Sunday, 15 March 2009

Flat Holm ...At Last! 15/03/2009

After my half hearted attempt 2 weekends ago I arrived bright and early at the Sully YC slipway for another attempt.
The sun was already quite warm and with very little wind, perfect paddling conditions. Pausing for a drink in St Mary's Well Bay, the Barry Dock Lifeboat cruised past heading towards Cardiff. Approaching Lavernock Point I could see the SW flowing ebb tide just starting to run but no way as fast as a fortnight ago.

Reaching the point I stayed as close to the shore as I could so as not to be taken into the main tidal stream. Even with the tide just starting to run it was quite a struggle for a good few hundred yards just edging along till I reached the slower water where I decided I had gone far enough towards Penarth and started paddling out away from the shore.

I paddled on a bearing of about 60 degrees just to the left of Monkstone Lighthouse. Although this was facing away from Flat Holm I was paddling into the oncoming flow and hopefully, if my judgement was right, I would be taken across and down to Flat Holm.

It was now a matter of settling into a steady paddling rhythm and let the tide do most of the work. As can be seen by the route map, when I stopped to take the photo of HMS Express returning back to Penarth and photos of the red Cardiff Spit Buoy and Monkstone Lighthouse, how much the tide carried me from my route.

Reaching Flat Holm I had to put a little sprint on to get into the little bay by the landing jetty as the tide was racing westward causing a bit of a drop in the water levels through the gaps in Castle Rock.

As I paddled southward towards the lighthouse there was bit of adverse tide. There has been a lighthouse on Flat Holm since 1737. In front of the lighthouse is the remains of one of the four gun emplacements from the 1860's.
Passing two more of the gun emplacements which were last used in World War II, I round North West Point and I again hit more adverse tide, staying close to the shore I paddle back up to Castle Rock where the tide is still racing past.

It is now another sprint across the main flow and then another long ferry glide back across to the mainland.
Half way across the Barry Dock Lifeboat cruises by returning back to Barry.

It is now a leisurely paddle back to the slipway where the tide has gone out a fair bit since I left this morning, this is where the trolley is worth it's weight in gold!

A great paddle of nearly 11 nautical miles (approx 12.5 miles or 20km) in near perfect conditions, who knows maybe summer is finally on it's way!

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