The Lleyn

Day 78 – Dinas Dinlle to Aberdaron – 6th Aug – 29.5 nm

I think it is a warm front but I'm not really sure. Sat in the van, looking out over the water and into the grey murk, the visibility is less than ½ mile, the rain is rattling off the roof. I’ve been trying to work out what sort of weather to expect after the front but I can’t think. My head feels full of cotton wool, I guess I'm tired.

Fatigue gets you in so many ways and motivation is one of them. I need to be getting on with the day but can’t get too excited about things. It’s cold, wet and windy out there – the van is warm and dry – not a good combination. But like numerous previous beaches, I'm not ready to go, there’s no real reason, it just doesn't feel right. TM finds this a little frustrating once again, time is wasting as I faff and stall.

The forecast is for the weather to blow through, though that’s hard to believe at the moment. Then it’ll be breezy for a while, but settling, with the tide, late in the day.

Irrespective of what kind of front it is, it does finally move on and it is time to paddle once again. After the hanging around I now become impatient and rush to get on. We hurriedly run through the check list before the boat leaves the beach.

There are blue skies ahead, but it is still breezy, from the NW, and quite lumpy. For the early part of the day it’s not going to be a relaxed paddle. As I move further out I find that there’s swell coming from two directions, a 4-6ft on the bow and a 2-4ft coming from the right hand side – one from what was and one from what will be. It’s difficult going, the boat wallows around and it’s hard to keep the rhythm going.

In the rush to leave the beach there wasa hurried complacency and didn't really finalise a plan. There’s a misunderstanding as TM mentions that she is going to head to Nefyn and meet me there. I am uneasy about this, inside I know that Trefor should be the first option, but I feel under a little pressure to stop farting around and get on with the job. On days like this I’m not sure of what conditions to expect and I like to progress along while ticking off the options.

But now as I start to move along the cliffs the confused swell starts to meet the rebound and things become unpleasant. I can’t get in touch with TM so I keep on towards Nefyn. It doesn't get any easier and before long it’s too lumpy to eat or pee, or even scratch my nose. It tales a while but eventually I get close enough to get a little shelter from the headland at Port Dinllaen and rush to take an urgent bladder evacuation. Not long after it’s a busy landing at Nefyn where speed boats and jet-skis abound. The clock shows 3 ½ hrs since the start.

The sun is out now and the August holiday makers are everywhere. The Taran is trolleyed up the hill and we sit in another 4 quid car-park while we admire the view. It’s a very nice view, the rain has cleansed the air, it is a bright day now and the hills are displayed in their glory, Anglesey lies in the distance.

It’s also time to discuss the morning’s happenings.
We are both tired. TM was a little complacent, a little too confident in my abilities. She assumed that Nefyn was an easy target, unconsciously putting pressure on. I was too soft, too keen to go with the flow; I should have said that I was not comfortable with this. The buck has to stop with the boat driver.

But the biggest mistake was that I should have landed. Without comms I felt I needed to make Nefyn, or things would have got complicated, and time consuming. But complicated safe is better than dodgy easy. If I wasn't happy then I should have made the landing and sorted things out from there. I have to take the decision, and the responsibility, no-one else can. From me it’s another case of push-onitis, not good. We talked of complacency only during the last day or two, and then fall straight into the trap. The Fat Lady ain't on the stage yet.

Four sunny hours slip by, the warmth is welcome and the view relaxing, but of course, soon it is time to leave once again. We trolley the boat down the hill to the busy beach. A couple of posh-lads get rather impatient behind as they want to get their tractor and boat trailer down the narrow lane quicker. They are not too impressed to be held up by a bloke with a pink canoe on a silly little trailer, comments and gesticulations follow.

A minute later the tractor is stuck in the sand, Team Fatboy discusses the benefit of differential lock and smile wryly while the Taran is packed.
It was nice to have a break but it’s also nice to leave the hustle and bustle of the pre-teatime boat landings, rounding the headland soon delivers Taran and me back to the peace and quiet of open water.

Originally the hope was to transit Bardsey Sound close to high water slack, but that’s not going to happen today. We needed to make Porth Oer before the tide changed to manage that. So now I'm hoping to take the ebb down the coast to P.O. and then make a suck-it-and-see decision there. I'm rather conscious of the Bardsey Sound tide races, eddies and today’s swell.

Initially it’s I'm-not-going-around-the-end-in-this breezy, but as the end of Lleyn draws closer the breeze starts to fade, the swell has dropped away too. The sun is still out and it starts to become quite enjoyable.

A headland is silhouetted by the sunshine, still so many miles away. Then a giant and his mammoth dog appear on the end, I chuckle as a trick of the light and brain suddenly mean they are only a minute away.

The water is interesting beyond Penrhyn Mawr (of course) and around the islet of Maen Mellt. The eddy line is impressive, and along with the races, it encourages me to alter my line for a discretion-is-the-better-part-of-valour sort of route.

But things have settled now and the flow is helping nicely, the GPS smiles a 6 kts + figure. The lack of swell and wind tempts to give the Sound a go. Team Manager has made it to the end too and stands on the hill watching things develop. She calls to give me an idea of what to expect in the tiderace at Braich y Pwll. Unfortunately it seems that the added height of her viewpoint takes the edge of things. What she sees and what I soon experience are, rather different.

I stay out as long as I can to miss the most of it, but eventually I realise that I'm going through it like it or not, there’s not a great deal of choice in the matter. It’s lumpy and confused - one of those sort of paddling through it rather than over it moments. Then we’re through. Relieved...

I meet a yacht, using the eddy to go the opposite way. As the water quickly calms I turn to watch his progress, keen to see the outcome. But I'm rather dismayed as it all now looks smooth and calm, but then there’s a rather abrupt ‘manoeuvre’ as he crosses the eddyline – yep, that’s the one, bet that rattled the crockery a touch.

Aberdaron Bay always takes forever to cross and tonight is no different, to give a mildly Russian Roulette landing amongst the hidden boulders – a smiling reminder of Durness so long ago. We decide to eat out but are too late to catch any food in the village and so it is a glamorous car-park boil-in-the-bag for dinner. Another romantic night out for the Team Manager.

The campsite is small and peaceful, just up the hill. It’s a pleasant, relaxed spot, but it doesn't get deserved justice, as it fades into just another late finish.