Sunday, 5 October 2008

Queen Alex's Locked Dock 05/10/08

With the shipping forecast predicting high winds I was very surprised on reaching Penarth to find not a breath of wind and a flat calm sea.

I was still not sure where to paddle as the shipping forecast is very rarely wrong, but on reaching the water's edge the wind suddenly picked up causing a lone fisherman to scurry off down the beach chasing his umbrella.

The forecast was right and my paddling options were very limited. I decided to paddle against the wind and tide towards the Cardiff Barrage. Within a few minutes of leaving Penarth the sky went black and the heavens opened. What I thought was going to be an easy paddle turned into a very hard slog against wind, tide and now torrential rain!

On reaching the entrance to the Cardiff Barrage the rain finally stopped and the wind dropped so I paddled into the shelter of the inner breakwater which houses the 3 locks used by the boats leaving and entering Cardiff Bay.

After a brief rest I paddle back out of the shelter and along the outer breakwater to the 5 sluice gates that control the water level of the 500 acre freshwater lake of the Bay formed by the Rivers Taff and Ely.

It is then a short paddle along the breakwater between the sea and Cardiff Bay passing the White Sails Statue and the 3 towers which have red lights which flash.

The nearest one to the sluice gates flashes every 2.5 seconds, every 5 seconds on the middle one and every 10 seconds on the one nearest to the entrance to Cardiff Docks. These mark the western edge of the Wrach channel which leads into Queen Alexandra dock.

The Queen Alexandra Dock was opened in 1907 by its namesake who was the Princess of Wales from 1863 to 1901 when Queen Victoria died and her husband became King Edward VII.

The Queen Alexandra Dock leads to the Roath Dock. These are the only 2 remaining working docks left of the once massive Cardiff docks. Today the dock has it's gates shut.
I then have a leisurely paddle aided by the wind back to Penarth. Only a short paddle with very changeable weather conditions.

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