Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Day 10: Puffin & preditor: Solva to Tenby

A rose between two thorns? Today's crew, Amanda
Amanda, our Fundraising Consultant and latest crew member, arrived bright and early at 7am, and we headed out of Solva harbour over St Bride's Bay.  The Solfa coast, Southwood estate and Sheepfields, Littlehaven, three of our properties that flank the bay, faded into the distance as we approached the fearsome Jack Sound.  The presence of increasing numbers of seabirds, busily crisscrossing our route, heralded the proximity of Skomer.  We spotted our first puffin, bobbing on the sea with it's beakfull of sandeels, and soon there were squadrons of them hurtling past, their frantic flight reminding us of over-wound clockwork toys.
Jack Sound, with the Deer Park and Midland Isle
Despite it's reputation, the Sound was smooth, with just the occasional upwellings and swirling eddies tugging at the rudder, hinting at the power of the tide race which would soon be upon us if we didn't keep moving.  We passed Midland Isle, the Trust's only sizable non-tidal island in Wales and rounded the Deer Park into the bay off Marloes Beach with its tidal Gateholm.  Soon St Anne's Head hove into view and I spotted Kete, where a wartime radar station for the tracking of low-flying aircraft was once located.  Crossing Milford Haven's busy shipping lanes we aimed for Freshwater West where we intended heading out to sea to avoid the Castlemartin firing range exclusion zone.
Range safety vessel, Predator comes alongside
But before we could do this, from apparently nowhere appeared the threateningly named Predator, a range safety vessel which requested that we headed three miles offshore due to live firing on the range. As we approached the Stackpole estate, another safety vessel accosted us to make sure we kept our distance.  Eventually we anchored off Stackpole Quay, dropped off Amanda and joined our colleagues, who by happy coincidence were having an evening social kayak and barbeque.
Stackpole colleagues see us back out to Capercaillie
We then headed for Tenby, where we were to meet our next colleague-passenger tomorrow.  This journey took us past Manorbier and Lydstep Head, the Trust's first property in Pembrokeshire, donated in 1936.  We eventually rounded Tenby's St Catherine's Island and moored in the harbour with minutes to spare before the ebbing tide landed us gently on the sand at 10pm.
The bright lights of Tenby, from the harbour
Go to Day 11

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