Friday, 25 June 2010

Lost confidence but a paddle at last

The weather might be utterly predictable at the moment but the sea has been quite different. It has been glorious sunshine for weeks now but every time I check the coastal forecast it has been force 4, 5 and sometimes 6. It seems it drops to a force 2/3 when ever I can't get out! I attempted a short paddle from Llantwit Major at low tide.

Forecast was a force 4 and there were plenty of 'white horses' and waves breaking all over the place. Since my swim in The Bitches quite a few weeks ago now I have been more aware of the danger of paddling alone and completely lost any confidence I had. I didn't get anywhere this day.

Next were a few evenings at my local bay next to Aberthaw power station. One evening was once again force 4 and there was a bit of a swell. So I practiced paddling with a following tide and picked up a bit of speed. I chickened out of a performing a role though.

Next was a short paddle out from Aberthaw to Llantwit Major in much better conditions. After a long walk through the mud and seaweed at Aberthaw I headed out to the water intake tower for the power station. A race forms off here as the current rushes around the tower. I paddled up an 's' shaped eddy that formed behind the tower.

The other purpose of the paddle was to try out my new dry trousers that I bought after nearly getting hypothermia during my swim at The Bitches. They are brilliant at keeping the water out but in this weather I was socked from the inside, sweating buckets!

Thursday night I went for a paddle out from Llantwit Major again this time at high tide. I only had an hour before picking up the kids so it was just a confidence booster in some rough sea. I headed over toward the caves toward Tresilian bay. Upon reaching the caves it was clear I wasn't getting anywhere close. The waves were breaking quite far out.

Heading back once again feeling uneasy an orange rescue helicopter flys overhead. He doubles back and hovers overhead, seemed to be checking my condition. Once again there were plenty of white horses and it was a bit difficult to lift my paddle toward the wind.

I got in early from work this afternoon and checked out the forecast for the weekend. Force 2/3 this afternoon and tomorrow morning then back up to 4. That's it I'm going. It was mid way between a flooding tide which made Aberthaw a perfect place to launch from.
Heading east from aberthaw the conditions were almost perfect. In fact only a mill pond could beat this. Heading once again toward the tower off Aberthaw I paddle directly into the race. I glanced down at my GPS and I was doing 8.1kts!

Passing Rhoose I noticed a stone circle has been recently built just off the coastal path, well I've never noticed it before. That's one way to baffle the archaeologists of future millennia. Maybe neolithic man had the same idea.

When I reached these cliffs off Rhoose I could here loud screeching from what I guess was a nest of Peregrine Falcons. I was buggered if I could find it though. Typically as I looked back after paddling away one was hovering in the up drafts above the cliffs.

Paddling past Porthkerry viaduct and into The Knap bay there was a pretty strong back eddy occurring. So much in fact it slowed me down to a 2kt slog.

Flying past the fixed buoy at Barry docks I paddle around in to the eddy behind the rocks off the headland. The fast tidal flow around the headland was kicking up a bit of rough water so I had a play about to gain some more confidence.

Waiting in the bay of Barry Island for the Mrs to pick me up on her way home from work the conditions were perfect. Another kayaker paddles out in the bay with Steepholm in the distance.

I practiced a few good roles and some handling maneuvers in the race off the headland before landing on a very busy beach. Not far but good to feel comfortable in my boat again. Fishguard next weekend for a week can't wait! Fingers crossed for the weather holding out.

1 comment:

Richard said...

Good to see you are getting your confidence back. The Bitches can be a very intimidating place along with the rest of Ramsey Sound. Hope you have a good time in Fishguard.