Supposedly this was meant to be an easy, relaxing paddle to Flat Holm Island & back, but instead became a day of change, hard decisions & drama...
We decided that as we were all reasonably experienced to change our route & head first to Steep Holm Island 7 miles out & then across to Flat Holm Island. Myself & Stuart have made the trip several times & Richie has been to Flat Holm a couple of times & is no novice to kayaking...
We scratched our heads trying to think what we had available to improvise a tow just to get is the couple of miles to Flat Holm but had nothing that would work.
By now Richie was complaining of pins & needles in his hand & feet which made me nervous & I knew that I'd have to call for help.
Despite having recently passed my 'short range radio' license exam I must admit that I didn't handle the call very well. I was reluctant to class the call as a 'Mayday' which in hindsight I should have done & I didn't evan use the paraphrase of 'Pan Pan'. I made a routine call to the coastguard on channel 16 & explained our situation. I think I evan neglected to ask for help, leaving them to guess what we required.
During the call 'Cardiff Sea Safaris' were thankfully listening & in the area & came & gave Richie a lift...
It got a bit hairy towing as we now had wind against tide conditions & the sea started picking up quite a bit. The coastguard soon arrive & took the empty boat from us which I'm very grateful for as it was my spare kayak & they've no obligation to rescue equipment. Top blokes!
They offered us a lift but we decided that we were more than happy to carry on despite the tide now being at full flow, about 8 knots I was later told...
I knew that there was little chance of hitting Sully unless we turned against the flow & ferry glided across. We literally had to aim for Penarth to hold a course for Sully but this had us side in the the waves most of the time.
Approaching the Wolves it was clear just how fast the tide was running. There was large breaking waves rising over the Wolves to our left & we were drifting side on to the at alarming speed. We paddled hard hoping to pass the end of them but the tide was too fast & we were pulled in & having to surf & bongo slide several miles from shore.
I was preparing my roll in my head as it was looking quite likely that I may need it. A big wave passed me, I was looking up at it, then another, I looked behind & saw another one bearing down on me, I caught this one & it pushed me out of the rough water & into relative calm in comparison, I watched Stuart, waiting for him to emerge & I think he had a grin on his face (LOL), think he's getting the hang of surfing!
We arrived back at Sully two & a half hours overdue & the causeway to Sully Island had uncovered by now.
A few call's later & we learnt that Richie was taken to the hospital for tests but was well enough to later make his way home.
I know I should of handled things better during the day, I've recently passed my 3 star sea award, foundation safety & rescue & my SRC course so I'm a little disappointed with my performance but I will learn from this.
So what did I learn from today?
*Well, firstly I must get a tow rope!!!
*I need to be more decisive as I was hesitant to admit that we needed help.
*If I could go back I would have made a 'Mayday' call & let the coastguard downgrade it if need be.
*I must work on my radio communications & also specify what help that I require.
I've heard it said that when you think you need help, that is the time to call & I couldn't agree more.
Please follow my progress as I paddle around Wales for the 'Make A Wish Foundation' leaving on the third of May.
To view our route with time info click here, this map is only available for seven days. after this time please view the map below...