Sunday, 28 September 2008

Pea Soup & Starfish for Four 28/09/2008

After leaving Cardiff at 5 o'clock on a still dark Sunday morning I met up with Adrian, Eurion and Steve about 7 o'clock at a very foggy Llansteffan.

Llansteffan is about 7 miles from Carmarthen on the River Towy estuary and an ideal launching site, but this morning we couldn't even see the sea!

After a brief discussion we all decided to give the proposed paddle across Carmarthen Bay to Tenby and back a go. With the tide ebbing we would use it to take us out the channel between the Carmarthen Bar and Cefn Sidan Sands and out into Carmarthen Bay, hopefully!

After paddling out about 100 yards the beach disappeared and we were enveloped in the pea soup! After about 15 minutes of paddling, the sun started to break through the mist. Once safely out into Carmarthen Bay we changed course and paddled, hopefully, to Tenby.

As we got further into Carmarthen Bay the fog came back down and what wind there was, dropped, creating mill pond conditions and deathly silence, apart from the occasional boat engine.

After a brief discussion again, it was decided not to paddle to Tenby but to carry on further southward and paddle around Caldey Island instead.

So putting a new waypoint into the GPS it was onward to a new course of the Woolhouse Rocks, a small outcrop of rocks NE from Caldey Island, with a bit of luck!

What seemed like an age and a slight feeling that we were paddling round in circles, the small group of rocks began to appear through the mist, our navigation was spot on and my GPS with the Garmin Blue Chart was also bang on which is good to know.

There were numerous seals hauled out on the rocks and I felt a little guilty that we were disturbing them as they nearly all slid awkwardly into the sea and observed us from a distance. They probably weren't expecting four sea kayakers to appear out of the mist so far out at sea.

It was whilst we were having a break that Adrian spotted the thousands of starfish clinging to the rocks in the crystal clear water. There must be an abundance of them because later when we reached Caldey there were numerous gulls with starfish in their beaks and if we got too close they would swallow them whole, in case we attempted to steal them!

All of a sudden the sun began to break through the mist and the Pembrokeshire coastline finally came into view. We could now see our intended destination of Caldey Island across a glassy flat sea.

As we reached Caldey Sound the tide was just beginning to flood but the flow was not enough to worry us as we passed the cliffs of St Margaret's Island with its ruined quarrymen's cottages on the top. St Margaret's island was extensively quarried for limestone until the 19th century. The west side of St Margaret's Island has some very impressive high cliffs with vertical layers of rock.

It is then a paddle across Little Sound and to the south of Caldey Island where the cliffs now revert back to the purple sandstone. Along these cliffs under the lighthouse there are again numerous seals hauled out on the rocks which are very inquisitive of our presence.

Adrian and Steve find a very secluded beach where we stop for half an hour to have something to eat and stretch our legs then it is back in the boats for the long return crossing of Carmarthen Bay.

After another discussion of our planned return route and more seals we are on our way.

It is a calm crossing with better visibility than on our outward journey. We even have a shower of rain! What a day, we've had fog, boiling sunshine and now rain!

The paddle back, yet again goes all according to plan and we finally reach the marker post that this morning we could hardly see and we even manage to see Llansteffan Castle perched above the small group of houses where we launched from some 9 hours earlier.
A fantastic paddle covering a distance of just over 32.5 nautical miles (37.5 miles of 60.5km) made all the better with the fog, and good to put our navigational skills to the test.
Thanks to Adrian, Eurion and Steve for the invite, and once again a really great day's paddling.

1 comment:

eurion said...

That was a great paddle.
I particularly like the first photo at the start.