Saturday, 26 July 2008
Saturday, 19 July 2008
I left Porthsele just as the north flowing flood tide was starting to flow. I paddled straight through the sound to Pen Dal-aderyn and then across to the island with very little resistance from the tide. It was sheltered from the wind as I paddled southwards towards the Devil's Hole.
As soon as I rounded the southern end of Ynys Cantwr the wind hit me and the sea conditions changed drastically. As is often the case here there were large standing waves through the Devil's Hole but with the tide with me it was just a matter of pointing the kayak and enjoying the ride.
There were similar conditions all the way to Abermawr but with the tide aiding me it was a fast, wet and enjoyable paddling.
I had a brief rest stop in the sheltered water of the bay then it was onto the next rough water of Trwyn-drain-du where the tide flow runs close into the cliffs at this point and again creates overfalls.
On reaching Bay Ogof Hen at the northern end of Ramsey it was decision time, whether to return back to Porthsele or try yet again to get some decent pictures of the Manx Shearwaters. I decided on the latter but it was still too early so decided to paddle down to the Bitches which should be flowing quite fast now.
There was a bit of adverse tide at Trwyn Ogof Hen but a quick sprint and I was into the south flowing counter eddy that took me nicely down to the Bitches.
After a good half an hour playing on the wave and in the surrounding water it was back off northwards through the sound in search of the Manx Shearwater yet again.
I paddled out past the northern tip of the island and out into the main tide stream. Unlike yesterday the main mass of Shearwaters were a lot further out and with the tide flowing very fast and getting rougher the further out I went I decided not to risk going out any further and made do with photos of the odd few birds that were closer towards land, maybe another day, but soon they will be heading off to South America for the winter so it will be probably next year.
Friday, 18 July 2008
The only thing I had overlooked was that to get out there I would have to cross Ramsey Sound with the tide against me at it's strongest, still it would be good exercise and practice.
I paddled out of Porthsele and everything went ok until I reached the point of Penrhyn Dalar. The tide flow runs right close up to the rock so it was a bit of a sprint to get round the point against the tide, but I could use the waves which build up here to aid me.
I carried on staying close to the cliff until I reached St Justinian and then paddled out into the Sound. I made good progress for a while with North Bishop starting to disappear behind Ramsey Island but soon as I got further out the tide flow against me increased, North Bishop began to reappear and soon Carreg Rhoson appeared!
Although I was going backwards, I was also going sidewards towards Ramsey Island, and I knew that near the Island there is a south flowing counter eddy which would start to take me back the other way, but it wasn't coming soon enough, my arms were starting to feel as if they were going to explode, and all this to try and take some photos of some birds and the feathered variety as well.
As last I hit the south flowing tide stream and started moving forward again and before I knew it I was in the sheltered waters of Bay Ogof Hen at the north end of Ramsey Island and had a well deserved break.
Paddling past Trwyn-Sion-Owen and out into the northerly flowing stream towards St David's Head I caught my first glimpses of the Manx Shearwaters heading southward towards their burrows on Skomer and Skokholm where they make up about a third of the world's population.
I now let the tide take me past Gwahan with the numbers ever increasing.
It was an amazing experience with the Shearwater's gliding just above the waves coming from all angles at great speed, sometimes only just missing the front of the kayak.
The only problem was that there was a large swell and also the speed of the birds made photo taking almost impossible, all that effort for pictures that don't really do justice to the spectacle.
With the tide taking me very quickly I decided to start paddling back in towards the mainland, stopping just behind Carreg Gafeilliog to take some photos of the sunset.
Not a very long paddle but quite strenuous with the unforgettable experience of the daily migration of the Manx Shearwater.
Thursday, 17 July 2008
I then paddled across Fishguard Harbour to the picturesque little harbour of Lower Fishguard overlooked by Castle Point.
I have seen dolphins between here and the Lighthouse on the North Breakwater, but today I was not in luck.
On leaving the North Breakwater I passed the normal ferry on its way into Fishguard, which takes 3.5 hours, not nearly as fast and sleek as the Cat.
Today I decided to paddle straight to my intended destination of Strumble Head using the tide to my advantage making progress against the wind a lot easier, I would do the exploring on the return leg.
On reaching Strumble Head I had the second period of rain of the week, so far it was only a small amount but enough for the light to come on and after many attempts I managed to catch it with the camera!
Leaving Strumble Head numerous small beaches are passed before reaching Carregwastad Point, where on 22nd February 1797 a French force of 600 soldiers and 800 convicts in 4 warships under the command of an Irish-American Colonel William Tate landed here.
They were ill prepared with few provisions and raided local farms looking for food but instead found a cache of liquor recently 'rescued' from a Portuguese shipwreck by the locals. This helped to incapacitate the invaders who signed a surrender on 25th February in the Royal Oak Pub in Fishguard.
The local heroine of the invasions was Jemima Nicholas who, at the age of 47 armed with a pitchfork, captured 12 Frenchmen. It is thought the French may have mistaken local women like her dressed in their tall black hats and red cloaks for British Grenadiers. So ended the last foreign invasion of mainland Britain.
I had planned to have my lunch on one of the numerous small beaches of Aber Felin around from Carregwastad Point but there were numerous seals hauled out probably preparing for the pupping season. A very large bull seal appeared and kindly escorted me out of his harem!
Needle Rock is a large stack with an arch through it's base. Opposite this there are 2 smaller arches which make quite good photographic material.
It was here, whilst having my lunch that I had to make a quick dash for my kayak as the wave from the returning Cat hit the beach. I would dread to think what it is like when it is further out at sea and going faster.