Saturday, 22 August 2015

Plan C - Ramsey Island

It seems people still find this blog of interest even though I haven't written anything new in over a year.  So for you here's a trip we did back in August (writing this in November) and thank you very much for your continued reading.

Elan and myself jumped in his car early morning to head over to St Davids, Pembrokeshire, to meet up with Jules and James for what was forecast to be a perfectly settled day.  So perfect was the forecast that we intended to paddle out to the Bishops and Clerks, a committing trip to a group of offshore islands approximately 5km off St Davids Head and Ramsey Island.  Eager to get underway we left the still waters of the harbour entrance into... 
..a lively looking sea state, not the smooth still waters we were expecting.  So eager was I to get on the water I left my day hatch open and flooded the contents, great start.
Jules heading on toward Carreg Fran in his P&H Delphin.
Through Carreg Fran we made a beeline into the oncoming swell for the most southerly tip of Ramsey Island, Ynys-Bery, the 'Enduring Island'.
In open water the conditions remained choppy but we remained on course as planned.

Picture by James, Eland and myself discussing our options. 
We could spot some white water off the tip of Ynys Bery.  We decided to continue on but it looked unlikely we would be heading any further offshore to the Bishops.  Alternatively Plan B was to head up the west side of Ramsey with the remaining flood tide.
Leaving the sheltered eddy behind the small island of Ynys Eilun (Idol Island) it became immediately obvious the Bishops were a no go.
James in his P&H Cetus at the most southerly tip of Ynys Bery.  Elan and Jules were just a little ahead.  The sea state was big, bigger than any of us (except possibly Elan) were comfortable with.  Me and James agreed we should turn back.  We signal to the other two who also came to the same conclusion.  Plan A and B were off, time for plan C... turn and PLF (paddle like f#@k)
As soon as I had confirmation we were all turning with our tails between our legs I was gone.  The tide was pushing forcefully against us as it wrapped around the island but fortunately we were able to surf the waves into less committing waters.
One last push through the swell as the heavens opened brought us safely into the tranquil waters of Ramsey Sound.

Midland Gap the gateway between east and west or today heaven and hell.  James and Elan decide to slip quickly though the gap and wish they never had, the push back through against the tide was apparently a little harder.
 A seal popped up to see what all the fuss was about while we were waiting for the other two.
On our way again up the east side of Ramsey, continuing on not wanting to disturb the lazing seals on the south beach.
A bull made certain we were moving on as they so often do.  This is the only way your going to get a picture of a pursuing seal.  
The Bitches never seem to loose their menacing appeal, even on a calm day in the sound.
Actually this is how I prefer it, small and fast.
Picture of James and me on the Bitches by Jules.
Elan showing off.  
James breaking though the eddy.
Jules riding the wave.
After enough fun we landed on the only permitted landing spot providing there are no seal pups hauled up, which there weren't.  
After a bit of lunch we continued on up the east side of Ramsey exploring various caves on the way.

By the time we reached the north east tip of Ramsey the conditions on the west looking over to the Bishops looked far more inviting.  However the tide had now turned and it was far to late for that.  So we opted to cross over the sound and explore the shoreline side of the sound, which some of us hadn't explored before.  
We were lucky enough to encounter a porpoise with a calf at it's side mid crossing.
Elan launching his new P&H Aries from the St Davids lifeboat soon to be redundant slipway.
And Elan loves life boats so much he even got the matching colours.
 A few more caves and we were soon back on the home stretch again toward Porth Clais.

Ah yes this is my new sail and this was it's first outing, except there wasn't anymore than a slight breeze.
Picture by Jules.  Elan with his Flat Earth Code 0 mounted to his P&H Aries and myself with my Flat Earth Trade Wind 8 mounted to my Tahe Marine Greenland T.  

Sunday, 9 August 2015

'The Island' with Bear Grylls

Unsettled weather was forecast for our second and last day of our North Wales trip.  There wasn't any plan to complete any decent mileage today, just the hope of sheltering from the worst of it.  A paddle of one of the estuaries was an option.  The other option was the hope of sheltering out of the south westerly wind at Abersoch.    
The wind was whistling across the bay at Abersoch next the Yacht Club.  Boats pulled on their moorings, sails made up as dark black clouds threatened to unleash torrents at any given moment.  The plan was to make our way in the lea of the wind as far up the headland as possible.  We would then break out into the wind and ferry over to the Tudwal Islands with the wind at our backs for the return trip.  
It was a bit of a slog into the wind with St Tudwal's East on our far left and St Tudwals near left.
The point of the headland gave way to fast tides and the Atlantic swell.  We push on into the oncoming wind and tide to give us a favourable angle at which to attack our ferry glide over to the first of the Islands St Tudwal's West.    
 Sail up angling our course across tide.
The lighthouse and single storey keepers' dwellings we're built by Trinity House in 1877 to assist schooners carrying slate and other cargo from the queries of North Wales.  Due to an innovative mechanism called a sun valve, invented by a Swedish engineer Gustaf Dalen, the light became unmanned and by 1935 a light keeper was no longer required and the dwellings were sold.  The current occupier is none other than TV personality and adventure Bear Grylls.    
We took a brief respite from the wind on the eastern side of the island, very tempting to try out Bear's waterslide by the jeti.  
We carried on our trip across the short passage to St Tudwal's East.
A slightly more dramatic looking island with steep sided cliffs littered with caves.  The waters off the exposed souther tip were a little more choppy as the swell bounced back of the weathered cliffs.

We decide to explore a little further where waves were breaking over a small reef just over 500m to the east of the island.  Here could be found the odd Grey Seal.  
Back on the sheltered north east side of St Tudwal's East we took our break in the boats drifting past grey seals and sea birds as we munched on our choccy bars and biscuits...

The wind soon greeted us again at the far end of the island pushing us back into Abersoch rounding our short 2 hours trip off to 11km.
Elan giving me a contact tow letting his sail do all the hard work.
An unexpected really enjoyable little trip, probably made all the better by the unsettle conditions.  In all a successful weekend, will have to return up north sometime to explore the rest of this beautiful seascape.