Tuesday, 29 April 2014

InterMediate - 3 star sea kayaking course

Keith and Simon,were on the gaining more experience element of the course while Jon, and Lief were on the 3 star training and assessment part of the weekend, and with Pat in support.

The north coast looked like it would provide some gentle swell and suitable conditions while also shelter us form some of the wind.  

Middle Mouse and Keith making his way up in the eddy stream ...

Pre lunch and I'm working with Leif and Jon on a couple of rescues and contact tows, while Keith and Simon, land with Pat.  There was some super light, with changing colours ...

Pat working with Simon ...

Some wind against the eddy steam produced a good sea state for the 3 star ... while we returned to Cemais Bay

With various assisted rescues, some incident management, and personal paddling worked through, rolling and self rescues, in Trearddur Bay was the start on Sunday.  With a beginning of  fun and balance.

And then skills in channels and close quartering ...

There was a fair swell running, although this had since settled at the beach, the occasional low reef created an exciting wave or two ....

We had and found the conditions we needed over the weekend.  With both Leif and Jon doing very well and passing the 3 star performance award.  It had also been a super sunny Sunday and so warm out of the wind.  Ice creams it was to be ... back at Menai Bridge, we reflected back over the weekend and action plans were worked through, before saying our good byes!


sea kayaking courses
+ north wales sea kayaking

Thursday, 24 April 2014

5 Star Leader Training Sea - West Cornwall, Lands End

Firstly Id like to thanks Richard Uren of Paddle Crest Coaching for inviting me down to run a 5 star leader training and Open Water Navigation and Tidal Planning (OWNTP) course, down in Cornwall where he is based.  

With the OWNTP on the Saturday and sunny weather, it was interesting down at Penzance Harbour to see the gradual change in the weather.   With Ben, Christian, Mike, John and Richard. By Sunday morning the forecasted F5-6 N/NE had arrived and was sure to provide exciting conditions ....   After coffee and a review of plans we set out from the Southern point, round Gwennap Head, working into a head/cross wind and picking out shelter as we went.  

Looking out at Longships Lighthouse and working on buddy rescues ...

Once the ebb had set in conditions started to build and were ideal.  We could move in and out of the rough stuff and the wind, discussing ideas in the coastal shelter and then put them into context.    I was keen to hold on to my voice ...

The coastline looked dramatic, maybe even more so in the grey and atmospheric conditions.  John below working with Richard ...

While setting the various tasks and rescues, I kept one eye on what was happening and another on the rocky coastline looking for a suitable rocky landing area ... just when I thought id found one 2 or 3 huge sets thundered through ...  So we headed for a more sheltered and practical area for some lunch and further reflections ...

Id always though of Cornwall as a super surfing area, but hadn't taken in the amazing rocky arches, small stacks and channels.  Add in a good swell, and we had a very exciting and dynamic environment ... and one that needed great respect!

We relocated into Penzance Bay for the night navigation and leadership and for the early part of the night had the glow of St Michael's Mount ....

On the Monday we headed out form Sennen Cove as the winds had swung SE F4/5, and some time latter in the surf just had to be done.

Short leadership sections, with some focused work on contact tows (just holding on) and getting a swimmer quickly into their kayak - water in or water out and the thinking behind this.  Leader involved and then handing over and leader directing, was worked and discussed ...

Christian, having lead us through a super rocky channel with a good swell wrapping round ....

We worked our way back up the current and towards Sennen, for lunch and then some beach surfing, before wrapping up with a debrief and action plans in the chip shop on the front.

The weather had delivered, super conditions and despite having paddled in Cornwall before, my eyes had been opened further to what this area can offer.



5 star leader training sea
rough water handeling

Sunday, 13 April 2014

East Coast Scotland - sea kayaking journey ...

The original plan with Zoe and Gary, was to finish off the 90km of paddling on Skye, from last years journey.  But looking at forecast the West was getting it bad, with gale force winds. While the East had much lighter wind and was looking dryer.  After a couple of emails we decided on Inverness to Wick, about 140km, not much tide and coastline non of us have paddled before.  What also made it workable was that the A99/A9 ran along the coast and two buses back to the start.  I was looking forward to paddling with both Zoe and Gary again, who had recently achieved the BCU UKCC 4 star leader award.  Well done both!

We used tidal info from the chart for the area, but have since realised the super Pesda Press books now have a sea kayaking guide book for the area, which I'm sure would have been very helpful.

