Saturday, 2 April 2011

Back in the Wild West

I have left it too long to get back out to the west of the country.  I had a job on in Camarthern Friday so it wasn't to much of a drive before I was parked up along side Taran at St Brides Haven.  The forecast for the weekend wasn't looking promising however, between force 4-6 with gusts and a 3m swell with spring tides.
We were up for an early start, playing it safe we though we would stay in St Brides Bay aiming to go from Solva back to St Brides Haven.  taran had a quick roll to get him in the mood. 
 I should probably explain that thing on my head.  It seems bandanas are the fashion with a few kayakers, so I dug out this old Bonjovi one I had from my first ever gig year and years ago.  Even though it makes me look like a complete arse and would probably be fitting with an eye patch, it works.
 We head out of a calm flat bay wondering what lay around the corner of the natural harbour.
We approached Black Rock marking the entrance to Solva harbour seeing that the conditions looked quite big.
A big wave approaches almost completely submerging Black Rock.  It was quite comical we both just turned around...I don't think so.  My VHF has had enough use a couple of weeks ago.
We drive by Broad Haven shortening the trip, maybe we could punch though the surf.  It never looks that big until you sit on the floor!
Looking at some of those waves we decide to play it safe again.  Even if we did manage to punch through the breakers there would be no coming back if it turns out rough on the other side.  We could both do with the surf practise anyway.

Some cracking pictures, thanks Taran.
Packing up the vans in the car park I meet Marcus who has commented on my blog previously and been meaning to join us for a paddle locally.  A convoy of cars with kayaks then passes by, I wounder where they're heading.
We drive back to St Brides Bay for a third attempt of making something of the day where we catch up with Bath Canoe Club and Sea Kayak Guides who are based in St Davids.  They kindly offered us to join them for a night on Skomer.  We decided to join them but paddle back later.
Punching though the surf at St Brides Haven I take a big wave just as it breaks full force in the chest...ouch! timed that one wrong.  The swell was pretty impressive out of the bay sending clouds of spray up as it crashed into the red sandstone cliffs.
It was a nice experience being surrounded by another 14 paddlers, some nice boats too.
That was until someone recognised 'Mayday Stuart'.  Not bad twice in one day.

Approaching Musselwick Sands the conditions turned perfect.  I was a bit anxious about landing in the surf with an audience, although it seems I wasn't the only one as a few tumbled over.
I managed to pull it off, best landing yet!

Carrying on our trip hugging the cliffs looking out for every rock hopping opportunity.
The wind picked up as we rounded Wooltack Point crossing over Jack Sound.  The tide had just about turned, I couldn't help thinking what it would be like in half hour or so after it had time to pick up momentum.

The first rafts of Puffins were soon spotted once we were over the sound.  No chance of getting close though with a convoy of 15 paddlers.
We paddled into North Haven, the sounds of seals basking on the rocks signaling our arrival.
A few curious heads pop up to investigate.
We land on the beach for a quick break and exchange thanks and farewells.  Would anyone notice if I just slid off with the Alaw Bach parked up next to my boat?  Boat envy is a terrible thing, I'll get one some day.

We were followed from North Haven almost all the way back by a couple of playful seals trying to touch the sterns of our boats.  I finally managed to snap a shot at one as she surfaced.  Mid crossing we spotted some fins in the distance, a pod of three or four porpoises maybe.  Then another just ahead.  I reach for the camera and it popped up alongside my boat within reaching distance.  Amazing, and unusual for a Porpoise to get so close.
Its still a little lumpy as we cross straight over to St Brides Haven but the swell was nothing that it was earlier.  A few Gannets fly overhead but no good shots unfortunately.

We land and dry our kit in the last of the days sun, Taran cooks up some nice jacket potatoes in his van for dinner.  A slow start to the day but couldn't have asked for ending.  Thanks again to Bath Canoe Club and Sea Kayak Tours for letting us tag along for a great adventure.


stoney (Martyn) said...

That thing on your head!I thought you were wearing it so that the coast gaurd could locate you easily! Lol!
I wear mine to catch paddle drips, if i don't as I have little hair it runs straight in my eyes!

Taran Tyla said...

What a day!!!

Stuart said...

Ha ha nice one Martyn! Ah so it's for the baldies, that makes sense, that's why Taran wheres it! lol! Give it a few more years and mine will be gone too.

Brilliant day Taran, wasn't expecting it to end that well.