Sunday, 18 November 2012

Beyond the Holms

Alarm wakes me up at 5am to load the boat up on the van on what was probably the coldest morning of this year so far.  The plan was promising to be worth the early start.  Another meeting at Sully with the usual suspects...Taran, Eurion and Jules.  
The plan was to leave Sully and aim for Steep Holm.  From there we would use the remainder of the flood to take us across to Brean Down on the English side of the Channel.  The dotted line shows planned route but bold line (actual route) show all didn't go to plan...
I was a little behind picking up Eurion but we managed to get on the water by 7:30 with the sun still bellow the horizon.
A mad paddle against the flow through Sully causeway warmed the muscles and it was on toward Steep Holm.  Conditions were near perfect with a slight southerly breeze.
The sun broke above our destination making the early wake up all the more worth it.

Taran and Jules drifted further and further away from Eurion and myself as we made the long crossing across the channel.
Passing by Flat Holm.
Me and Eurion made our decent onto Rudder Rock on the most southerly side of Steep Holm.
Rudder Rock with it's WWII defences.
We made our way to the top of the island for a quick respite and re-configure the plan.  It turned out we were 40 minutes behind schedule.  We still had roughly an hour until slack so decided to paddle on as planned.
A sea mist drifted in as we take in the unfamiliar views of Steep Holm's north western face.
After a short debate we decide to cut our losses and use the remainder of the flood to take us back toward Flat Holm.  On such a big spring tide it would have been a struggle to get back to Sully.
We arrive on Flat Holm with one more boat than we came with.  It turned out Hywel was making the best of the weather also at the usual retreat.  Coming in along the top of the island we were greeted with a display from a pair of Peregrine Falcons, but despite my best efforts my pictures were very poor.
We met up with Hywel up top for lunch.
The Western Life Boat crew and HMS Exploit were out training, or as Jules put it having fun in a rib, out on the channel.  Some might recall the HMS Exploit from one of my earlier trips....
Onward we go through Castle Rock and into the fast ebbing flow.
From the look of the Wolves buoy in the distance we were travelling at some pace, I think Eurion mentioned +5 knots or so even with our ferry glide into the flow.
We flew past the Wolves but I was determined to get up the eddy to the cardinal marker leaving the others to drift further down the channel.  With all the effort it took to reach the buoy I wasn't going to waste my higher line of decent and paddle down onto the rest of the party.  So I made a lonely trip back to Sully, surfing in the following sea.
A brilliant trip even though we didn't get to our planned destination.  But then that gives us an excuse to do it all again.