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The Pembrokeshire Tourism Blog

Voyages of a Sea Dog

Pembrokeshire Tourism - Wednesday, February 20, 2019

We were heading north; past Newgale with its awesome bank of pebbles lining the road; down into the harbour village of Solva and up the other side; on and on we drove. ‘You’re going to enjoy yourself today,’ said my owner as she overtook a tractor towing a trailer full of Pembrokeshire potatoes. But where were we going? I looked round the boot for clues, banging my head as usual on the window of the hatchback’s boot lid. Then I noticed a leaflet on the backseat. I peered down with both my paws over the top of the seat. It was advertising boat trips from St David’s, promising voyages of discovery. ‘Suitable for all ages,’ it said. But it wasn’t my age I was worried about. I kept reading and reading and just when I was losing hope, I saw the magic words: ‘Dogs are welcome on board our vessels’. Excellent! I’d always fancied being a canine Cousteau. Now was my big chance.

My owner met up with some friends and their children at the top of the steps leading down to the boat. Everybody was very excited, but I was a little worried. I had once seen a film about a sea voyage - I knew what could go wrong. I scanned the sea with my trained eye. After checking and rechecking I concluded it would be safe to proceed - there were no icebergs in sight. Okay, so it was mid-summer and just off the coast of Wales, but hey, you can’t be too careful.

After everybody had put on life jackets, we set off, zooming across the water. My owner held me tight as the strong breeze cooled me down and blew back my ears. Every so often spray would splash into the boat, much to the amusement of the children. But then we started to slow down and we all looked ahead. There, looming in front of us with cliffs up to 100 metres high, was Ramsey Island.

Although it was just before the breeding season for seals, which starts in late August, we still saw several in the water and some were basking on the rocks. I was glad I was safe in the boat because I reckon they would be pretty scary close up. Of course, I didn’t show I was scared but acted tough and gave them a couple of quiet growls.

A member of the crew pointed out the black and white Razorbills nesting on narrow outcrops of rock under the overhangs. We also saw plenty of brown and white Guillemots huddled closely together for safety on the ledges. Both the Guillemots and Razorbills would soon be gone, leaving the island around mid-July and not returning until March.

Then one of the children shouted, ‘Look, dolphins!’ But actually they were porpoises. The skipper told us that they had gathered to eat fish which in turn were eating nutrients churned up by the tide.

We then started to go round the island. The skipper told us that Ramsey Island used to be owned by the Church but early last century the Church sold it to a private owner who farmed it, at one time even farming deer. But in the 1990’s the RSPB bought it. But by now we had reached the entrance to a cave. The skipper gently manoeuvred the boat in so that we could have a closer look. It was dark and cold but everybody was impressed. One little boy said, ‘This is majorly awesome’. After that, we explored lots of other caves. We also went through some spectacular gorges.

I then saw something which made my day. It was pretty hilarious, although nobody else on the boat seemed to notice. There was a cormorant busily drying himself on a rock. He was making a bit of a meal of it and every so often he would admire his reflection in a rock pool. To be fair, he had to take it seriously because the wings of cormorants absorb a lot of water and they can’t fly easily when weighed down with water. Anyway, this cormorant was going way over the top, drying and preening himself until he was bone dry. Then, just as he had finished and was admiring himself once more in the rock pool, a wave came in and drenched him. He threw his wings up in despair, let out an anguished shriek and started all over again. A couple of seals nearby saw what happened and were rolling around, laughing. The cormorant was muttering furiously. He was not a happy bunny. 

All too soon it was time to head back to shore. We rounded the island and just as the skipper was about to speed up a crew member shouted, ‘Look, up there! A kittiwake!’ We all craned our necks and looked up. Sure enough, flying towards a cave was this small bird. The kittiwake is the smallest type of gull you will see on Ramsey so everybody was excited to spot one. The skipper then set course for the shore and we sped across the waters with the spray glistening in the sun.

I will always look back on 2018 as the year I took my first trip on a boat. Yet there are plenty more islands and wildlife to explore around the coasts of Pembrokeshire.  I’m hoping to go on other voyages in 2019. The canine Cousteau has only just begun.  Also, there’s plenty to explore inland in Pembrokeshire too! I’m going to make 2019 my year of discovery.

Please note: This story has been written as part of our promotion of Pembrokeshire as a dog friendly destination.

The Dog Friendly Pembrokeshire Tourism project has received funding via the Tourism Product Innovation Fund (TPIF) supported through the Welsh Government Rural Communities - Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the Welsh Government, the Fund aims to encourage new innovative product ideas working in partnership which will have a greater impact and attract more visitors.

Visit Dog Friendly Pembrokeshire Video

Dog friendly Pembrokeshire Tourism

Tourism Product Innovation Fund

Ramsey Island

Voyages of Discovery

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