Seafair Milford Haven - 23-30 June 2012


Report from Richard

lawreny map

 Sketch map of rivers near Lawreny

We attended this biennial festival in 2008 and 2010, but this year we had the worst weather we have experienced so far, but the HSC spirit is indomitable and we did enjoy ourselves.

Mark T and Geof trailed Meander, Clem towed his Storm 17 Chirp, Gerald and Mark S brought the Drascombe Dabber Susie, and the editor brought his Tideway Whinchat, most of us arriving on Saturday 23rd. Frank arrived by train on Sunday.

Camping at Lawreny

Camping at Lawreny

A wonderful view from the campsite

A wonderful view from the campsite

Camping for the Sail and Oar flotilla was provided at the temporary site on the hill above Lawrenny church, where there was a water standpipe and Portaloos. Showers were available at the sports club in the village. The area used as an occasional camp site was formerly occupied by Lawrenny Castle, a Victorian mansion, and commands a view over the Cresswell and Carew rivers.

“The historian, Burke, states in 1858 that the original house ‘Has lately been pulled down, and another is in the course of being created by Mr. Phillips in the castellated style’. This was George Lort-Phillips, M.P., whose family had inherited the property. This large towered and turreted mansion, typical of the mid 19th century, known as Lawrenny Castle, remained until 1950 when it was demolished.” Extract of “Lawrenny” taken from Francis Jones, Historic Houses of Pembrokeshire and their Families.

Sunday 24th

Launching Chirp

Launching Chirp

Clem launched his new boat, naming it Chirp and substituting beer for champagne. Clem has built this boat himself to plans provided by Swallowboats Ltd.. It was Clem's intention to complete his new boat for a first launch at this Seafair event, so it was completed exactly on schedule. How many amateur boat builders (or professional ones for that matter) achieve that? Mark S. and Geoff accompagnied Clem on a trial sail up the river.

Chirp first sail

First tryout sail of the Chirp

Monday 25th

Monday was the only day that our sailing matched the official Seafair program! We sailed to Cresswell Quay for a barbeque breakfast organised by the local church (see below), then sailed up the Cleddau for lunch at Landshipping Quay. In the evening Clem organised a BBQ back at the campsite - lots of food - impressed by method of cleaning up - let local slugs do it for you!.

Breakfast at Cresswell Quay

Breakfast at Cresswell Quay

Tuesday 26th

A 'Boatswain's Lunch' was laid on at our local pub, the Lawrenny Arms, the dish was cawl, a soup/stew. After lunch, Chirp with Clem and Mark S and Susie with Gerald, Richard and Frank sailed and drifted upriver towards Llangwm then back for an evening meal at the Lawrenny Arms.

Wednesday 27th

The official program was to sail to Angle, but in view of weather and tide times the HSC contingent chose to sail to Carew Tide Mill instead. 'Winchat' sailed with Richard and Mark S., 'Meander' with Mark T. and Geof, 'Susie' with Gerald, Frank and Clem. At Carew we met Alastair with his Paradox 'Little Jim' and Derek with another Tideway, 'Barbette'. Susie was swept onto a mudflat on the return but they avoided spending the night there by ignoring warnings about soft mud and pushing off into deeper water.

At Carew tide mill

At Carew tide mill

The organisers laid on an evening trip by water taxi to Milford Haven for a drinks reception on the tall ship 'Earl of Pembroke', followed by a meal and music arranged by Milford Haven Harbour Board. It was a wet and windy night on the campsite.

Thursday 28th

It was too windy for the programmed trip to Pembrook Pool. Nobody really fancied sailing, Clem took Frank to catch a train home, Mark S cycled up the east side of the Cleddau esturary to visit Landshipping pub (now closed), Blackpool Mill and teashop (which were also closed) and Canaston Bridge where he found a nice pub up the hill. The Seafair orgnaisation laid on an evening trip by coach to Neyland Yacht Club for a curry and music by a Welsh male voice choir.

Friday 29th

Winchat with Richard and Mark S. (photo by Alastair)

Winchat with Richard and Mark S. (photo by Alastair)

Richard and Mark S had planned a trip up Cleddau River in Whinchat but changed plans after trying to tack against tide and blustery westerly winds. Instead they took an easier option with following wind and rising tide to Cresswell Quay and pub. They chatted to the landlord’s sister about her mother who ran the pub into her 90’s and lived to 105 by regular drinks of Sherry (morning) and Whisky (evening). Most of the party then drove to Cardigan to visit the suppliers of the kit for Clem’s boat. The evening was spent at Lawrenny Cricket Club with Burgers, Beer, and Sea Shanties and other musical entertainment.

Saturday 30th

Officially the day for the “Parade of Sail” but most boats from the Sail and Oar fleet had been recovered and no-one fancied the beat against wind and tide (and the rain!). We de-camped and waited hopefully (but in vain) for our tents to dry between the regular showers. Then we all set off for home.


The funding that supported the Seafair festival in 2008 and 2009 is no longer available and so the organisers have had to scale back some aspects of the festivities. For the first time they also had to introduce a modest £30 registration fee for the event and there was also a charge for use of the facilities at Lawreny Yacht Station. So this is no longer a free event, but still value for money.