PBO columnist Dave Selby’s voyage of Discovery reaches high and low in Wales

It’s the melee of the Friday afternoon rush-hour, the sun’s shining and the sea is glistening, tempting us. This is no time to dawdle; neither is it the place. The tide’s flooding fast and we’re right in the thick of it – on the thronging slipway of the Teifi Boating Club, along with most of the population of Carmarthenshire. They’ve all got boats, and they want to get them wet – now.

Joe from Swallow Boats has rigged our BayCruiser 23. I’m at the wheel of our Land Rover Discovery 4 SDV6 HSE and the pressure’s on; but this vehicle takes the pressure off.

Launching would normally have me performing torso-twisting, neck-craning contortions of the kind that make regular and sizeable contributions to my chiropractor’s Sunseeker fund. But not today. I’ve got three of the Discovery 4’s five cameras set up to show me a rear view and both side views, all on the display in the centre of the dash. From my command position I’ve got the equivalent of three pairs of eyes. The BayCruiser’s in, the Land Rover’s out and I haven’t even crushed a kayak or broken a RIB; this is not how it usually goes.

Then peace. With cream sails aloft and drawing nicely we’re heading out into Cardigan Bay which widens out beneath rugged cliffs. The BayCruiser is chuckling – at least that’s how it sounds – yet only hours before she was trickling along on waters nearly a thousand feet higher. On one day we’ve sailed the same boat on fresh water and salt – and driven more than 70 miles between the two.

Earlier, as the summer sun rolled back the blanket of mist from Clywedog Reservoir in the Cambrian Mountains of Wales, we’d stolen a magical moment gliding along in the BayCruiser 23, the only sounds the gentle burbling of the rudder and the wing-beat of a red kite swooping low across our bow. There’s an enchanted otherworldliness at Clywedog: perhaps it’s something to do with the fact you’re sailing over farmhouses nearly 200 feet below at the bottom of a valley that was dammed and flooded in the 1960s.

Avoiding the deep

It’s an eerie thought, and one that concentrates my mind when it’s time to recover the boat. The slipway at Clywedog Sailing Club is not just a slipway – it’s the road, a very steep one that leads to the valley bottom. Get it wrong and you could be having tea with the Joneses – the Davey Joneses.

But that’s not going to happen, thanks to the Discovery 4’s electronic parking brake and Hill Start Assist mode. With the BayCruiser hitched up the bow of the Discovery 4 is pointing skyward with low-range selected. Next usually comes one of the most nerve-wracking moments of towing; balancing clutch and handbrake without either rolling backwards or burning out the clutch.

In the Discovery 4 there’s nothing to do. I’m driving the 8-speed automatic version of the range-topping SDV6 HSE with the 3-litre turbo-diesel that’s now standard across the range. As I press the throttle the electronic parking brake is progressively released; if I stop again on the foot-brake, pressure is maintained when I remove my foot and again progressively released as I move away. The ascent from the slip at Clywedog would be daunting in most vehicles, but frankly, it’s a cinch, even hauling out around 850kg of dripping boat and trailer.

But now our time is nearly up. I’m sailing the BayCruiser 23 back on to her home mooring at Swallow Boats – a fancy manoeuvre for someone of my limited ability.

I miss the mooring, then with a gentle ‘thonk’ we’re aground.

Just for once, the Discovery 4
can’t help me out.

*Not all features are standard on all derivatives

FUEL ECONOMY FIGURES FOR DISCOVERY 4 SDV6 HSE: mpg (lt/100km) urban 28.8 (9.8); extra urban 34.9 (8.1); combined 32.1 (8.8). Co2 emissions g/km: 230

  1. 1. Introduction
  2. 2. Sailing up a mountain
  3. 3. High-altitude sailing
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