Conwy is very pretty, and it seemed a pity to push on too quickly, so stayed another day and walked into the town. It is medieval walled town of quaint narrow streets and has one of the best preserved medieval castles in Britain built in 1283. Lots of visitors but not too crowded this early in the summer.
Whilst we were there we had the added bonus of seeing the Flying Scotsman on its round Britain farewell tour as it headed towards Holyhead.
Flying Scotsman coming out of tunnel designed by Robert Stephenson
We also visited Plas Mawr, one of the finest remaining examples of an Elizabethan country house.
Conwy Marina is very smart, but when we got back to the boat Harvard was aground – though only in soft mud and still upright next to the finger pontoon. It seems that the marina either has a silt problem or some sort of problem with its “tidal flap and dam”, so we would recommend caution to anyone thinking of visiting and that they request a “deep” location.
No rain, the visibility was moderate, and there was wind. We had to wait 45 minutes to get fuel because the marina staff were “on a break”, but we finally left at around the time we had planned. Our destination was Conwy, and we had the choice of either going through the Menai Straits, or round the top of Anglesey. We would have liked to go through the Straits, just for the experience, but the timing was wrong. We would have had to wait until the evening, and that would have made us very late to Conwy, so we opted for the northerly route.
Despite the dire warnings in the pilot book about rounding the north end of Anglesey in northerly winds, we had a relatively easy time as we had timed our passage to arrive at slack tide and it was a neap tide. We motor sailed into the north easterly breeze as far as the Skerries, and once past Middle Mouse, we stopped the engine, unrolled the genoa and bore away onto a close reach for the 25mile stretch all the way to the fairway buoy at the entrance to Conwy. On the way we once again passed the Patricia (see position 19 May). She was picking up the starboard hand mark we were aiming for just off the now decommissioned Wylfa nuclear power station.
It was great to have some proper sailing again but sad that, once again, we were the only sailing boat out enjoying it. The entrance into Conwy is interesting and reminded us very much of entering Bembridge Harbour on the Isle of Wight with the same challenges of following a twisting channel in a shallow bay that dries at low tide. The marina seems to be great but it was a tight squeeze into our berth and once again the bow thruster proved its worth.
Grey skies over the 1.5mile breakwater at Holyhead
The sailing in this area can be treacherous if you don’t do your tidal calculations right, and we got up too late in the morning to make a proper passage plan, so had to stay another day.
Richard and I had one of our most miserable holidays ever in Holyhead in 1977. We were competing in the Laser National Championships, but it coincided with a horrible week of strong winds and driving rain. We were camping and all we can remember is the misery of being cold and wet for a week. Well, Holyhead hasn’t changed much. We were cold and wet again today. The town doesn’t have a lot to offer, and it was too wet and misty to make a walk an inviting prospect. By the evening we had had enough and went to Holyhead Sailing Club to find some company and see if the locals could give us any tips. There was hardly anyone there except for one man and his son from Cheshire who had only just bought their boat, and hadn’t yet taken it out of the harbour so we didn’t pick up any useful local sailing knowledge.
Holyhead Sailing Club