Sunday, 31 October 2010

Ramsey Island - Thousand Islands Expeditions

We set off for a family day out for a boat trip around Ramsey Island. I wanted to share some of the experience I get from kayaking with Hannah and the kids.

We booked our trip with Thousand Islands Expeditions who run trips around Ramsey and beyond between Easter and 31st October. So today was the last chance.
We arrived at St Justinian's where the RLNI lifeboat station was open. Connor and Zakk were really impressed with the lifeboat. The pictures of previous rescues on sinking boats may not have helped Connor's confidence later.

We boarded our boat and set off across the sound.We passed by a local resident lazing on a mooring raft. As we picked up speed Connor was a little nervous.

We arrived south of the Bitches and passed between the inner rocks. It was nearing high tide so the flow was about 4 or 5 hours in. Sorry about video still can't work out how to fit it in the window...

It was great to be sat at the Bitches when they were in full flow. Connor and Zakk can now say they passed over the Bitches at 7 and 2!

Off again at speed towards the north of the island. Zakks face just says it all.

We went in to the cave at Bay Ogof Hen north of the island and had a little soaking from the curtain of water at the entrance.

Around to the West of the island and in to the swell and wind. By this point the up and down movement of the boat sent Zakk to sleep.

The swell was pretty impressive, it was good to experience these conditions I wouldn't dare attempt in a kayak, or at least get so close.
We stopped off at a couple of bays along the west coast to look at the seals. At one point the swell was like a wall coming toward us crashing into the cliffs, got to admit the adrenaline was kicking in. Hannah was loving it, Zakk was fast asleep and Connor was terrified.

Up above some resident deer were grazing along the tops of the cliff.

We passed through cathedral cave and midland gap out in to the shelter of the sound. The seals were all huddled together sheltering from the weather. Connor was loving it now watching the seals pop up and flop along the beach.

Two weeks ago I saw these two lone seal pups at the same bay. A bit of a better shot this time, I didn't have a grumpy bull seal on my case!

It was back over the Bitches and across the sound with a few fast weaving maneuvers to finish a brilliant trip. We came for a good day out and we weren't disappointed. I think the conditions added a little excitement to the whole thing. Hannah said on the way home the boat trip was worth the travel and petrol alone.
We stopped off at Newgale for the kids to have a play on the beach before heading home for some Halloween shenanigans. Connor loved it in the end although I think I may have to explain to his teacher about the shags and bitches on his half term trip.
Thousands Islands Expeditions are well worth a look for a great family day out and are suitable for all ages. It is a great way to explore Ramsey Island and they also offer trips out to Grassholm and the Bishops, which I'll try next time. So if the weathers to rough to go out in a kayak give them a go! You can find their web site here.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

A Year Gone By

I have been kayaking just over a year now so I thought I would put together a post to celebrate my first birthday as a kayaker.
This was the point where it all started. Tied in on on a cliff at Southerndown when two kayaks cut through the still water toward the fading sunset. It looked amazing.

A couple of weeks later and I was demoing some boats at Up & Under Cardiff.

By the end of the summer I bought my first boat and took it out at my local bay at Gileston.
I spent many hours in the sheltered waters of Cardiff and Barry docks practicing my strokes and turns.
Then in October 09 I left the shores for my first trip. I paddled out to Tusker Rock near Porthcawl and along the cliffs near Southerndown.
I have returned to Tusker rock many times since as it remains one of my favourite places to visit.
I joined Glam Boaters canoe club to learn how to flip my boat back up the right way when it all goes wrong.
But it was back to the sea to learn some more testing skills!
With confidence on a high and a few cold winter trips under my belt I ventured further a-field to Pembrokeshire. This was my first trip out west to Stack Rocks before my trip to Skomer Island the next day.
The west coast of Skomer proved to be a learning steep learning curve, I was literally out of my depth!
Since then I have made it a rule that I go further a field at least once a month. More recently I made a trip with my dad up to the Isle of Skye on the west coast of Scotland.
Flat and Steep holm have been a popular destination this summer.
And after months of staring at it from the shore I made a landing on Nash Sand Bar, if only for a short time.
A view from my most recent trip around Ramsey Island, and the menacing Bitches.
I have seen my share of sun sets and sun rises.
Volcanic sunset, Gileston
Sun rise near Llantwit Major
The great thing about a kayak is you can get up close to certain things that you wouldn't normally be able to like this tall ship off Fishguard harbour...
Or a close up of this coastguard demonstration at Cardiff Bay.
The wildlife I have experienced this past 12 months has been amazing! Seals are a common sight out west.
Razor Bills and Guilimots
Lots of puffins
Shags and Cormorants
And my favorite so far, the white tailed eagle in Skye. Also seen many other varieties of sea birds and sea life including dolphins and porpoises which I have yet to manage to capture on film.
I have met some good friends and had some great days out. Above Mick passing Wolves buoy on our way to Flat Holm.
Glam boaters in West Wales
Taron and Richy returning from Flat Holm
Ian and myself spotted by a local photographer at our local bay, nice enough to send us his pictures.
Taron's charity paddle to Flat Holm in a wedding dress.
Glam Boaters coach Andy approaching a buoy off Mumble head. I also have to mention everyone online for all there helpful advise, aspirations to follow and friendship.
My longest paddle so far was from Port Eynon to the Mumbles and back again. A total 38km.
Where's my bow gone?? I've had a few scares this year too.
I've spent a few rough trips along the Glamorgan coast near Llantwit Major, practice in a familiar place more than anything.
And my near death experience at the Bitches where I went for a swim. Still scares the life out of me that place!
South and West Wales (getting there slowly)
The Isle of Skye

That's my first year gone I have achieved more that I ever thought I would. I feel more confident with every paddle and waves that used to look big are starting to get smaller. I can't wait to see what the next year will bring. Another trip to Scotland is already on the books. Hopefully this time next year I will have a new boat as well, providing I stop spending my money that is! Here's to next year..Hopefully see some of you out there!