Sunday, 30 March 2008

Horse Rock 30/03/2008

With the wind W or SW 4 or 5 becoming cyclonic 5 to 7 later I paddled out from Porthsele and on rounding Fisherman's point I was very surprised at the size of the swell and how rough it was.

On reaching St John's point conditions were even rougher and it took me two attempts to get around Penrhyndalar and into the calmer waters beyond, I then made better progress on to St Justinian.

Approaching St John's point


On arrival at St Justinian, I stopped for a short while and chatted to Mike, one of the boat trip workers and Lifeboat volunteers, who informed me that they were cancelling the trips around Ramsey Island due to the swell. I carried on following the coast in relatively calmer water to Penmaenmelyn, which is the stretch of mainland directly opposite the Bitches. I then paddled directly into the north flowing flood tide heading straight for the infamous Horse Rock.

Normally I would give this section of Ramsey Sound a wide berth on a flood tide but as it was only a 4.8m neap tide conditions were pretty tame for Horse Rock.

Smack in the middle of Ramsey Sound on a line midway between the Island farmhouse and the Lifeboat Station is Horse Rock, a cathedral sized spire of granite under the water. The sea bed here decreases in depth from 66 to 0 metres in under half a mile, and the water is thrown into a series of heavy waves and whirlpools. This is believed to be the site of the only kayak related death in Ramsey Sound.

Horse Rock is only visible on very low spring tides. Here are some photo's I took back in November 2006, this is the only time I have been lucky enough to see the rock exposed. As you can see it is a major hazard to all marine traffic.

I made rapid progress back to St John's point and again hit very rough confused water around the point. I only covered 4 nautical miles (approx 4.5 miles) and reached a top speed of 9 knots (approx 10 mph) coming back through the Sound. Even though this was a short distance paddle it was very exhilarating and challenging.

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Another windy day 29/03/2008

Inshore shipping forecast SW 5-7 backing S 7 to severe gale 9 veering W 4 or 5 later. Today I managed to get to St John's point! It was a bit easier to get there as the wind had changed direction.

I launched from Porthsele during a severe downpour so was already soaked before I even hit the surf. With the wind coming from the SW the stretch between Fisherman's and St John's point was relatively sheltered, but once I hit St John's I got the full front of the gale and there was no going forward from here on.

On returning to Porthsele, quite large surf had built up and due to strong cross offshore winds, landing was a bit precarious. I had to be particularly careful as a lot of sand has been taken from the beach by the recent stormy conditions and there was only a narrow channel of sand in between some very jagged rocks.

Friday, 28 March 2008

Oh no not again!? 28/03/2008

Back down West but things not looking so good, inshore shipping forecast is SW 5-7 veering W increasing gale 8 for a time. Decided to go for it even though I knew I wouldn't get very far.

Thanks to Paul Thompson for this superb picture

Once again only managed to get to Fisherman's point but had good fun all the same......

Oh, and I better say thanks to the wife for braving the winds on the point to take these pics!

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Two days in a row!!! 25/03/2008

Two half decent paddles in a row, things are looking up! Started out at Porthsele and headed out to Careg-gafeiliog, a small rocky outcrop at the entrance to Ramsey Sound.

Careg-gafeiliog can be a good place to play about in a bit of rough water and surf the waves in and around the rocky channels. You can often get quite large overfalls forming on a flood tide.

As the tide was starting to ebb and the wind was still quite a strong NW I paddled a course for North Bishop knowing that the tide would then take me down to Gwahan, another small rocky outcrop.

View looking back from Gwahan to St Davids' Head

With the ebb tide and wind behind me I paddled into Bae Ogof-hen, which roughly translated means old/grand cave bay. This bay is situated at the North end of Ramsey Island, there are numerous caves to explore including one which goes the whole of the way through the headland. Unfortunately, there was too much swell to do any cave explorations today.

Then followed the Eastern side of the island, which was sheltered from the wind, down to the Bitches. These are a notorious line of jagged rock that jut out Eastward into the Sound.

On my way down I encountered one of my most favourite birds, the Fulmar. This bird is more commonly seen gliding low over the sea with wing tips almost touching the water, flapping it's wings only when losing height.

