Friday, 26 August 2011

The Journey Begins

After saving up for what seemed an eternity and a bit of good luck I recently purchased my first seakayak and I've been really eager to get it out onto the water. Using bits of old river paddling kit I managed to pull together enough gear to get me going. I must stress that I'm not a member of any kind of kayak club, I  never have been. So with my river experience and a little knowledge from a few sea kayak books I decided it was time to get out there, out onto the water.      

The plan was a short paddle starting from Oxwich to Three Cliffs Bay carry on a little further and turn back nothing major just a bit of water time to see how things feel. The weather was warm and sunny, however  a quick check with the Met Office for the inshore forecast became the only fly in the ointment of my plan.  Force 3 to 4 rising to Force 6 later. I decide to travel to Oxwich and see how it looks, I was a lot later leaving than I had planned but with boat on the roof I was eventually off travelling west down the M4.

As I near Swansea the sky gets considerably overcast and I notice the trees swaying vigorously. I began thinking that obviously 'later' clearly meant 'when I get to the launch point'. But I was wrong, as I clear Swansea and head out onto Gower the sun comes out and the skies turn blue again so much for Force 3 to 4.

Perfect timing, conditions at Oxwich when I arrive, flat calm.


It's very hot with a slight breeze evident. Once I'm sorted I carry my boat to the water, by now I'm absolutely boiling, at this point I'm wearing paddling trousers and a wicking t-shirt. It's very tempting to get going just dressed like this however I decide against it and put my cag on, it starts getting even hotter. I haven't got the luxury of a waterproof camera so before I pack it away I take my last shot before I set off.

Check out the surf, just look at those monsters, only joking, I think even I could manage these on my maiden voyage. By the time the camera is packed I quite literally only paddle a few feet when I notice the colour of the sky has rapidly changed. Out with the camera again....

I carry on paddling towards Oxwich point. The wind is blowing form my left coming from my 10 o'clock. I keep an eye on the storm hoping that it is travelling down the channel and not in my direction. About halfway to the point I notice the sky has got even darker and appears to be heading in my direction. I decide to turn around and head back closer to shore and maybe see if I can make Three Cliffs Bay. My boat wants to trim to the wind and I have difficulty turning it through the wind. At  about this time there is a considerable drop in air temperature, the wind increases and starts being a bit pushy, things start to get uncomfortable. The sea changes colour and becomes noticeably bumpy, I am so grateful that I had put my cag on. I manage to turn the boat past the wind but through edging I've paddled an extended ark that's taken me further out into in the bay. I decide to start making my way closer to shore, the wind changes direction and is now coming from my left at about 7 o'clock. My boat starts to pick up the waves and rockets off racing them at the slightest opportunity. A bit scary at first but the Quest surfs, it surfs well, it's secondary stability is also good and provides a good bit of support, which clearly I needed otherwise it would have been swim time. White horse's appear on the surface beside me and it begins raining heavily,within a short time the shore is at hand. Out with camera.
The waves are small but sufficient to allow me to practice some surfing and broaching skills. I adopt a routine of paddling out and surfing back in, trying to make progress across the beach towards Three Cliffs Bay. Not long after I get interrupted with the sound of thunder rumbling close by, I don't chance it, Three Cliffs Bay will have to wait. I don't fancy being crispy fried if lightening starts to strike.

The weather looks as if its going to clear from the west....
I head back out and paddle straight across towards the shelter of the cliffs. The return journey was just brilliant fun, the boat was amazing riding over some waves nudging it's nose into others bringing a big smile on my face. It's a shame that in no time at all I find myself in the shelter of the cliffs.

As I get out on the beach the sun comes out and everything returns to how it was when I began..

Many lessons were learnt today on this short trip, one of which was that 'later' as in Force 6 later, really meant 'when I get to the most exposed point of the trip'  (I'm not sure if it was a 6, probably not, but that's not the point, the message was received loud and clear though)

Anyway off to the Dr's now to get the grin surgically removed. 

(Please note that I have since discovered that Oxwich Point is not the best place to go as a beginner, there lies a small tiderace at the headland. A sit on top fisherman I was speaking to in the car park told me of it, his advice, 'avoid'. 


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