We started down at the beginning (or the end) of the Caledonian Canal, which had good free parking and a pub close by and looked like a 30 minute walk from where a bus would return.  While packing our sea kayaks, a couple of guys walked over and chatted.  One of the guys sailed and he said ' when its wet and windy on the West coast its dry and bright on the East, but the reverse would also seem to be the same'.  We hoped the forecast would hold and his words would prove to be true!  

 Passing Chanonry Point below ... in super calm conditions, but no dolphins.  Apparently they tend to be seen more on the Flood, rather than the ebb.

I had over 100 photos so I've tried to limit and allow the photos to tell the story ...

It was largely a rocky coastline with few landing places, (more in the first two days).  Features began to increase the further north we went.

Crossing from Tarbat Ness and North to Brora and an attractive little village with a co op, cafe and more ...

Now the coastline started to get dramatic, with waterfalls, big cliffs, caves, geo's, arches and stacks of sea birds.  Many Black Gilimots, Eider Ducks and a new one for me - long tailed ducks ...

The needle, as it was named was a super stack and with the light, shinning straight into the cliffs and the wind, blowing us along, it was a magic moment ...

Further along the coast a waterfall was being blown by the wind and the water was wrapping around a buttress and a lovely rainbow sparkled in front of me ...

Gary having a wash under one of the many waterfalls ...

This amazing tunnel we nearly missed, as it was only when we looked back and we saw the light shinning through ... we just had to turn and explore ...

We arrived in Wick late afternoon after 4 and a bit days paddling and found a suitable place to leave the kayaks and walked into town, for fish and chips.  However, this proved to be one of the initial challenging elements of the trip, as we found two but they had closed at 7pm ;(  .... a Wetherspoons saved the day and provided good liquid refreshment.

Next morning Gary got the bus back to Inverness, which involved two buses and a 3 hour journey and by all accounts was straight forward... while Zoe and my self tucked into a good Scottish breakfast, again at Wetherspoons!

Gary was back after a total of 6 hours and kayaks were up on the grass and kit had been dried in the sunshine.  What now?  We decided to drive the short distance to John o Groats, as none of us had been there before and visit the light house at Duncansby Head and a super view across to the Orkneys.

It was great paddling with both Zoe and Gary again and their recent success with achieving the 4 star leader sea award, was clearly evident with both looking skilled. 

The East coast had blown us all away and was the perfect location, in the conditions we had W/SW winds from f3-f6.  The further North we paddled the more committing the coastline became, with reefs extending out, many boomers and landing's less frequent as well as suitable camp spots.  People were top friendly, interested in what we were doing and camping in a harbour, seemed ok.

I know one thing I will be back to East coast and hopefully next time we will see the 100 plus dolphins that are resident in the area ...


expedition paddling
sea kayaking expeditions

North Wales Sea Kayaking - 4 star leader training and development

Time to catch up on a couple of Blogs, after a busy couple of weeks.  The first is a sea kayaking course on Anglesey, with Tavi, Anita and Neil was on the 4 star leader training and we had mixed conditions.  The wind mainly never truly arrived, as forecast.  The Swellies on Sat working through various skills and rescues and some rough water with Rhoscolyn on Sunday.  The ebb current provided super conditions to transfer skills and surf, roll, self rescue and apply various assisted rescues.  Contact tows, with deciding to keep the water in the kayak, to get the person out of the situation quickly or no real rush and better to get the water out, perhaps because a rafted tow was required.  KISS - Keeping it simple short by using no tow line or connecting link was the start and when to use towlines or a link.

After a busy weekend and action planning finish.  Monday saw Tavi leave and David joins us for the Coastal Navigation and Tidal Planning theory course and a day to rest the body and push the mind ...

With the 4 star leader training course now completed, day 4 and 5 was based on addressing action plans and areas of development. Anita and Neil, had both mentioned, surf, tidal planning and relating it to the environment, plus leadership positioning.  The Stacks would push all of the above and with light winds and a 10 sec swell interval, it was likely  to be lively.

Pen rhyn mawr (inner channel) on the last hour of the flood and close to slack, with Neil leading through ...  there was to much swell to get really close to the cliffs but the various eddy streams were strong and the sun was out ..


Anita approaching South Stack race and about 100mt above the first wave ... 

and this monster rearing its head ... time to really get those kayaks moving!  Once through we turned and worked the smaller waves, before continuing our journey back to the start.

The final day saw Anita and my self getting out and into the wind on the North coast and considering positioning, and personal skills to get the best out of the boat and top tips for once students ..

Some close quartering and paddling close to the rocks, before lunch and a paddle out to middle mouse, wrapped up the day.  Hot chocolates and a recap of the last few days before Anita flew back to Switzerland.


4 star leader training sea
4 star leader development course