Medicine Sail for Juno 26th April 2016
The journey begins in Carnarvon dock Wales as we pump up the dingy in a hail storm passing over. The boat has had to be in dock over the winter as the seas here are very wild and even within the protecting walls of the harbour several pontoons had broken in high winds. I state my intention to ask for healing Medicine for Juno within the collective and feel a great sense of exuberance as we sail out of the harbour into the bay.
There are three of us on the journey and our destination is a buoy at Y Felinhelli in the Menai Straits. This is a narrow and notoriously dangerous straits falling between mainland Wales and the island of Anglesey which was the last stronghold of the Druids under Roman Invasion of Britain. There are many Neolithic cairns and standing stones on Anglesey. There are buoy markers along the way and we have to zig zag across the straits avoiding rocks and sand banks underneath the water. It is extremely tidal here and we are going against the tide which slows the passage down somewhat.
As we cross the bay following the markers for safe passage an Arctic Tern appears over the boat and a short time later its mate appears. They would have flown thousands of miles to be here, a bird of great resilience. Their pure white wings are very slender and curved and their delicate tails forked. The black patterns on the head are a striking contrast and their slender form seems perfect for the long journey’s these birds take. The Terns follow us on our zig zagging course. Sometimes they fly together on the wing and sometimes one disappears off for a while. The sun has come out now and whilst there is a cold wind it is very pleasant watching the birds and the sea.
We are surrounded in the distance by the snow capped mountains of Snowdonia and the clouds are very expressive today. On the banks of Anglesey I notice 3 separate large circles of stones and within them around ten very large, old trees each. They appear to be dancing as they do not yet have leaves and their branches are interconnected and a haze of purple, burnished orange and silver in the distance. I marvel at this as I have sailed here a number of times but never seen these trees before. The stone circles form a triangle in the field surrounded by sheep peacefully grazing.
The houses that line the straits are mostly old mansions and I see the terns in the distant flying over a very beautiful and regal house. It is pale yellow in colour and looks very well kept. I can see poly tunnels and other outbuildings. There is a big fire going burning off the dead wood from the winter making way for new growth.
The terns are just circling together in front of the house over the sea when suddenly they both dive together in perfect synchronicity. They rise again circling each other and the meadow below. After a while I turn to look at the other bank of the straits to a field of sheep. As I look it appears that there are about 50 lambs running down the hill suddenly in the distance but I laugh when I realise they are actually a flock of arctic terns taking off. We are just watching them when we see a buzzard appear in the sky.
I am very excited as I have been reading The Return of the Bird Tribes by Ken Carey in the car on the way here and my heart is full of spirit and hope. The appearance of the buzzard sends tingles through me and we are all standing up trying to get a better look. The friend we are with has brought binoculars and she offers them to me for a better look. It takes a minute to find the bird through the lenses peering into the blue sky with clouds forming and floating endlessly above. When I finally get the buzzard in my sights it is like seeing into another dimension with the formation of the clouds and witnessing the flight of this awesome feathered friend.
After a while the buzzard disappears and we are now on our approach to Y Felinhelli. We pick out the buoy we have been allocated from afar and I go with our friend to the front of the boat with a hook. Catching the buoy has been tricky in the past as the engine was not keen on going into neutral or reverse but now she has a new engine, more reliable and able to give more manoeuvrability. I manage to hook the rope first time but it is all tangled from its long winter in the water and the Harbour Trust have put some ties on it to make it safer. I’m glad of my friend’s help in untangling the rope covered in seaweed and slime before we can tie it on. In the past I’ve almost had my arms torn off hanging onto the buoy for dear life as the current takes the boat.
The journey back to shore in the dingy is hard rowing for the skipper. She understands the way the tides work perfectly and we end up floating into shore even with constant rowing at a ninety degree angle to the boat. I am very grateful of her knowledge and feeling for the sea (a Pisces) and how to navigate it and we safely reach the shore.