Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Anglesey Chill

Kirstine and I broke Manchester's Friday surface tension and catapulted ourselves towards north Wales for a weekend of kayaking fun with North West Sea Kayakers. Its always good to meet up with old friends. Soon enough we were washing down some spicy broth with a glass or two of warming winter ale topped off with slack handful of tall stories.

Most of the collaborators were hatching plans for a late start but I was feeling too enthusiastic to hang around. By 8 o'clock on Saturday morning 5 of us were scurrying around dragging kit to the bay at Rhoscolyn in readiness for a 35km anti-clockwise circumnavigation of Holy Island. By the time we had crossed the Inland Sea and approaching Holyhead Harbour I was feeling my lack of fitness. Waiting for a fast ferry to pass in front of us gave a welcome breather.

The tide race at North Stack was in fine foamy form and comanding respect with its legions of munching waves. We had a brief respite resting and exploring the caves of Gogarth Bay before moving on. My new carbon fibre paddles from Mitchell Blades were making all the difference in my tiring state. The smooth crisp entry to the water combined with their light weight deliver plenty of power when its needed but requiring a little less effort.

We left South Stack behind us as we crossed Abrahams Bosom and Trearddur Bay and soon arrived back at Rhoscolyn in the chilly late afternoon.

Thawing out from a chilly adventure is a fine art. A careful blend of freshly baked pizzas, and a plenty of good wine lead to cheery banter and ultimately sound sleep.

The following day started with a lot of plotting and scheming of future trips. Sundays paddling was shorter but sweeter in the dazzling sunshine. Once Kirstine got hold of my shiny new paddles it was difficult to retreive them!

Sunday, March 07, 2010

A trip to the Mitchell Blades paddle factory

In the the darkness of mid-winter I was dreaming of warm the sunny sea kayaking days and the coming summer season. It was time to think about a change of paddle. I had become quite attached to my old blades but they were a little heavy and outdated.

There are plenty of lovely paddles to choose from in the shops, but I quickly became curious about nearby Chester based paddle maker Lance Mitchell. Having worked with relatives Dave & Peggy making paddles in the USA, Lance returned to Chester in 2002 to set up his own company, 'Mitchell Blades'. I like to support local small businesses so I got in touch with Lance and before I knew it I had placed an order.

When I arrived at the modest-sized workshop, Lance was applying the finishing touches to my paddle. He is fanatical about attention to detail and proud of his unique manufacturing techniques. Before I left Lance talked me through the manufacturing process and gave me a quick guided tour.

All that remains is for me to get my new paddles wet!