Sunday, 24 February 2008

One dreary Sunday - 24/02/08

I started out early again, was on the water by 7.45am, had to get home early today so that the wife could take part in a Salsathon for the George Thomas Hospice! They danced for 6 hours and raised £4750 so not bad really for an afternoon of fun!

Anyway, back to the water, I started out at Penarth Lifeboat slip again and headed towards Cardiff Bay Barrage. It was a lot windier than I expected and as a result the sea was quite choppy. I ended up getting far wetter than I thought but my drysuit proved to be worth every penny keeping me both dry and warm.
On arriving at the barrage I was welcomed by a very inviting sign, unfortunately there should be small print telling kayakers to politely leave!

After being politely asked to leave by Barrage control, due to a vessel carrying out a detailed survey of the barrage and surrounding area, I carried on around the edge of the barrage to the sluice gates.

There are 5 sluice gates with each gate being 9m wide and 7.5m high. Over a quarter of a million litres of water per second can flow through each gate. The sluice gates are a critical part of the barrage and there are extensive back up facilities to ensure continued operation should there be a power cut or control system failure.

Cardiff has been prone to flooding in the past due to a combination of high spring tides and high river flows from the rivers Taff and Ely. The flood defence philosophy is to use the barrage to exclude the high spring tides from the Bay aarea until the tide ebbs and release flood water from the bay on the ebb. In my experience this seems to leave the river particularly low at times when you wouldn't expect it to be.

Leaving the sluice gates behind I followed the outer edge of the barrage to what is more commonly known as 'Barrage Point'. This area of the bay is a common viewing area whose design reflects a ship's bow and a nautical theme along the bank with the sails providing the finishing touches.

The sail symbol can be seen repeatedly throughout the Cardiff Bay area and these particular sails look very impressive when illuminated at sundown.

As I reach the end of the barrage I approach the Queen Alexandra Dock which was opened in 1907 by King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra. At this time the coal industry was enormous in South Wales which made Cardiff one of the busiest ports in the world.

The picture quality isn't very good on this one as the wind was blowing straight into the dock which made it a little tricky to keep steady, stay upright and take a good photo!

Unfortunately it was now time to turn back so I headed home meeting the survey vessel leaving the barrage.

On my way back to Penarth I noticed a puff of smoke in the near distance, I paddled out to investigate to find a large ocean going tug moving at an impressive speed.

Heading back towards shore I approach Penarth pier. This pier was opened in 1895 and is 197m long. The existing pavilion was built in 1929.

Passing underneath the pier the tide was barely running as it was now high tide and the beach had disappeared, thank god for the lifeboat slip or I would have had a long wait to land!

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