By Philip Walters
In 1951 the group purchased 3 Yachting World Cadets which were named Mallory, Raleigh
and Drake, two 9ft rowing dinghies named Akela and Rikki-
The Yachting World Cadets were a new design of craft and the sail numbers of ours were 401, 402 & 403 the number of these craft soon soared and exceeded ten thousand, as they became the first such class with a unique appeal for youngsters.
They were named 401 Mallory, 402 Drake, and 403 Raleigh. In 1953 we bought a second had Cadet called 'Tall Shelia' which we renamed Scott, but she never lost her original name.
The cadets were Sloop rigged with chine built hulls, a deck and small cockpit. They were built from plywood, so that launching them from the pebble beach at the Watch Tower proved a problem as we often punctured the hull on a pebble.
The yachts were well used, although the Watchtower Bay and Barry on the Bristol Channel, is far from the best location for learning to sail. The tidal range of 43 feet means that the channel has extremely fast and dangerous currents, and that sail at the Watchtower bay can only be undertaken 2 hours either side of high water.
An annual South Wales and Monmouth Sea Scout Regatta was held every year, and more often than not it was at Barry. Although my first entries at Barry were better not recorded. I have painful memories of two other regattas. In 1954 the Regatta was held at Mumbles, and we arrived with the craft loaded on Mr Bakers Coal Lorry, and the scouts also hanging on behind for the journey to Swansea. When we arrived there the wind was very strong and blowing into the slipway from where we were to launch. It was decided that because of conditions the yachts would be helmed by experienced scout leaders. I was to sail with Bosun in Mallory. We rigged the boat and launched her, I got into the boat, raised the mainsail, and as I put the rudder in and fixed the tiller into position, I managed to gash my hand very badly. I had to come out and Anthony Bennett took over as crew, and they went on and won the race. They had the glory but I have a scar on my hand to this day to remind me of that Regatta.
Another year it was held at Roath Park Lake, and again it was blowing hard. Of course
we always had to wear lifejackets, but at that time the lifejackets were large kapok
filled, and designed for adults, so on a small scout they were very inhibiting. Well
I was sailing Raleigh when I capsized. To prevent the boat from filling with water,
Eventually in 1957 I did win the race, and still have the miniature cup to prove it.
On another occasion when the boys were sailing in the Old Harbour, they capsized and blew onto the rocks. I raced around from the watchtower and jumped into the water to keep the boat from being holed on the rocks. I struggled in the water for over half an hour, before help arrived to tow it out to sea. I was absolutely exhausted and taken home shivering from the cold. It made me realise how quickly the cold water can sap your strength and debilitate you.