Sunday, 21 October 2012

Cardigan Island

It was a chilly morning at Poppit Sands.  The sun rose in the east to dry our dew soaked kit while we ate breakfast.  We were kept entertained during the night with a firework show on the beach and a beautifully clear night under the stars.  

Taking a stroll down to the beach the once flat conditions from the evening before had got substantially bigger.  Steep rollers swept across the bay, their white tops whipped off with the northerly wind.  

I popped to the toilet block when a load of cars skidded into the car park.  Both lifeboats were being made ready for a mayday call within Cardigan Bay. 
I ran down the beach to get this shot of the second boat being launched unscathed in a brief lull in the surf.  The first boat had a trickier exit through the surf.  What worried me was how small the boat looked under the looming dark waves.  
With out boats on the waters edge the waves suddenly looked very intimidating, maybe a play in the surf first.
Taran paddled out looking very small, he was hanging back which isn't like Taran.  I paddled to join him and I could see why.
I could here the conversation the lifeboat crew were having over my radio discussing landing and half expected a big orange bow to come crashing over the waves.
We had a brief play in the smaller waves closer to the shore when I spotted another lull.
We paddled free of the surf just as one of the lifeboats were coming in, assumingly spotting the same break.
We paddled on toward Cardigan Island, picking up a little adverse tide along the way over what I assume was the sand bank.  Cardigan Island was once home to nesting sea birds including Puffins and Manx Shearwaters. This was changed when rats abandoned a sinking ship in hurricane conditions in 1934 and wiped out the islands populations of nesting birds.  By 1969 the rats were successfully exterminated and attempts have been made over previous years to re-establish bird populations but have all failed.  It seems the island now belongs to the boisterous Black Backed Gulls.   
The seaward side of the island look very entertaining so we opted to head for the sound between the island and mainland.
The island is home to grazing Canada Geese, increasing to a level where they actually keep the grass down. The island like most has previously been inhabited during the Bronze Age, the age of the saints (5th & 6th centuries) and the Norse name given to the island is Hastiholm.  During the 18th century the island was known as 'Smugglers Isle'.  This was during a time where the tax on salt was lower in Ireland than in mainland Britain.  The caves on the island were used to drop off the contraband while boats waited for the tide.  
On the seaward side of the island we keep a safe distance from the huge swells battering into the cliffs.  Taran spots what at first appears to be a dead seal.  She was still breathing but unresponsive to Taran stroking her.  Then all of a sudden as if awoken from a sleepy trance she reacted with teeth flared.
We made our way back to Poppit watching the huge white topped rollers sweep in across the bay ahead.  A few big sets rolled in just prior to our landing but we managed to pass through unscathed with just a small surf in to meet the sands.
Only a small trip today.  After yesterdays long trip the motivation for anther long paddle in big swells and damp kit was a little too much.  A great weekend with superb weather and great company, looking forward to the next.

No comments: