Monday, 28 November 2011

Excitement, fear ... & useful learning - sea kayaking north wales

Its one of the things I love about the Winter with more time to paddle for my self and with friends ... today was one of those opportunities, to get out paddling with Barry & Justine ... although for me a rather steep learning curve and one that I just about hung on to!!

Forecast was for nw (more westerly) f6/7 winds to drop, during the day although we were expecting BIG swell due to the much stronger winds overnight.

After some initial thoughts, Point Lynas, on the N/E corner of Anglesey was considered, first glimpse of the north coast soon had another option ... a run against the tide, from Cemais to Bull Bay, with the wind assisting and pushing us along? lets go have a look ...
Cemais Bay above with Ozzy looking on, with some surf and looking further out you could see a messy sea, towards the far headland, but the wind felt much lighter, than forecast and with the blue skies and sunshine, quite welcoming!

I gave my vhf to Sonja so if we had a change of meeting point we could talk while on the water, Barry had his vhf and did a radio check. I was certainly excited as the 3 of us paddled out of the bay and comfortable ... knowing this part of the coast well, I felt the early headlands would give a reasonable idea of what to expect at the most northerly point (almost opposite middle mouse), which would have the most current and due to wind against tide the rougher water.

Just about see us in the centre of the picture with the edge of middle mouse and some rougher water ...

Having passed two initial small headlands all seemed to be working with us, swell and reflection, but feeling good and enjoying the moment ... what was the main headland going to be like?

Now for obvious reasons of keeping hands firmly on paddles, there are no photos of the really big stuff, but it was bigger than id expected, with an occasional really big intimidating wall of water pushing through ... one caught Justine, who was up front and part surfed her, twisting her kayak round sideways, so she faced the other way ... and then broke over her ... she managed to shake it off.

I moved further out into more flow, hopefully away from what I thought might be the shallow edge of the headland, hence more breaking waves ... and half heartedly attempted to set into a rhythm of driving my boat forward, checking with transits to see if i was making ground, slowly I was ... mainly due to my defensive style of paddling ... with to much looking behind to see what was about to come through.

I soon wished I hadn't ... a wall of water was looming up and moving directly at me, its top metre or so all ready curling over and snarling at me ... I was like a rabbit caught in a cars head lights ... I was unsure to dig deep and get more speed or wait and brace ... so i did nether effectively and as it broke over me I felt no support on the blade and capsized.

Within moments I was back on the surface and now fairly griped ... finally I had decided to open it all out, catch what I could to surf, moving through and out of this zone and into the bay ahead, (Hells Mouth) I felt much better working with speed, focusing on keeping the kayak on line rather than whats behind .... the bay looked sheltered, although not such a welcoming name!

What felt like 10 minutes latter (although I was told it was much less than this) I joined Barry & Justine and paddled along the coast before a final paddle out of Hells Mouth and around to the brick works. This was much smaller but still sporty, with a lot of reflective waves, clapotis and current flowing towards us.

After some fluid and a home cooked chocolate muffin (thanks Justine), we enjoyed some of that winter sunshine before getting back on the water. Back at Bull Bay, it was time to load up kit, grab a drink at the Bull Bay Hotel while reflecting on the days adventure.

Overall I was really pleased with the day, despite being gripped, in the big stuff ... im sure this was because I was working with some unknown ... do I attempted to surf or brace, on reflection I felt to defensive with my approach, so it felt like two strokes forward and one back ... I rolled smoothly in what was the biggest water ive paddled in so far and its always good to be reminded what your students may be going through and how they are feeling ...

Thanks to Justine & Barry for a useful day ... it now feels good to have stretched and pushed my comfort zone, Ozzy dog for photo poses and Sonja for driving and taking the photos ;-)

On the water shots were taken by Justine, a short raw unedited video clip, which Justine took from a deck mounted camera, leaving Hells Mouth and Justine's blog ... enjoy
north wales sea kayaking
roger chandler

Monday, 21 November 2011

Rapid Development Xpedition (RDX 2012) - training weekend

Following on from the great success and listening to your feedback, in 2012 we are offering a shorter 16 day xpedition, which may be one big trip ... if the weather is looking settled, or two/three smaller islands or journeys. It is an intensive developmental programme, with two weekends before the main event, so individuals can meet, get to know each other and importantly set action plans that address areas to work on, improve and maintain.

