THE BITCHES ROCKS

The Bitches and Whelps is a reef of rocks which stretches out into Ramsey Sound, and which, when combined with the strong tides which race through the area creates a notorious stretch of water.

The tides run north for approximately 6 hours on the flood and south for 6 hours on the ebb, the tidal race in the Sound can reach speeds of up to 8 knots on a spring tide and over the reef itself in places this can increase to 18 knots. The tide speeds up as it is funnelled through the relatively narrow channel of the sound and the reef then acts as a dam. This effect is particularly spectacular during the flood tide when the water level on the south side of the rocks can be as much as 1.5 meters higher than that on the north side.

This has, in recent years, made the place very popular with kayakers as a white water rodeo venue, and has been host to both national and international kayaking championships.

The Bitches have been the scene of many shipwrecks over the years and perhaps one of the more notable locally was that of the St. Davids lifeboat, the Gem, in 1910. On this occasion the Gem had been launched to go to the aid of a vessel called the Democrat which was dragging its anchor on the north side of the Bitches and was in danger of being carried onto the reef. Having successfully rescued the crew of two off the stricken vessel, the Gem was then returning to the lifeboat station when she herself got into difficulties. In those days the lifeboat was powered by oars and sail. The wind and tide overcame her and she was wrecked on the end rock of the bitches with tragic consequences. Three of the Gem’s crew lost their lives that night and the remaining crew, along with those they had rescued, were left clinging to the reef through a stormy night until rescued the following day.

Even today the Sound can be a dangerous place without local knowledge. On the flood tide the bitches are at their most dramatic. On a calm day you will witness a big difference in height of the water from one side to another. On rougher days and big tides whirlpools and eddies create spectacular white water that we are able to navigate safely. On the ebb tide things are much quieter but a bonus is that the porpoises feed here enabling us daily sightings.

THE BITCHES ROCKS

We visit the Bitches on the Ramsey Island Voyage and 2 Hour Ramsey Expedition. If you want to spend more time with the Bitches famous tides then consider our Ramsey Jet-Set Adventure – please contact us for details.