Saturday, 24 May 2008

St David's Head 24/05/2008

After listening to the shipping forecast, which confirmed my worst fears, NE 5-7 increasing gale 8 later, my paddling options were limited. I chose to paddle from Porthsele out to St David's Head and see how far I could paddle round the peninsula knowing the tide and wind would be against me and therefore aid my return if need be.

After rounding the Head I was hit by the full force of the North Easterly! and with the tide against me, progress was very slow. I had to concentrate very hard and not lose focus as the water was very confused with the waves crashing against the cliffs and bouncing back out causing clapotis.

Looking at my GPS I was only travelling 1.5 knots, getting nowhere fast and starting to get tired, and with the thought of a force 8 looming and the headland of Penllechwen in view, where large overfalls can form, I decided to cut my losses and turn around. It was quite a risk just taking a photo at this point due to the size of the swell.

Now things really started to speed up as I had the tide and wind behind me and I was able to surf the swell. Before I knew it I was back at St David's Head with Ramsey Island in the distance.

After a brief rest, out of the wind behind St David's Head, I decided to carry on in the main tide stream down to Gwahan, a small rocky outcrop half way between the Head and the north end of Ramsey Island. It was on this stretch that I achieved my top speed of 8.5 knots.

I was tempted, for a brief instant, to carry on around the Western side of Ramsey Island but again thoughts of the threatened force 8 came to mind. I ferry glided across a surprisingly calm Ramsey Sound into St Justinian and then along the coast to St John's point, where the wind hit me once again. I then had quite a hard paddle back to Porthsele.

This was only a short paddle of 6.75 nautical miles (approx 12.5km) but quite a challenging one in very varying conditions.

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