28th-29thAugust.  We’re based at the marina in Milford Haven this week, so Jonathan can research the town and line up potential interviewees for the podcast series on ’12 ports’. It is stimulating exploring with a purpose, and beginning to make comparisons between the places we’ve visited on the voyage, many of which have experienced cycles of growth and decline, and have needed to reinvent themselves.

Mid-week we ventured further into the Milford estuary and up the beautiful Cleddau river. First we passed huge jetties ready to receive tankers with their cargo of gas or oil: on the south side of the river there is still a working oil refinery, with a flare-stack visible for miles like a giant medieval beacon, lighting the clouds dramatically at night. Most other refinery sites have been converted into LNG storage or decommissioned.  We passed Pembroke Dock with a huge Irish Ferry waiting for its passengers. Then the river narrows and the scenery becomes rural and peaceful, the river bank lined with rich deciduous woodland.

Milford oil refinery

We sailed on with the rising afternoon tide, past creeks (often called ‘pills’). We passed Lawrenny Quay, a busy working quay in the 1800s and later a seaplane base in WW2. Today there is a landing pontoon for yachts at high water, and deep water mooring buoys. We continued upriver past Black Tar point and Sprinkle Pill, then left where the river divides into east and west, up the West Cleddau to a mooring buoy just beyond Millin Pill.  

Nova in the West Cleddau

Our goal was to visit old friends of Jonathan’s.  On arrival we were picked up and whisked up river in James’ rib, for a whistlestop tour of the upper reaches of the river, which goes up to Haverfordwest, which was once a thriving port.  It used to be a coal mining area, with big ships arriving to pick up their cargo of coal.  The history (a network of tunnels) is hidden under woodland and the muddy banks of the estuary which are exposed at low tide are full of birds.  

After a delightful supper al fresco looking out over the creek and Nova on the mooring buoy we reluctantly returned to the boat as the sun dipped, and motored 15 minutes downstream to anchor in a deep pool at the edge of the river, where we spent a very peaceful night.  The following day we returned to Milford, where we are waiting for our next crew to join us.

  • Distance: 21nm. Motored 3h, sailed 1h
  • Wind: SW3-5


On our passage ‘Around These Islands’ Anne is writing about each trip, and Jonathan is writing some more ‘technical’ blogs, from our perspective as ordinary cruising sailors. We are sharing what we’ve learned, and welcome your thoughts too. Please remember that this blog – and your comments – are public.

There’s also a special focus on 12 key ports on our planned route, with articles from These Islands and a series of podcasts from Chrome Media called ‘Around These Islands in 12 Ports’.


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