Sunday, 29 August 2010

North Wales Sea Kayaking - Improve

This weekends Improve, had some unsettled conditions which seems to be the flavour of this August, roll on September and our Indian Summer!

After a short planning session, over a coffee, we drove to the North coast (inside of Point Lynas), and worked on out/inside turns and then moving further out, doing the turns in the larger swell! Use of skeg and stern rudders when returning with a following sea, to keep your boat on course, was in a super context and both Anne and Chris got to grips with this early on.

Our 2nd day we had a forecast of F5 gusting F6, so I journey down the Straits, from Felinheli to Menai Bridge, fitted in well with the tides and allowed us to focus on ferry glides and use of transits, while also putting edge into our forward paddling, to keep the boat on track. Our 2nd lunch break was below one of the pillars of menai bridge, which also allowed us to view the initial gentle turn of the tide, and a signal that we had another hour to work with before we would have to move on! Both achieved a couple of super longer ferry glides, which they jointly led, before reaching our end point. The wind was now truly following the forecast!

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Sea Kayaking the Norwegian Fjords

Below is 1 hour into our first paddle day, having spent a comfortable evening in a super hostel and bought our food for the week, the evening before. This was truly one of the most spectacular days, around 12k of paddling, with 1300 metre high peaks and walls of rock, and only 200 mts wide in the narrowest spot, with the occasional car ferry's moving back and forth!

An evening of rolling practice for some, swimming for others (water was about 15c, so pretty warm), with a super camp fire and discussion on our 2nd days options and our first visit of 3-5 porpoises as we eat our evening meals.

We paddled past many spectacular waterfalls, had a close sighting of a Sea Eagle and a great light and colour display, provided by the moody weather. The photo above is after along days paddle (28k) and with the last 2-3 hours into a F3 head wind, which made our progress around one of the headlands interesting and exciting.

With a later start, blue skies, sunshine, gentle winds and a following sea, the 15k down the Fjord, to our 3rd camp, passed by and as the winds dropped, we heard and saw another pod of porpoises, which stayed around and came quite close to our kayaks. A memorable moment and I caught it on the camera!

Day 4 and another 15k brought us back into the other branch of a parallel Fjord and our 2nd public campsite (although neither had showers) and allowed some the opportunity to get walk a steep and narrow farm track and few the Fjord from above. We also had a camp visitor the morning we were packing!

Having reached the end of our paddle, we loaded the sea kayaks on to the trailer and driven back to the start of our paddle. A group photo was taken, before returning to Voss hostel, for a hot shower, a bed for the night and some food. The weather overall was kind with sunny days and occasional showers. A super trip with great company and around 82k covered.

Interested? Our dates for 2011 are now on the website, further photos will appear in our gallery soon. If you require further information just contact us and consider joining us in the summer of 2011.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Discover Sea Kayaking North Wales

With August feeling rather unsettled and more Northerly winds in each days forecast, we actually did pretty well with the sun, although the rest of Snowdonia I'm not sure got off so lucky!

This week we had Paul (below) and Gill on the first two days and then Doreen, Cherry and Alan (from Derby Outdoor Focus) for four days and then Richard and Kit joining us for the third day.

Moelfre to Benllech and back for our first day, with lots of attention on edging and using your body to be more effective. A good break at the end of the day in Ann's pantry to reflect back over a tea or a coffee and making the most of the sunshine.

Our 2nd day was from Moelfre to Dulas and back, increasing the sea state and introducing, the use of skegs and stern rudders to further assist the control of the sea kayak when the wind is behind you. Alan fanced some more adventure so with Helen and myself we took a paddle out to Ynys Dulas, he wasent disapointed!

Day 3 due to a forecast of F4 winds and gusting F5, form the North, the Menai Straits was to be our venue. From Menai Bridge to the Gazelle and back with an emphasis on vertical turning strokes and sideways movement. The wind today didn't really arrive as forecast, so we had a super calm sea surface with a gentle strong current. The journey back from the Gazelle was about 3k, and we were back at Menai Bridge in about 15 minutes! We finished off with a circuit of blending turning strokes, draws, effective positioning and low braces support strokes.

