Penarth Marina, Cardiff Bay Barrage, and forgetting to update the Uniden Scanner!

Cardiff Bay


With the skies totally devoid of cloud, the sun shining and the temperature a few degrees above 20°C, this could only mean that in my part of the world spring has finally sprung, which ultimately meant that a last minute Sunday afternoon ride was on the cards!

Penarth marina

Grabbing the Yaesu FT-70 and my Uniden 125 scanner, I decided to take a 50 or so mile round trip to Penarth Marina and the Cardiff Bay Barrage in the glorious spring sunshine. There are a few small marinas dotted around this area, each belonging to their respective sailing club, and I rode past the rather lovely Penarth Marina. Several mariners were busy working away doing whatever mariner things are needed on their yachts and seeing this reminds me… I must ask one of my fellow Newport Amateur Radio Society club members which one of these is his boat.

I believe Doug – MW0OPY has a small 34′ yacht somewhere in the vicinity – either here in Penarth Marina or in another marina close by, so look out perhaps for an update or maybe even a little blog post on his yacht in a future post!

Before reaching the rather lovely sandy beaches of South East Wales – which start from around Barry (think Gavin and Stacey, and you’ll not be far off!) – the coastal areas in S.E. Wales are more suited to hikers and nature lovers than beachgoers: they’re low lying, flat and fairly waterlogged levels abundant with amphibians, waders, seabirds and a multitude of other shoreline inhabitants. Here in Cardiff / Penarth, and further east up into the Severn estuary the waters are dark brown and silty – not I might add caused from sewage, but from enormous quantities of silt moved with the sheer volume of water passing up and down twice each day – there’s often as much as a 13M tide t this time of year.

I arrived just in time to see the gates swinging down across the access road and cycle path, and lock #2 in the middle of being raised.

There were only a few small leisure craft and one small charter fishing vessel in the lock needing to get back to their berths in the bay – alas no grand sailing ships today.

Seeing this machinery in operation is quite the sight, and surprisingly the hydraulics used to raise and lower the road are particularly quiet whereas the locks make significant noise! The operation of the seaward entry lock is totally separate from the bay entry lock, and interestingly, the locks are also supposedly designed to significantly minimise the quantity of sea water entering the bay in each lock cycle.

three locks at Cardiff barrage

Looking at the colour of the water in the bay compared to the colour of the water in the lock, I am not sure exactly how effective this process actually is. The water in the lock did look to me to be predominantly silt laden sea water, whereas the bay is maintained by the constant outflow of the rivers Taff and Ely and is clean and fairly clear.

Not wanting to mingle amongst the plethora of tourists and visitors, I grabbed an ice-cream at seriously rip-off prices (£3 for a single ice cream cone with flake – 100% rip off!!) and headed around to the much quieter residential area that overlooks the bay. In the distance you may just be able to see the Senedd, home of Welsh Government (click on the image to open larger version in new window).

Cardiff Bay
The Senedd, just about viewable across Cardiff Bay

After a quick snack and drink, I called out on 145.375MHz which is the 2M frequency our club regularly uses, but without my trusty SlimJim hoisted up on the telescopic pole, nothing was heard so decided to grab my Uniden UBC125 Scanner to monitor what marine traffic may have been about.

Stupid me! for unknown reasons to me at least, no marine frequencies are programmed into the scanner, and it was only when I arrived home I also remembered the Yaesu FT-70 will easily receive marine frequencies which I believe are between 158.000 through 162.000, so next mini-task is to add these frequencies to both the FT-70 and UBC125.

UPDATE: my darned version of parallels (Version 15) doesn’t appear to work with the latest version of MacOS Ventura so I’ll need to resolve this before programming the Uniden with any marine freqs.

Disappointed not to have been able to have a listen to whatever was going on marine wise as there were plenty of craft about in the bay, but not disappointed in the ride overall as this was the first of what I hope will be many more smashing rides out in glorious sunshine during the remainder of 2023.

Cardiff bay

Thanks for reading.

my motorcycle looking across to the barrage

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