Sunday, 26 June 2011

Naked Holm

A change in the weather meant we managed to get out for some decent paddling, even if it was the same old trip out to Flat Holm.
We left a hectic Sully bay just after lunch into a slight south easterly wind in glorious sunshine.  It was perfect, a gentle breeze and small waves braking on the bow enough to cool the sweltering heat.
Today I was joined by Taran  and Jules who was paddling the yellow P&H Scorpio I tested last weekend. 
There seemed to be very little tidal assistance as we made directly for the far side of the island to explore.  From a distance it was obvious there were a lot of people on the island, looking rather pink.
I recognised the Norkapp and Capela straight away as being Richard and Eurions boats.  I had a sneaky feeling we might bump into someone today with the sudden break in the weather.
Thinking about it should only have guessed Eurion would have been here testing out the cider at the newly opened pub on the island.  Seems to have a knack at finding a pint at the end of a paddle :) At £5 entry and £2.50 we though we would give it a miss.  It was good to meet up having known them both for a quite a while as fellow bloggers.
It also seems we happened to have landed on the day the nudists had decided to descend on the island.  I got a feeling it Taran had it all planned out, I think he just wanted to join in.  Can't believe you asked that couple for a picture!  I don't have any pictures you will have to visit Tarans blog for those.
We left Richard and Eurion to their own plans and headed off on to our next destination, Monkstone lighthouse.
We left it a bit late heading out here before the change of the tide but had no problems as the water was slow to pick up momentum.
 Jules was eager to scale the lighthouse on his first trip out here.
 Next was Taran.  What goes up...
 Must come down!  Cant just come down like a normal person, got to either slide down the beach in his boat or jump off lighthouses.  I suppose it gives a new outlook to coasteering. 
 I couldn't resist the temptation to get a different camera shot in.  I must have more shots of Flat Holm and Monkstone than my kids.
 Taran in the clouds of swirling mud.
 With what wind there was with the tide the sea flattened out brilliantly.  We attempted to find some more 'active' waters around Lavernock but we weren't in luck.
 Just calm flat waters and Jellyfish.
 The speed of the current had picked up as the Ranie buoy approached out of nowhere.
 Before long we were hauling the boat back up on the beach at Sully after a very enjoyable days paddle.  No paddling this weekend coming but hopefully get out west at the end of the month and possibly with a new boat.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Connors First Paddle

Up & Under were hosting another demo evening down on the river.  I dragged Hannah along with me again and this time Connor fancied a go.
I grabbed another chance to have a go in the Valley Etain while Connor went off with one of the staff members in a sit on top.  By the time I got my boat in the water he was out again.  He was absolutely terrified!  So I left him on the pontoon while I had a little paddle on my own.
 Mum arrived and finally coaxed Connor into getting in a boat with me.  He was a bit nervous to start off but then I couldn't get him out of the thing.
 I then finally coaxed Hannah into getting in with Connor while I mean while jumped in a P&H Scorpio.  I can almost see those family kayak trips in the future.
I've read that the Scorpio is the best plastic boat on the market and it definitely seems popular.  I can see why, it was fast and turned beautifully.  Big on the edge and a hard sweep stroke and I was around 180 degrees.  More slim line than the Etain and not quite as much stability in the edge.  Being fussy the day hatch seemed a long reach and the knee pads were in the wrong place.
 Some how I managed to get Connor in on his own he was terrified.  I got him to rock side to side to show him how stable it was.  In no time he was smiling and paddling off in circles.
 Look at the concentration in that face.  That's the look of 'why wont this thing go in a straight line'!!
 Oh ye I was back in an Easky, which felt as stable as a plank of wood.
The Etain was free again even if it had no foot rests now, they were stolen to put in another boat that didn't have any.  A couple of rolls for the camera and it was time to get Connor out.  Easier said than done, I think my wallets in trouble now.
There is a reason I have been trying all these boats recently.  I took the very hard and painful decision to sell this...
It's gone one source of freedom to replace another.  Depending on which way the bank sway I'm either getting a glass or plastic boat.  I have enough for a plastic but with the boat building project on the go I simply can't afford both.  Either way I've decide on the Valley Etain.  All the other boats I tried had some very good points but the Etain seemed to have everything.  I just loved the way it gave me so much confidence on the edge and in the turns.  It's also an expedition kayak and as my Petrel is going to be somewhat of a smaller volume boat I will have a good mix.  Cant wait!!!

