Tuesday, 15 July 2008

In Search of Shipwrecks 15/07/2008

Today was a similar day to yesterday with the sea mist still threatening on the horizon. My plan was to paddle from Porthsele to Newgale and back and en route look in on what is left of the 3 tugs that were wrecked near Solva in October 1981. I first visited these in 1982 and was last there in July 2006 so it will be interesting to see if much has changed.

I left Porthsele and let the south flowing ebb tide take me effortlessly through Ramsey Sound. As I approached the rocky outcrop of Carreg Yr Esgob in Porthlisky Bay, you can normally see my intended destination of Newgale, but today it was shrouded in mist.

I decided to leave the exploring until the return trip and headed straight across to the wrecks to arrive there as near to low tide as possible to see the most of the wrecks.

Picture I took in 1982

It was on 28th October 1981 that the tug Vernicos Alexia from Liverpool (formerly Formby, ex Weather cock) was towing the tugs Vernicos Barbara IV from Liverpool (ex Collingwood ex Heathcock) and Vernicos Georgos also from Liverpool (ex Canada, ex Peacock) to their new owners in Greece, that the towing vessel developed engine trouble.

Picture I took in July 2006

Whilst trying to sort out this problem the towing line became wrapped around the propellor rendering the towing tug without power and steering. All three began to drift towards the shore and in the strong wind their anchors did not hold and all three were subsequently wrecked a mile west of Solva.

The wrecks seem pretty similar since I was last here 2 years ago. After a good look around I paddled out to the 3 rocks of Black Scar, Green Scar and the Mare that lie south of the entrance to Solva.

Black Scar to the left, Green Scar to the right

By now the mist has almost lifted and as I approach the headland of Dinas Fach, the large beach of Newgale comes clearly into view.

I was hoping to stop for a brew on the very north end of Newgale which is usually deserted, but today there were people on it! So I turned around and started paddling on my return leg looking for a secluded beach to have my dinner.

I decided on Aber Dwyrain just before the headland of Dinas Fawr. This beach was a perfect suntrap and I was very tempted to stay longer but the wind had started to pick up and I knew it would be against me all the way back to the entrance to Ramsey Sound so it could be a long drag.

I stopped off in Solva which, as usual, was sheltered and with the tide being in I could paddle right into the harbour. As I paddled out of Solva there is a large arch which leads into a small bay with high cliffs surrounding.

The wind was increasing all the time and by the time I reached Porth Clais I could do with a well deserved break and entered the tiny harbour to shelter from the wind for a bit.

On leaving the shelter it was again a hard slog into the wind. It was not until I left Porthlisky that the GPS finally made it up to 3 knots as I began to be taken by the flood tide entering Ramsey Sound.

As I got closer to Pen Dal-adeyrn, the point at the entrance to the sound, my speed quickly increased and looking at the GPS I managed to get into double figures as I paddle effortlessly at a speed of just over 10 knots (nearly 12 mph).

This was another great paddle, hard work for a while but sea kayaking can't always be easy!. Good to see the wrecks are weathering reasonably well. Today I covered a distance of 21.5 nautical miles (approx. 25 miles, 40km).

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