Saturday, 12 February 2011

Cold Wind Blows - Monkstone Lighthouse

It's been a while since I last paddled solo and I was looking forward to it.  I had planned to get out to Monkstone Lighthouse today although I wasn't getting my hopes up.  The forecast was wind force 4 or 5 backing 5 to 7 with slight to moderate seas.  The colourful swell map looked like a volcano with reds and blacks with a 5 star surf rating at Llantwit Major.
I arrived at Sully beach anyway and the sea looked deceptively flat.  I'm sure it was a different storey out there in the channel though.
I sat in a sheltered area out of the wind at the end of Sully island trying to get my GPS to work.  With the island in my wake my bow instantly drove into the first wave, the wind casting spray across my face. It  instantly became obvious that this wasn't going to be an easy challenge. 
My low brace came in handy with wind an wave coming diagonally from behind.  With no GPS to confirm my speed and heading I had to rely on a more practical approach.  Passing near Lavernock Buoy it didn't seem the tide was having much effect so I drove on directly for Flat Holm.
I could see the race on the approach to Flat Holm but it wasn't until I was on top of it I realised how big the waves were.  I was picked up on the face of a wave, driven through the confused water, my entire boat beneath the water for a heart beat.  My adrenalin was on a high, soaked through with sweat, muscles tensed and shaking.
I paddled into the calm bay and landed on Flat Holm to loosen myself up and think whether it would be wise to carry on, exposed so far from shore.  Not paddling solo for so long seemed to knock my confidence.
Leaving Flat Holm I suddenly realised my decision was already made, I'm going up the channel with the tide if I like it or not.  Monkstone was a small line on the horizon and there for the taking.
Monkstone grew in size with every paddle took until I was finally upon it.
There was no indication which way the tide was flowing, only the wind pushing me past the lighthouse.
I got my head down and battled into the wind, hard work but enjoyable, climbing and dropping over each wave crest.
I joined up the dots with the buoys, this one looked like it took a battering at some point with its top cone bent over.
The Cardiff bay boat trip speed close by.  I was a bit worried whether or not they could see me with the rise and fall of the waves.  It didn't take long and I was soon entering Sully sound again buzzing with excitement.

The sense of achievement today was great.  Only the third paddle of the year but two 'want to do' trips already knocked off the list.  One more paddle left to do on the south east coast and that is cross the channel, watch this space.
My GPS continued to play up but as it pretty much mirrored the trip done by Richard last month it was roughly 11 nautical miles.

The title of today's post is a song which aptly best described my post by the great blues guitarist Gary Moore who sadly past away last week.

1 comment:

Taran Tyla said...

Nice one, looked a fab trip, guess it's my turn next. I've tried this trip twice this year & thought better of it on the way out to Flat Holm...