Sunday, 4 September 2011

Carpe Paddlarum

I got a text message asking if I wanted to go out and play with some of the usual suspects who have been putting up the fastest times on the Menai Challenge in recent weeks. It was an "apr├Ęs travail" paddle, so the last 30 minutes in the shop were spent loading a couple of boats on the roof as Ben was joining us.

This one wasn't an attempt on the aformentioned challenge, but simply a bimble up the straits around Ynys Seiriol (or Puffin Island for those who don't speak Cymraeg) and back down to Porth Penmon. Puffin Island is the 9th largest island off the coast of Wales.

It all started well, I texted to say that we'd arrived and we had, just not in the same lay-by as the other four. So we moved around the corner, got changed and carried our boats down to the waters edge. It was a big tide and a long carry.

We launched our boats and just paddled along at a leisurely pace, enjoying the scenery, inspecting the wreck of the 471 ton sand dredger Hoveringham, which is revealed at low water and on low springs easily accessed by kayak. It's teeming with marine life.

And on this occasion even had a few of the "redactum maculosus salsus mare canis"  in residence.

As we passed between Penmon Point and Perch Rock, a small pod of porpoise passed us, but alas I was too slow in snatching my camera from the deck bag and so their passing went unrecorded. We paddled up the east side of Puffin Island, named after the now much reduced colony of Fratercula arctica (Puffins to you and I), rather than the Puffinus puffinus which is the latin name for the Manx Shearwater and a completely unrelated species. The puffins numbers were greatly reduced following the accidental introduction of the Rattus norvegicus (Brown rat and coincidentally the title of one my favourite albums in my teens, by the popular beat combo, The Stranglers). Strangely, the largest bird population found on the island now is Phalacrocorax carbo, the Great Cormorant.

We continued to the North Eastern corner and found an abundance of Halichoerus grypus, Atlantic Grey Seal. Although we approached quietly a number of them still took to the water, but they soon became their usual inquisitive selves.

We sat with the seals, watching them watching us, watching them watching us for a short while before we moved on.

We paddled back past the lighthouse as the sun was setting.

The plan was to be back in time for pysgod a sglodion, fish & chips for the non Cymraeg speakers, in Menai Bridge, but we dawdled and enjoyed the scenery as we passed the wreck of the Hoveringham again.

The title of todays post, well, I'd used Carpe Diem just over a year ago, and I don't want to be too repetitive, so I cobbled together some of the pidgin latin I could remember from my alma amater, Eastbrook Comprehensive I've used the feminine genitive plural, "Carpe paddlarum", "Sieze the paddles". I'm happy to be corrected & educated by any latin scholars out there.

Thanks to John, Pascale, Aled, Marcus & Ben for their company. If paddlings not your thing and carpe paddlarum doesn't apply for you, still Carpe diem, sieze the day and make every second count. You're a long time dead!!

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