Monday, June 23, 2014

Under Sail

Last week I joined Dr Charles Clarke and his partner Marcella for a 3-day coastal voyage aboard his 35ft yacht 'Whisky Galore'.

Within an hour of leaving Pwllheli Harbour there were Manx shearwaters gliding along the wave crests. Soon afterwards we spotted a bottlenose dolphin, or perhaps it spotted us. Within minutes there were several of them playing in our bow wave.

Shore leave took us to venture round the pretty villages of Barmouth and Aberdovey. Each evening we were treated to lovely views across shallow estuarine waters to rolling hills and mountains beyond.

Many thanks to Charlie and Marcella for the adventure, great company and wonderful hospitality.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Sea Kayak Expedition Gathering - Northumberland 2014

The Sea Kayak Expedition Gathering is a weekend of discussing and developing skills and techniques in preparation for expedition paddling.

This years gathering was based at The Barn at Beal in the rolling Northumberland countryside that overlooks the Holy Island of Lindisfarne.

The calm weather was too good to ignore. Workshops were all water-based and delivered as a series of 'top tips' whilst on the move and exploring the nearby Farne Islands.

In the late afternoon sunshine, all of the teams gathered on the Inner Farne to meet one of the wardens and get acquainted with the local wildlife. We all came away understanding the importance of wearing a hat when moving through an Arctic tern colony.

Saturday evening was more relaxed with plenty to drink, barbecued food and an inspiring talk by Olly Sanders.

Following the broad brush approach of the first day, Sunday's workshops were more focussed on boat handling, launching and landing in challenging conditions, and trip planning.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Coquet Island Race

On the day before the Coquet Island Race John and I headed out to the Farne Islands to get in amongst the wildlife. Puffins, razorbills, guillemots and kittiwakes are in the middle of the busiest part of their breeding season.

On Staple Island and the Inner Farne, the Terns and Shags are at their grumpiest when visitors come on the tour boats from Seahouses.

Sunday morning was race day and the usual informal friendly atmosphere greeted competitors and spectators alike.

Winning times for the 5.5 mile course are always well under an hour. The first place in the men's race went to Brian Turnbull from the Scottish Borders.

First lady was (not for the the first time) Kate Duffus. Congratulations are due to all competitors but most of all thanks to Vic Brown and Coquet Canoe Club for this lovely event.