I was very interested to read of Anglesey and in particular Cox’n Dick Evans and the Skerries in the September 2014 issue of Sea Breezes.
In 1975, three of us acquired an old wooden yacht by the name of Florenien berthed at West Kirby Sailing Club on the River Dee. The Florenien was built by a shipyard called Bonds & Son of Rockferry on the River Mersey as the Ethildra in 1906/1907 – a Royal Mersey Restricted Class, of which about 10 – 12 were built. LOA was 27ft and LWL 24ft.
We set sail for Holyhead on 24 May 1975. The log is as follows; 1000 – departed West Kirby Sailing Club, 1105 – passed Welshman Buoy, 1530 – passed entrance to Menai Straits, approximately three miles offshore, 1745 – arrived Moelfre, wind direction N-NE 2-3, little swell. We anchored with our fabricated CQR type anchor approximately 100 yards from the shore. The wind and sea were noted to increase during the evening, but as the anchor was holding, it was decided to await the 0033 shipping forecast before deciding whether to up anchor or remain the night at Moelfre.
Suddenly the yacht gave a lurch and started drifting towards the shore. We dropped the spare fisherman’s anchor and tried to start the engine. A flare was let off and within a very few minutes there was a clang as the doors of the lifeboat house were flung open and a roar as the lifeboat was launched. As it happened, we got washed well up a sloping rock south of Moelfre Roads, and were high and dry in a short period of time.
Cox’n Dick Evans arrived on the scene and introduced himself. He gave us some advice and introduced us to a writer friend who worked with Dick on his speeches for fund-raising for the RNLI (Cox’n Dick Evans retired from the lifeboat in 1970). The next morning we were towed to Beaumaris by the lifeboat with Cox’n William Roberts in charge. Finally we ended up in Dickies Boat Yard at Bangor for a new rudder to be fashioned and other minor damage, caulking and painting. With planks of 1” thickness and iron frames in places, the Florenien could take a bit of a knock.
A couple of years later we managed to get to Holyhead via the Menai Straits. After a few days of being storm-bound, it calmed a bit and we decided to head back to Beaumaris via the Skerries. As we approached the Skerries Rock lighthouse, we noticed the lighthouse keepers signalling with the “U” flag – you are standing into danger. There was a bit of a chop but nothing too bad, however we decided to head off for Caernarvon and the Strait. Nowadays without lighthouse keepers there is no chance of any warning similar to the above. Do in fact seafarers need to know anything about this method of communication?
The photo is of a picture painted by Mr Entwistle of Anglesey (whose paintings used to be in the centrepages of Sea Breezes). The Florenian is shown and the flag pole of the right of the lighthouse is flying the “U” flag.
Malta, MSK 1132