Sunday, 13 July 2008

South Bishop 13/07/2008

Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday to me, seeing as today is my 21st birthday, (again), I thought I would treat myself to something, and what better than a trip out to South Bishop lighthouse. I have wanted to do this trip ever since I started sea kayaking. Today the tides were neaps, very little wind, no swell and perfect weather.

Although I had missed the south flowing ebb tide which is the preferred route, I decided to paddle south of Ramsey Island and let the north flowing flood tide take me up to South Bishop.... hopefully.

I left Porthsele and paddled down to the bottom of Ramsey Sound. Whilst having a breather before the assault on South Bishop a sailing boat came the other way.

Peace and Tranquility

Peace and Tranquility....shattered!

Peace and Tranquility resumes

By now the north flowing tide was just starting to flood into Ramsey Sound so I decided once I had broken across the main flow I would head for Ynys Eilun and paddle out past Ynys Bery and Meini Dud, the most southern rock of Ramsey Island.

Looking northwards from Ynys Eilun

I paddle in a south westerly direction heading for Grassholm Island, a tiny speck on the horizon, continually looking backwards using Ynys Eilun as a transit with houses on the mainland to check if the current was taking me. As yet there was no appreciatable current and as I paddle out, the Puffin population increased.

A lone Puffin for company

After paddling for quite a distance parallel to South Bishop, I decided to, hopefully, let the tide take me down to the Island.

This seemed to be working well until about ½ a mile from the light, the tide suddenly picked up and for a horrible moment I thought it would take me past South Bishop, but increasing my paddling speed I was finally there.

I can imagine this could be a very bleak lonely place especially in the winter. I had a well deserved rest and took some photos, hope the camera doesn’t pack up now or no one will believe I made it.

South Bishop Lighthouse is situated on an outcrop of rock in St George's Channel 4¾ miles south west of St David's Head. The lighthouse acts primarily as a waymark for vessels navigating offshore and secondly to assist vessels navigating around the Bishops and Clerks.

An application was first made to Trinity House for a light at South Bishop in 1831 on behalf of shipping trading to Cardigan and again in 1834 on behalf of those using the Bristol and St George's Channels. Eventually a lighthouse designed by James Walker was built and lit in 1839.

St David's Head and Ramsey Island viewed from South Bishop

The lighthouse was converted to electric operation in 1959, and in 1971 a helipad was constructed although care had to be taken since on occasions the pad was wave-swept when the wind whipped up the high tide.

With the tide flow ever increasing it was time for the long paddle against the current back over to Ramsey. I basically pointed the kayak in a south easterly direction almost parallel to Ramsey and paddled (a ferry glide) I made little progress forwards, just sidewards.

I encountered quite a few sections of overfalls on the crossing as the fast flowing water hits shallower rocky ledges causing standing waves which are great fun.

On reaching the island it was a decision whether to turn left or right or should I say port or starboard, I opted for the latter as instead of another ferry glide across Ramsey Sound I would only have a short sprint through the ‘Devils Hole’ and I could then have a leisurely paddle up through the sound using the North flowing flood tide to aid me.

On passing through the Devils Hole I just had enough time to have a last look at South Bishop before the tide took me up to the Bitches where there was time for a little play in the last remnants of the rough water.

Going through the top wave with rocks below

Confused water after the wave

Leisurely paddle through Ramsey Sound

Then it was onto Porthsele and a couple of nicely chilled cans of celebratory Guinness.

This was a great paddle with a great feeling of achievement covering 14 nautical miles (approx. 16 miles) with a top speed of just over 7 knots in a time of 5 hours.

1 comment:

eurion said...

Those Guiness's were well deserved!
Looked like a great trip. From the gps track, the north flow certainly looked as if it kicked in quite smartly when you were south of the lighthouse.