Saturday, 30 June 2012

Herons & sparkling seas ... sea kayaking north wales

It was great to see John, Leanne, Sarah, Karen and Andy again and new to the team was Debs.  The original plan was for an overnight wild camp, but with the weather looking windy and rough, this was changed to two days sea kayaking and aimed at our intro-mediate level/Improve.  The Menai Straits was the venue, avoiding the worst of the wind and at the same time providing a gentle level of challenge for the group.

One of the super sights above ... saw a couple of little egrets, but these guys move whey to fast!

We began with a refresher on edging and further into the session Leanne took this literally ....

We used the many buoys and worked inside and out side turns, moving out to feel some more of the wind ...

John decided to equal the score ...

Lunch and some sunshine was welcomed ...

We did a couple of down wind runs, using stern rudders to control the direction of the sea kayak and then it was time to head back up into wind.  We paddled up to Menai Bridge which was now flowing towards us and used the main channel to work with eddy turns, speed and timing ...

Well after all it wasn't that bad a day, more sun than expected and thanks to Barry Shaw for helping out.

roger chandler

sea kayak north wales
north wales sea kayaking courses

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Puffins & Squally Showers

Keith was back up for two days private sea kayaking and is a regular visitor to North Wales, Anglesey. This time however he was getting over a chest infection, and the weather was due to be fairly mixed, with winds forecast SW F4-6 and then not much better for the following day!

After a coffee and a discussion, we considered that the NE side of Penmon Point could be a good option, and may work from going from the top of the Menai Straits.  We paused at the parking area at the top of the Menai Straits, and watched a front push through, and decided that it would be a great journey down, but could be a hard paddle back into wind latter.  We drove on to Penmon Point and were soon ready to get on the water.  

The Puffins were out and we saw another 7, bobbing on the water as we paddled round ...I just love them!

We headed along the coast and to be honest its a section that I paddle on few occasions, so I was really keen to explore ....

The cliffs had many cormorants, fulmars, shags and then occasional razor bills and guillemots ...

We stopped on one rocky sloping shelf and at the back was this super limestone feature ...

And enjoyed a down wind ride back towards the sound and Puffin Island.

Conditions had settled down some, and even had some blue sky, so we crossed to the island on the last hour of the flood.  The seals were about, but due to the wind accelerating off the end of the island, we paused for a moment and then paddled on.  With young birds born and others on the way it was a noisy place and the black back gulls were on the prowl for flesh.  Two cormorants, which looked like juveniles from last year were clearly dead and being savaged.

We crossed back to Anglesey, leaving the small beach on the island alone, due to the number of birds on the beach and saw a number of porpoises.  What a great way to end a day.

The following morning I was keen to see if we could chance a North coast trip, the winds were forecast to be variable again, but were lighter than forecast.  We pulled up at Bull Bay and headed out along the coast, we were close to low water, hence a clear view of the tidal range, above as Keith paddles into a cave.

Yep, it rained and you can just see the brick works across the bay, were we stopped for some lunch.  Round the corner is the bay of Hells Mouth, and there was a couple of eddy streams, which were useful for Keith to see and feel.  A peregrine falcon passed us by and then moment later, was going the other way and being chased by a herring gull ... fair play!

As the wind was now funnelling and splitting out of the bay, we turned and began our paddle back, chatting as we went.  Despite the weather we had enjoyed our selves!

roger chandler
sea kayaking north wales
anglesey sea kayaking

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Silky seas & porpoises

The paddle challenge guys were now on there last training two days and as there such a lovely bunch and as a contribution to their cause, I threw in my time for an overnight camp free.  The plan involved a fair amount of driving to get vehicles in place, as the starting point was llandudno Bay, past the Great Orme and then a 30k open crossing to Point Lynas and then on to the brick works for our camp.  Day two was too Carmell Head, rescues and crossing to Holyhead Harbour, avoiding ferries and other crafts along the way (they would pass many BIG ports along there journey, so I wanted to give them an insight into it all).  All my photos were taken on my SLR, so no rough water hots, sorry! 

Perfect sea kayak open crossing weather, with Anglesey and Point Lynas in the distance.

There was four large tankers mored up ... they will see many more of these on their journey ...

We paddled past a number of sea birds just enjoying the calm of the day, this one was having a splash and a bath ... and then we came across a super sized bloom of Moon Jellyfish.  Sitting in my kayak looking down at the moving shapes was really beautiful ...yep I was glad I was in my kayak!

Just under 5 hours and we were rounding Point Lynas and the tide had just turned ...phew ...

Within moments of paddling past the point we were joined by a couple of porpoises.  One of was about 0.3mt in length!

The brick works, truly a stunning campsite ... and an 8am start, was a gentle welcome to a stunning morning ... it had been a late night due to shuttling cars ... and a lovely chicken curry, thanks guys for that!

