Go wild in West Wales with Voyages of Discovery
We take our seats in the bright orange boat. We zip up our coats, pull on our life vests and grab the metal bar in front of us. And soon the powerful boat roars, lifts it’s nose slightly and skip across the sea like a smooth stone in the bay. My girlfriend and I just smile at each other – we know we’re in for a great ride.
We have jumped onboard with Voyages of Discovery and have set out near St. David’s in the Welsh Pembrokeshire region, more precisely from the iconic lifeboat station at St. Justinian’s. From here our 12-man boat shoots across the Ramsey Sound stretch between the mainland and Ramsey island – located approximately 1 kilometer off the coast. But only after the crew ensures that everyone onboard is comfortable.
With wind-blown hair we soon reach the island where our captain steers the boat gently in between the rocks of a large cave. Our guide pasionately tells us about the caves of this island, while we try to catch the big drops randomly falling from the ceiling high above. The cave is impressive and even on this grey and cloudy afternoon, the water still looks bright aqua green around the walls of massive rock.
We back out and speed up again, continuing around the island and loving it as the boat takes a couple of fast turns, before it’s left to float gently again. On the horizon we can now spot a small lighthouse on the South Bishop, which is one of a few islets known as the Bishops and Clerks. We take in the spectacular views as well as the information giving along the way, and our stops around the island vary nicely between “close-ups” and at more open sea. We even spot an Elephant..!
In a stoney bay on the side of the island facing away from the mainland, we get close enough to spot some of the first seal pups of the this season – even a rare dark one, as they’re lying around waiting for their mother’s extremely nutricious milk. And a couple of adult seals pop up their silver-shiny heads from the water, not far from our boat. The crew know what to look for and also spot a large and bright red Lion’s Mane Jellyfish in the water beside us… and from the captain’s former first-hand encounter, it’s NOT an animal you wanna pet.
More stories of the island follow as we round another “corner” and cut in between smaller neighbouring islands – before heading back into the Ramsey Sound stretch, where the crew has spotted more local wildlife. And there… suddenly, the surface of the water is broken by a couple of dark rounded fins. It’s our lucky day, as a few porpoises have decided to join the party and swim closer to the boat than on most days. Our captain turns off the engine for a while so we can enjoy this precious sight, and for a few minutes our eyes are fixed to the calm sea around us as we try to spot as many as possible. Magnificent!
And the highlight of the tour has yet to come as we head back towards the island, cleverly avoiding a sailer’s sharp nightmare known as ‘The Bitches’. These pointy rocks are dangerously hidden from time to time, under the waterline of the tide – and could destroy an unfamiliar captain’s boat in seconds.
This trip is perfectly safe though, and we almost can’t believe our own eyes as we get closer to a wide bay and spot not only a few… but probably more than 50 large grey seals resting on the stoney shore. What a view! And we’re so close that we can actually hear them “sing”, while a couple of them are looking at us from the water. Let me tell you – this is way better than any zoo, and I’m happy to see that the crew respects these wild animals and keep a nice distance. In fact, the seals don’t seem to be bothered by their guests at all.
After this memorable sight it’s time to head back to dry land, and our captain finishes off in style by treating us to a few more tight turns. We absolutely loved this trip and it’s truly unique to experience the dramatic coastline of Pembrokeshire from the waterside. Our trip with Voyages of Discovery was the one called Ramsey Island Voyage, with the purpose of exploring the island and the waters surrounding it. But there are several trips to choose from, varying in theme and length – and depending on the time of the year you visit. We’ll definitely be looking forward to take on another expedition next time we’re back in West Wales – maybe further out to sea with the chance of spotting dolphins and even whales.
As a little bonus we visit the old lifeboat station too, which is free. These stations are bravely manned by local volunteers who make a difference to safe lifes at sea. The lifeboat stations are actually beautiful and function as enormous slides to make it possible to get a jump-start on a rescue mission – no matter the state of the tide. The old station at St. Justinian’s will very soon be replaced by a more modern version, currently taking shape right next to it.
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