Friday, 24 December 2010

Christmas Eve on Flat Holm

5.30am on Christmas Eve and it's time to get my boat on the van and meet up with Taran at Sully. We've both wanted to do this trip since we've had snow but it's been put off due to work, weather etc.
We set off under a full moon lit sky about an hour before high water.

The sky to the east quickly brightens up as we are well on our way.

With nearly a 12m tide we are quickly dragged up the channel past the Wolves buoy.
We speedily approach Flat Holm with little effort.

The water line is way beyond the beach and is nearly breaking over the wall on the slipway. We both gracefully slice a layer of plastic off our boats on the cheese grater of a ramp!

The sun was still down bellow a strip of cloud stretching just above the horizon and the moon was still bright in the sky above Aberthaw chimney.

We take a walk over to the light house where the sun just peaks over the cloud in a delayed sunrise.

Pity I missed the top of the light house in this panoramic shot. At this point I had lost all feeling in my feet.

I would quite happily convert this world war two look out post into a home and look out to this view every morning, even if it is on the small side.
We carried on past the farm house greeted by some of the islands resident animals.

Cardiff skyline lights up in the distance.

Back on the water we play about in the flow driving through castle rock and this time manage to get back around for another go. My hands and feet were in some serious pain by now.

Another 40mins and we were back at Sully Island.

In the calm around Sully Sound I decide to test out my new piece of kit. After reading an article in Ocean Paddler magazine I decided to rig together this Inuit looking hand line for fishing. The idea of a multi day trip, camping in the wilds cooking up fresh fish on a drift wood fire sounds like heaven.

Woohoo I caught some sea weed! As you may have gathered I have never fished in my life. In fact I only started eating fish a few months ago. A few more goes and I end up snagging my ball weight on the sea bed and loosing it.

We make another lap around Sully Island taking in some rock hopping further peeling back the layers off our hulls before landing back on the beach.
An absolute perfect day to possibly end this years paddling, but I doubt it still a few days left yet. I'm now off to hang my 17ft stocking in the hope Santa will bring me a nice Alaw Bach or something similar (can only wish). MERRY CHRISTMAS everyone!

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

A Bit of Quiet Time

For the past week or so I have been going out of my mind. I haven't been able to work due to the weather and I've been stuck in the house with two bored kids. Hannah wasn't in work till 12 today so I had a couple of hours to get out for some time off.

It was an early start from Aberthaw after digging my boat out of the snow and prising it free from the decking. I ventured out against the flow of the spring ebb tide toward Barry.

Beneath the cliffs of Fontygary caravan park huge icicles clung to the overhanging cliffs.

It became quickly obvious that I wouldn't be going far today as I made slow progress into the flow at 2-2.5 knots.

I haven't noticed these tunnels in the cliff before, there's a stone quarry is just over the cliff.

The weather was a bit dull and misty, no chance of a sun rise today.
There's Peregrine Falcons up on this cliff here but I couldn't see them today, just here their screeching.

It looks cold but I felt a little warmer today than past paddles, some of these icicles must be more than 10ft long.

Around Knap Point and into Barry harbour marked the turn around point, it had been a very slow 2 hours.

There was a cold wind blowing into the harbour so I paddled back around into the Knap for a coffee break.
Paddling back I made a beeline for Rhoose point taking advantage of the tidal flow. That's more like it 6-7 knots!

Within 45 mins I was heading back in to Aberthaw Bay looking for a place to land that wasn't sinking mud. It was now low tide and boiling hot water was spilling into the sea from the power station. The water was like a bath and the birds were dive bombing for fish all around.
Another half hour walk through mud, seaweed, freezing rock pools and snow covered steep boulders to finish. Becoming a habit this is! A short 10.6 nautical mile trip in quiet tranquility!

Saturday, 11 December 2010

A Day at the Races

Another early start on a promising winters morning. The temperature was a lot milder today at 4*C and a forecast of 3 to 4.
Leaving St Athan the sky was blood red on the horizon, I raced down the Sully in an attempt to catch it before it faded.
The plan today, Steep Holm on the last of the flood tide then up to Flat Holm before taking the tide back to Sully. Taran suggested the paddle today.

Checking the charts I wasn't sure if it was possible, it was a pretty steep ferry angle but we thought we would give it a go.

Sully sound was flowing well but we managed to power our way to the south of the island and paddle up around the back to make best use of the race.
A bit blurred but you can just make out taran amongst the washing machine waves!
We hoped out into an eddy before rejoining the race taking us just short of Llavernock Spit Buoy.

This was the last we would see of the sun today as it disappeared up into a band of thick cloud.

Somehow we managed to reach the tip of Steepholm. The current was racing well around rudder rock.

We landed on what remained of the beach under the Inn on Steep Holm for a very short break.
Do not try this in a glass boat!
Leaving Steep Holm it was a race against time to get to Flat Holm. The tide had already turned about half hour before we got to Flat Holm making progress slow. Another race was flowing around the top of the island but we managed to eddy our way around to the beach.
We stopped for lunch to allow the tide to pick up speed through the arch next to the slipway.
We played about for a bit before hopping on the race taking us rapidly to the bottom of the island. It was a speedy ride back to Sully and another sharp ferry glide. We picked up yet another race/overfall just past Lavernock Spit Buoy.

The flow in the sound was non existent and we floated for a bit in silence. It was back to the vans for some tea and biscuits to celebrate another great day out.