Image courtesy Tim Walters/The Foto Guys
The spectacular Menai Boat Run for 2023 was a huge success, with 20 boats from 18 different clubs taking part this year and raising valuable funds for the Beaumaris Lifeboat Station.
The Menai Run was started in 2007 by Paul Tyers at East Cheshire Sub-Aqua Club (ECSAC) as an opportunity to get club boats out on the water for a shakedown before the main dive season got underway.
Now in its 16th year, the 2023 Run was organised by Chester Sub-Aqua Club and attracted RIBs (rigid inflatable boats) from clubs mainly based in the northwest, although from as far afield as Leicestershire, Bradford and Doncaster.
The Run gives club members a great excuse to get their boat and trailer ready for the season, to re-grease the wheel bearings and smack the drums to release the sticking brakes. Hopefully engines have been serviced and ready to go before launching (there was only one club with an engine problem, and no-one needed rescuing.)
Menai things to see
The sea excursion is a 26-mile round trip which begins from Dinas Boat yard in Felinheli just North of Caernarvon, and takes in the Menai Strait to Puffin Island off Anglesey. The Menai Strait in particular attracts many clubs, despite once being described by Nelson as “one of the most treacherous stretches of sea in the world”.
For the passengers – although not so much the coxswain, as (s)he needs to concentrate - there are some spectacular sights to take in, such as the Britannia Bridge across the Menai originally designed and built by Robert Stephenson, the Research Vessel Prince Madog used by Bangor University, the Thomas Telford Menai Suspension bridge built in 1826, and many beautiful houses and islands.
Keeping the boat Strait
For coxswains the need to concentrate is greatest when navigating ‘The Swellies’, which is a stretch of water between the two bridges with whirlpools and surges caused by tides washing around the island of Anglesey at different speeds. Great fun and relief once you’re through, but then you realise you have the return run to complete before you can relax…
Once the boats have rounded Puffin Island there is a pit stop for lunch at the Neptune fish and chip shop at Beaumaris, who were all-hands-on-deck for over 100 servings in 30 minutes.
Fun and fundraising
Dave Parry [L] of Chester SAC presents Tim Bailey of Beaumaris RNLI with a cheque for £1,350
The real purpose of course was fundraising and during the lunch stop a cheque was presented to Beaumaris Lifeboat station for £1,350, the proceeds of this year’s event. To say thank you the RNLI crew launched their boat and escorted clubs back along the Strait, showing off their beautiful Atlantic 85.
Stephen Dorricott, BSAC Northwest Regional Coach said:
This was the first time I have participated in the Menai Boat Run and it’s a long day starting at 5am in Southport and finishing at 7pm when the boat is washed and returned to the shed, but everyone on board shared the driving and the launch and recover nearly went to plan! We all had a great day ‘playing’ on the boat (which ran like a dream) and great satisfaction for what was achieved.
A big thanks to Dave Parry (Chester BSAC) and his members for arranging the day: many hours of planning and preparation go into organising this event and keeping everyone safe. Thanks also to Dinas boat yard for allowing the use of their slip, to Tim Bailey the station manager of the Beaumaris RNLI, the crew and their Helm Steve Barnard (who is also a regional BSAC instructor).
Thank you also to all the clubs who participated this year: Alpha Divers, Bradford, Chester, Flint, Golden Lion, Hartford, Merseyside, Neston, Octopus Divers, Roundhill (Leicestershire), Southport, Shrewsbury, Trafford, Vale Royal, Wrexham, WAPSAC, West Lancs, Weston.