Heading for the Rocks

Blue Nun and the rocks!

Aaaah! The joy of having a boat again! Blue Nun’s so much more responsive than our wooden boat, lovely as she was, and so nippy too! We enjoy a brisk sail from Neyland to Dale where we spend a couple of restful days, reading, writing and generally watching the world go by. On the third morning we decide on a change of scenery and potter round to a sheltered bay where we can pick up a mooring buoy. Well, we would have, if I’d been quicker. Now, I’m pretty good at picking up buoys, but make a right dog’s dinner of it this time.

‘Never mind,’ says Tom, ‘we’ll give it another go!’ He puts the engine in reverse and Blue Nun obediently travels backwards (something no previous boat of ours has ever done!) … and a rope which trails the dingy behind the boat whirls round the propeller. Yikes! Tom manages to free enough to regain control of the engine, but he’s pretty sure that some of the rope is still tangled up.

Whilst I would quite like to pretend it doesn’t matter, ignoring the problem isn’t a solution - there are huge ships manoeuvring in Milford Haven and the last thing we need is for the gearbox to pack up or lose control of the boat when one of those is bearing down on us. There’s only one option; we’ll have to run the boat up the beach, dry out and free the prop that way.

A Chris-eye view of the beach as we approach
Although Tom has planned the operation very carefully, I have a very disturbed night during which I decide I would quite like to be airlifted off the boat. Low water comes and it’s time to begin. I sit on the bow scanning for rocks - and see bloody millions of them - but there is a clear stretch and Tom navigates it superbly. What a star!


He frees the prop - which does indeed have rope wrapped around it - and then we spend a couple of hours in the sunshine waiting for the tide to rise again. A glut of sand eels has washed up on the shore and the seagulls are having a field day feasting on them. They’re beautiful birds in their natural environment and it’s great to be able to watch them closely. The tide returns and we lift the kedge anchor and cruise back to our berth, no harm done. Another adventure in a small boat!

And I wonder why I'm going grey!


Maggie Christie said…
Yes that's EXACTLY how I remember the sailing my family did when I was little! What stars you both are for sorting that bit of excitement out so neatly. The last time I ever went sailing (with my Dad) the wind dropped, the engine ran out of petrol, the tide was too strong, we got stuck on a mud bank and had to be rescued by a much bigger, posher boat (but not until after Dad's friend had taken off his trousers and waded into the water in bright red underpants). Oh the shame.

I do have fond memories of a childhood spent sailing from Lawrenny to Dale, parking the boat on the keels as the tide went out, then paddling ashore for a day on the beach (and in the pub, for the grown-ups) before floating back again.
Chris Stovell said…
Oh, I can just imagine that day, Mags! Aargh! The times we've promised the girls a lovely peaceful sail... and had an adventure instead! I'm glad it's not just us! Perhaps we'll have a nice, peaceful sail next time! We haven't been up to Lawrenny yet but it's one of the places we plan to explore. That's one of the beauties of Milford that there are so many places to see.
Clare Chase said…
That sounds like quite a trip, Chris! Glad you got safely sorted out and coped so well. I’m clueless about sailing, but have been loving your beautiful photographs on Twitter/Facebook. It looks so idyllic, but I can see there’s lots of hard work involved too!
Kathryn Freeman said…
Never a dull moment on board a boat eh?! But you've seen some magnificent scenery, and the peace and joy of being on the water obviously makes up for the occasional drama. And of course it's little things like the caught rope that can spark ideas - and end up in books, I hope :-)
Chris Stovell said…
I would have been completely clueless without Tom, Clare - fortunately he knew exactly how to get us out of the situation but if it happens again at least I'll know what to do next time! Sailing's always like that - a blend of wonderful, idyllic moments and intense fear!
Chris Stovell said…
That's certainly true, Kate - as both girls will testify! It is worth it to see so many wonderful sights - the scenery looks so different from the water and sunsets and sunrises are always magnificent to see too. And then there are the rubbish, scary bits!! x
A book - I hope so! It's about time!!
Flowerpot said…
Yes, but life would be boring without adventures, Chris, wouldn't it?! Though I know sometimes we might like a little less of the adventure and more of the plain sailing....! x
Chris Stovell said…
It's when folks say it's character-forming that I laugh, Sue, my character must be something like the Gruffalo looming over me by now with all these 'adventures'! xx
Frances said…
Chris, from your brilliant words, I could just about imagine being on board with you and Tom.
Please pass along to Tom my compliments on his sailing wisdom. I am also sure that you are compiling your own collection of lore and expertise, dear Chris.
I look forward to your report of your next voyage. xo
Chris Stovell said…
Thank you so much, Frances! I'm hoping that the next voyage will be little less adventurous! :) x
Pondside said…
This took me back to our days sailing our own money pit - or day sailor as some people might have called it. I'd live in terror of a 'good day for a sail' because it meant wind, and wind meant frightening angles and (to me) near misses. The Great Dane was more than competent, but I never lost my fear of going fast. I am quite impressed by your sangfroid and your Tom's skill!
Chris Stovell said…
Oh goodness, you're not wrong about that, dear Pondside, our boat was a real bargain but the cost of it crept up from the minute we started work on her! And I do know what you mean about those good sailing days. I think it took a few years break from having a boat to make me appreciate the best bits about sailing! I've gone into it with open eyes this time!
Irish Eyes said…
You have been having an adventure my friend, and more first hand information for your next book - delighted to hear that all's well that ends well; thoroughly enjoyed this read.
Chris Stovell said…
Thank you so much Irish Eyes. Lovely to see you x

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