On route to the Bitches there is a small bay with a cave going through to the opposite bay, today the tide was too low for me to paddle through.

Entering the cave pointing south

Exiting the cave heading north

On arriving at the Bitches, the ebb tide was already flowing quite strong, and with it being a 6.7m tide even though it looked very inviting I decided not to proceed further as I knew that the tide was ever increasing and this would make my paddle back through near impossible. Paddled along the length of the Bitches and just took a couple of photos:-

Using the North flowing counter-eddy I paddled back up the East side of the Island until I reached Trwyn Ogof Hen where I met the South flowing ebb tide and then ferry glided approximately 3/4 of a mile across to St John's point. I used Whitesand's bay as a transit with St John's point, the beach quickly disappeared as I hit the fast flowing current. Adjusting my ferry glide angle and paddling a bit harder the beach slowly began to appear as I approached St John's point.

On this round trip I only covered 6.5miles but it was good to get back across to the Island and down to the Bitches again. Back to work tomorrow unfortunately, but not to worry back here in two days time!

Monday, 24 March 2008

First decent Easter paddle! 24/03/2008

Finally awoke to near silence compared to the last few days, and the caravan walls had stopped shaking!

Checked the trusty inshore shipping forecast to find N backing NW 5 to 7 decreasing 4 or 5 later, today's the day that I finally get back on the water.

Decided to take my usual route down to the south end of Ramsey Sound keeping quite close to the shoreline as the wind was still quite gusty.

On rounding St John's point Penrhyndalar comes into view, it's hard to believe that only yesterday the waves were breaking half way up the rock face reminding me to always have deep respect for the sea, and proving how quickly conditions can change for better or worse.

Carrying on past St Justinian where the St David's lifeboat is housed I reached the bottom of the Sound, as the tide was still on the ebb I decided to carry on round the coastline and paddle to Porthlisky as this section of the coast would be sheltered from the NW wind, and on my return the tide would be starting to flood and therefore aide me on my paddle back through the Sound.

Porthlisky is a shingle beach accessed via the coast path. Remote and unspoilt, making this an ideal lunchspot.

On my return paddle I noticed quite a large sail boat leaving the Sound and heading into St Brides Bay.As the tide was now starting to flood, I paddled with it, through the Sound, past Carreg-gafeiliog and onto St David's Head. Large overfalls were being created in places due to the wind against the ever increasing tidal flow.

Paddled to St David's Head, which is the most Westerly point of mainland Wales, and headed into Porthmelgan, with Carn Llidi in the background. Porthmelgan is an unspoilt and attractive sandy beach again accessed only via the coastal path .

From here there are good views back down through the Sound and Ramsey Island, and also a good view of Pencarnan situated just above Porthsele.

Ramsey Sound and Island viewed from Porthmelgan

Pencarnan and Porthsele

It's great to be back on the water again with a decent trip covering a distance of nearly 10 miles and reaching a speed of 8.5mph with the flood tide.

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Groundhog day! - 23/03/2008

This is getting a bit monotonous, wind still howling, inshore shipping forecast NW 6 to gale 8 decreasing 5 later, at least there’s hope!

The Bitches viewed from St John's point

Sunsetting over Careg Rhosson

Southern end of Ramsey Island

Waves breaking on Penrhyndalar

Wind didn't drop during daylight hours maybe tomorrow.....

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Déjà vu! - 22/03/2008

Once again awoke to howling winds, checked forecast and got N 6 to gale 8 occasionally severe gale 9 in West!! And they weren’t wrong.

Surf rolling into Porthsele

Large foam formation resulting from gale force winds, both my boys had great fun dodging "giant flying monster goo!"

Friday, 21 March 2008

I don’t believe it!!!!! - 21/03/2008

Carreg-gafeiliog in foreground with St David's head in distance

Awoke to howling winds, checked inshore shipping forecast which just informed me of the obvious:- NW veering N force 7 to severe gale 9.

Wouldn't want to get caught in this!

With the wind blowing straight in off the sea I couldn’t even pick the kayak up let alone get it to the beach!!

Hailstorm over Ramsey Sound, looking towards Ramsey Island

Wave breaking over Penrhyndalar

Ramsey Sound viewed from St John's point

Bull seal swimming effortlessly against tidal flow!