The first weekends training was finally here, with both Shamim and Zoe having arrived on friday evening, we had a relaxed and informal start to the weekend. Sonja was away on a UKCC level 2 coach assessment ... down in Cardiff and to help support the weekend, Di Lee was working with me, coaching and sharing her experiences and top tips from our paddle round Wales earlier in the year.

Day 1
After going through some paper work, discussing wants and needs we set of for the Straits to concentrate on a forward paddling work shop which Di led. It was great seeing Di work and address to different learning styles effectively and after two hours both commented on the fact that their forward paddling felt better, was smoother, less tiring and more effective ... happy days!!

Zoe had to leave on Saturday eve, due to work commitments, so following a goal setting session, i dropped her at the station, while Di reflected on the day with Shamim.

Day 2

More of the above, to grove in the skill, plus an aim of becoming more aware of the dynamic and ever changing sea environment .... with flow, current, eddies and back eddies, so that the angle chosen is the most effective ... and some rock hoping ... cave exploration!!

Bull Bay north coast Anglesey and a super calm day ...

Shamim looking across to Middle Mouse .. working the back eddies close inshore

Di and Shamim upping their cadence and jumping on the main flow back to Bull Bay, with some gentle breeze against tide and useful in helping Shamim to identify, flow and eddies

Action planning with Shamim and a date set for Sonja to contact and work with a telephone coaching session, to further clarify and assist with goal setting.

It was a super weekend, with great results and both Shamim and Zoe being clear on what they needed to work on, between now and the March weekend (this will be an over night 2 day paddle on Anglesey) which will be the final group preparation, before beginning early April with the 16 day expedition and a true adventure!

BIG thanks to Di Lee for her support and great coaching over the weekend.
sea kayaking courses north wales

o7873 132999

Friday, 18 November 2011

3 star sea training - North Wales, Anglesey

With a super forecast on Tuesday, Treadour Bay was the destination with 12 students on an Outdoor Eduction course and keen to work towards there 3 star sea. Saying that none had been in a sea kayak before so we had some work cut out!!

The first day we focused on all the skills that make up effective paddling, with a lot of time on inside and out side turns, getting the building blocks right, meant the other strokes just slotted into place ...

Kai working on a cross deck bow rudder ...

We then headed out to Ravens point to feel the open sea, and put the earlier skills into context ...

Back in the bay and some fun and balance, working towards deep water rescues, self rescues and rolling ... Billy above ..

Ben above getting a feel for the Delphin!! It was a super introduction to the day, and all the students worked really hard ... just couldn't get them out of the water!!

Day 2
At Cemais bay on the North coast of Anglesey, with the aim of paddling to Bull Bay, via middle mouse and some Moderate water!!

Heading out to Middle Mouse, working on a transits to adjust our angle and monitor progress while being aware of each other, so keeping together with appropriate space ...

Finding some good gentle flow on the west side of the island ...

and loving it!!

Having headed aback to Anglesey we paddled around and into Hells Mouth, were we took a break before heading into some sheltered but rougher water, to work on deep water rescues and anchored tows

Middle Mouse in the back ground, on the left ..

Jo (one of the groups lectures) relaxed in the conditions ;-)

Billy at the far end of Hells Mouth looking back and out to Middle Mouse, in the distance.

After another short break at the brick works, we headed across the bay ...

Explore a cave ... and had a super exciting finish before landing at Bull Bay. All had done very well considering, the conditions they paddled in ... so to the last day.

Day 3
We were keen to put them into some wind, as they had experienced swell and gentle current, and wind of F3, we needed more ... we got it with a F6/7 forecast, so the Menai Straits with a following sea, fantastic ...

Good commitment to there low brace turns, with the wind gusting under the A55 bridge, we moved on ...

The groups had mainly been using stern rudders and skegs to keep boats tracking straight and then been practicing coming along side effectively to tow another sea kayak and also setting up a tandem rafted tow. They were then given short tasks to work there way back to the slip way, looking out for each other and choosing the best lines.

The groups finished off with more rolling and with the previous nights pool session, there was more successful attempts.

Thanks to Mike for contacting us in the first place, we wish all of the students great success with the programme and there future sea kayaking expedition in Sardinia.

