Sorry for the slightly pretentious title of this blog… but it had a bit of a ring to it & it certainly felt pretty hard by hour 7!
I love paddling to Bardsey but usually go from the closest point on the Welsh mainland so I can have more time on the island catching up with the Porter family & enjoying the beauty of the place. On Saturday I decided to combine a flying visit with some ‘fitness training’& a journey along a part of the coastline I don’t know well. I launched my Rapier at Morfa Nefyn 16 nautical miles north of the island and headed south along some an increasingly impressive coastline. Gorgeous pockets of sandy beach were tucked in-between low cliffs. As I got closer to the end of the LLyn the cliffs got bigger and more impressive & the beaches less frequent.
If I’d got up earlier, the tides would have been with me most of the way to Bardsey (and back), but it was a bit of a last minute decision so by the time I launched at 10am, I knew I only had an hour or so with the tide, then it would be flooding against me, and flooding out of the Sound. The forecast was for SE winds force 4, so I hoped I’d have shelter down the coast, and then I could decide whether to cross to Bardsey across the more exposed Sound when I got there. But the wind was more Easterly along the coast, which helped push me to the SW on the way down (but would be hard work on the way back). I’ve been paddling the Rapier in the Menai Straits in the currents quite a bit recently so I felt perfectly comfortable in the waves, although stopping to eat/ drink/ take photos is harder.
I waved to a couple of guys fishing on what looked like kayaks – but were actually pedallos! And I met a guy in a yellow Atlantic kayak who has just come from Porth Oer (Whistling Sands) whose first words to me were “You are paddling against the flow”! He was right but if I stayed in close to the cliffs I could often find an eddy. I reached the Sound and got my first view of Bardsey after 3 hours & 14 nautical miles. Fortunately there was very little swell so the waves in the Sound weren’t very big, although the fast flowing water racing around Braich y Pwll headland was a bit intimidating to look at. I took a short breather, followed by a deep breath and ferry glided the Rapier into the flow. It was neap tides and I was in a fast kayak so I decided to try ferry gliding across to the island from here (as opposed to paddling up the eddy on the mainland side first). I headed East and was fairly easily making progress upstream at 3.5knots on the GPS. A few breaking waves closer to the island got me a bit wet but not too bad. I reached the tiny island 1km off the North end of Bardsey and took another short breather in the eddy behind this, to the surprise of 4 seals lounging in the sun. From here the tide was with me to the NW tip of Bardsey & down the West side. I landed on the beach 2/3 way down the island after 3hours 45 mins & 16 miles.
I knew I should get back on the water soon as the tide up the Llyn would turn against me shortly but I couldn’t resist spending a couple of hours catching up with the Porters. I finally launched at 3.45pm & headed back. The waves were a bit bigger in the Sound but the tide was partly with me and I flew across at 5.5-6knots. This speed continued for about a mile up the coast of the Llyn until within 5 minutes I was doing 3-3.5 knots. I realised the tide was no longer helping and headed into shore. The rest of the way back was hard work with the wind and tide against me. I was so glad I had a GPS as that motivated me to try a bit harder, and influenced whether I cut across a bay or crawled around the coastline to try to stay out of the wind and tide. I was very glad to land back at Morpha Nefyn just after 8 o’clock – 4 hours 25 mins on the way back over a slightly longer 17 nautical mile route. Overall average speed was 4 knots, which I was quite pleased with considering it was more against the elements, than with them.