Sunday, 31 January 2010

Bristol Channel Sunrise 31/01/2010

It was a crisp, cold morning as I launched from Penarth just as the sun was starting to rise over the North Devon coast on the opposite side of the Bristol Channel.
Today the tides are very big Springs with it being a 14.1 metres and in the short time I spent taking a few photos of the sun rising I had already drifted several hundred yards away from where I had launched.

I paddled against the tide back along Penarth front towards the Cardiff Bay Barrage with the rising sun illuminating the buildings and reflecting in the glass front of the Penarth Lifeboat Station, but there wasn't enough strength in it to start melting the ice on the deck of my kayak.

Approaching Penarth Pier I looked back at Flat Holm and Steep Holm nicely silouehetted by the rising sun. There wasn't much room to get under the pier, it will be interesting to see how far the tide has fallen on my return.
It is only a short distance from Penarth Pier to the Cardiff Bay Barrage but I made slow progress against the tide and I was overtaken by the Hopper Dredger Sospan Dau also on the way to the Barrage.
There wasn't much room for the Sospan Dau to get between the two breakwaters and into the sheltered water by the three locks that allow boats to enter and leave Cardiff Bay especially with a fishing boat heading out into the Bristol Channel.

I landed on the small beach by the one breakwater and walked over to the Barrage to watch with admiration as the 71 metre long and 14 metre wide Dredger manoeuvred and set to work dredging the channel out into the Bristol Channel.

I relaunched as the Sospan Dau left the Barrage and followed her as she steamed off back out to sea.

I paddle out to the Outer Wrach West Cardinal Buoy which was really straining against its moorings, I had very little time to take these photos before I was swept past it by the fast flowing tide.

I ferry glide back across to Penarth Pier and couldn't believe how much the sea level had dropped in just over an hour. There was now plenty of room to paddle under the pier. It really shows the huge tidal range of the Bristol Channel, second biggest in the world after the Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia.

It is only a short paddle back to where I launched from but at least there is some beach to land on and even the ice on the deck is starting to melt!

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

No Salt Today 13/01/2010

With everything coming to a standstill again due to the snow I decided to make the most of my day off work and go for a paddle. There would be no salt water though and judging by the state of the roads there was no salt on them either!

I set off to the River Taff which is usually only a 10 minute drive but today it took slightly longer due to the snow.

Launching from just above Radyr Weir I paddled upstream passing under the M4 motorway bridge by junction 32 towards Castell Coch.

I continue paddling upstream until I reach the railway bridge by Real Radio where I stop as there is a small stretch of faster flowing water and I didn't fancy a portage.

I stop for a bit before paddling back downstream and take some photos of Castell Coch set back amongst the trees. Castell Coch is a Victorian folly built for the 3rd Marquis of Bute in the 1870s on the ruins of a medieval castle.

Paddling back downstream I was surprised how warm it was so on reaching the Landrover I made a phone call home to see if Bobby wanted to go for a paddle, he didn't need to be asked twice.

Within the hour we were back on the water with Bobby well wrapped up but raring to go.

We again paddled upstream and Bobby had great delight paddling through the dripping water caused by the now thawing snow as we paddled under the motorway bridge.

We carried on paddling and Bobby was very pleased with himself as he managed to make it further up the river today than he has done before and seems very determined to get further taking note of every detail on the bank to use it as a marker next time.

Bobby found the paddle back a lot easier and both of us had enjoyed our day off due to the snow and maybe next time he will make it up to Castell Coch.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Highlights of 2009 06/01/2010

With the weather at the moment not being too suitable for sea kayaking I have been looking back at photos of last year and here are some of my favourite moments. I haven't many photos of myself so thanks go to Martyn for the one above.

Throughout the year I had a few trips out to the islands of Flat Holm and Steep Holm and out to Monkstone Lighthouse all in the Bristol Channel.

My longest paddle of the year was from Penarth to the Second Severn Crossing and back. A round trip of nearly 40 nautical miles. I felt very small next to the immense concrete structure.

In August I was lucky enough to have a close encounter with 2 very curious seals in one of the bays on Ramsey Island. Normally the seals around Ramsey are quite timid and the bulls can be quite aggressive but these two hung around for about half an hour, it was something that will stay with me for a long time.

On the subject of wildlife, a few trips to Skomer Island left me having spent many hours watching one of my favourite sea birds, the Puffin, as well as the occasional Fulmar. On a paddle between St David' Head and Ramsey Island I saw my first Sunfish, the picture isn't brilliant as the sea was a bit choppy but again its something I won't forget.

In June, myself and Eurion attended The South West Sea Kayak Meet organised by Mark Rainsley, although a bit foggy at times, we had three great days paddling the South Devon coast, hopefully I will be able to attend this year also.

The highlights of the year wouldn't be complete without mentioning the delights of Ramsey Sound where I do the majority of my paddling, there is never a dull moment especially around the Bitches and even on a calm day the tide flow can be pretty impressive.

On the subject of rough water, above are a couple of photos of a trip around Skomer and to Musselwick Sands in May when there was quite a large swell and things got a bit hairy in a few places but great fun, especially when I was back on dry land!

A few sunsets seem like an ideal place to end my look back at 2009, it wasn't a bad year, lets hope 2010 is just as good if not better!.