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Against the Elements

The weather still having the upper hand preventing any decent paddling myself and Taran decide to battle with the elements in relative safety.
We arrive at a very choppy Sully sound to play about with the waves and put in some rough weather practice.  Far from the Bitches in Ramsey sound or Penrhyn Mawr but can still be fun with a bit of wind on tide.
The Challenge Wales ship past behind the overfalls as we make our way over for a bit of play time.
The Met Office inshore forecast for this morning was westerly force 5 or 7 moderate to rough with squally showers.  Not usually the kind of weather I would go out in.

A Securite message plays over the VHF warning of imminent force 8 gales, and within ten minutes the sky darkens, winds pick up and the heavens open.
We make a very difficult turn into the wind and slog it out back to Sully Island.  Kind of wishing I had a nice Greenland storm paddle right now as the wind catches my big yellow blades.

I shelter behind my boat in an effort to find some shelter while the squall passes.
The worst of the weather out the way we head on down the coast a little further surfing on the back of a following sea.  We make the most of a little shelter in a cove before paddling back into the wind.
We paddle back up the sound aiming to surf the standing waves back inshore.  They were a little bigger than they looked.  I saw Taran go over up in front and manage to roll back up, all good practice.
Here's a little video Taran put together from his on board camera.  I miss my gorilla pod on my deck.  Worth a watch it gets better as it goes along.

No real millage covered just another play in these terrible conditions we seem to be having so much of.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Great Weather for Ducks...

..So we might as well join them.  Essentially a pool session outside in the pouring rain practicing rolls, self rescues etc etc...

Taran performing a re-entry in my boat while I practice a roll in his Nordkapp

Sunday, 5 June 2011

The Most Southerly Point

Strong winds have prevented any sort of paddling for some time, not that I had a choice with a bandaged finger.  Suppose it couldn't have happened at a better time paddling wise.
This was Nash Point a couple of weeks ago when I went to cut the grass for the lighthouse.  Not the worse I've seen it down there but still I don't think any paddling would have been advisable.

Last weekend I took Connor for a walk down the coastal path from Llantwit Major to Nash Point and back.  I have never seen so much foam on the beaches, testament to the rough weather.
It's been all change most of this week with gorgeous sunny weather and lesser winds.  I had to make the most of the weather with work and it's been low tide in the afternoons, so I planning to get out to Pembrokeshire this weekend.  Forecast was variable depending which site you used but was between F4-5 Northerly.  Tides were all wrong for what I intended anyway and I didn't want to chance wasting the petrol.  So I ended up at Penarth slipway at 0910 for a journey along my home stretch (again!!).  I dropped my van off at Llantwit Major and had a lift off Hannah to Penarth.
Sea state was rather lumpy at Penarth open to the North Easterly winds, quite different to Llantwit Major.  I knew it would flatten out once I rounded Lavernock Point, after all I was in the mood for a relaxing paddle to get me back into the swing of things.  Rounding Lavernock Point at around 7kts I had some nice chunky following waves to push me on to the red cliffs at Sully causeway.
Reaching Barry harbour I took a little tour inside the harbour walls, the Barry lifeboat looked like it was getting ready to launch possibly for some training. 
Passing by Barry Island, the Knap and the cliffs near Porthkerry I stop for lunch near Rhoose Point.  Crouching down to eat my Peters pasty I noticed a very clear Ammonite fossil protruding from the rock.  Then another even better, there where hundreds of them.
Very small, about 2 inches wide, the barnacle in the lower picture gives you an idea of size complete with what looks like the fossilize innards of the prehistoric creature.
These Ammonites embedded in the Jurassic limestone of the heritage coast were thriving during the Jurassic period some 200mya.
These clam and oyster shell fragments can be found on almost every boulder along this coast.
Moving on I spot what looks like a fresh fall, very clean stone and the bushes are still at the bottom of the cliff where they landed.
With only Aberthaw Power Station on the shore I head further out and aim for the water intake tower off Gilestone beach.  I do 9.8kts with barely a paddle in the water as I take pictures.
I use the flow to carry me straight to Llantwit Major three and half nautical miles away in just half hour.  The yellow limestone cliffs bleed out in front to Nash Point lighthouse on the horizon.
I land at Llantwit beach three and half hours after setting off with a long carry up the beach ahead of me.  The wind gust up during the last 10 mins and as I make my way home it starts to spit with rain, perfect timing.  On to the cinema now to take Connor (but mainly me) for more swash buckling adventures with Pirates of the Caribbean. 
15.21 nautical miles of a same old same old sort of trip but just glad to have been back on the water.