The weather forecast looked good for Sunday so the question was asked 'where are we paddling?' I fancy doing Carmarthen Bay said Eurion. What do you mean doing Carmarthen Bay I queried. Well paddling across it. That sounds an awfully long way.
Apparently it is about 48km.
The logistics of such a paddle needed a bit of thought and required a shuttle wagon to be left in Tenby on Saturday night ready for the afternoon finish on Sunday. This resulted in a rushed set up and not enough regard for the six P's.
We decided to leave from Penclawdd, there was a good place to park the car and the launch was easy.
High tide was 8.15am and we left on time which is very unusual for me.
The paddle down the estuary was a good warm up and it was flat calm so we went straight down the middle.
Before we were half way to Whiteford Lighthouse the swell was clearly visible on the horizon.
I was not too impressed by this or the continuous whitewater further out on the horizon so I persuaded Eurian to head across towards the beach at Pembrey. This proved to be a mistake and we were soon stuck in the soup off the large sandy beach. There was also a tide race running parallel to the beach which made the waves a real mish mash. They were comming from two directions altenatively and were quite tricky to handle in the long sea kayak. Then two waves joined to make one very large one. A couple of fast panic forward strokes and I was up and through it. The Expedition just ate it, unfortunately the wave had ate Eurion and popped his deck. We carried out a rather hurried rescue which was far from text book, but we got him back in his boat and headed for the beach.
We warmed him with some hot chocolate and assessed our situation. I did not fancy heading out into the surf again, it was quite large and I was outside my comfort zone. Eurian had complained that he had started to lose the feeling in his hands and he had only been in the water for about 5 minutes. We decided to kick for touch and stay safe. This meant paddling parallel to the beach and surf for the complete length of Pembrey beach which is about 6 miles. This would take us to the Towy estuary. We reckoned the extra depth would reduce the height of the surf and allow us to go beyond the break.
We had not reckoned on the beach being so large and flat. We cleared the surf but we were miles off the beach. In addition we came across sand bank after sand bank. We were sometimes only in 300mm of water. This was going to be hard work.
I still do not how he took these photos, he reckons it was balance.
We stopped for lunch on a sandbank with not a sole in sight for miles. When we came to set off again the tide had gone out a good few hundred metres. Getting afloat again was a real effort and took about tewnty minutes.
It was obvious that we were off the pace and were not going to get to Tenby. We informed the Coastguard we were baling out at Pendine and I managed to persuaude my Son Neil to collect us off the beach.
We had paddled nearly 25 miles with 20 miles in the surf parallel to the beach, one of the hardest things I have ever done.
We have learnt many lessons from this trip the most obvious being that Prior Preparation and Planning Prevent a P..s Poor Performance so this will undoubtably benefit us and make us safer in the future. We have studied the chart and plotted the safest way out of the estuary which is actually the complete opposite direction to the one we took.
The challenge still remains for another Sunday in the near future. Meanwhile, we are off to Cornwall for some free coaching with Richard Uren of Paddle Crest Coaching Penzance.
Welcome To My World of Pedals and Paddles
An account of my Sea Kayaking and Mountain Biking exploits
- ► 2009 (14)