Thursday, 5 September 2013

Simon's Welcome Home - The Final Paddle

We found Simon where we left him in the Captains Wife car park Sully for the final leg of his expedition around Wales.  Today we would be paddling out to Flat Holm before finishing up at Cardiff Bay later that evening.  Jim and Chris were also joining up for the Flat Holm paddle while a few others would be meeting us on the other side of Cardiff barrage.
The sun was still out for this final leg but the wind had picked up.  We also had a long muddy walk to the waters edge.
Once on the water it was obvious this was going to be a bumpy ride.

The overfall's over the Wolves rocks picked up some impressive waves with the shallower waters.

We were making slow progress not helped by the conditions and for the first time missed the island and had to paddle back into the lea of the island to make the beach.
We only had time for a quick stop before making our way onto Cardiff bay.
The usual races picked up some choppy water in the windy conditions but in all it was an easier crossing than the first.

Two ships made a close pass, possibly the same one judging by the pictures.
Photo by Jim of me playing  a game of chicken with one of the ships near Penarth.  I won he turned first.
There was a bit of activity on top of the barrage as we closed the gap.  
A photo of me by Mike from the barrage.
Chris, Derek, Sean, Taran and Mike had all come along to meet us on the other side of the barrage for the final leg into Mermaid Quay.
After a bit of faffing, phone calls, emails and a 'risk assessment meeting' the barrage had given us permission to come through the barrage.  Chris Williams had also come out with his boat to see us through the gates.
In we go.
Top to bottom, Jim, Chris, Me and Simon.
Out of the barrage gates Taran, Mike, Chris and Derek were waiting with a bottle of bubbly to congratulate Simon on his efforts.
Passing the champaign around, photo by Derek.

Pepper, Mikes dog also came along for the ride.
Mike and Pepper.
Approaching Mermaid Quay we could make out the crowds of people waiting for Simon to the sound track of his brothers band playing on the quay.

We paddled in in fashion with Simon at the head.
The atmosphere and cheering plucked a chord in everyone's hearts out on the water as we watched Simon climb ashore to hugs and handshakes from friends and family.   
Mike captured the scene with this short video.
We climbed ashore to join the party, while Chris climbed up in his usual fashion.
Out boats were securely locked up thanks to the Cardiff Aqua bus allowing us to use their pontoon.
Simon's brother Stephen fronted the band playing on the quay and Simon's Sister Kelly made all us paddlers some food, washed down with a couple of pints to celebrate Simon's achievement.
Left to right, Chris, Mike, Pepper (the dog), James, Me, Simon and Taran.
We had to eventually make our way home however and leave Simon to carry on the celebrations with his close family and friends.  As soon as Jim could find the change for the parking that much is it for two boats in Cardiff city centre these days?
Congratulations to Simon for his amazing achievement, it was a bit of an emotional night had by all and I was honoured to share a part of it with you.

You can read more information about Simon's adventure here... WalesOnline and donate here... Simon's Just Giving Page


Taran Tyla said...

PMSL, look at the face im pulling in the group pic :D

Was a good night that :)

Simon Ford said...

A simple thanks is not nearly enough Stu. You joined me at Llangrannog with Chris and Jim, gave me humour within a few moments of meeting you,then did it again at Sully and into Cardiff Bay. Top man.