Friday, 13 January 2012

Holm Of The Rising Moon

Something me and Taran have talked about for a while is a trip out to Flat Holm in the dark.  Our night trip to Penarth last week was somewhat of a warm up.  Tonight however was far from warm, but the forecast was perfect for an attempt.  Easterly Force 2, minimum swell and a clear sky. 
It was a strange feeling getting dressed into my dry suite at 7pm and heading off to the Captains Wife, Sully to go for a paddle.  Jules and Andy were also roped into a night under the stars.  We load up with enough glow stick for a night out on the town.
You have to use your imagination a bit now because long exposures don't work on the sea so the pictures are a bit crap.  Above you have Andy and Jules setting their boats on the water.  We set off around Sully Island into a very dark night, the 3/4 moon hasn't risen yet.  There is an overfall off the tip as we round the island, not that we could see it.  Dark shadows outline the waves and a cold spray livens the senses as the bow rises and falls. 
We paddle off on an agreed bearing and then rafted up to discuss our progress and re-calibrate our bearing.  The dark is very deceptive.  Lights blink all around from buoys, lighthouses, towns and other crafts.  That reminds us, we are sat on a very busy shipping lane.    
Above is Taran and the white dot in the centre is the Wolves Buoy about three quarters of the way across.  The lights to the left are Penarth and Cardiff.  It's not as flat out here as what I was expecting from the forecast, but still it's all good.  
The sounds of lapping waves and a dark outline signal our arrival.  Now this is where your imagination comes in.  Above we are arriving at Flat Holm, there is a big cliff in front of me here.
On land I can now set up a tripod and adjust the exposure.  The best shot of the lot.  The orange glow and lights of Cardiff twinkle 8km in the distance.  For those who know Flat Holm this is the beach adjacent to the beach with the slip way.  The main beach was under water with the spring tides.  
I tuck into my limited edition three chocolate Mars bar just as an orange disk rises above Weston Super Mare on the English side of the channel.  What a sight.
The pictures don't do it justice, it was truly a magnificent sight.
It's now 22:20 and we set off without delay.  The tide is already ebbing strongly through Castle Rock.  We make way, above  is Jules with the light of Cardiff beyond.
Cheese!!! me with the moon behind.  We can see a lot more clearly now with the orange glow of city lights ahead and the moon at our backs.  The sky above is littered with starts, it doesn't get much better than this, and all on our doorstep.
Every now and then you would cross paths with either Taran or Jule and get completely blinded by their camera flashes, just as I've done here.  We come against some adverse tide as we near the coastline and make our way on to Sully Island, which slowly appears out of the gloom.
We land back on Sully beach at around after 7.8 nautical miles (13.67km) and 2hr42 mins on the water.  I finally get home around 1am, unload my boat but I think I'll rinse my kit in the morning.
A fantastic paddle and a great way to practice navigation.  Great company as usual, cheers guys, see you on the next one, Steep Holm anyone?


Jules said...

Enjoyed the write up Stuart - Excellent! Really enjoyed the trip- looking forward to another one!

Noel said...

What an impressive adventure Stu, well worth forgoing the day paddle I think.

scott said...

Yes, good paddle and quite brave in complete darkness.