Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Getting Wet & Wild at Plas Newydd

“You can do kayaking, canoeing, raft building, high ropes course or sailing”

The words were spoken by Jane, our Business Support Coordinator at Plas Newydd when I asked if I could join one of their Wet & Wild days. 

I paused and glanced out of the window towards the Menai Strait

“Mmm.  Let me think…” I ruminated.

Kayaking and canoeing? I can do this any weekend. 

Raft building?  Sounds a bit like hard work. 

High ropes?  Too terrestrial for a Coastal Engagement Project Manager.

And, Sailing..? 

Yes, I thought.  I’ve always fancied doing that, but never had the opportunities – financial or otherwise – to have a go.

So here I am, a month later, unglamorously clothed in purple waterproofs and life jacket with three families of friendly strangers on the quay below the Marquess of Anglesey’s ancestral home on the banks of the mighty Menai.

Ready to cast off
 For some time now, the Trust has been keen to complement the more cerebral attractions of the James Wyatt –designed 18th century mansion with activities that could appeal to people of all ages and interests.  And we didn't have to look far for ideas.  The Conway Centre which provides all sorts of educational, art and adventure experiences sits right next door.

So it was two teachers from the Centre, Colin and Charlie who were to show us land-lubbers the ropes.   They split us into two groups: the younger children and a father with Colin and the older children (including me) with Charlie.  A few minutes later our group was stepping carefully from the little motor boat onto the graceful lines of Jouster, one of two 8m long J/80 fixed-keel sailing boats that the centre owns.

Jouster, waiting at her mooring
Sitting attentively with my fellow cadets, Charlotte, Emily, Alfred and Alex, I learnt the names for the sails, ropes (some curiously called sheets), cleats and other vital equipment.  Soon we were setting off into a stiff south-westerly and learning to ‘beat a tack’, ‘come about’, ‘jibe’ and how to avoid the ominous-sounding “danger zone”.

Charlotte takes the tiller as Charlie checks the trim of the sails

Alfred and Emily off Felinheli
Emily takes a turn as helm
A dozen or so tacks brought us to the far side of Felinheli and in high spirits we made for home, securing the yacht to the mooring minutes before a squall hit us.  The final task – requiring the combined teamwork of both crews – was to haul the motor boat in one continuous motion up the steep ramp to the safety of the quayside.

And so we made our way back to the kit store, pleased with ourselves for taking the trouble of broadening our horizons in such an enjoyable way. 

Now all I have to do is start saving up for that yacht.

Why not go Wet & Wild yourself?  Trips continue until the end of August.  Click here for details.

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