Friday, 14 May 2010

Glam Boaters in West Wales - Day 2 09/05/10

I got up around 7am to a very quiet camp site. The cans and bottles around the BBQ a reminder of the late night before. I warmed up a can of all in one breakfast and then went for a walk down Newgale beach.

Looking West toward Ramsey

Looking down on Newgale Beach

Back at the camp people are just starting to get up.
Leaving Porth Clais
We headed down to Porthclais the idea being to take a short paddle to Carreg yr Esgob, a small island just off the mainland east of Ramsey Island, and paddle back along the cliffs at high tide for a spot of rock hopping.

Paddling through the rocky outcrop of Carreg Fran

At Carreg yr Esgob, Andrew eyeing up a narrow short cut through to the other side of the island.

Not quite big enough

Whilst everyone beached themselves upon an awkward rock for some lunch I headed around the island to explore.

Around the other side

This arch didn't quite go all the way through, there was a pretty large boulder at the other end.

Once back at the landing point everyone was just about ready to leave and head back along the cliffs to Porth Clais.

Andrew who started the club a few years ago and who is also a competent sea kayaker agreed to take me out to Ramsey. After a short but slightly bumpy ferry glide and we landed next to the jeti on the East side. The Northerly wind was blowing quite forcefully down the sound.

After a quick bite of my sandwich and a drink we headed back out of the harbour into an eddie behind a large rock.

View from the harbour of Ramsey, the wind against the current causing crests on the waves.

View from behind the first eddie looking out to The Bitches
It suddenly dawned on me that we were at The Bitches. The water was a bit rough on the way over to really notice my location.
The water was flowing through the rocks at an immense rate causing rapids into the oncoming Northerly wind. The force of the flow causes backward eddies (currents going opposite way to main flow) immediately behind the rocks. It was still quite difficult to stay still in these eddies and I managed to almost beach myself on the rock taking this photo. This photo being the last one I took!

We started off from the first eddie and the idea was to quickly paddle like a mad man to the next eddie all the was across the sound. First one, and made it. The rapids were flowing north but the wind was causing wave crest in the opposite direction. My boat was getting banged from left to right.
Next one, Andrew said be confident and if you go over remember your roll. Off we go and instantly our boats turn with the current as we paddle up the sound. Paddle, brace paddle, oooh nearly, brace, paddle and over I go. I thought I was in luck as I nearly got flipped back over, enough time to take a breath at least. I make one attempt but there was no chance in this water, so out I come. Bits of my kit were floating around as I feel my boots fill with water and slip off my feet. My boat is full of water. Within seconds Andrew is by my side and performs a well practiced rescue, timing it at the right moment between waves. At this point we have been pushed quite a distance up the sound.
I look on to the next set of rapids, my boat still slightly filled with water. I am now bricking it, and I can't feel any part of my body from the cold. Andrew sets off instantly forced up the sound. I edge my way into the rough water but chicken out and end up in a weird calm confused looking water in the middle of the sound. As Andrew gets further away I thought there's no way out but to go for it. I made it across unscathed but all I can think about is getting to the shore. We rested in a little cove while I pumped out the remaining water from my boat. Heading back a couple of seals popped up but I really couldn't care less at this point, my legs were shaking like mad and my hands were white. Paddling over the bay to Carreg yr Esgob the wind really makes paddling strenuous but warms me up.
Back at Porth Clais it's now high tide and with no boots I leave my boat at the waters edge and hobble back to the van. Probably as I get more experienced I'll look back and it wont seem half as dramatic, but that was one experience I wont forget. I must thank Andrew, I would have been in big trouble had I been on my own. Back at the van I check my GPS and discovered a new speed record of 9.6kts! I'm off to practice my rolls this weekend and to make a pair of dry trousers my next buy. Oh and a new pair of wellies!


stoney (Martyn) said...

At least you can tell the story!
I think when you look back when you're more experienced, you'll still hold the same respect for the sea, such an un-forgiving, yet tranquil place - thats what draws us to it after all.

It does seem as though you were there mid way through the tidal flow, at its strongest then. Look up the twelfths rule, to see what I mean.
Try here:

Stuart said...

Very true! I've come to realise the sea is the one in control, I just have to work it to my advantage the best I can.

Working it out now mid flow would be about 3pm and we got back to Porth Clais around 4ish, so yes it would have been around it's strongest. I usually use the rule of 3rds which is sort of the same thing but I was just following lead at the time. What doesn't kill us only makes us stronger!

I'll check out that web site now, cheers.