Big thanks to Barry Shaw, for working with me during the week ... and leaving his mug in my van, yet again!!
3 star sea kayaking courses
roger chandler

Monday, 14 November 2011

Improve - improve + winter sea kayaking courses

This weekend saw Douglas, Pat, Neil & Sue on the water and bringing with them blue skies and warm weather .. it was hard to believe it was November!

After coffee and discussions and day around incident management, towing and rescues was what people wanted so Bull Bay on the North coast of Anglesey was the venue with some current and many channels and rocky inlets and channels, to work with.

Day 1
Neil above, enjoying paddling the new North Shore Atlantic, in the small race that flows out of Bull Bay the first couple of hours on a spring tide.

Sue following on, to return and work with contact tows, and considering up current or down, with placement of casualty or on the bow or stern.

After some lunch at the classic brick works we paddled on towards Hells Mouth, with the bigger cliffs and more opportunity to move in and out around the rocks.

We worked mainly on horizontal turns and introduced vertical turns for tighter gaps ..

Sue and Neil had an incident here to resolve with Neil, capsizing (on purpose) and Sue then towing him out and then a deep water rescue, to put him back in. While this was going on Douglas and Pat were up to a similar scenario!

We then headed back to our start point and said good bye to Sue and Neil, who were just out for the day.

Day 2

Pat was keen to work on 3 star skills, so we headed off to Rhoscolyn, to work some bigger flow and swell ... what another super day it was, making up for the poor summer we had!!

We did allot of rock hoping, looking at positioning, using gears to accelerate through gaps and to get out of rougher areas and soaked up the winter sunshine!

We headed down to Silver bay to get some surf ...hopefully, although on arrival it was fairly dumpy and mainly small with an occasional larger wave. We had some lunch and took in the view ...

looking across to the Llyn ..

Pat working through some rougher water, looking for any further waves ... and a few rescues more, with me jumping in and Pat towing out and putting me back in.

Douglas balancing well in the rougher water .. and upping his game over the day ..

Rocky landing on Rhoscolyn beacon, for a short break.

Back in the bay and a more complicated scenario for Pat to manage, a roll and a successful outcome.

I love my job!!
roger chandler

winter sea kayaking courses, north wales

Bespoke - winter ... sunny sea kayaking ..and so many seals!!

Richard was back and this time for a days private bespoke sea kayaking course, before Zoe joined him on the Friday. Thursday morning arrived bright and sunny and after a coffee and a discussion, the plan was to go to Puffin Island. Allot of the birds have flown their nest, this time of the year but with the resident population of grey seals, its all ways a memorable place. Puffin Island is on the SE corner of Anglesey, North Wales and has a 1k channel which can reach 4/5 knots at peak and on a spring tide.

Day 1
Getting on 2/3k along the Menai Straits, which gives more of a journey as you approach the island and a gentle introduction.

On arrival it was great to see a large number (30 or so seals) on the main beach enjoying the sunshine. We kept a distance, no wanting to startle them ... and few soon slowly joined us to great the new comers!!

Around the far end there was another large group enjoy more sunshine and this time a couple came really close ... it was one of my best seal encounters ... it was almost as if they were waiting to play and meet people, bored with the lazing around in the sunshine. This one above, just hung around for ages.

Not that id recognise here but theres one called Lucy, who tends to be really inquisitive, and tried on a few occasions to get on the back of my kayak ... i think if it had been plastic there may have been more grip, so she just kept sliding off!

We went into one of the caves and she was soon with us ...

Back at the sound, the current had picked up, we crossed to the main land and landed for a break and some lunch, before coming back into the channel to work on rough water skills

Penmon Point light house which has a regular clanging bell, which on a really grey day makes it all the more an intense experience!!

We finished off the day moving up against now a gentler flow working our way back to the van, totally satisfied and feeling the benefits of some Winter sunshine!!

Day 2
Into Treadour Bay on the west coast of Anglesey and today was focused on developing 3 star skills, in swell and wind ...

which we had and then some rain, although briefly. We also worked on some incident management scenarios and towing and rock hoping (close quartering - moving in and out of rocks ... in-fact no physical jumping from rock to rock!!)

The weather then took a lovely turn for the best with a brief sunny and bright sky moment and we were able to soak this up for a moment, as the day came to an end.

A super few days with varied conditions, with both Richard and Zoe, moving on and paddling in faster and bigger water and looking more comfortable.
roger chandler

bespoke winter sea kayaking courses