Saturday, 12 May 2012

Knapppering to Ogmore

Taran, Chris Adrian and I had planned to head out from The Knapp in Barry westward along the coast to Ogmore. The forecast had promised low wind and sun, perfect lazy paddling with an out going tide all the way. Leaving at HW in short rash vest and loads of suncream we flew past Porthkerry at a tad under 6 knots. This was very surprising as we were bang on the start of the ebb on a tide 2 days from neap.

This rapid passage was all to change within the hour!

Approaching Aberthaw the wind that hit us kept coming on and on, straight on the nose. We were getting quite chilly with the spray and wind - so when when we met up with Stuart and Marcus at Gileston, the cags came out and put paid to the sun cream.

The unexpected headwind wind turned the trip into an all mighty effort. Quite a grind in fact. Approaching Ogmore, as Marcus can testify, it was definitely quicker to get out and walk. The 30km trip took us 5 and a half hours to complete, and I slept like a log when I got home.

Ever so glad we had binned the idea of paddling to Lundy this weekend :)

 Porthkerry viaduct - constructed in the 1890s - 16 stone arches

 110 foot high arches

 Stuart and Taran


Heading around Col Huw Spit

Stop for a bite to eat at Llantwit Major beach

30km - 5. 5hrs of hard slog

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Flat Holm for Fools Day

Considering the exceptionally good weather we were having this weekend and being free around lunchtime, it would have been exceedingly foolish of me to have turned down an invitation to go for a quick paddle out to Flat Holm.

It seems summer has arrived.

 Just over an hour before local HW a flotilla of kayaks left Swanbridge and head out on a ferry glide to Flat Holm

Steep Holm and Brean Down on the far horizon

Flat Holm is the most southern part of Wales
 Flat Holm lighthouse - was the last privately owned lighthouse

 WWII search light housing

Between a rock and a hard place

Hywel enjoying a well earned pint of Cwrw Hâf - translates to Summer Beer - certainly had the weather for it

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Beware of an 'iding in March

Thanks to Richard Berry for the photo
I recently received a kind invitation to go along to a surf development day held at Aberavon Beach.

So I dug out and dusted off the old surf kayak and brought it out to show it the light of day. Seems ages since we last danced on the waves.

Nice to catch up with a few people I haven't seen for a while.

Sure was a good work out. (I think).

Friday, 9 March 2012

Big Spring Paddle around the Isle of Wight

The Vernal Equinox is just over a week away so as a welcome to the near beginning of Spring I'm meeting up with Mark, Richard and Graham, for the second year on the run, to circumnavigate the Isle of Wight as some emerging spring pagan paddling ritual.

The forecast is set for low winds all weekend on the south coast of England, perfect paddling conditions are promised. It all starts with a three and a half hour car journey after work from Wales down to Keyhaven on the southern coast of Hampshire opposite the Isle of Wight, it's going to be a tiring weekend but well worth the effort I hope. Last year I had such a great paddle, (all be it battling into head winds and withstanding freezing conditions),  and was up for another test of endurance this time round. The general idea was that this big spring tide was going to help us get around this chalk mound a little on the quick side if the timings were right.

Kayak packing in the dark

Looking over the salt marshes to the Isle of Wight

Arriving at the get in at dusk, the mudflats and salt marsh of Keyhaven, I have to laugh with utter amusement as I pack the Cetus HV with a weekends worth of food, water and camping kit - it just disappears inside with no effort or puzzle packing.

The moon has not risen yet as we wait for the incoming tide to creep in over the mud flats. There are examples here of medieval salt workings, not that we can see any of them in the pitch black. We paddle out into the dark towards the spit and out through our first small tide race to cross over the Solant to The Needles. It takes about an hour to cross over and pass through them and then to head east along the south coast towards Freshwater.

Our progress is slowed right down now as we are paddling against the tide and there is a little bit of a swell running creating quite a bit of excited water caused by the waves reflecting off the vertical chalk cliffs meeting the on coming wave - clapotis. We bounce between the nodes and antinodes like bobbing corks. Eventually after 2hrs of slogging through and against this we arrive at Freshwater. Unloading and hauling the boats off the steep shelving pebbly beach we all trudge up with our gear to camp on top of the cliffs that over looks Freshwater Bay.

Quietly, except for that familiar metallic clink and chink of poles and pegs, we each put up our tents and crawl in. I'm really tired now, it's been non stop since 9am (yesterday) when I dropped the kids off for school, it's about two in the morning and I've just realised after getting into dry clothes and my sleeping bag that I've left my water in the kayak down at the foot of the cliff on the beach - I REALLY can't be bothered, and make do with a bag of crisps and finish off the hot soup in my flask before flaking out.

It's mid morning by the time I come around - and what a great day it promises to be!

Chill time - we wait for the tide to turn

Amazing what you can pack away in a sea kayak if you are careful!
After suitable refueling and some more snoozing it's time to get the kayaking kit on and load up for the day's/night's paddle. Time and tide waits for no man and all that.

Leaving Freshwater Bay

The last of the sun
The sun slips over the horizon as we approach the tide race off St Katherine's Lighthouse and we continue in darkness stopping off at Ventnor to stretch legs. The moon has not yet risen as we push on across Sandown Bay and rises as we approach Bembridge Harbour.

Newly risen moon looking back across the entrance to Bembridge Harbour

Nice little camp spot

After a fairly misty dawn and a lazy morning, we pack up and get ready to ride the tide home along the northern part of the coast.

We make good time with the tidal stream and about four and a half hours later we are turning in past the spit back to Keyhaven and close the circumnavigation circle. The final half hour is a slog against the rapidly draining marsh land to arrive back at our start point.

Total satisfaction.

Now all I need to do is load up and sit on my behind for a further 3 hrs or so and drive home!

Hurst Castle and lighthouse as we approach the gravel spit before entering Keyhaven
 Another great weekend paddling. Good company and a cracking challenge.
100km in 13.5 hrs of actual paddling of which 8 hrs were at night

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Tusker Rock Outing

With my wet kit still in the car, from yesterday's excellent paddle, it seemed a sensible decision to join Hywel and Chris for a short excursion out to Tusker Rock from Southerndown. Chris still has not recovered his stolen kayak, and has now replaced his plastic Scorpio with a composite boat. He was keen to get it out on the water, and why not as the weather continued to be good for us.

Approaching Tusker Rock just as the tide uncovers it
"Wot you looking at?!"
Chris surveys the Heritage Coast
Wreck of the SS Steepholm
Chris at The Harbour
Chris being Chris
Chris and Hywel enjoy the last of the winters sun
Heading back along the magnificent coastline to Southerndown
Just a short outing, but what a glorious day!