Monday, 30 July 2012

Moving up ... discover to Improve

Day 2 and with Tom, Jeremy and Bryony staying on for the 2nd day and picking up the strokes and skills really well the previous day it was time to move it all on.  Emphasis now was inside turns, moving into a low brace as well as keeping power on while edging into the turn.  The Meani Straits was working well with us being able to pass into the Swellies towards low water slack and then gain the first of the flood to return us to the start.  

We went over the skills in some calmer water

and then got into some gentle flow ... we took a break and had a chat about eddies and eddy streams

We paddled into a gentle breeze and then turned and allowed it to assist us back towards the Swellies and took another break

Tom working on speed and carrying this on, into the eddy without using a brace (gentle eddy line, despite fast flow).

All three did exceptionally well as there was a lot to process and more smiles appeared as it became evident how to use the edge of the kayak and commit to the lean.
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sea kayaking anglesey

A taste of the sea ... Discover sea kayaking

With winds coming from the West we drove to the East coast and Moelfre, following coffees and bacon rolls, for some at the cafe as we discussed a plan for the day and what people wanted from their time on the water.

The day had an Autumn feel to it and soon we could have easily been in October ....

The rain really came down, hoods were welcomed on the paddle jackets .... as a squally shower pushed through and we made the most of some work in the wind and controlling a sea kayak and then as soon as it came it disappeared ...

We paddled on to towards Traeth Bychan, for a short break and then on towards Benllech, into a gentle breeze.  Deciding to keep away from the crowds we turned and did some down wind work using edge and skegs (retractable fin at the rear of the sea kayak), as we looked for a low rocky area covered in sea weed to land on. Jeremy and Colin above, now enjoying the sunshine.

John coming in for a break ...

Tom above taking in the experience ...

On arrival back at the beach there was an option to work with some fun + balance, a super way to get to know your kayak and often removing concerns as people surprise them selves with what they can do

Colin and Jeremy above ...

Bryony pushing it out ...

And then achieving a self rescue ...

Father and daughter working it out together ....

It was great that the sunshine came out, which even allowed for ice creams, as we reflected back on a super days paddling.

roger chandler

discover sea kayaking
sea kayaking north wales

Improve sea kayaking ... Intro-mediate

Our Improve sea kayaking course or what is also referred to as Intro-mediate sea kayaking, had two people returning, Cherry and Cath and then Claire, Jackie and Steve it was there first time with Coastal Spirit, although all had various levels of previous experience.  The aim of the course is to exposed people gently to the various conditions you would likely get on a paddle, such as wind swell and current and enable them to be better prepared and have strategies to work with.  I would also like to take this moment to thank, Di, Andy and Sonja for assisting and helping out at various points during the 4 days.  

Refreshing skills and putting these into context was the aim of the day, and responding to what I also found that could be useful, as we paddled on the Menai Straits, towards the Gazelle hotel.

Jackie making the most of the warmer weather ...

Cherry having ago a stern rudder, with some gentle flow and wind against current ...

Lunch time and soaking up the sunshine ....

Di and Cath above as we got the ebb tide back to our start point ...

Day 2 and Claire above as we now begin to use the strokes to assist movement in narrower channels and rocky gaps ... Trearddur bay to Rhoscolyn head and back.

Loving the colours ....

Cath showing great edging of the kayak and good torque on her spine, enabling her head to remain central ...

Cherry at the cave Rhoscolyn head

Steve, Cath, Sonja, Di, Jackie, Cherry and Claire (from left to right) in one of many gullies ...

Day 3 and the weather was looking magic as we paddled out from the top end of the Straits, on our way to Puffin Island.

Puffin island on the right ...

We arrived just after low water, so most were hauled up and basking in the sun and we kept our distance floating about.  Slowly they came out to check on us ... Claire above

I just love it ... and never tire

On the way back we were now into the 2nd hour of the flood and approx 3knots of current and was a useful reminder to all that the sea is a live and dynamic, never sleeping ... Cath above, keeping her paddle active and good posture

We finished off the day with some fun and balance, capsize, assisted rescues and self rescues

Our finally day and the other mid section of the Straits which would take us through the Swellies ...

Pulling in and taking a break, with some current visible on the top of the photo

It was a super week with lovely people, great progress and varied weather, but the sun did shine ....


roger chandler

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north wales sea kayaking

Monday, 23 July 2012

4 star leader sea development course

The aim of this course was to offer support and opportunities to assist individuals in working towards addressing their action plans following their 4 star leader training courses.  There was only 4 places, and the course was full.  The first day was personal skills and what ever supported their action plans and with light winds forecast the Stacks was our destination.  So after some tidal planning we drove across the island to Porth Dafarch, with the aim of catching the last of the flood at Penryhn Mawr and then on to Parliament House cave, before returning on the ebb, making it a 20k day.

