Monday, 19 April 2010

Flat Holm Island 18/04/10

Mick an myself headed out from Penarth slipway an hour
before low tide for Flat Holm Island. It was spring tide so
I knew we were in for a bit of a ride. Forecast was force 1/2
3 later. This was Micks first proper trip. It was a bit hazy
today, only the top half of the island in view.

We passed wolfs south cardinal buoy in good time as we made
a steady 4.5 kts. A little to close however, I would have preferred
to have been a little further north at this point.
We reached Flat Holm in spot on an hour and made our way
clockwise around the island.

No chance of taking the short cut through here today. I
attempted to get close to see if there was a way through
but got beached on a rock, good job I got a plastic boat!

Steep Holm in the distance.

The southerly wind hit us head on around the south of the
island. There were a few good races and standing waves
for us to contend with, but all good fun.

We landed by the slipway and stopped for a wonder.

Looking down the south west corner.

The sea gulls were going absolutely nuts and they were
everywhere, it was like a scene out of the horror film 'Birds'.

I nearly lost an eye taking this shot! I managed to avoid
getting crapped on though, Mick wasn't so lucky. They seemed
to take a disliking to his hat and jacket!

Victorian Cannon nicely painted by the birds.

We explored these WW2 barracks? or ammo stores??

It was pitch black inside so I took this shot with my flash
to give a view down this corridor. Mick found a torch so
we headed on down in the dark.

I hope this is a fake! Either way not a nice thing to find in a dark
underground bunker on a island!

Mick exploring a WW2 generator shed enclosed in a gun battery.

We left Flat Holm about 5:30 the spring tides now in full
flow. As we left the shelter of the cove the now force 3 wind
whipped around the island making it very difficult to lift our

As we made our way slowly back we were passed by the Bay
Island Voyages boat. Struggling on, the boat came back to ask
if we were OK. Must have thought we were nuts. As we chatted
we were doing 3.5kts with the current. He offered us a lift as
he thought we would end up in Newport with this current.
For a moment I doubted myself and increased our angle of
attack. We were rarely doing over 2kts as we pushed into the
oncoming current. I thought to myself this isn't right we should
be using the current to aid our journey back. Almost back at the
Wolf's buoy I decided to trust in my calculations and lessened
our angle. Our speed almost instantly tripled making steady
progress back to Penarth.
We landed back at Penarth at the end of our 9.5nm trip in
1 hour 15mins, bearing in mind we probably spent 15mins
talking to the guys on the boat. In all quite an eventfull trip,
one i'm sure Mick enjoyed and will remember!

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Volcanic Sunset

I set out from Gileston beach next to Aberthaw power station
to see if I could get some snaps of the sun setting. With all this
volcanic matter floating about in the atmosphere it's supposed to
be really vivid. Well it doesn't happen to often to went to see
what all the fuss was about.

It was really calm waters and was spot on high tide so launching
wasn't a problem. I headed out for a spit of land just by the
water outlets of the power station which were now submerged
in the spring tides. This caused some very strange water with
little whirlpools which turned my boat slightly as I went over them.
As I got closer to the cassion I could see I was getting pushed
eastward . You could here the water gushing around the cassion
at some pace. Even though it was spring tides I didn't expect
to be putting up a fight at slack water!

Not getting anywhere fast I decided to ferry glide back toward
the beach, the water kicking up a bit again over the water
outlets. There were a few oystercatchers scourging in the
mud along the spit in the dimming light but as usual fly off
before I can get the camera out.
You could clearly see the eddy line from the moving water
to the motionless water in the shelter of the bay.
As the sun started to set you could see a definite dirty orange
looking line across the horizon. A few scattered light clouds
in the sky now to pick up the colours would make these pictures

The sky turned a very vivid orange and made everything
in the foreground really stand out.
What a stunning evening!

