Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Level 5 Coach Assessment (Sea) North Wales

Yippeeeeeee ... I achieved a good pass!

The initial seed about considering the Level 5 Sea award, (the highest British Canoe Union award) was sown October 2003 ... over 6 years ago. I had applied to be a student on a level 5 training course at Plas Y Brenin. It was a couple of years later, in May 2005 that I booked on the Level 5 training course, which Loel Collins was heading up and in relation to the sea element was initially supported by Nick Cunliffe and then Olly Sanders.

In June 2009 I put my self forward with support from Olly, for an assessment and unfortunately failed the first day, but passed the second day. This meant overall I had failed! Oh hum ...

Three months later I was re focused on working towards another assessment, actioning some of the extensive feedback, achieving 4 Star Sea leader trainer and assessor status as well as for the Coastal Navigation & Tidal Planning award. June 2010 had now become the focus!

The 2nd day of my assessment was with my long term students and the first video clip is Helen having a go at a self rescue, called a re entry & roll and this was her first go!

The 2nd video clip is Di demonstrating and taking Helen through a paddle float self rescue and in the back ground, is Franco Ferrero the 2nd assessor. We spent an hour or so in the calm of the bay going over two self rescues and then we needed to put them into context. Point Lynas was on the last hour of the flood and with a F3/4 and occasional F5 gusts, conditions were ideal. Once in the rough stuff, both capsized and Helen choose a re-entry & roll, while Di set her self up for a paddle float self-rescue, both were successful. Nice one : )

The first day of the assessment I was with Doug Cooper (assessor), and 2 unknown American students, with a trip along the Stacks planned. This went really well and we had excellent conditions. A change to the assessment that was being trialed was starting on Friday evening, this I felt was a real bonus as more time was provide to get to know wants/needs of a student and loads more time on the water on the Saturday.

Congratulations to John Carmody who travelled over from the States, for his 2nd assessment, who also passed. Thanks to my main long term students, Di Lee for working with me for over 17 months, to Mark Baggy Richards for being one of my initial students (he achieved the level 3 sea kayak coach award) and to Helen Cooke. You all taught me allot along the way.

Big thanks to Olly Sanders, who has been my mentor throughout the whole process and introduced me to the many fine coffee shops around Anglesey, and to Sonja for her long suffering patience, as sea kayaking took priority, yet again!

Friday, 25 June 2010

South West Sea Kayaking - Isles of Scilly

Sea Kayaking Solo to The Isles of Scilly

I had been waiting for the last 9 months for settled weather and time off to work to come together for a paddle to the Isles of Scilly. As I drove down on the Monday, I realised that it was the Longest day and with it being the best forecast, I was keen to make the most of it and paddle out that evening.

I began my paddle at about 1700 and went out to the Long ships lighthouse. On the way I was greeted by a 3mt Basking Shark. I didn't want to disturb it and get to close, but what a start.

The photo above is about 2 hours into the paddle, and behind me you may just be able to make out lands end. Many Shearwaters, Gannets, Fulmars and a couple of Storm Petrels passed me buy and the sea remained and oily calm. After 3 hours I could just about make out small islands, sun set and moon provide adequate light, and with the occasional shooting star was quite magic. I arrived at the first group of island, called the Eastern Isles at 2300 and I was pleased to have covered the 42k in 6 hours and believe that the cool evening and the impending darkness had helped to push me on! It took another hour for me to find a suitable camp spot for the night.

Sunrise was spectacular and watched it for 20 minutes or so, before returning to my bivi bag. At 0700 I got up and packed away my kit and went over my return journey, which was to take in the Seven Stones light ship, about a third of the way back and a little further to the north. I paddled in to St Marys that day and had a wander around the shops and then moved on to St Martins. The whole place had a real Caribbean feel about it, and the colours of the sea and sand were amazing.

I set of at 0830 and covered the 18k in 2.5 hours, to the long ships light boat, again many sea birds and a small seal escort out from the Isles with a further 3 different porpoise sightings.

On the way out I had only seen 3/4 large container ships on the horizon, and by the time I got into the Traffic Separation Zone (TSZ), all was quiet. On the way back I only came across the one and had the situation of upping my paddle rate to see if I could pass beyond it, to realising I couldn't ... it was best to sit it out and have a break!
On approaching lands end, the place was quite different than before. A gentle broad rolling Atlantic swell had been developing over the course of my journey and now it was opposing current and the cliffs at Lands End, it was very atmospheric. On top of this I was tired from being out in the mid day sun, having run out of water and hour or so ago. Just after 1500, I was safe through the reefs and surf, pleased with my achievement. I loaded all my kit and boat, phoned Sonja and then went looking for an ice cream!

Sunday, 20 June 2010

North Wales Sea Kayaking - Point Lynas

Looking for some rough water on Friday, the North east tip of Anglesey, with a N/NE swell and a 9.0 metre tide, Point Lynas was the venue. Some good prior tidal and venue planning from Di and some leadership from Helen, were key elements that the day was aimed at, with tidal paddling and manging rough water thrown in.

