I have been meaning to write about this for neigh on a year. But being the lazy sort of chap that I am I have kept on putting it off. Since no sailing adventure is in the offing this summer I thought it time to put pen to paper before time distorts my memory of the events any further.

My brother’s family was away in the California and he was feeling like doing something adventurous especially as he had a new car he wanted to try out. As for me I was keen to sail my Mirror in the sea.

The first attempt – Knoll Beach

Knoll Beach

Our first attempt sailing  my old Mirror was in mid June from Knoll Beach, Purbeck.  Knoll beach is not very far from Bournemouth.  This turned out to be a rather trying experience and a steep learning curve.  I rapidly discovered that the sea is not a sheltered lake and unforgiving of one’s  mistakes.

The beach had been crowded and I was inexperienced and had launched without first setting the main sail. With my limited sailing skills and a stiff wind blowing I found it impossible to pull in the boom and cleat the foot of the sail. The wind was just too strong and I was not able to turn the boat into the wind. By now the offshore wind had caught the jib sail and we were rapidly being carried out to sea at a roughly forty five degree angle from the shore.  At this point Yuri and I decided to row on the same side of the boat and force it gradually towards the shore.  Proceeding in this manner we managed to make shore,  some three miles from where had originally started.  It turned out that we found ourselves stranded on the nudist beach. There wasn’t much to see. Mainly middle aged men showing of their tackle. Nice beach though. We waited a few hours for the tide to and the sea to calm as attempting to launch with big waves breaking had swamped the Mirror. The water in the boat had fried our phones, the walkie-talkie and a camera. So we weren’t able to get a message to the rest of our camping group who were waiting for us on Middle Beach which was couple of miles from where we had launched.

We did try relaunching once at high tide but found that the waves and wind pushed the boat back, the waves breaking over the boat. So we had wait it out. Once the tide had turned and the sea calmed significantly we launched and sailing back to Knoll beach without any further incident.

Shell Island and thereabouts.


In the middle of July we, Yuri and I and the Mirror strapped to the top of his car and were off again.  The car drove quite well, cruising at 70-80 mph without any problem. This time to   Shell Island, situated in North Wales.

Camping Shell Island, North Wales

This  is a huge campsite (tents and camper vans only) where you can camp pretty much where you want. Really an excellent campsite. The only downside was the toilet block and showers were miles away and you need a bike to get to these  from most locations on the island. There were porta loos scattered throughout the site but I’d only recommend these for a short visit.

It has 3 beaches. A muddy  tidal estuary where kids love to go crabbing, Dinghy Beach where we launched from and a 2/3 mile long gloriously sandy beach which backs onto the dunes . Great for cycling on when the tide is out. But I digress.. .

After the harrowing experience we had at Knoll beach our first attempt went quite well. The decent to the water lugging the  dinghy without the aid of a trolley was the most difficult bit as we had to decent and he ascend up quite a  step rocky path.  But the sailing was great! We had a 15- 20 mph  breeze and  a maximum swell of a couple of feet. Really ideal for us novice sailors. Notice us looking worried on our first sail out, though.  You would be too!

The only bouyancy aid..

If you didn’t have any buoyancy aids except for this inflatable ring, currently deflated and tied up  at the front of the Mirror. I had forgotten to pack these and we couldn’t find anything else on Shell Island.

Crisps anyone?

On the second day our confidence levels were up and we sailed 4 miles up and down the beach. The Mirror sailed wonderfully bouncing up and down the rolling in swell like a cork.

We even stopped to have a break and on this wonderfully long and sandy beach. It really runs for miles.

Bro rowing. Hard going!

That’s my bro  there – pulling on on the oars. The versatile Mirror can be rowed as well as sailed! We tested this and tried a spot of fishing too. Only caught a bit of weed. Another chap in a kayak bagged 7 sea bream that same day.  I put it down to skill, bait and location. He had rowed out to an underwater reef which we only found out about later that evening.

We can attest  that rowing  against wind and current  is much more difficult compared to sailing in these same conditions.  So it’s worthwhile knowing how to sail! :)

Going out with Paul

After some great sailing at Shell island we packed up and moved to a campsite 12 miles further

south  to meet up with some family and friends.  This was on the beach as well but the launching was more

tricky as you had to negotiate rocks going in and out.  We only had one morning sailing as the rest of the peeps

wanted to go cycling.  I took a gent by the name of Paul out. He got a bit sea sick as the wind was up that day. It was good fun racing along the shore.

I hope we’ll be able to do it again. Sadly it didn’t happen this summer of 2010 but there’s next year to look forward too. :) Thanks bro!

– The End-

Mirror sailing in North Wales

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