Sunday, 24 April 2011

Coast Guard to the Rescue Once More

Today was supposed to be a relaxing trip out to Flat/Steep Holm from Sully but as usual things didn't go to plan.  I know what your all thinking by the title but this time it wasn't me. 
 Force 4-5 sea slight and plenty of sun.  There was supposed to be five of us in all but do to unforeseen circumstances it ended up being the usual suspects, Richie, Taran and myself.
 With only neap tides we make an easy ferry glide across to Steep Holm on the last two hours of flood.
 The three arches at rudder rock.  For once it was possible to pass through the one on the left of the photograph, even if it was a bit narrow.  Richie was starting to feel the strain so we stopped off on the beach.
 Some of Steep Holm's nesting Shelducks take to the air just as we land on the beach.  After a quick break and a telling off from a grumpy warden for being on the wrong side of the gate we head off for a long hard ferry back over to Sully.
 Not long in to the paddle Richie was complaining of pins and needles in his arms and legs and wasn't looking to good.  Moments later he was throwing up and unable to find any energy to paddle.  Frustratingly none of us had a tow rope.  Myself and Taran both previous 'solo' paddles didn't really see the use in having one previously.  We attempted a contact tow but even that was to much for Richie, he wasn't looking good.  Call went over the radio to come pick him up.
 Moments later the Cardiff Island Voyages rib came to our aid and took Richie on board.  We were left stranded with an empty kayak and no tow, although the lifeboat at Penarth had already been launched and was coming to pick it up.
 Stranded mid way between Steep Holm and Flat Holm and with an ever increasing tide we rigged together a short tow out of some chord from a VHF dry case and a couple of karabiners and made on our way.
Soon after the Penarth lifeboat rib came to our aid and took the boat off our hands.  We assured the crew we would be fine paddling back and made on our way again, although they didn't think we stood much of a chance now the ebb tide was now in full flow and looking rather choppy.
We managed to make it to Flat Holm paddling up what seemed to be a large eddying flow against the tide.  Any idea on these little birds?  hundreds of them and didn't seem to mind us approaching.
 The flow was now moving at quite a pace which made for a very steep ferry angle and slow progress.
A little adverse conditions were felt around Wolves Rock and nearing Lavernock but we managed to make good progress.  Not quite the paddle we were expecting but an adventure none the less.  On reaching the lifeboat station Richie was taken off to hospital but has since been discharged and feeling much better.  Off to buy a tow now.  12.39 nm in all.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Petrel Build #2 - Drawing The Forms

All this nice weather and I've barely been out in the boat, this is what I've been doing.  Since the last boat building post I've been busy drawing up the forms on to graph paper, a bit like marking co-ordinates on a map and then joining the dots.  The outcome is a cross section slice of the boat which is then transferred on to 1/2 inch thick MDF.  These cross sections are then threaded on to a 14ft length of 2x4 called a strongback.  This strongback is essentially the backbone of the boat upon which the cedar strips are laid.  It is important all these 'co-ordinates' are in the right place, a 1/4 inch out and I end up with a oddly shaped boat.  There are 16 cross sectional forms all together and two end forms (bow and stern).  There is also a cockpit recess and hatch forms to draw out but I'll do that when the time comes to installing them.
 On my rainy day when I can't work (fortunately only one) I made these two saw horses to support the strongback.  They also double as a kayak stand when I'm finished, the top cross beams are removed and replaced with a loose webbing where the boat can sit. 
I've also been busy sourcing my tools and materials.  I am literally starting this boat with nothing.  I bought this shiny new block plane, probably the most expensive and key tools for the job.  I've also found a good supplier for the cedar strips and been playing about with some test strips.
I have also found a place to build.  Thanks to one very kind farmer I have a the use of a corner of a large barn. 

I'm going to add absolutely everything I have bought for the build not just the materials used in the boat.

Materials and Supplies so far:   

Two books - £17.32
9 sheets of graph paper - £11.97
Large Ruler - £1.26
French Curve - £4.49
Jigsaw blades - £4.98
Screws - £7.48
MDF (for the forms) - £15.48
2x4 Timber (for the saw horses) - £18.72
Spray Glue - £9.79
Block Plane - £49
Total £140.49

Wow..and that's doesn't include any materials that will be include as part of the actual boat.  From what I've seen it should cost no more than around £800 for the entire build, but that obviously doesn't include all the extras such as tools and supplies of which I have few.  With a boiler on the blink don't expect progress to be quick!

Here is an on board video of the Petrel in action.  

