Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Old Man in a Boat

I took my dad down to Up & Under for a demo evening. Being an avid mountaineer and a lover of the great outdoors I wanted to try an get him into the 'new mountaineering'. He has dragged me up mountains all these years so now it's my turn.

The last time he paddled was about 15 years ago so we popped him in a slightly smaller Venture Flex 11. I mean while was a bit gutted the only sea kayak I wanted to demo, P&H Scorpio, had recently been sold. I jumped in a Dagger Alchemy which is classed as a tourer like my Easky. I was really surprised with it's handling. It turned with ease and was really stable. Its only 14ft so it lost a bit in speed.

Like riding a bike my dad seemed to build up his confidence and got the hang of things. I tried getting him in a longer boat but he wasn't having any of it. More interested in talking to a fellow kayaker/walker about climbing in Skye. I'll get him out at sea one day!

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Sully to Penarth 25/07/08

Myself and Ian went for an afternoon paddle launching from the pebbled beach next to the Captains Wife at Sully. We made our way toward Penarth on the last of the flood tide. Conditions were a bit lumpy around Ball Rock Bay and Lavernock Point as expected.

Looking on to Flat Holm
Forecast came through on the radio force 3/4 possible 5 which could be seen further out to sea toward the two holm islands. Around to the other side of the points though the sea was perfect with a gentle swell.

Approaching Penarth we passed some idiots throwing stones at us. You would think being out here on the water you could get away from them.

We land on the jeti opposite the RLNI station for a quick break before taking the ebbing tide back. I check my GPS and it reads the fastest speed at 24kts! Then when I get home another record is set at 30.2kts!! The only thing I can think of is, it's either when I was paddling with a following tide and sped up for a split second on the back of a wave or my GPS is buggered. It's been pretty accurate until now.

Heading around Ball Bay we headed once again into the overfalls which was much more fun than having them wash up over your back. Into Sully sound I was surprised how little (if any) current there was. I thought the tide would rush through here, especially on a big tide.

We landed on Sully Island before having a race back over the sound to the cars.

Whilst packing up the cars the sun was fading leaving a stunning view over the channel toward Flat and Steep Holm. The moon came up just as we were leaving glowing really big just above the horizon. Annoyingly since I got my camera soaked in Fishguard I'm left with giant smudges on every picture. I've done my best to remove them in these. An excuse to buy a new waterproof one I think.

A 6.29nm trip and a top speed of 30.2kts, I wish! I could outrun most boats at that rate!

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Testing Testing Over...

I went for a late evening paddle from Llantwit Major to test out my new Standard Horizon HX280E VHF Radio. Thanks to everyone who commented I decided to go with this model last weekend. It's really easy to use, water proof and at £89 was a lot cheaper than some models. I received a forecast update and a few other messages loud and clear. Only down side is it doesn't float. I paddled as far as St Donnats castle taking in the caves on the way, which for once I could get close to.

Friday, 16 July 2010

VHF recommendations please...

It's about time I parted with my cash and buy a VHF radio. If anyone would like to leave a comment and recommend any particular models it would be very much appreciated. There are so many makes and models on the market at various prices! I don't want to spend huge amounts but also want something that will do the job if the time comes. Thank you.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Dinas Head 05/07/10

We headed on to Newport Sands for a day on the beach. The weather was much of the same and everyone was searching for their jumpers when they got out the car. The wind blew in from the West today and the beach was fully exposed kicking up more white horse and waves.

The kids didn't seem bothered by the cold wind. I sat on the beach with the family for a bit but I was eager to get out there. I paddled across the bay against tide and wind aiming for a cave in the shelter of the cliffs.
The aim was to paddle up toward the end of Dinas Head, check out the conditions and hopefully carry on around to Fishguard if it wasn't to rough. The sea here was a lot more settled except for the occasional down drafts off the enormous cliffs.

Once again there were plenty of caves to explore. I couldn't see the end of this one, there was a lot of wave action coming from inside the cave so didn't fancy carrying on into the black.

It was coming up to high water but the tide was flowing east until about 6pm. The current isn't to strong along this stretch of coast so I paddle along at ease.
There were more birds defending their chicks along the way.

And more caves...

I passed a group of Razorbills.

Then headed on to Needle Rock.

On the lower rocks were perched some Razorbills and Guillemots.

Looking across Newport Bay toward Cardigan.

Looking back on Needle Rock. This sight was pretty impressive. There were gulls circling around the point, almost looked like a scene from Jurassic Park. The photos don't do the size of the these rocks and cliff justice.

Nearing the head of Dinas Head.

At the head there is a double arch which goes straight through the head and out the other side.

It was too shallow to get through the one on the right.

The one on the left looked promising except for one large bolder which refused to hide with the incoming swell from the other side. It was the long way around for me.

Around the corner now there were few places to shelter from the westerly wind. The sea state became a little more alive now with waves coming side on. I paddle across each little bay heading for the east facing cliffs and caves for a moments rest.

