Saturday, 19 April 2014

Skomer Island

Myself and Elan made a trip west with the promise of some fine weather.  We left a car at Dale with the intention of paddling out from St Brides Haven, around Skomer and Skokholm, cross over to St Anns Head and into Milford Haven to land at Dale.
 Ready to launch at St Brides Haven.  We made a beeline straight down onto Skomer Islands north coast hoping to catch the last of the southerly flow that would take us down the west side of Skomer and onto Skokholm.
Grey Seal
 Skomer Island is a wildlife haven and within minutes we were surrounded by many of its residents.


On Skomers western point we enjoyed a close encounter with a pod of Porpoise.

We explore the rugged western approaches of the island but it soon becomes apparent that the low wind forecast was not entirely correct.  A stiff wind blew up from the south meaning if we wanted to carry on with the intended plan it would be a battle into the head wind all the way. 
The wind on tide made for some interesting conditions in 'Little Sound' where we decided to make a break against the flow back onto the sheltered northern side of the island. 
 Original plan aborted we decided to take a relaxing paddle back along the old red sandstone cliffs to St Brides Haven with a lunch stop at Martins Haven.
Conditions couldn't have been more different as we weaved in and out of the kelp covered boulder fields admiring the beauty of our home coastline.

 Not the intended route today but the close encounter with the pod of porpoise easily made up for it.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Barry Races

Into April now and the weathers gone pear shaped again.  Strong wind forecast so myself, Jules and Taran head on down to Barry for a bit of action on the tide race that forms off Nells Point.
 ARRGGHHH there be pirates!!! Now laddies contain yourself.
From the shore it looked relatively flat and gusty but out on the headland the strong Bristol Channel currents were picking up some pretty sizeable waves.
 I love this shot, dark blue skies adding to the drama.
We land at Jacksons bay on the far side of the head.  I decided to walk back up to the head and get some shots of the guys running the race....

I jumped back in the boat for one last run then it was onto pleasure beach for a bit of surfing before returning to the cars.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

St Brides Bay

Some nice weather arrived early spring for a gathering at St Brides Bay Pembrokeshire.  After meeting up with Andrew, Tori and Mo at Martins Haven we leave a couple of cars there and head on up the coast to Newgale to meet the rest of the gang, Paul, Sean, Katie and Gareth.  
We push off from the fossilised remains of an ancient forest, recently resurrected by the harsh winter storms at Newgale.  Ice cold surf breaking over the bow refreshes the senses and reminds that despite the sunshine it's still early in the year.
We paddle on south blinded by the sun keeping a relatively safe distance from the crumbling millstone grit  and shale cliffs where rogue waves catch us off guard.

Above, Sean paddling past the huge sandstone Monoclinal fold formation known as Sleek Rock just before Broad Haven bellow.

We land through the shallow waves at Little Haven finding a seat in the sun for lunch.

 Above left to right, Katie, Me, Paul and Gareth and bellow, Me Paul Tori and Gareth.
 Bellow all the gang sat around for lunch from left to right, Gareth, Andrew, Sean, Paul Tori and Katie.

Today I had the pleasure in borrowing Mike Bells (Cedar Boats Europe) carbon fibre Greenland splits.  In the slightly choppy conditions they remained on the deck after my first taster near Newgale, but from here on in I stuck with them and finally gained a fondness for the Greenland ways.  As for build quality, Mike's attention to detail make these paddles structurally and aesthetically pleasing.  
From Little Haven we take a slight de-tore off shore to Stack Rocks.
 Katie having a quick go of Mike's paddles and a chance for me to take a photo of them in use.
Back closer to shore we stay close to the Old Red Sandstone cliffs where the shallows provide a playground of gullies and obstacles to paddle around.

We take another brief stop at St Brides Haven where we get the chance to rummage through Sean and Mo's repair kits to make best of what we could of my broken footrest.
Cable ties and duck tape are a kayakers best tools, job done.
Back on the water we leave the security of the shore once more to cross directly over to Martins Haven.  I decide to pick up the pace here to see what these Greenland paddles are capable of and soon find myself and Andrew had quickly left the remainder of the group behind.

We settle in at our final destination at Martins Haven and wait for the rest of the group to arrive.  A bull seal plays hide and seek close to shore whenever I lifted a finger on the camera shutter.

Katie, Tori and Paul paddle into the beach and Gareth, Sean and Mo set off around the corner for a quick adrenaline fix on the Jack Sound tidal race.  
We pack up the two vehicles and head back up the road north to Newgale where our day began for the remaining cars.  The sun sets over the not to distant Ramsey Island in the west bringing a close to yet another great day on the water, thanks for the company all.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

First Signs Of Spring

A large area of high pressure finally arrived at British shores bringing sun and light winds.  This would be my first paddle and exercise of any sort since my collapsed lung a month ago.  A relatively relaxed paddle out to Steep Holm is just what the doctor ordered.  What initially started off as just the two of us turned into quite a gathering.  In all there was myself, Elan, Jules, Taran, Gareth, Evans, Chris, Andrew and John.  We headed out to Steep Holm for lunch on the beach before returning via Flat Holm.