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Dying Sun

Nothing to really write home about just a short paddle after a long couple of weeks hard work.
 Surf at Llantwit Major
 Heading West toward St Donats Castle
Stopping off at the caves along the way
 Going, going, gone...
Work again in the morning, no bank holidays for the self employed!  Lucky if I get a weekend.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

A Perfect Sunny Sunday Afternoon

Back on home waters the plan was to simply paddle out on the last two hours of the ebb to Steep Holm and return on the commencing flood.  Forecast looked good, mid way between spring and neap tides.  I met up with Taran at the busy Penarth waterfront.
Straight on the water and I cool down with a quick role, it seems summer has already arrived.  Traffic jams, no parking, beaches flooded with sun seekers and waters crammed with speed boats.  I couldn't wait to get far out in the channel.
Taran mentioned how he almost went to Monkstone the other day and peering out at the loan structure it looked tempting to try.  We paddled out to the Cardiff shipping buoy, progress was slow paddling almost directly into the flow.
As we made our way further out we noticed a dark band just under the horizon, Cardiff ground maybe. 
We made an unexpected landing on Cardiff grounds.
A further 20 minute paddle in mirror like seas and a final push against the flow of the tide brought us under the towering Monskstone lighthouse.
There was just enough rock exposed to make a landing.  I never thought I would get out here at low water, especially from Penarth.  This is turning out to be a brilliant paddle.
The tide was still ebbing at a strong pace.
Where's Taran got too? I'm sure I saw him land behind me...
Half way up the tower!
The remains of a previous light? Foundations used in the build? who knows.
These little Turnstones weren't bothered by our presence, they had found the perfect little feeding ground.
Back into the flow we headed on to our original destination.

We were calling it close getting to Steep Holm before the tide turned.
Landing at a different place to usual gave us the opportunity to access the upper heights of the island without clambering an iron gate.  We didn't venture far though with the boats precariously balanced on two rocks just above the rising waters.
With the turn of the tide we made our way around Rudder Rock and on to our forth destination, Flat Holm.
The waters were unbelievably calm, playing with the eye, unable to make out where the water ended and where the sky began.  Small creases in the otherwise flat water pushed us along in sets of three or four unnaturally steep waves in the silk like surface.
Sounds of music echoed across the water probably from Weston Super Mare.  How nice it was being out here in the peacefulness of nature away from all the madness.
Taran was forever practising his edging...
Woops too far....sorry Taran I had to take a picture.  Perfect re-entry however.

We made another short stop this time on Flat Holm, if only so Taran could empty his boat.  A quick play in the small race of the west corner of the island, obviously nothing compared to my last visit, before making our way back to Penarth.
And as if this trip couldn't get any better the sun started to set...absolutely perfect.

We parted our separate ways just before landing, my van being half way up the hill.  Penarth lifeboat were just launching as I hauled my boat up the jeti.  I had a quick chat with one of the crew, apologising for calling them out a couple of weeks ago.
14.30 nautical miles in total.  A totally unexpected start to the trip made this one a trip to remember.  Absolutely perfect day on the water.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Back To The Bitches

Today's forecast was looking slightly better, S/SW force 3/4 and the swell seemed to have subsided.  There was a lot more cloud about though.  We parked my van at Porth Clais and drove on up to Whitesands.  The surf looked fairly big so we opted for a short paddle from St Justinian's.  Also saved us £4 on parking, robbery!
Ramsey Sound looked calm, I got the binoculars out to check out the other side.  All looked well.
 The wind was coming straight up the sound, a little height in the waves but nothing to worry about.  Worry I did though.  Taran didn't seem to mind but I know how this place can change.  A strong wind on tide, I didn't want to stay on the other side longer than needed.
 The jagged rocks of The Bitches loomed in the distance made ever more menacing with the grey sky.
 I was about to paddle through the cave when I noticed how fast the water was flowing through it.  It looked like a river and I wasn't sure if it would be possible to get back.  The water flowing through The Bitches looked timid enough but moving fast.
 The conditions further south toward Ynys Eilun looked rough, plenty of white water.  Rather than pass through the point of no return we opted to paddle back up to the North end of Ramsey against the flow and ferry glide back over.

 I paddled back behind the first Bitch to get a closer look, thinking again about going through the cave.

 Nice place for a role.  We must have been in a back eddy. We rafted up to exchange cameras and noticed we were moving against the flow fairly fast.
 Paddling north I noticed there was a little activity out in the sound.  Further North nearing Trwyn Ogof Hen we caught the overfall racing around the tip of the island.  Looking down at the GPS we were locked in the flow.  We aimed off toward St Johns Point and made our way through the fast flowing waters making a steady ferry-glide back to the mainland.

There was too much activity to explore the swell bound cliffs so we just made our way back in to St Justinians.
 Time for one last role for Taran and we made our way up the steep steeps back to the van.
A perfect little trip to end a great weekend in Pembrokeshire.  Considering the conditions I was pleased with the outcome, Skomer and Ramsey in one weekend, not to bad at all.  Best get back home and make a start on this new boat.