Saturday, 27 February 2010

Nash Bouy Almost In Reach

I had a few plans for today and wasted most of the morning
dithering. Forecast was force 2-3 with sunny intervals but
2.2m surf in Llantwit/Nash. I was playing with the idea of
heading out to Flat Holm, but decided to wait for calmer sea's.

So I headed out from my local bay at Aberthaw. As it was
spring tides the sea was miles away and it was an eventful
journey down to the sea through the mud and seaweed!
Low tide was about 12:00 so decided to make my way
toward Nash Point on the ebb.

The sky over the English coast looked very dark, hope it
doesn't head my way.

Seems I caught the edge of the rain. I was quite refreshing
as a thermal top, t-shirt and cag was one layer to many!

Heading toward Llantwit the current didn't aid my progress
much with an average speed of 3.5kts.
With the spring tides the water was much further out than
normal. Upon reaching Llantwit Major I realised I made a
good choice launching from Aberthaw. The surf was pretty
awesome and I had to make quite a detour to avoid the
waves.
I wont be rock hopping this week!

Nash point light house now in clear view.

As I make my way closer Nash Point I notice my speed
drastically slowing as I hit the confused waters.
Surely with the East cardinal buoy within 0.22 nm I can
make it! My speed continues to drop, 1.5kts, 0.5kts, 0kts.
That was it the fight was over. Looking back at my track
on my GPS when I got home I realised I was actually getting
pushed back.
There are two towers at Nash Point and the surrounding
buildings have been turned into holiday cottages. I cut
the grass for the cottages in the summer and have often
looked down on to the sand bar, but it was not in reach
today. Heading back my average speed was now 6kts.

Absolutely knacked I decided to land at St Donats castle for
some lunch as this was one of the few places which was sheltered
from the surf.

After a bite to eat and a cuppa I launched from the slipway.
I didn't draw the face by the way.

By now the surf had caught up and didn't look too inviting.
I made a dash for it but lost my water bottle in the process.
On the way back the tide reached the cliffs, but not quite
enough to enter the caves



I never thought this sight would look so beautiful but my
back was in agony, my thumbs were blistered and I swear
I can still feel my body going up and down with the swell
whilst typing this (maybe it's the wine??).
A total of 11.19 nm or 20km. I think I'll cheat and launch
from Nash Point next time!

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Llantwit Major, Caves and a Seal

I hadn't planned on venturing out this week end. I've had
man flu all week and didn't feel up to it. However I woke
up this morning and felt much better. I only had a 2hr window
to play with before the missus wanted the car plus I really
couldn't have paddled all day anyway.

I drove down to Llantwit Major beach as it was spot on high
tide and I've been dying to paddle this stretch of coast for
ages. It's only 2mins down the road and I wanted to explore
the caves between here and St Donnats. The hills over the
channel where white with snow and were really clear today.

I couldn't believe my luck when I arrived. A seal was just
bobbing around in the waves feet from the beach. My boat
has never got off the car so fast before. I flew into the water
hoping he may show an interest in me. My first Seal sighting,
and not where I'd expect to see one!

When I got in the water he was bobbing about in the surf
which was quite high. I swear he was in this photo above!
Just watching me with three big fish in his mouth. I was
surprised how big he was. I crossed over the surf but lost
him after that. Amazing!

After all that excitement I carried on to the caves along this
stretch of coast. After my lesson in rock hopping last week
I felt quite confident paddling right up to the cliffs.

There was a bit of a swell which to be honest scarred me
a little when I was up close but it seemed to be coming
across from the SE so the caves facing SW seemed more
sheltered.



I paddled backwards into this one but didn't stick around
to take photo's.

Compare that to the cliffs exposed to the swell!



One thing that worried me was landing. Since taking a
tumble at Southerndown I have a fear of landing in surf.
To the left of the beach however the rock slopes in to the
sea like a natural jetty and was a lot calmer here.
Loading the boat on the car I saw another paddler heading
in the same direction where I just come from. It was definitely
a nice day for a paddle.
Only about an hour and half paddle but one full of excitement.
My first seal, some cave exploring, stunning coastline and
some scary waves.

I took this video by the cliffs, nothing special just wanted to
try it out. Really need to get a waterproof one or at least
a cover for this one.
video

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Rock Hopping at the Mumbles

Andrew from Galm Boaters Club kindly offered to take me
out to the Mumbles, Swansea to work on some sea kayak
techniques.

We launched from Bracelet Bay to the South side of the
lighthouse at low tide. It was bitterly cold but the conditions
were fairly settled.

We headed out to the red port buoy due south of the bay.
It was a little choppy out here.

Looking back from the buoy to the lighthouse Islands.

We then took a bearing and headed NE to the south cardinal
buoy. We were hoping that with the tide turning and a
north easterly wind that overfalls may develop over the shoal.
It was a bit bumpy mainly due to the wind but not what we
were expecting.
From the cardinal buoy we headed toward the lighthouse.
We landed here and took a walk up the lighthouse waiting
for the tide to shut it off from the main land.
With the tide ever quickly rising Andy showed me how to
maneuver between the shallow pools between the rocks,
otherwise known as rock hopping.
We did a bit of tow line work and breaking in and out of
eddies in the flow between the island.
Andy did a couple of rolls and a self rescue but there was
no chance I was going for a swim. Even though the sun
had come out it was still to cold for wusses like me.