We leave Aberystwyth just before high water the next day, and head out to sea to avoid the shallow parts of the underwater shingle spit Sarn Cynfelyn that stretches out several miles into Cardigan Bay. Legend has it that this was a causeway that led out to the kingdom of Cantre’r Gwaelod in the middle of Cardigan Bay, which was flooded when one of the princes of the kingdom during a drunken stupor accidentally forgot to close the sluice gates of one of the dykes protecting the kingdom. The remains of a submerged forest which was supposed to be part of the kingdom can still be seen on Borth beach just to the north of the spit. Apparently if you listen carefully on a stormy night, you can still hear the kingdom’s cathedral bells ringing, warning sailors to keep away. It’s a great story, with parallels with other Celtic flood myths, but geologists tell us that it is more likely to be moraines of the glaciers that once flowed down the associated valleys during the Ice Age.
About three miles out to sea, there is a deeper gap through the spit called the Main Channel, which we take before turning northwards for Aberdyfi, where we have decided to stop for the night. With a fresh westerly breeze, we have a good sail along the coast up to the mouth of the Dyfi River marked by a large white and red buoy. We call the Aberdyfi harbourmaster, who tells us that the course of the river has changed, and that we should follow the green starboard marker buoys into the harbour where we can tie up to one of the visitors’ buoys. The only problem is that the positions of the green buoys bear no relationship to the charts we have, at least for the first bit.
At that moment, the wind strengthens and it starts to rain, so we decide to put our trust in the harbourmaster knowing what he is talking about and head for the first green buoy, keeping a watchful eye on the depth sounder. With the onshore breeze and the waves breaking on the bar, it won’t be an easy matter to turn around again if we have to, but luckily we manage to stay in the new channel even though we have only a metre of water below the keel in one or two places. The green buoys are quite far apart, so it is not always easy to spot the next one. However, eventually we rejoin the old channel, find the visitor’s buoy, and manage to tie up to it. And none too soon, as the heavens open fully at this point, forcing us to retire to the cabin to dry out and warm up. The salmon we have for dinner that night goes down a treat!