I some time feel this element is often missed out, which is clearly stated on the 4 star leader assessment syllabus  - "capable of paddling 15 to 20 miles" which equates to 30 to 40 kilometres and at the end of the day is as a leader one of our main and essential skills ...effective forward paddling.  If you need to stick a towline on someone you still need to be able to keep a reasonable pace, while guiding the group. 

All were pleased with our location for the day, and it was magic out there, with a good spring tide, arrival at the end of the flood still provided some useful initial conditions.

Andy above crossing the flood ...

We paddled up through Annie's arch (the narrow channel between South stack and Holy Island) and use eddy streams to get to parliament house cave, paddling into the occasional zawn (Steve in the foreground above), exploring as we went .... after some lunch and meeting both Nick Cunliffe and Barry Shaw and their teams, we headed up towards North Stack race, now in the 4th hour of the ebb.

I set various short tasks in the flow ... Gary above and then moved on to rescues and options we had ...

Andy on the right making contact with Gary ....

Tavi having towed Steve out of the main flow,  set up a ladder rescue (Steve self rescues and climbs up his back deck), which she found easy to manage.

We then got the great conveyor belt of time to push us back to South Stack.  We turned into the current above the race, which was well formed and had a couple of surfs before natural capsizes,  which provided real opportunities for rescue.

The following day was F5-7 SW so we headed for the Straits and Y Felinheli to use the flood and then the ebb to return to our start, allowing a lot of variety of conditions.  Today I also had Nick Cunliffe joining me who was going to work with two of the group in the morning,  on what each person wanted, while I had the other two, working on leading Zoe, Tracy and Simon.  We would then swap in the afternoon.

Zoe heading out with Y Felinheli in the back ground ...

From left to right, Simon, Tracy Steve and Zoe.  We had some super conditions which provide great training and useful opportunities for reflection, while we sipped a drink on the lawn opposite the Garddffon inn.  Another great end to a weekend.

roger chandler
sea kayaking course
north wales sea kayaking

Surf babes .. moving out into the rougher stuff

Following a few days back in May this year,  and while working with Tracy, Zoe and Julie it soon became clear that some dedicated work on surfing a sea kayak was needed.  A date was found when the four of us could come together and consider what elements each person felt they needed.  I began the day over a coffee, looking at some video clips and photos of successful runs and not so ... highlighting what was work or not and allowing time for each one of them to consider what was likely to happen next!

With a gentle wind forecast of F2/3, and only 0.7 of metre surf predicted, I wasn't so hopeful ... on arrival on the west coast, there was just a ripple ...ever wondered why when you want conditions there not always there and when you don't they are!!

So we headed for Point lynas, to work the tide race, which was due to begin ebbing.  Zoe above, checking on position.

Zoe out in it ...

We also did a couple of runs down and through the main race, which was fairly lively further down and more confused ....

We headed off up the race, to paddle into the next bay for some well earn t lunch and then the rain came.  It was fairly heavy and unexpected ... well not forecast any way!

Another run though the race with Tracy leading ...

And Julie above leading in with a big grin ...

It was a super day with great company and lovely to see them all upping their game. We headed back to the small bay, changed and then enjoyed Tracy's home made elderflower champagne, which she had brought along as it was her birthday.  It tasted great as we reflected back on the day.

roger chandler

sea kayak north wales
north wales sea kayaking

5 star leader training sea - becoming a provider

It was the first 5 star leader training course that i had observed and assisted on in North Wales, as I work towards becoming a trainer and assessor of this highly respected internationally recognised advanced award.  Nick Cunliffe of was running the course and we certainly had conditions.  the first day was classroom based and was the theory of complex tidal planning and open water crossings.  The 2nd day was out at North Stack, wind F3-5 and a good swell running

With lots of low laying mist and fog, further adding to the challenge and atmosphere ...

there was a lot of nav work during the day ....

and a night navigation and due to strengthening winds Holyhead harbour was used.

We had lots of this and more sunshine on the 3rd day, were South Stack was used ...

With some exciting rock hoping ...

And a lot of rescues and problem solving over the day.  Big thanks to Nick, for the opportunity. I need now to write my notes up and look forward to another course in the near future.

roger chandler

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anglesey, north wales sea kayaking