To add some more excitement to the day, I jumped out of my boat (on the back end of the race), so that Di and Helen could practise a deep water rescue. Demo's of self rescues, with an opportunity to try, before paddling back around into Porth Eilian, finished off another super day In North Wales.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Sea Kayaking North Wales - The Skerries

The Skerries lies some 3 k, off from Carmell Head and seeing that I hadn't been out there this year yet, It was my day off and all looked good for a super day. I left Church Bay, on the last two hours of the flood, explored the may caves on the way to Carmel head and then at Ynys y Fydlyn set out on a ferry glide

I was greeted on my arrival by thousands of Arctic Terns and a few Puffins. I landed by the old steps and had some lunch. One of the wardens came down and invited me up to see the birds, I must admit at the time I thought I was seeing them, that is until we walked around to the other side of the light house. Apparently there is around 3200 nesting pairs, with 3000 being Arctic and 200 being Common Terns.

The island never disappoints, and during a year I may be lucky to paddle out 4-5 times, June and July have to be the best, due to the Terns. By mid to late August the young are likely to have flown the nest and have started their long journey home.

I paddled to the North of the island, had a brief play and then started my journey back across. On arriving at Church Bay, I checked the time the Lobster Pot opened. With an hour to go I decided to have a lay down in the sun, and later enjoyed a bowl of Anglesey mussels, sea food paella, all washed down with a cool glass of white wine. After all it was my day off!

Sunday, 13 June 2010

North Wales Sea Kayaking with HCC

Nine people from HCC, joined Barry and myself on a weekends sea kayaking, with a super sunny day at Rhoscolyn and a journey to Silver Bay. We made the most of the narrow channels as we moved in and out of the rocks along the coast, trying out various turning and maneuvering strokes. After lunch we paddle to the Cymrian Strait (channel between Anglesey and Holy Island) which was in good flow, and provided us with a useful opportunity to have a go at ferry gliding, before returning to our starting point.

Sundays weather was more of a mixed day, although cloudier, the wind was lighter with a shower or two which passed us by. North Coast Anglesey was our location (the photo is from the right hand side of Hells Mouth, looking East). Super day for various wild life, in particular a Peregrine Falcon, Kestrel, a Seal, Porpoises and diving terns. High water was perfect and allowed for some super moving in and out of the Rocky channels, and discovery of a narrow but deep cave, I hadn't been in before.

Back in Bull Bay a few balance games ... and then rescues were undertaken! followed by a demonstration from Barry of two self rescues. The day was finished off with a short paddle across the bay and a sighting of a Chough (type of small crow with a red bill and feet) displaying its mastery of flight. Another super weekend.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Sea Kayaking North Wales - 3 Star train/assessment

North coast of Anglesey, Bull Bay to Cemaes, with a top end F4 NE forecast. The strangest thing happened, as we paddled out from Bull Bay the wind died to F2, but the swell stayed with us and was solid sea state F3 and occasionally more. Some surfing and turning as we journeyed along the coast line. A rescue scenario was then set up in the middle of the bay and then lunch at the brick works.

Next we paddled into hells mouth, initially giving the headland a wide berth due to current and swell and a confused sea state and then worked towards a semi sheltered cove in the back left hand side of the bay (video above is Pat leaving that cove, with Ian bobbing out their!). Out and across to middle mouse in the last hour of the ebb, a porpoise passed us by, and then cutting back across, with a rescue and some towing on the way. Rolling, self rescues in the shelter of the first bay and then on to the main beach with some fine surfing to finish with. A super day in North Wales!

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Sea Kayaking North Wales - Improve

Sea Kayaking on the North coast of Anglesey, having just paddled from Cemaes Bay, Middle Mouse and lunch at the brick works.
Five people on our Improve course, two new and three with previous experience, so the aim was an introduction to tidal paddling and in particular stern rudders.
As we moved along the coastline we moved in and out of the rocks using a mixture of turns from vertical to horizontal and then finished with a couple of balance games and self-rescues.
Saw my first North Wales puffin today, just to the East of Hells Mouth.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

North Wales Sea Kayaking

Having both done a weekends Discover sea kayaking with Coastal Spirit before, the first day was spent going over and refreshing skills. This was in the Menai Straits and provided a useful introduction to tidal paddling and skills such as ferry gliding. Puffin Island was our aim for the 2nd day and with the previous days activity, this set us up well, plus a super forecast. The seals were more hesitant than usual, (one can be seen in the photo above, below the sea weed), but still to be so close, was great. Some Shag chicks were also seen and heard squawking for some dinner on the rock faces, as well as a couple of Eider ducks and chicks bobbing about, although no Puffins were seen, the cliffs were racked up with Razorbills, Guillemots, Kittiwakes, Shags, Cormorants, occasional Fulmars and various gulls.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Pembroke sea kayak festival

Four hours later and Olly Sanders and myself had arrived at Skomer Island on the Friday afternoon. We were both down for the Stackpole Sea Kayak Festival, which was running over the bank holiday weekend and with some further BCU course into the week. With 1 hour before slack water at Jack sound we decided for a paddle around the island, an island that never disappoints, with its carpets of Puffins and other sea birds. We finished with a gentle play in the beginning of the flood and drove on to St Govans Inn, for a pint and some food. A super start to the weekend.

The festival had around 80 people, with a great atmosphere, super food and for so many people well organised. I believe its a biannual event, for further details contact Nige on the Stackpole link above.