The latest newsletter, edited by Dee Holladay, is available now: Severn Tidings 35 Spring 2019.
The Bristol Channel Area has an ever-widening coastline in excess of 300 miles in length, and in consequence a large variety of sailing environments. These include offshore islands, beautiful sandy beaches, large inlets such as Milford Haven and the Taw-Torridge estuary, muddy tidal creeks and the sheltered waters of Cardiff Bay protected by a barrage and large sea locks. OGA events reflect this diversity, with small boat rallies in venues such as Cardiff Bay and the higher reaches of Milford Haven, day cruises in company in the Channel, and longer distance cruises. In addition to the traditional Area Officers, four Regional Officers have been appointed to help provide a more local point of contact for members and encourage events within their particular region.
The Bristol Channel has an extraordinarily rich maritime history. Bristol itself has been a major port for centuries and once stood second only to London in the amount of trade it handled. Further down channel are the historic old trading and fishing ports of Watchet, Instow, Appledore and Bideford, and on the Welsh side, Cardiff and Barry earned their reputations on the back of coal in the 19th century, while ships from Swansea carried copper and tin plate to the four corners of the globe. Milford Haven, one of the deepest natural harbours in the world, is set in the heart of the only coastal National Park in Britain. The Bristol Channel pilot cutters were tough, fast ships designed to be handled by a man and a boy and capable of dealing with the fearsome tides to win the race to put pilots aboard incoming merchant ships. Most were locally built and the true seaworthiness of vessels like ‘Mischief’, ‘Baroque’ and ‘Cariad’ were proven beyond doubt by such as the late Bill Tilman who crossed the oceans of the world in these fine sailing ships on long and arduous voyages to Arctic and Antarctic waters.