Thursday, March 17, 2016

Manchester Canoe Club Spring Sea Kayak Meet

The Anglesey Outdoors Centre provides a great base for sea kayaking activities. There is a variety of budget priced good quality self-catering accommodation, close proximity to a terrific coastline and The Paddlers Return Bar. We began to arrive in the bar in dribs and drabs and by 10pm on Friday evening we were beginning to formulate a plan for the following day trip.
After breakfast on Saturday the first challenge was for everyone to meet at ‘Summit to Sea’, which is the local kayak store. Sea kayaks can be rented here from £20 per day. As soon as we were all kitted up we headed off along the North coast of Anglesey to start our day trip at Bull Bay. 

The plan was to keep out of the strong southerly wing by paddling among the rocks beneath the cliffs. Many of the group had never paddled sea kayaks before so before heading out of the bay we spent half an hour brushing up on some basic skills to get acquainted with these unfamiliar and unwieldy craft. Three of the group are working towards the 4* Sea Leader Award so they each took responsibility of leading sections of the trip during each day.

It wasn’t long before we were treated to the sighting of a porpoise. The group stopped and gazed across the waves for the occasional glimpse of the fin arcing over the water. The rockhopping along this coast is excellent. Arches, caves, and narrow rocky channels kept us entertained as we weaved our way towards Porth Wen. 

Photo: Andy Hamilton
Once we arrived at Porth Wen it was time for lunch and a little exploring. The ruins of the abandoned brick works are intriguing. Production of ‘firebricks’ began here around 1850 but ceased in the early 1900s. After lunch we paddled back to Bull Bay before heading back to the Anglesey Outdoors Centre. 

Entertainment on Saturday evening took the shape of a pub quiz in The Paddlers Return Bar based on general sea kayaking knowledge as well as some of the features of the day trip. Plenty of fun was had and mickey taking was dispensed washed down with a generous helping of booze!
Sunday’s trip was at the rockhopping centre of the world known as Rhoscolyn. The coastline is strewn with reefs and rock gardens. In some places, timing was key because there were sets of powerful waves coming in filling the rock gardens with tricky white water. 

After Lunch in the sunshine we paddled out offshore for a brief tour of Rhoscolyn Beacon. The swell made it difficult to venture close to the rocks but it was fun to feel the swell off the outermost reefs. Finally, it was time to finishing off with some more rescue skills and towing practice before packing up and heading home to Manchester.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

The 8th UK Storm Gathering

The 8th UK Storm Gathering was held at the Anglesey Outdoors Centre. Normally when we have a 'Storm Gathering' mother nature provides us with some suitable weather. This was to be a normal Storm Gathering!

I paddled with groups on rockhopping journeys looking for a reasonable degree of shelter. Even so, the north coast had enough boisterous energy to keep us all entertained, on our toes and on one occasion, into the water amongst undercut rocks infested with barnacles who had recently sharpened their pointed crowns.

Steve Whetman and I delivered the evening entertainment on Saturday. We were asked to do something amusing based on the weather. There was only a limited time that we could draw out jokes about wind and wetness so we showed some silly videos and moved on the The Paddlers Return Bar for further nourishment.

Photo: Steve Godfrey
The event finished on Monday with some great rockhopping at Rhoscolyn. The sun was out, the winds were light but there was plenty of swell crashing into the rock gardens. 

In the following days there was an incident management course laid on by the International Sea Kayak Guides Association. I managed to keep myself amused with walks along the coast in the sunny weather that followed the storm...

...but also went paddling along the southern shores of Anglesey. Sometimes its important to keep a little corner of your favourite sport for yourself.