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Above: Plenty of room for two in the V-berth forward and below left, modern comforts include pumped fresh water to the galley sink. Below right: No need to hang over the aft deck to tend the outboard. Facing: The author at the helm gets 7 knots without really trying.
Meeting a proper expert, Peter Chesworth of Mylor Boat Hire fame in his role of photographer for Water Craft magazine, was ...er... sobering, you could say. He knew what he was doing – and I obviously didn't
– but we both knew what the weather was doing. After weeks of a veritable Indian Summer, a cold front was coming through. Tuesday morning began wet and windy, gusting F7 with low cloud rolling over the headland from St Dogmaels, obscuring the other side of the Teifi estuary. Not good photo shoot weather. High tide was at 10am and so it was either launch here and now on an ebbing tide or leave it until tomorrow. The forecast didn't look any better for Wednesday and neither Chessy nor I relished the thought of a second full English breakfast at the local hotel, so it was on with the foulies and off to the slipway.
Matt took a whole 15 minutes – slow by his standards – to raise the mast and get the BayCruiser into the water but the tide was ebbing fast and it took the two of us to wrestle her off the mud at the bottom of the slip and into water deep enough to get some board down. Life would have been a lot easier if the outboard had not decided that Tuesday was its day off and at one point, we were both over the side in shallow water shoving the boat over a mud bank. Some photo opportunity that was! Matt nipped back on board easily enough while I scrabbled feebly over the gunwale, hampered by the deep coaming and several kilos of good Welsh mud, water and minute marine organisms in each wellie.
The Bay Cruiser didn't actually need this extra ballast as the tanks were already filling up enough to keep us stable as we short tacked – under full sail despite the wind – through the tightly packed fishing boats. Some pretty fierce gusts were still coming across the estuary and I wasn't much help to Matt as a crew member. There was a lot more string to play with on this boat compared to my lugger... and mistaking the centreboard down-haul for the up-haul tended to impair our windward progress until I got the hang of it.
Once in clear water and a reasonable distance from the moorings, we had more time to look at the GPS and found that we were doing 5 to 7 knots against the tide and over 9
www.watercraft-magazine.com Bay Cruiser 20 Specification
LOA: 20’3” (6.18m) LWL: 18’7” (5.67m) Beam: 7’7” (2.3m)( Draft – centreplate raised: 1’ (0.3m)
centreplate down: 4’ (1.2m) Weight: 990 lbs (450kg) Water ballast: 880 lbs (400kg)
Sail Area: 215 sq.ft (20m²)