Navigating the North Coast of Anglesey

In our first meeting since the summer break, we met in the Schoolroom of Peniel chapel to hear Mr Dafydd Williams, harbourmaster in Cemaes Bay, North Anglesey, give a talk called Navigating the North Coast of Anglesey; Wrecks, Mysteries and Secrets.

Our Chair Kevin Slattery welcomed us and then introduced the speaker. Dafydd was born in Yorkshire but the family moved back to their roots in Anglesey when he was 5 years old is After completing his teacher training at Bretton Hall, near Wakefield he taught Art and Design at Swallownest Secondary School near Sheffield and Crewe Grammar School. He then attended Birmingham College of Art and Design before taking up a teaching post at Holyhead High School running the largest ceramics department in the UK at the time

He has lived in Cemaes Bay, North Anglesey, since 1974 and run a charter fishing and tourist boat out of the harbour in Cemaes for many years. He is Harbourmaster for Cemaes and has been an Auxiliary Coastguard since 1974, saving over 400 lives at sea during that time.

Our speaker began his presentation by a discussion of the work of Lewis Morris who charted large parts of the Welsh coast in the 18th century. We were shown slides of his work and the speaker had brought a copy of a book of these charts. He then went on to show slides of several shipwrecks which emphasised the dangerous nature of the coast of north Anglesey. These shipwrecks included The Mary, Charles 2nds royal yacht, Dafydd then discussed the work of Francis Williams and her husband James who were instrumental in the setting up of a local society named the Preservation of Lives at Sea. Slides were shown of the old wooden lifeboats which relied on local men rowing out in very dangerous conditions to rescue vessels in trouble. We were told that during the 19th and 20th century there used to be 13 RNLI lifeboats on Anglesey but these have been cut down to 2 All Weather Lifeboats at Moelfre and Holyhead with in-shore boats at Treaddur and Beaumaris

He then turned to the mysteries and secrets surrounding the group of islands known as the Skerries. The audience were fascinated by tales of hidden silver and secret passageways!

The talk concluded with slides showing navigation aids such as buoys and we learnt how to know where the reefs were according to the particular shape on the top of a buoy. The final slide was a beautiful photo of the Charles Henry Ashley, the historic lifeboat which is kept in Cemaes Bay Harbour during the summer months.

The audience asked many questions and the evening concluded with people being invited to look at the books of 18th century charts by Lewis Morris and also a model of The Mary. A very entertaining and informative talk by a speaker with vast knowledge of his subject

Diane Williams

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