A few more restrictions that weren't here last time - 'launching of vessels is prohibited' sign and a large gate and tunnel leading to the landing jeti. I trod down a muddy path to the edge of the river to get in.
I paddled around the edge of the bay toward the festival as there were exclusion zones in place and yellow authority boats everywhere. Maybe if I stick to the sides they wont see my 15ft bight orange sea boat!
I paddle across the inner harbour past the tall ships and was approached by a patrol boat. A very nice gentleman explained there were exclusion zones in place as there were demo's on but if I want I can paddle over to the side and watch from there.
Even though I was in the sheltered waters of the bay the wind was still whipping up so I clung on to the old harbour timbers and watched a rescue dog performed some tricks. The patrol man came over again and said the Sea King rescue helicopter was about to come in an do a demo so sit tight and don't move. The RLNI crew also came over for a word and said stay where you are.
Still clinging to the timber the helicopter approached extremely close. Too close in fact as I was engulfed in a cloud of spray from the down drafts. The force of the drafts was amazing, I wouldn't like to be directly under it!
I let go of my support and let the drafts blow me back to the edge of the bay.
The helicopter did a few fly byes before heading off. An amazing experience to be up so close, and I felt a bit privileged to view it from the water.
I left my place after the helicopter flew off and carried on around the edge of the bay. There was a parachute jump next.
I crossed the bay back toward the Ely and Taff dogging various boats which were waiting for the event to finish before docking, one of which ignoring the patrol boats before being ushered back.
I'm glad I made the trip, being in such close contact with the Sea King was an amazing experience and one I hope I wont have to experience again for the wrong reasons.