Britannia Bridge from the Menai Strait with yachts approaching

Summer Cruise 2024 – CAI in the Menai Strait

A cruise to the Menai Straits in Wales is a fine test for a boat, skipper and crew as Lord Nelson considered these waters to be the most treacherous in Britain. The Cruising Association of Ireland has cruised in the Menai on a number of occasions and there is no better way to cruise here than in the company of other sailors. And so, in June 2024, eleven boats from four different regions gathered at Holyhead to cruise through the Menai Straits and visit its beautiful marinas and anchorages.

The eleven boats and their crews represented a wonderful variety of vessels and abilities, and everyone cooperated to share knowledge and experience to inspire confidence to take on the famous Swellies. There were challenges for everyone and new experiences in taking moorings in a strong tide at the Menai Bridge, rafting on tight marina berths, navigating the Caernarfon Bar in an adverse wind and tide and finally some cruising in darkness on the passage home. There was great support from home by John Leahy with regular advice on tides, passage plans and tides. But these are the joys of cruising in company and no amount of theory can beat the practical experience of completing such a cruise. It is a credit to the skippers and crews who achieved it.

The fleet encountered every variety of weather bar snow during the ten days of the cruise, but fortune followed the fleet and there were windows where we encountered exhilarating sailing in sunshine. The fleet was welcomed warmly in Holyhead, Conwy, Menai Bridge, Port Dinorwic and Caernarfon and we are indebted to the marina managers and harbour masters who facilitated us. These places are very beautiful and on shore days there was a wonderful variety of things to do. Participants enjoyed walks, sightseeing, tours, steam train trips, prehistoric copper mines and a tour of Wales’s only distillery (Penderyn) with tastings.

The CAI is renowned for music and singing and there were nights of great performances with many a hidden talent revealed. The end of cruise dinner was held in the beautiful Old Courthouse in Caernarfon where we were treated to beautiful food and music and the owner joined in the merriment with us. Everyone will have their own memories of what was a wonderful cruise, and we can say we sailed in the wake of Nelson and his sailors.

Clifford Brown