With a similar forecast to the previous day and now the final day, the aim was to bring and link together the previous 3 days. Rhoscolyn was the venue, which also worked well as Cherry and Doreen were camping there, so they had a short walk to the beach. Stern rudders and skegs from the beach and out beyond the headland and then some moving in and around the rocks and gullies that make up this coastline. Fully using the previous days strokes and now in a different context and at the same time avoiding the wind.
We crossed the Cymyran Strait on to Anglesey and found a super spot out of the wind for a good break, before making our way back past Silver Bay.
I would like to thank Helen who also joined us on the first two days, to observe and assist, as she works towards her 4 star leader.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Chester Great Outdoors - sea kayak private booking

For the 2nd year CGO was back for 2 days sea kayaking and this time with 12 people, 9 who had been before and 3 who had never been in a sea kayak before. We divided the group into two groups of 6, with Phill Clegg taking those who were more experienced. Above I'm going through a deep water rescue, so people know what to do if they fall out and any concern of how to get back in can be removed.

Both groups worked in similar areas and due to NW winds Rhoscolyn was our location and around to Silver Bay, with some small swell, controlling your boat in wind and intro to paddling in current. The other group focused more on current, paddling in surf and a journey out to the Beacon, which provide more opportunity to paddle in current and wind.

The Sunday was then on to the North coast and Bull bay, with paddles into caves, and the around rocks and channels, before meeting up at the brick works to share lunch together.

On arrival back to Bull Bay, Phills group were practising self rescues and with my group I introduced a couple of balance games, to wrap up another successful weekend, which finished quite Sunny!

Friday, 6 August 2010

Discover expedition paddling - North Wales

Our Discover expeditioning course set out from Aberffraw on the South West of Anglesey, with a gentle wind of F3 and from the NW. The south west corner is fairly remote with golden sand beaches and allot of bird life and a remote feeling to it. Despite a colourful sky throughout the two days only a few spots of rain was felt and the wind and swell assisted us with our journey.

A break and a snack stop at llanddwyn island, before the final push to Abermenai Point, which was to be our wild camp for the night.

After a super evening around a small fire, G&T and a good nights sleep, with the gentle roll of the sea in the back ground, toasted hot cross buns was a starter for breakfast. A top tip apparently, is also useing hot stones to cook bacon on ... so no pans or grill to clean, afterwards! We had some pieces of coconut which was done this way, and they were great.

We were soon packed with a relaxed start and on our way up the Straits to Menai Bridge, with many egrets, herons, terns and a large bull seal who had just caught a fish, seen along the way. Timing through the bridges worked well with around 2knots of current and a gentle push to a final destination.

4 star leader training - North Wales

The last day of a private 1:1 4 star leader training, and some rough water was found at Pen Ryn Mawr. Focus to day was on personal skills and reading water effectively. We did some eddy turns in the middle channel and ferry glides then a paddle out into the main flow working with the rough water. A couple of goes at surfing the boat and then a roll in the back end of the flow. Unfortunately this was unsuccessful and so I paddle float self rescue was then needed. We then headed off for a coffee and some detailed action planning, pulling the last 4 days into a way forward.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Rapid Development Xpedition (RDX) training weekend

For the 1st training weekend in preperation for our Xpedition and Adventure to paddle around Wales April 2011, we couldn't ask for a better forecast. F4 sw, gusting F5 on Saturday and then Sunday F2/3. Over a coffee, time was taken introducing the course and then Di, Sue and Paul were asked to consider their Wants and Needs from RDX and the weekend, before completing a skills target model.

Treadour bay was the choice for maneuvering in wind and swell, below Sonja is leading out and then 2/3rds of the day was spent avoiding a surf landing and then catching and controlling, surfing a sea kayak. Video clip is Sonja surfing in, or "demo girl" as she became known!

To finish with a couple of circuits around the rocky skerries, managing wind, swell and timing, wrapped up the day.

Sunday was at Rhoscolyn head and due to camping out the night before we were on the water for 0830! Some swell was left over from the previous day, with a light breeze providing a gentle wind against tide and a current of round 3-4 knots. Ferry glides, eddy turns and lots of reading the water and journeys in and around the beacon rocks. Looking at the big picture and then focusing down.

Lunch (some may question this?!) with a tricky rocky landing in a small gully and then deep water rescues and self rescues were demonstrated and the tried. A journey back to the Beacon (Di in the centre of the photo below) and a circuit using the shelter of the rocks and various eddies before running the main race (bottom photo Sue, just her head! with Paul closer).

Jumping Jacks at Holy head for tea and coffees and some focused creation of individual action plans before a review with both Roger, to enhance further specific points and then with Sonja to consider the bigger picture and set a follow up telephone coaching date.

Each person now has a detailed action plan and during August a telephone coaching session has been arranged with Sonja, to further assist each person working towards their goals. The next training weekend is on the 27/28th November, which is likely to involve a paddle on the River Dee, so we can become more familiar with this area and the a section of the Canal which has a significant number of locks, so we can practice various techniques of portaging!