Snakes on a boat

It's been some time since I have visited Pembroke but with high winds and rain forecast for the north-west while the south of Wales was due to bask under blue skies, it seemed a good time to endure the drive south and so we set out with aspirations to round St Davids Head, taking in Ramsey Island and, if things went well, take a sly look at the race between the two: The Bitches. 
Fog was not on the agenda. Neither were snakes. Needless to say we got both.
Cloud cover at Abercastle made for a slow start as we loaded the boats, waiting for the sun and the tide to turn. On the water, the south going stream now in our favour and the sun burning through, things started well...
...the coastline immediately impressive, stacks, arches and caves all demanding attention.
It was hard to resist landing through small surf on this beach, so I didn't, catching a lovely small wave which surfed me onto clean sands for a late lunch.
A dramatic passage which would become quite exciting in anything but calm conditions...
...after which we moved a little off-shore to take advantage of the tide - Chris passing Llech Ganol, some six kilometres short of St David's Head which we turned easily enough through small chop.
A little later, looking out from our camp, towards Ramsey Island, the sun long since gone and the fog settling.
Later still and the fog has closed in completely, the air thick with water. A small fire helped...
...and in the morning things seemed to have improved, Ramsey doing its best to shrug off the blanket...
...though by the time we launched, it was hidden once again.
Crossing Whitesands Bay - still hoping visibility would improve.
It got worse. Much worse. We attempted the ferry glide anyway, nosing cautiously into Ramsey Sound heading for the northern tip of the island. But it seems it there is little scope for doing anything cautiously in Ramsey Sound and after paddling steadily on a bearing for longer than it should have taken to cross, with visibility less than 50 yards, it was time for one of those difficult decisions. We turned and began the ferry glide back, doubts crowding in. Were we where I thought we were? Had we been pushed much further north? Was that St David's Head looming out of the fog? In fact, on regaining the cliffs, we were no more than 300 yards north of where we started. The navigation was sound then, sort of, we just hadn't made any real progress across the channel.
Paddling south, the fog cleared, though Ramsey remained hidden. We continued down through The Sound, leaving Ramsey for a day when it would be possible to see both the island and the RIBs which bore down on us at alarming speed out of the fog while off shore.
Looking across to Ynys Bery and the southern tip of Ramsey - which cleared of course as turned east towards Porth Clais...
...where, deep inside a cave Chris spotted a snake, swimming strongly but clearly struggling to get out of the water. With sheer walls of 30ft above there was obviously no way it was getting out. It's not every day you paddle out of a cave with an adder on the front hatch...
...but seemingly none the worse for the experience, he slithered off among the rocks quickly enough. The adder. Not Chris.

Comments

Ian Johnston said…
Great stuff Will, I've seen lots of Adders, but never one in the sea....but since parts of Jura have large populations I guess it must happen more than imagined.

After paddling in a constricted space with an Adder on deck, I think I'd have been taking a quick slither between some rocks afterward!

:o)