God you are brave! The high seas and bum-biting dogs, wow! I must say my stomach lurched too reading the bit about running for Fishguard or Holyhead....phew.
As for the dog episode, my MiL who lives not far from Holyhead, told me about a guy who reckons he trains his dogs to go for runners because he doesn't like them - eejit! And surely that's illegal or something?

Huge congratulations on getting distinction in your OU course.
what's the matter with Aberaeron, Newquay, Aberystwyth etc? We have decided to take to the water again next year - a canal boat cruise - much more relaxing I hope!!
ChrisH said…
LBD, yes, a slug (not in your spud) of malt whisky puts a kindlier light on many things, I find. It's funny that you mention that poem - when I'm not scared witless crossing the bar I think of it too.

Elizabeth, the ratio of purely good trips to horrendously scary ones has needs some balancing - I hope this is the start of some rather boring trips!

Fia, well I never - it's a small world, isn't it? Little did I know what had gone on there as I drank my toast to the twinkly lights of Goodwick!

Bradan, I suppose you could say, in your Mil's acquaintances favour, that it makes the runner run like sh*t off a shovel - not to put too fine a point on it - although the next time it happens to me I shall be running to the relevant authorities! Good to see you again. (And thank you).

SBS, none of them are ports of refuge - getting into Aberystwyth is pretty damn scary anyway; it looks as if you're being sent straight on to rocks. Now start getting into training for all those canals!
Fia said…
It is a small world indeed.

I would have loved sailing if my grandfather hadn't forced us out in all weathers in his boat, Captain Morgan. My sister was in the terrible Fastnet race. Very grateful that I wasn't.
Helen Ginger said…
Ahh, you make me wish I knew how to sail. Make me wish I'd been on any kind of boat more than four times in my life. I should mention that the one time I went sailing, my husband almost drowned. It was a small boat, called something or other, and he's 6'6" and got knocked off by the mainsail or whatever it's called. I had no clue what to do. Had never been on a sailboat, let alone by myself watching him shrink to a tiny bobbing dot as I kept on going. The only thing I could think to do was tip the boat over. He managed to kick off his shoes and swim to me.

Straight From Hel
Preseli Mags said…
That sailing expedition sounds blissful. Has the boat lost its "pig" prefix now? I used to love going to sleep to the 'pling pling' of the halyards on the mast - one of the most evocative memories of my childhood.

I'm pleased to hear the JRT is properly incarcerated. Little bugger.
Flowerpot said…
Those dawns on a boat are just wonderful, Chris. One of the things I do miss!
Tam said…
Sounds heavenly on your boat and I'm sure this is due largely to your lovely descriptions :-)
Debs said…
It all looks so beautiful, though I don't know how good I'd be when it's rough. It would have to be stugeron all the way for me.

Love the sound of Geoffrey.
ChrisH said…
Fia, now that was brave of your sister. Tom's done the Fastnet - but not THAT year. I'm glad I didn't sail with your granddad.

Helen, now that's the kind of story that really makes me afraid. The swinging boom used to frighten the life out of me on the old wooden boat - with the pig boat it's hoisted up above head level. Unfortunately I do know someone whose sailing companion went overboard and drowned. You and your very tall husband were, I'm so pleased to read, very lucky.

Mags no, it will always be a pig boat to me! Besides, I know it's only lulling me into a false sense of security. I agree, I like the frapping of rigging lines... it drives Tom mad!

Fp, but I bet you don't miss struggling with the pump on the heads and other delights!

Aw, thanks Tam!

Debs, I'm afraid nothing works for me... but, shhh!, I haven't been sick on the pigboat yet. But then most of last year I was too busy trying not to drown on it to be sick.
Edward said…
You've nearly sold me on the sailing - it sounds just a perfect way to find your own space. I'm not sure I have any sea legs, though, and the only way to find out is too traumatic to contemplate. Good luck with the running - I've managed to snag an entry to the Great North Run so I've had to up the regime myself. Luckily no pesky dogs...
Fennie said…
Lovely post Chris - and so sorry I have taken so much time to get around to it. You've still not sold me on sailing though. All those storms and currents and weed waiting to drag you down and leaking boats and rocks. I suppose there aren't any Jack Russells - but sharks have longer teeth and would an Orca notice if it surfaced underneath your boat? (Do they have Orcas in Pembrokeshire?) No, dry land is of infinitely superior quality. Though I suppose when you are at sea you can run which at least gives your poor muscles some rest.
Pipany said…
Late to the party, but WAYHAY!!!! Distinction! So well deserved Chris. Hope you are still floating on a wave of your own making (God, no writer here!!!) xx
Lovely post Chris, I have always fancied boating, sadly the minute I step on board I am as sick as a parrot.

Love your descriptive words Chris.... watching the sun bleach to apricot.... but then we do know your are a brill writer anyway.!

Big pat on the back with the running Chris.

ChrisH said…
Edward, well done on the GNR entry - I don't suppose you'll need to up the regime very much - you'll run a good time.

Fennie, I'm sure there were some Orca rumours last year... but I really, really don't want one to pop up anywhere near me when I am on a boat! Although knowing my luck...

Pip, thank you - all cheers gratefully received!

Camilla, you are very kind. Thank you.
gaelikaa said…
Award for you over here! http://gaelikaasdiary.blogspot.com

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