There was a seal swimming in one cove. He stayed at a distance occasionally surfacing to see what I was up to.
The waves now were pretty steep, most of the journey around the head was spent 50% with my bow in the air and 50% underwater. At one point I think most of my boat cleared the water only to dive back down to consume it up to my waste bellow water.

I stop off at the first bay I find after rounding the head. My legs cease to work as I exit my boat. I ring the other half to assure her I'm still alive and I am shaking. This time I am glad to say from adrenaline not fear. I was buzzing I wanted to go around again.

I leave the bay with the ferry at Goodwick in sight, and with the water become increasingly more exposed to the wind and I find myself in some turbulent water in what looks like a rock minefield. There were sharp jugged rocks everywhere just surfacing above the swell. I didn't fancy rolling in this. Upon one rock stood a group of baby Shags something I have never seen. A bit to eventful to get my camera out though.

I stay inside any rocky island outcrops I come across attempting to take shelter. Some bays more sheltered than others, going from one extreme to the next. Makes you realise what forces the wind has on the sea.

As I reach this sheltered bay I notice a kayak tied to the rock face. I round the rocky outcrop that divides this sheltered beach and there is know one to be seen. Weird! Anyone Fancy a sit on top?

I reach Needle Rock (same name different rock) not far from where I paddled yesterday. For some reason there was a bit of swell here, it had been virtually non existent the rest of the journey. I was facing the sun so paddle around the other side to get a better shot of this picturesque arch.

No good the water was bouncing off all sides of this cove, this was the best one I got. Plenty of the sea and sky! A wave hit me side on coming over my left shoulder drowning my non waterproof camera. I managed to stay the right way up though that's and achievement!!

The screen on the camera was now completely blank, no worries though it later dried out and works fine now. It seemed to make my camera better as the colours in this picture are really vivid. Nearing Fishguard harbour now the sea state remained smooth just blustery.
It was another hard paddle into the wind to Fishguard Lower Town harbour where my lift awaited. Back to the club for a few more pints.

Next day I caught a shot of the Stena Line leaving for Ireland, I wouldn't want to be in a kayak in this boats path.
A total 8.72 nm or 16.15 km and a total time of nearly 4 hours. A bit longer than I thought but a lot of scenery and exploring to take in. Defiantly a trip I would recommend and one I'll do again.
Our little break ended on Wednesday as we left a very wet and windy Fishguard for home.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

A Windy Fishguard Harbour 04/07/10

We arrived in Fishguard Saturday, 5 adults and 5 kids and had a great day at Folly Farm. I checked the weather for the week on the Met Office phone report as I don't have a VHF yet. Force 5 today possible 6/7 later, however sea condition 'slight'. I headed on down the road to Goodwick to check out the sea state and it looked very flat but really choppy.

I went back fetched the boat and decided to test the wind and explore the cliffs along the harbour. The wind was really strong and nearly tipped the boat on a few occasions.

In the shelter of the cliffs there were plenty of caves to explore, most with a curtain of water from the previous days showers.

Hugging the cliffs to stay out of the wind this Oyster Catcher was going ballistic. I then saw the reason why. Well camouflaged in the seaweed was a tiny chick.

Mum or dad then arrived and started swooping at me. I took a quick photo and left them in piece.

A bit further and more caves. This one opened right out at the back.

Looking now on to Fishguard Lower Town there was a tall ship anchored just off the harbour.

I paddled into the harbour and then leaving the shelter of the cliffs I made a hard slog over to the tall ship.

Trying to take a photo was quite hard, every time I stopped paddling I was blown away from the boat.

I have a thing for tall ships and after a bit of research found out that the Johanna Lucretia is a British Ship built in 1945 in Belgium. Originally she was built as a fishing ship but was never used for this purpose and was converted for recreational use in 1954. She starred in the film Amazing Grace and The Riddle of the Sands.

In my later paddle on Monday she had already set sail and left the harbour. That would have made a stunning picture!

Back to the shelter of the cliffs I look back upon Fishguard Fort which was built in 1781 to protect the town from pirates.

I find this nice little bay so I stop off for a stretch and consider my options.

Looking out toward the 'Sea Cat' at Goodwick Harbour the wind picked up a bit more making plenty of White Horses. I ditch the idea of paddling across the harbour to the lighthouse on the north breakwater as its to much of a cross wind.

Carrying up along the coast there are more caves and crazy swooping Oyster Catchers protecting their chicks.

I paddle as far as Y Das head where the water turns a bit rough as is completely exposed to the wind. Having known that Needle Rock, an impressive stack with an arch, was just around this head I would have carried on.
Paddling back into a headwind proved a bit of a challenge. I had to adopt a low paddling position and with every stop it was like one step forward two steps back. If there was an equivalent of paddling up hill this was it. All good fun though, every wave kicked up a bit of spray and I was soaked by the time I hit the beach at Goodwick. I finished off by paddling around the east breakwater to meet the family by the slipway.

It was then back to the caravan for kids club and more importantly a pint of Guinness! Zakk and Connor looking really smart in their matching waistcoats.