Thursday, 31 December 2009

The End Of A Decade 31/12/2009

Today's paddle would not be of any distance due to the strong northerly wind and the large spring tides, but it was good to end 2009 on the water.
Although not large waves they were quite steep and required a bit of effort to get out, almost getting airborne in the process!
Leaving Porthsele I paddled around Fisherman's Point and into the entrance of Ramsey Sound where the sea was a little lumpy. I played around for a while but didn't go too far as I didn't fancy the paddle back against the wind.

I decided to paddle across Whitesand's Bay and hopefully find some shelter from the wind on the St David's Head peninsula. I was joined for a moment by a biplane who didn't seem to have any problems with the wind, but I bet it was cold up there.
Passing Whitesand's Bay the sea conditions totally changed and I managed to finally get out of the cold northerly wind.

The conditions were ideal for exploring some of the caves around Porth Melgan whilst looking back towards Ramsey Island and the watery sun slowly setting for the last time of the decade.

Staying in the caves for a while I watched the colours on the cave walls change as dusk set in and it was soon time to paddle back to Porthsele and prepare for the evening's festivities.

A pleasurable few hours were spent sampling Sian and Alan's hospitality at Pencarnan farmhouse before retiring to Porthsele beach to welcome in the New Year with a large fire, a few pints of Guiness, sparklers and some great company.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Twas The Day Before Christmas...... 24/12/2009

....and all the shopping has been done, the presents have been wrapped and the children are suitably wound up!!! an ideal time to go for a pre Christmas paddle.
Launching from the Sully YC slipway with snow still visible on the North Devon hills on the opposite side of the Bristol Channel, it seemed a bit warmer than it had been of late.

I paddle out to the yellow buoy southwest of the slipway with Barry Dock Lighthouse in the background.
Paddling past the entrance to Barry Dock I carry on a course to Nell's Point and the National Coastwatch Station which is a voluntary organisation and a registered charity and not part of HM Coastguard.

Rounding Nell's Point I paddle into Whitmore Bay or more commonly known as Barry Island which is now receiving publicity as much of the popular Gavin and Stacey comedy is set here, I was going to call in to see if Nessa was working but it was all closed today!

Leaving Whitmore Bay I paddle back around Nell's Point. Staying close to the coastline I enter Jackson's Bay the small sheltered beach before the West Breakwater of Barry Dock.
Paddling along to the lighthouse at the end of the Breakwater, the tower is cast iron and was built in 1890 I then enter the sheltered water of the Tidal harbour.

The two pilot boats are moored up along with the Barry Dock Lifeboat Inner Wheel II which is a Trent class lifeboat.
The Trent Class lifeboat was introduced in 1994. It is 14m long, has a crew of 6, a range of 250 nautical miles and a top speed of 25 knots. Alongside the Inner Wheel II is moored the Mair and a chance to take an arty photo of its anchor!
Paddling around the West Jetty the entrances to the three docks are all shut ready for Christmas, in fact it is quite eerie, everywhere is deathly quiet.
Leaving the shelter of the harbour I paddle back out into the Bristol Channel and past Bendrick Rock which has been responsible for a few shipwrecks.

I pass the Ty Hafan Children's Hospice on the way back and it makes you realise especially this time of year what a wonderful job the Hospice does and is nearly totally reliant on donations.

On the way back to the slipway the islands of Flat Holm, Steep Holm and Sully are clearly visible across the flat calm sea. I am also joined in the distance by the Arklow Surf, a 90 metre long general cargo vessel and one of the pilot boats from Barry Dock.

Only a short paddle of nearly 6 nautical miles (almost 7 miles or nearly 11kms), now let the festivities begin and to anyone who takes the time to read my blog may I wish you all a very Merry Christmas.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

No Better Place To Be 13/12/2009

The weather was much the same as yesterday except for the wind being stronger and I think a bit colder as there was a frost on Porthsele above the high water mark. The above picture also shows how much sand has been washed away from the top of the beach during the numerous storms we have had in November.
I had no paddling plan as such but decided to head out to Gwahan, the small rock to the north of Ramsey Island, and then let the ebbing tide take me down along the east side of the island.

I was quite surprised at the swell out at Gwahan and also the speed of the tide flow but it made things a bit more interesting.
Although flowing quite fast, the sea was pretty flat due to the wind being in the same direction as the tide flow. I made good progress down to Ramsey and made my way down the eastern side.

It was nice and sheltered and there was even some warmth in the sun, although Ramsey's sheep population had their winter coats on and were also pretty good rock climbers looking for that better bit of grass.

Entering one of the numerous small caves on the island, the inside was nicely illuminated by the December sunshine, shame about the plastic bottle which I only noticed when I loaded the photos onto the computer.

As I paddled southward, the Bitches were nicely silhouetted and looking very jagged. It is easy to see why so many ships have come to grief on these infamous rocks.

I was hoping to paddle through the large cave which joins the two bays of Rhod Uchaf and Rhod
Isaf but the tide wasn't high enough so I had to paddle round the headland and into Rhod Isaf where there was another waterfall to add to the many I saw yesterday.

As I reached the Bitches they looked even more impressive, the tide was pretty slack so I paddled through the arch near the landing jetty and through the narrow channel which brought me out on the other side of the Bitches.

Paddling through the flat calm water between the Bitches it was hard to believe that in an hour or two the water would be a confused maelstrom of standing waves and rough water.

Paddling back across a flat calm Ramsey Sound, past a deserted St Justinian and along the coast back to Porthsele I think it doesn't get much better than this and never mind how many times I paddle along this stretch of the Pembrokeshire coast I never get bored of it, a great way to end a great weekend's paddling.