The last day of our holiday in Denbighshire, and I had a choice of paddling the Llangollen Canal or heading up to Llyn Tegid for a spot of open water. Either way it would be solo with the dog, and the prospect of fighting my way through badly driven hire boats didn’t appeal much.
So Llyn Tegid it was, and that gave me an excuse (as if one were needed), to see how the cronje behaved in windy weather on a lake.
The forecast was for winds just about reaching force 3, but when I got to the launch point by the cafe, the wind was more like a steady force 4. A short, sharp-edged chop was blowing down the length of the lake, with wind alleys running parallel to the shores. White horses swept along the middle.
Still, I was here, and I was going to paddle. It would just be a sterner test than I had planned for, especially as my only ballast to assist with trim was the dog. He’s heavy enough at 45kg, but doesn’t necessarily stay where I want him…
Launching from the slight shelter offered near the jetties, I decided to tack upwind rather than try to fight straight up the lake.
This was the first time I had had this boat out in a strong wind, and it handled it well. Relatively lightly loaded it did make some leeway, but held its angle to the wind rather than weathercocking. Holding what in sailing terms was a close haul, the boat met the waves well, with only the occasional splash coming over the gunnel. Reaching the south bank, I hid briefly in the lee of some trees, snapped a quick shot into the wind, then set off on a port tack to reach some of the sailing bouys.
Having gained sufficient windward ground, I decided to turn broadside to the wind and waves, to see how the boat handled things. All was going well until the dog, not enjoying the rolling motion through the swell, stood up. This greatly raised our centre of gravity, and co-incided with the biggest waves in the centre of the lake.
He lost his footing and nearly went over the gunnel, but a quick grab at his collar put him right again. After that he stayed sat down… Strangely, I have no photographs of this part of the paddle!
Once through the unobstructed centre channel, the waves dropped to about 12″, making for a much more comfortable transit. But despite my overly mobile ballast, the boat never felt like it was going over, and stayed dry even broadside to the 2′ waves in the rough patch.
Reaching the wooded point of Cerrigllwydion, I arrived in some shelter from the wind. Able to sit and relax, I let the boat drift for awhile, enjoying the wider views now I didn’t need to watch the water so closely.
The small wood along the shore made a sterling wind break.
I had worked quite hard to reach this point, and didn’t really feel like battling upwind any further. My daughter was in the cafe enjoying a hot chocolate or two while I paddled, and I thought it was about time to join her.
So, I turned downwind to complete the strong wind trial of the cronje, and surfed happily homeward.
Again, the hull showed what a good open water design it is. I didn’t feel it was in danger of broaching, although I was travelling slower than the waves, which always helps stop the bow digging in. The dog seemed to be getting the hang of things more now as well, sitting or laying down. This smooth downwind leg made me wonder about swapping the bow seat for one with a mast support, and installing a mast foot, but I think that will be something for another trip.
Before long I was nearly back at the cafe. The weather front had blown over, and some sun was breaking through the more broken cloud above. It was still quite breezy, but now more like the forecast force 3.
The wind continued to drop off as I neared the outfall of the lake. A gentle scrape of gravel under the hull announced the end of my paddle, just in time to join my daughter for a hot drink before the cafe closed.
It was a successful trial in stronger winds than I had intended, but I proved to myself that this new boat was very much at home on open water.