It really was idyllic ... and I could have happy lounged around enjoying the song of the birds and the warmth of the sun on my face ...

Erin, Alice and Mark, in their P&H sea kayaks and creaming up for another sunny day. We paddle out of the bay into Hells Mouth which had a super gentle 0.5mt wave chain.  We were soon greeted by another pod of Porpoises (5 we saw over the day and really close, 4 mts at one point).  Out to Middle Mouse and then on to Cemlyn Bay, for rescue practise.  As there kayaks were reasonably loaded I was keen to put them through their paces.  On the west edge of Cemlyn a small tidal race/overfall works on the ebb and we got there just into the first hour.  Capsize and rolling in the current and assisted rescue if a roll was missed, then into to add some variety ... deck off and legs out eddying in and paddling down before i shouted capsize while one of the others carried out a rescue.  All worked hard despite some initial hesitations.  Mark kindly offered to capsize again and this time it was Alice's to turn to put him back in and manage the situation in 0.5mt chop.


We looked for a sunny spot out of the light breeze, and choose this rocky small island, for some lunch and an opportunity for them all to consider were they were and how long to Holyhead Harbour.  Two seals watched us while we sat, eat and chatted and many terns flew by ... We hit Carmell Head at full pace, with f2/3 wind against tide an exciting fast ride with 2.5 mts curling tops and then set out towards a tall chimney.  One Irish ferry came into the port ahead of us and as we neared, it was clear we had picked up the eddy stream again, but this time we just had to deal with it!

Close to the entrance of the Port we held ground for 10 minutes as a ferry loomed on the horizon and then passed us by.  Heads down we paddled across the entrance and then along the inside of the breakwater towards our beach.

It had been a super two days, with natural stuff happening and tasks given, to really get the group working.  They had done really well and with just over 10 days to go before the beginning of their adventure, they still have some time to put finishing touches to personal outfitting of the sea kayaks, food and what works practically, some further personal rescue practise and developing an effective group pace.  Their blog and further information about their adventure can be seen and followed here 

I look forward to paddling the English Channel with the three of them on the1st July, winds permitting and will let you know how it all goes!

roger chandler
north wales sea kayaking
expedition support 

Monday, 18 June 2012

Dolphins ;) Bespoke sea kayaking

This was what its about, blue skies, sunshine, wildlife, some swell and a light breeze ... Garys group had a better nights sleep, following the stormy weather on Friday night and with the warm start to the day were up for it.  Puffin Island was our destination, which would put a lot of the skills we had gone over the day before into context. This was a bespoke weekends sea kayaking course, which was aimed at intro-mediate level our Improve sea kayaking course.

Heading out of the top of the Straits, with Puffin Island hidden ... the Great Orme, is on the far right.  There was some swell running through the sound so we crossed high, to reach the Southern side and to use the flow to travel along the island, watching the many birds getting on with their day ...

The seals were about and we kept some distance as they lounged in the sunshine ...and then as I looked out from the point, 150-200mt away a fin rose sharply up, a porpoise and then another and then a dive out of the water, "Dolphins, over their" I shouted.  They were soon joined by 4 gannets and looked as if they many have been hunting a large motor boat came past and two of the dolphins joined the craft with ridding the bow wave ...fantastic, their were smiles every where! but way to fast to even get my camera out!

At the end of the Island with Jason Carl and Emma ...

And a curious seal ...

We took a break on the beach keeping low and away from the various sea birds, watching the current ebbing past.

Gary leading out with Jason and Phil.  Gary has done his 4 star leader training so I set him a number of tasks to manage, which meant getting involved with the rougher water!!  

Carl then set out with Emma and Julie in pursuit as we did a down current run.  We worked in two smaller groups and then partly joined at the central channel buoy.  The sound got very busy for a moment, with some crazy fool coming way to fast through the sound ...  we then re grouped and began the paddle back to the start ..

Assisted rescues were mentioned, so as a gentle introduction various balances and tasks were presented... which would likely mean an eventful capsize!  Emma having completed the first stage and now, close to completing the 2nd, and she's smiling!! 

Gary finished off the day, with a balance round the cockpit of the sea kayak and provided a swimmer for Phil to rescue.  Ice creams in Beaumaris wrapped up a super day and a varied weekend of weather.  BIG thanks to Gary for organising the weekend.

roger chandler

sea kayak north wales
anglesey sea kayaking

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Wet, windy and comfort!

As I walked out of the house this morning wearing a dry suit, It was fairly clear what I thought of a June day ... S/SW F5/7 oh hum ... I was meeting Gary and his team, and this was there third year.  I texted Gary on Friday to sat it was likely to be the Menai Straits ... So I was up early and drove to the far end of Britannia Bridge to get a real feel of conditions ...

