Sunday, 15 February 2009

Messing about on the River 15/02/2009

An easier day than yesterday taking my eldest son Bobby for his first paddle on the River Taff. He has been out on the sea before but this was his first excursion on fresh water.

He enjoyed it but preferred the paddle back down the river rather than the paddle up against the flow!

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Sully Island and The Lavernock Spit 14/02/2009

Launching again from the slipway in Sully I paddled in the opposite direction to last weekend, eastwards this week towards Sully Island.

Leaving just after high water the island was cut off from the mainland but 3 hours either side of low water it is accessible via a rocky causeway.

With the Bristol Channel having the 2nd highest tidal range in the world, many drownings have occurred with people being caught out by the speed of the incoming tide.

Staying close to the layered cliffs of the south side of Sully Island I used an eddy to take me against the main flow to East Point where the westerly flowing ebb tide was starting to pick up speed.

Paddling tight to the rocks I slipped round the point and into the more placid water of Swanbridge Bay where I continued eastwards across St Mary's Well Bay, again aided by another eddy and was quite surprised glancing at the GPS to see I was averaging about 4 knots.

I then reached Lavernock Point where on May 13th 1897 Marconi transmitted and received the first wireless signals over open sea from here to Flat Holm Island.

Here my progress was halted as the tide was speeding past the point, I decided to ferry glide out into the channel and then paddle with the tide down to the Lavernock Spit South Cardinal Buoy avoiding the occasional tree being swept along by the tide.

Progress was very rapid to the buoy with the GPS showing I was paddling between 8.5 and 9.5 knots with very little effort.

Before I knew I was at the buoy and then passed it. The buoy marks the southern most point of the Lavernock Spit, a large sandbank that extends out to sea for well over a nautical mile. The buoys shows that the clear water is to the south.

It was now another ferry glide back across to Sully Island again dodging yet another tree!

At the eastern and highest side of the island there are the remains of a Saxon Fort and also evidence has been found from the Romans, Vikings and also that Pirates have used it as a base for their activities.

Paddling through Sully Sound the sea level is perfect to take photos of the shipwreck on the North Shore of the island.

I am not sure of the history but it appears to be too small to be that of the Antarctic Survey ship the Scotia which was wrecked here as that had a length of about 130 feet and this one is only about 50-60 feet long.

Paddling over the submerged causeway the standing waves are just starting to build but not quite enough to surf on yet, maybe another time.

It was now an easy paddle back to the slipway. This was only a short paddle of nearly 6 nautical miles ( just over 6.5 miles or 10.5km) but quite a rapid one at times.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

What's Occurring....? 07/02/2009

With the weather at last looking a bit more favourable I was back in the sea kayak for the first time in over a month.

I launched from the slipway at Sully Yacht Club which according to their website is the longest in the Bristol Channel.
It was still cold as can be seen by the pools above the high water mark frozen over and the snow still covering the hills of North Devon across the channel, but the sun was out and the wind wasn't as strong as it has been of late.

Paddling westward I pass Ty Hafan Children's Hospice which this year is celebrating it's 10th year. It was established entirely from public donations and it's running costs are only 17% funded by the Government.

Just along the coast is Bendrick Rock which is just submerged on high spring tides and it is by here there are dinosaur footprints in the rocks along the shore, some of which have been quarried away and attempted to be sold on Ebay.

Passing the entrance to Barry Dock I round Nell's Point with it's Coastwatch Station, one of the volunteers popped outside to watch my progress through the small overfalls and into Whitmore Bay or as it's more commonly known, Barry Island.

Barry Island has received a bit more attention due to the popularity of the Gavin and Stacey series that is partly filmed here.

I paddled straight across the bay and round Friar's Point across Barry Harbour which with the tide out is just a large sandy beach and over to the South Cardinal marker off Cold Knap Point.

Reaching here I decided to turn back as the easterly flood tide is now flowing quite strongly so I paddle back into the sheltered water of Whitmore Bay.

On the sea front is Barry Island Pleasure Park, I couldn't see if Nessa was working or not today!

Barry Island used to be an island but was joined to the mainland in the 1880's when the Docks were built. It was quite busy in the Channel today with 1 ship anchored and whilst I was enjoying a nice warm coffee from my flask another large container ship came up the channel and with that the pilot launch came out of Barry Dock and headed out to it to put the pilot on board.

Finishing my coffee I paddled around Nell's Point and into Jackson's Bay, a small sheltered sandy beach between the West Breakwater and the cliffs at Nell's Point.

At the end of the Breakwater I pass the 30ft high cast iron lighthouse which marks the entrance to Barry Dock. Work started on Barry Docks in 1884 and the first dock basin was opened in 1889 followed by two other docks. Trade grew from one million tons in the first year to over nine million tons in 1903. By 1913 Barry was the largest coal exporting port in the world handling 4000 ships and over 11 million tons of coal. All that has long gone and the docks are very quiet now.

Barry Dock is the home of the Inner Wheel II, the Barry Dock Lifeboat. It is a trent class lifeboat which is designed to remain moored afloat, it is 14 metres long with a range of 250 nautical miles and a top speed of 25 knots.

Whilst taking photos of the Inner Wheel II a crew member of the Port of Bristol Pilot Launch, which is also moored nearby, came out and kindly offered me a cuppa! After a long chat I carried on my way paddling past the one shut and one open entrance of the docks and back out into the Channel.
The progress back to the slipway was rapid, aided by the ever increasing flood tide, passing the fast disappearing Bendrick Rock with some good views of the container ship between Steep Holm and Flat Holm.
A leisurely paddle with plenty of interest, covering a distance of 7.15 nautical miles (approx. 8.5 miles or 13.5 km).