Sunday, 20 September 2009

A Big Spring Tide 20/09/2009

Arriving at Penarth there was a slight problem. With it being a very big spring tide there was no beach to launch from, luckily I could launch from the lifeboat slipway.
Paddling up to the pier there was not enough space to get through under the main building but I could paddle through under the walkway.

With the ebb tide just starting to flow it was a bit of an effort to paddle the short distance to the entrance to the Cardiff Bay Barrage.

Inside the two breakwaters, one section of the road is raised up meaning that some boats are either entering or leaving one of the three locks. These locks allow boats to enter or leave Cardiff Bay at any state of the tide.

I decide to wait a while and in a few minutes the lock gates open and a small flotilla of boats steam out into the Bristol Channel.

As I paddle out of the breakwaters and back out into the Bristol Channel I can see straight into the lock and that the sea level has already fallen just over a metre, to a height of just under 12 metres, according to the scale at the side of the lock entrance.
Paddling along the outside of the breakwater I approach the five sluice gates that control the amount of water that flows from the Rivers Taff and Ely into the freshwater lake of Cardiff Bay.
I paddle towards the entrance to the Queen Alexandra Dock, I pass the White Sails Statue and the three navigational markers that guide ships into the dock.

The Queen Alexandra Dock was opened in 1907 and leads into the Roath Dock, these are the only two remaining working docks of the once massive Cardiff Docks.
The water level has dropped almost another two metres since I paddled the short distance from the Barrage. I paddle along the sea wall with a good view to Penarth Pier and Lavernock Point in the distance and also back to the dock entrance.

I paddle to the end of the jetty. It is looking a bit worse for wear and with the sails, in the background it is the new face of Cardiff with the rotten timber in the foreground the old.
I then paddle out into the main tidal flow where I am taken on an express train ride back towards Penarth passing the West Cardinal Outer Wrach Buoy straining at its moorings.

Before I know it I am back at the pier where, in just over an hour and a half, the tide has fallen very quickly with now plenty of room to get under the pier.

It is just a short paddle back to the slipway where there is now plenty of beach available to land on. Not a paddle of any distance but one that shows the huge tidal range of the Bristol Channel. It is the second biggest in the world behind the Bay of Fundy in Canada.

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