Looking out to sea from my van parked at Porth Dafarch in the morning the sea state didn't look too bad, but every now and again I would notice some fairly hefty waves coming into the bay. I'd then look out a few minutes later and all would appear calm again. Hmmm.. interesting. I had travelled up to Anglesey late on Friday night and opted to park up at Porth Dafarch. When I arrived around 11pm there was one camper van already parked up there.
Next morning after breakfast the others soon started to arrive: Dave and Jules were the first to be off to Penrhyn Mawr, followed by myself, Kris and Gareth some ten or so minutes later. Andy S and Pete decided to hang on for Wenders (Birthday Girl) to arrive, but for some reason she had overslept!
Out at PM conditions were starting to pick up. Gareth, Kris and I decided to drop into the inner race. On the paddle out you couldn't but notice the big swell coming through every few minutes or so. We played in the inner race for a bit before moving around to the middle race. The middle race was messy but still surf able. It was about this time we saw four paddlers making their way towards us. I assumed it was Andy S, Andy, Pete and Wenders, but as they got nearer we could see no Wenders. The forth paddler turned out to be Mirco! Mirco headed straight for the outer race, whilst the other dropped in through the middle race. Looking at Pete, you could see his eyes were out on stalks. We persuaded Pete to have a go on the inner race, but just as we headed back in to the inner race a large swell came though and turned the inner race race into a boiling cauldron. Pete didn't seem too keen! I could understand that as the swell direction was perfectly angled so it was going straight into the inner race. In all the times I've paddled at PM I've not really experienced this before. Pete decided to hold station in the eddies behind the rocks whilst we went off in search of surf-able waves in the middle and outer races.
There were some real rescues to practice and I should have taken a roll, after getting completely on the wrong edge whilst being tossed about in the outer race. Somehow I managed to stay upright.
Lunchtime was soon upon us and we headed into Abraham's Bosom to a rocky beach for some much needed food (salad). I was quite enjoying the paddle to the lunch stop playing close to the rocks picking up the swell now being focused along the cliffs.
Click on the images below to open in lightbox and please bear in mind these images were taken when it was possible to take pictures...
After lunch we headed back to PM, but this time my timing was out playing in the swell and I ended up being capsized in a bit of a hole. The hole was being created by the water pouring back off the rocks into the sea. I rolled up and now Andy S started playing in the swells too. I was just shouting to Andy S that the jaws (rocks) we were just paddling between was where I damaged the front of my boat last year, when we got hit by a big swell. As Andy was a few feet in front of me, he suddenly seemed to disappear down, down, down, in what looked to me like the bottom of the ocean, whilst I was elevated up on the crest of the wave back paddling with all my might. I lost sight completely of Andy S and all I could picture was Andy S coming out on the other side of the rocks with bits of broken Andy S and boat! But somehow the jammy git managed to pirouette himself backwards out of the hole the right way up. Phew!
Back at PM conditions had really picked up. The tide race was running really well and the swell was coming though in fairly quick intervals. Getting Pete up the inner race was going to be problematic, so Andy suggested we all paddle around to Soldiers point. I suggested as Gareth, Kris and I were ok to make it up through the inner race we should head back to Porth Dafarch, get the cars and come and meet them at Soldiers Point. I was keen to get off as I had run out of water (leaky water bottle) and I was cramping up in my left forearm, back and shoulder. Kris offered me some much needed water and we then set off back up the inner race. It wasn't easy but we made it ok. What we didn't realise was that as we had made it look too easy and the other three decided to follow us. Unfortunately, I suspect a big swell came in at that point and Pete took a bad swim. Leaving Andy S to do the rescue. Having picked up the pieces Andy S managed to get the three of them into the gulley by the inner race, before he set off on foot across the cliffs back to Porth Dafarch, to tell us they would not be at Soldiers point.
Back at Porth Dafarch we were nearly changed and loaded up and just about to set off to soldiers point, when I heard a slightly out off breath Andy. He explained he'd left the other two in the gully and had run across to cut us off from leaving Porth Dafarch. He then returned back to the gully where the three of them waited for the tide to turn before heading back. Perhaps this is what we all should have done before splitting up. It was after all the safest option. There were interesting learning points resulting from these decisions.
Later in the Paddlers Return we met up with Keith and Wenders the Birthday girl, who had both missed out on an epic day. To add to injury, they then had to listen enviously to our various accounts of the day.
One of the best'ests paddles ever'er!