By the way the way Dylan's restaurant opened last night, 150 covers, yep they were a little pushed and yep systems failed .... but what location, see below .... any way ... 

So after looking at conditions, all were happy, particularly Emma, who was new to Coastal Spirit, when i presented her with a long john wetsuit and hooded paddle jacket with a warm neck seal!

To be fair it was horrid and I had given each person the option of 1 years credit, but all were on for a day in the wind and rain! I went over out side and inside turns and then introduced using the wind to assist a turn ...

One of the dryer moments during the day after our 1st break ... far to many smiles!!

The group was then divided into two small pods, so that Gary, Andy and Phil above could get into some rougher water ...

While I could introduce some down wind and turning in the wind skills, in gentler conditions with the other guys ...

After a 2nd break the wind began to drop, so we headed into the Swellies (Britannia Bridge in the fore ground) at slack water, which meant it was due to turn against us and assist our journey back to the start.  But before then we had some ferry glides and eddy turns to do!

Dylan's was open so we called in for hot chocolates, coffees and beers .. had a brief chat about the day, and made a loose plan for the Sunday ... June is it ... you could fool me!!

ps: BIG thanks to Gary for the use of his camera!

roger chandler
north wales sea kayaking
sea kayak anglesey

Friday, 15 June 2012

Wind, waves and sunny lunch times!

It was good to see Katie and Ben again and after a brief coffee and some planning we were off for the North coast and Point Lynas, for some rough water.  We sent 30 minutes or so refreshing strokes such as inside turns, stern rudders, body position and acceleration and then it was time to put it into context!

It was wind over tide, so we worked on the inside of the point, which provided enough excitement ...

As they moved out into the race and the swell, the aim was also to be aware of each other, as they turned and each other positioning ...

And then ensure the rear person followed the front person, but the front also new were the rear person was!!  we did a few circuits and then on another down wind turned 180 degrees and back up into wind to make another turn ....

We were approaching slack water, so time for lunch and to soak up some sunshine! .... we chatted over lunch and decided a longer run down wind and then back into wind with some assisted rescues, moving towards rougher water was a good idea.  I also introduced the use of a tow line to assist the rescue in stabilising the situation, anchoring so that the boats don't drift out into the rough water, on to rocks or into a surf zone.

Well for the moment I've lost my waterproof compact camera, hence limited shots and more sunshine ... and that's the reason why we have none for today (Friday) as it was windy and wet ... although much better than forecast.  So no camera out of its dry bag today.  We paddled in the Menai Straits, did about 1 hour on bow rudders, cross deck bow rudders and draw strokes on the move and really fine tuning then, before moving off and into the Swellies (the area between Menai and Britannia Bridge).  Looked at speed and angle in approaching and leaving eddies.  On the more subtle eddies we worked with edge and keeping the power on to complete the turn.

We paddle out of the Swellies and towards Plas Newydd (the huge house and I would like to camp on lawn!), working on the elements that make up effective paddling, and well done here Ben ... and then Ben capsized, Katie was at the front, and realised something had happened (Ben and my self had pre planned this ...) and Kate did super good.    Great spotting and awareness of were Ben was, and getting to the bow effectively in what was a reasonable F4 wind, kept hold the kayak and got Ben back in!  Ben an Oscar, good style!

We then did some in line towing, using draw strokes, while the casualty slowly paddled forward and really working on anticipating what was likely to happen, while going for the clip.  Some more eddy turns on the way back as the tide had turned and then we were back were we had begun, although much wetter!

We covered a lot of stuff, so well done to the both Katie and Ben, have a good weekend!

roger chandler
north wales sea kayaking
anglesey sea kayaking

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Bespoke sea kayaking

After a wet, windy and wintery Saturday on the Straits, the thought of some sunshine, and gentle winds was appealing.  A journey out to Puffin Island was the plan.  No photos from Sat due to losing my compact water proof camera, the rest I took on my SLR.  It was great to See both Steve and Craig who had come with Jon 3 or so years ago and great to see that the boys had remembered a fair amount.

Not sure what this orange "stuff" is? looked like a soft coral .... we headed out carefully ... 

Towards the small boat shaped island ... which was at a super low level and sponges, while and orange ones could be seen inside the hull of the boat.  The sea was super silky and lovely start to the day.

Steve, Craig and Jon above watching the birds and seals ... while a seal watched us and then Craig ferry gliding back to the red channel beacon, with the Great Orme in the background.  We landed on the beach had some lunch and then headed back to the beacon for further ferry glides, eddy turns and maintain position, in the flow.

Jon making an eddy turn, looking back to puffin island ...

The seals were really enjoying the warmth of the day, and casually watched us from time to time and then carried on with their snoozing.

We headed back to our start and soon were loading kayaks and off to Beaumaris for ice creams!

roger chandler

sea kayak courses
north wales sea kayaking