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!

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Holm Holm Again . . . I like to be there when I can

Well it's nothing much to do with Pink Floyd, but we were certainly going to Breath in the Air on this trip. An absolute cracking day of paddling weather forecast was too much to miss out on so I jumped at the chance to get out on the water for a local paddle with Stuart, and from the wild west of Pembrokshire, Steve and Mike had ventured east for some muddy water paddling before having a go on the rapids at Cardiff white water centre.

Stuart with Penarth Pier behind

Looking out to Flat Holm  and Steep Holm

Steve with Monkstone Lighthouse in the background

Heading out over Cardiff Grounds sand bank
With the tides just off springs we head out directly over the sand bank at Cardiff Grounds to get over the top of Flat Holm, enabling us to drop down at a rate of 7 knots. Very easy to get duped into not paddling far enough to the east side of the island on this approach and then getting swept past the western side never to return.

Approach to the landing beach

A small stop off at Flat Holm for a bite to eat and a cup of hot soup
Although the island now boasts a pub, we confine ourselves to stay on the beach, thus saving our recession bitten wallets the hefty £6 landing fee.

Steve on Flat Holm for the first time, contemplating if the chocolate coloured waters up our way is safe. He's used to seeing his paddle blade through the water in the clear waters down west wales.

Brean Down on the Somerset coast provides the backdrop for Stuart as we ferry glide over to Steep Holm

Brean Down in the background  - ebb spring tides kicking up over the shallow spit off Steep Holm
Landing at Steep Holm
We land and take a wander up to the top of Steep Holm to wait for the tide to turn to take us home.

Looking back toward Flat Holm from Steep Holm

Remains of WWII gun emplacement

 Looking over to fort at Brean Down

 Remains of gun emplacement left behind as part of the threat of Napoleonic invasion of the late 1800s

Steve checking out the action of the Bofors 40mm canon, a WWII left over
The last time I visited back in 2008, there were what appeared to be live ammunition on the racks of this gun.

Last time I was here this posed a more deadly threat with live rounds still on the rack!

Tide about to turn we continue around the island - passing the low lying search lights that would have been used to silhouette enemy ships as they passed up the channel, to offer the gun battery on Brean Down a better target in the dark

Rudder Rock

Rudder Rock at the west end of Steepholm

Stuart as he heads off from Steepholm

Stuart is beginning to contemplate a pint at the Captains Wife

Mike enjoys the setting sun

Flat Holm to the left and Steep Holm to the right
Off the water after a great days paddling with good company, we head over to Sully Island for a few jars at the Captain's Wife.


Just under 5 hours of Bristol Channel paddling cross spring tide fun (14.2 Nm / 26km)

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Idris the Dragon

Idris was a dragon I remember being a character in Ivor the Engine which was a children's television program back in the 70s.

Idris finds a home
Dragon's tend to live in caves, and as the Cetus HV's storage capacity is cavernous I think it's quite appropriate that Idris has taken up home here.

Jones the Steam and Idris the Dragon form Ivor the Engine

(have a go at making your own Ivor the Engine)

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Porlock Weir and the Jolly Green Giant

With Paul licking his wounds after his unfortunate accident he was feeling really down and quite gutted at having to miss out on his planned training in Anglesey this weekend. This was to have been followed by his four star assessment the following weekend. Couldn't have happened at a worse time for him. :(

I was eager to get out on the water with the Jolly Green Giant and get some familiarising miles under my belt. The weather looked good for both Saturday and Sunday and I really wanted to take advantage of it with an overnight trip of some sort. Stuart had been in contact to ask if I'd like to go with him and Taran to Flatholm - I'd love to normally but really wanted something to get my teeth into and with a gift of two days low wind I asked if he'd prefer to join me for a challenging journey over the Bristol Channel to Porlock Weir, camp the night and return on Sunday. Besides we could all have a lie in Saturday morning and start later in the afternoon than his Holm trip and be back by lunch on Sunday. All sounded good.

So the three of us met up at for a 1330 launch at St Donat's.

Stuart and Taran preparing to leave the green green grass of home
After loading up all the gear for an overnight trip, (the Cetus HV can only be described as cavernous as it swallowed up all the gear without effort), we set off towards England. Couldn’t see it mind you, it was “over there” beyond the mist. There is something quite special about staring off on a crossing when you can’t see the other side, anticipation of where you will actually end up and the satisfaction when your navigation works out.

Once you start on a crossing like this, there is not much sight seeing. We don’t talk much as we get our heads down and into the paddling zone. We do get to see a group of three gannets fly over, which we thought was a bit early for them.

Stuart approaching Porlock Weir
Taran following up behind as we approach the dried out Porlock Weir

3hrs 15 mins later we are landing our boats at Porlock Weir. My God it’s cold on the hands when we stop!

It's a long tiring carry after paddling all this way!

It’s a cruel horrible carry up the beach that seems to go on for ever . . . and it’s getting cold as the sun has lost all it’s heat and is heading past the horizon. Porlock Weir being on the North of the Somerset coast doesn’t get direct sunshine as it’s tucked in behind the Exmoor plateaux so it’s not surprising that the grass still has a little bit of frost on it when we start to set up our tents for the night.

The top of the beach at Porlock Weir
Setting up camp near the pub for refreshments
Changing swiftly out of sweaty paddling gear to stop the rapid onset of cold that’s occurring, we retreat into our tents to stuff warm food in our stomachs. After an appropriate amount of chill out time the call of the public house is heard and we head over to sit in front of the log fire and warm our cockles while enjoying a pint of ale.

Taran and Stuart warming up by the fire
It doesn’t take long for me to start nodding off, so I decide to head over to get my head down for some kip – to be woken around midnight by a massive bang and a whole load of fireworks being let off. It was the wedding party at the hotel enjoying a finale to their days celebrations. And what a cracking calm and clear night it was too!

Up at the crack of dawn to catch the tide right for our return – not so far to portage he boats thank goodness.

Getting the boats to the water in the morning to launch isn't quite the arduous that getting them out was
Stuart heading out of Porlock Bay
Taran and Stuart heading home to Wales
Progress across is as on the first leg, except that the wind picks up slightly to provide a few white horses. In the distance we spot what looks like a couple of mast, but as we draw closer the top signs of cardinal buoys are made out. Well I hadn’t known these were here! Just goes to show that we need to continually check up for updates of our charts. There are updates posted on the Admiralty web site for each chart that they produce so you can pencil in new buoys. I’ve since found out that the position of a new wreck had been found and four cardinals had been set up to mark it’s position. Two of them have subsequently been removed. I logged their coordinates to transfer onto my chart later.

Didn't notice this one before

With a force 4 cross wind and semi loaded boat it was really quite a pleasant surprise to find out something regarding the skeg on the Cetus HV. My normal application of skeg in this situation is full on with the Cappella, but hey what’s this, the HV was lee cocking! I had to double and triple check this!! It certainly was, in fact I had to back the skeg right off to about 1/3 its travel (4 clicks out of 12). Another thing about the skeg control is that it is ultra ultra light, but I’ll touch on that sometime when I go over the boat in another post.

We arrive back at St Donat’s after another 3hrs 15mins doing the reverse crossing. We had to work hard though to get back in to the shelter of the bay and not overshoot into Nash Sound as the tide was starting to really rip as we approached the Welsh coast. But we got there.

Taran Taran Tarra Easy Peasy - Taran arrives back home -
Just over 26Nm in 6.5 hours across a spring tide

Have a read of both Stuart and Taran's take on the trip. It seems they both enjoyed it. I certainly did.