Discretion and Valor

We have been dogged by dreadful weather for the last month. On Friday (yes, I know) the forecast was tolerable, if not great – wind NW 5-6, with our course SW to Lands End 100 miles across the Celtic Sea. We agreed it was worth a go, albeit a potentially miserable one. We cleared the lock at Milford Haven just after dark and beat down the sound with an angry-looking roll of frontal cloud looming to the north. Approaching the entrance to the sound, the breeze increased and we were getting seriously wet. I called up the coastguard for an update weather report – “Lundy force 7 increasing 8, with seas rough to very rough” – which gave us only a nanosecond of planning review.

We turned around. In fresh wind and driving rain we cracked a bottle of wine and ran back east, through the lock, mercifully still open, and into the haven. I realised that this was the first time in 45 years that I had retreated after setting sail. Discretion here was clearly better than valor, but with nary a regret. By 11 pm, in flat water and with the wind howling in the rigging, our bed was never so cosy.

The following day it was blowing hard enough for a cruise ship to abandon its passage west and return to Liverpool. Now we have a week of vile weather to abide, and a road tour of St Davids Head and the Brecon Beacons looks enticing.

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