Bardsey Sound slack

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Bardsey Sound slack

Post by GEOFF S »

Bardsey Sound slack water.
a) Is there such a thing ?
b) when is it / are they ?

There seems to be quite a variety of opinions on this - I've seen various suggestions in eg Terry Storey's book, Pwllheli S.C., Welsh Sea Kayaking.

Anybody got any info to throw into the mix ?


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Re: Bardsey Sound slack

Post by seawolf856 »

Hi Geoff, I am not a regular visitor to the Bardsey Sound but I have extensive experience of paddling and navigating the North Wales coastline and I have had the 'pleasure' of paddling across this notorious stretch of water, so in the absence of any other replies so far I'll give you my take on it.
I don't know your level of competence or experience so forgive me if I'm talking to an expert but I assume you are asking the question so that you can plan a crossing by kayak when the flow will cause you the least amount of difficulty, which is a sensible thing to do and I completely understand why you would plan to do that. However, if your skill level means you would only want to paddle across Bardsey Sound at slack water, I would re-evaluate your ambition.

To answer your original question, the short answer is yes, there is of course a time when the flow through the sound has to stop and change direction as the tide changes from flood to ebb and vice-versa, BUT this period of "slack water" is most certainly not a fixed condition for the whole of the crossing and it doesn't last for any more than a fleeting moment at any point in the sound. Most kayakers paddle across the sound after launching from Aberdaron and the shelter of Aberdaron Bay, but once past the point of Pen Y Cil the crossing to Bardsey Island is approx 3km so even if you can paddle VERY fast you are never going to have slack water all the way across.
I assume you know the basics of Spring and Neap tides and that the slower flow will be on a Neap. You have mentioned the Welsh Sea Kayaking guide (fifty great sea kayaking voyages) and that is the guide I would recommend that you study VERY carefully before setting off for Bardsey Island. Journey timing is critical and although more advanced paddlers often do the crossing both ways on one tide, the less experienced (and those who want to explore the island) tend to wait on the island between tides, so it can become a long day out.

I hope some of this helps. The paddle to Bardsey Island is definitely worth the planning and patience waiting for good conditions but the Sound can be very dangerous if you are not aware of the potential conditions or choose to ignore the warnings.

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