Tuesday, September 29, 2015

West Wales Sea Kayak Meet

Its a long old haul from Manchester to Pembrokeshire and all the more difficult through the Friday night rush. Upon arrival at the Glendower pub in Goodwick, the road miles were quickly forgotten. I had arrived at the West Wales Sea Kayak Meet.

The event is hosted by local sea kayak guide Mike Mayberry of Mayberry Kayaking and based at the Phoenix Centre. We started each morning with a powerful cooked breakfast at the nearby Beaches Diner before organising a variety of day trips around the local Coastline.

On the Saturday I paddled with a small group to explore some offshore rocky islets that lie amongst the strong tidal streams of West Wales. The Bishops, Clerks and Bitches sounds more like a variation on a vicar's and tart's party!

Having Launched from Whitesands Bay, we began the ferry glide out to North Bishop. This proved to be more straightforward than we expected. However, we encountered more challenging waters at we passed Carreg Rhosson (The Clerks) en route to the rugged west shores of Ramsey Island.

The south end of Ramsey gave us some challenging flows to fight in Midland Gap but we were soon on our way round to 'The Bitches' and the challenging tidal rapids of Ramsey Sound.

After we had our dose of adrenalin we drifted back to Whitesands Bay to fininsh in warm golden afternoon sunshine. Later on, back at the centre the was fun round the barbecue and up in the bar where Wales beat England at Rugger! I have poor memories of the evening having been rendered speechless by Mr Browns high octane home brew.

Needless to say, I chose a more sedate paddling venue for Sunday Morning. The waters Dinas Head would be well sheltered and the rocky coastline would provide just the right dose of soothing entertainment.

The caves, gullies and sea creatures were perfect. We set off from Cwm yr Eglwys, weaved our way around to Pwllgwaelod and ate cake in the sunshine.

Many Thanks to Mike Mayberry for organising the event. I hope there will be another one soon... 

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Greenland 2015 - Johan Petersen Fjord

In Early July the sea ice off the East Greenland coast had failed to clear as it would normally during early summer. This meant that there would be no boats running from Kulusuk to take us to the Sea Kayak Expedition base at Tasiilaq. We took the unusual step of making this journey by Helicopter.

The 10 minute ride was spectacular. We flew close to a couple of places that we had camped during past trips before crossing Kong Oscar Havn and landing at Tasiilaq. The weather was gloomy and cold (2-4 Celsius) but there was plenty of excitement in town for the evenings football match.

Over the next few days, we made our way through densely packed ice-laden waters and headed around to the north side of Angmagssalik Island. This involves paddling the length of a 20 mile long channel called Ikasagtivaq. It is bound on each side by spectacular snow capped peaks and is a major highway for local hunters. Danish ex-pats refer to is as the E45 after the biggest motorway in Denmark.

We visited the settlement at Tiniteqilaq before entering Sermilik Fjord and its roving collection of ice bergs. The highlight of the trip was reaching the depths of Johann Petersen Fjord. In Previous years it had been clogged with huge ice bergs but this time it was surprisingly clear.

The back of the fjord is a frozen amphitheatre on a grand scale. Steep rock walls and ice-falls stretch skywards from the sea. Beyond lies the timeless expanse of the Greenland ice-cap. This place is an other-worldly experience where sometimes the loudest sound is of silence.

Many thanks to Martin Rickard of Sea Kayak Adventures for another wonderful adventure, and to  P&H Custom Sea Kayaks, Mitchell Blades, Clif Bar UK and Peak UK for their continued support.