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire

I awoke at 5:30am to the clanging of fishermen going out
for an early catch. I say awoke, I don't think I slept. I now
know why I haven't camped since I was a teenager! I attempted
to get another hour kip but gave up and started my all in one
breakfast in a can.

I planned on leaving for Skomer around 10:30am so I could
ride the last of the ebbing current down to Skokholm. I was
far to early so I had a nose around the medieval church.

St Brides Castle used to be a hospital for TB patients but is
now a holiday mansion.

9am I couldn't wait around any longer so decided to leisurely
paddle down to Martins Haven.

Just approaching Nab head with Skomer and Martins Haven
in the distance.

I could tell this morning wasn't going to be as pleasant as
yesterday. The wind was blowing up from the south an
there was a hefty swell out in the open water.

Ah-hoy there's land!!

Uh no it's gone! see what I mean.

I landed at Martins Haven as I planned on spending the
remainder of the day in my boat, so I took the chance to
stretch my legs before I set off. There was a long queue
of people on the Jeti waiting for the boat trip out to Skomer.

Setting off again, a bit earlier than planned I made my way
across Jack Sound, which seemed fairly settled.

I'll apologise now for the amount of photo's, I got a little
trigger happy. This is only half of them!

As I arrived in North Haven the boat was unloading its
passengers, it seemed like a busy day on the island.

Seals on the beach. I wasn't sure how close I was allowed
to approach this bay and with so many people watching me
I didn't want to get a telling off. I crept my way up to the
'no anchor' buoys and took these zoomed in shots.

Garland Stone, North of Skomer.

I made my way through the small race going through the
small outcrops inside the Garland Stones recommended in
the guide book as the north of the stone can get a little

I was wondering where these guy's were hiding. There
were loads of groups of Puffins, Razorbills and Guillemots
quite happy for me to paddle up to them.

Apologies for the poor cammera man work, I'll be sacking him!

There were literally hundreds of birds all along the cliffs
getting ready for the nesting season.

Looking back on the Garland Stone.

The cliffs were exposed to the swell around this side of the
island so I couldn't get to close. As I hit the West side of the
island the conditions got a lot worse as I was exposed
to the southerly wind, which was blowing against the southerly
flowing tide. Combined with the huge swell made for
some pretty scary water. Because I was early setting off
the current was almost in full swing so there was no turning
back as I reached over 7kts. I got knocked about a bit and
seriously thought I would be calling the coast guard. I was
way out of my comfort zone. I just padded through it hoping
the conditions would ease in the coves to the south.

Coming around to the south with Mew Stone in view the
conditions eased off. I just wish I had a hands free waterproof
camera to film it all. Got to be honest probably the scariest
moment of my life!

I thought that was enough excitement for one day and left
Skokholm for another day. Although as I reached Mew
Stone I could clearly see the race through the gap was
traveling my way. I made a detour around the outcropping
rocks only to be nearly sucked back through the race on
the other side. Looking down at my GPS I was going 1.5kts
yet paddling my arse off. By this time I had had enough I just
wanted off this island!

I made it into the shelter of South Haven which was like a
completely different world. It was calm and full of life.

Skokholm, maybe next time.

In the bay coincidentally named Seal Hole I was approached by
two very friendly seals. I stayed to watch them play around
my boat for around 20 mins, glad of the rest. I thought I saw
a jellyfish go under my boat but turned out to be a Tesco
carrier bag. I pulled it out of the water before a seal got the
same idea, 'every little helps'.

leaving South Haven I look back on Mew Stone. I headed
up through Little Sound and ferry glided back over to the
mainland into Martins Haven for some much needed lunch.

In no ruch to get back I followed the shore line around and back
to St Brides.

Stopping off breifly at my own personal beach cut off from
any paths at Musselwick if only to sort out my jammed skeg.

The sea state was almost perfect again as I made my way
past another kayaker to Nab Head.

A 15nm trip with a mixture of some of my best and worst
experiences in a kayak. Planning my next trip already.