Tuesday, 11 March 2014

First Signs Of Spring

A large area of high pressure finally arrived at British shores bringing sun and light winds.  This would be my first paddle and exercise of any sort since my collapsed lung a month ago.  A relatively relaxed paddle out to Steep Holm is just what the doctor ordered.  What initially started off as just the two of us turned into quite a gathering.  In all there was myself, Elan, Jules, Taran, Gareth, Evans, Chris, Andrew and John.  We headed out to Steep Holm for lunch on the beach before returning via Flat Holm.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

On The Horizon For 2014

This winter has been a wild one, and it has given me a bit of time to dwell on the year ahead.  2013 brought a new challenge to my kayaking.  After the Irish Sea crossing early in the year I had the bug to challenge myself further.  That lead to the circumnavigation of Anglesey in one whole sweep in 13 hours.  After that the long nights and unsettled weather drew in.
Porthcawl Lighthouse 5th February 2014

The kayaking year so far has not been a successful one.  The conveyor of low pressure after low pressure bringing extreme strong winds and high seas has hindered any chance of getting on the water.  On top of that I have been firmly instructed to take it easy after having a collapsed lung, putting all methods of exercise on hold for a month or so.

So all being well this is my intended itinerary for the year ahead...

Irish Sea - after successfully crossing the southern St Georges Channel last summer we intend to cross the northern channel from Anglesey to Dublin this summer.  This is a longer crossing and could take up to 18 hours.

Lundy - A trip we wanted to get done last year.  The intention is to cross over from the Welsh coast, spend at least a day circumnavigating the island before returning.  A 3-5 overnight trip.

Isle of White - Another trip I have been meaning to do for many years.  The intention here is to circumnavigate the island within 24 hours.

Anglesy - Me an Elan intend to improve on our 13 hour circumnavigation last year.  I would also like to return for the odd weekend trip to explore the island in more detail.

Isle of Man - double crossing and circumnavigation each within 24 hours (3 days).

On the more casual side of things I'm sure there will be many trips along the Welsh coast and a return trip to Scotland later in the year.  The kids have really taken to the water at our local kayak club so there may well be some family trips in the near future.

Hope to see some of you out there, if you want to tag along to any trips join us at https://www.facebook.com/groups/SeaKayakCymru/  or get in touch via the blog.  Safe paddling.      

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Child's Play

I've now got three boys, the eldest Connor whose now eleven, Zakk who is five and the new arrival Alfie who is three months.  I've been meaning to enlist Connor in the kayak club for some years now and never got around to it.  So last week I took him down to Glam Boaters, my old club, to get him started.

  Connor really enjoyed his first session and is picking it up straight away.  He's on his second session now where he's learning to capsize and exit the boat.  A trick to rid them of any fear of capsizing leading up to rolling.  Soon I was taking down a car full, my niece Mackenzie and his school friend Owen both fancied giving it a go.  I'm sure we'll see Connor out on the sea by the time summer arrives.
Zakk I was a little unsure about but when he saw the pictures of Connor he wanted me to take him down.  He's five years old but he's tiny.  I joined him in the water for the pool session.  He was dwarfed by the boat and paddle, I really didn't expect him to have the strength to do much.  After about 10 minutes however he was powering the boat around the pool.  "I'm really tired but I don't want to stop", I had trouble getting him out of the pool.  No fear what so ever.
It may be a bit soon however for this little one...

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Holm of the Demo Fleet

There was to be a brief break in the winter storms this Saturday, an area of high pressure was set to pass over the country and gone tomorrow.  High water was around 1500 so I teamed up with Elan and Jules for a short afternoon paddle out to Flat Holm Island.
Elan was bringing the boats today, kindly supplied by Up & Under Outdoors Cardiff.  We had two Tidraces, the Xcape and XPlore, and a Valley Etain, which I paddled on the way out.
Arriving on Flat Holm On a sunny winters afternoon.  We took our break up by the lighthouse with the two wardens currently looking after the Island.  
Views over Cardiff.
On the return trip I swapped with Jules to paddle the Xcape.
 The sun went down just as we reached Sully Island so I got to make good use of my new camera.

Verdicts on the boats: Firstly it was nice to paddle two very shiny well made boats.  Mine has seen it's fair share of knocks and scrapes.  It was also nice paddling two boats that were more suited to my build, my boat is probably more suited to the larger paddler.    

I paddled the Etain on the outbound journey, a boat I have paddled briefly before.  The manoeuvrability of this boat combined with the secondary stability is great.  We hit a patch of rough patch of spikey water around the far reaches of the island and the boat was happy to sit in it completely comfortable I wasn't going to be tipped in an unfamiliar boat.  A great expedition boat which is manoeuvrable and stable.

On the return trip I paddle the Xcape.  The first thing I noticed sitting down in the seat was the snugness of the cockpit.  The seat wasn't quite as comfy as the Etain but it felt like the boat was part of you.  Out of the Tidreace line this boat is geared more toward the novice.  It is very very stable, great for getting the SLR out of the dry bag.  What it had in stability however it lacked in excitement for me.  It does what it says on the tin, a great safe option, reliable, stable and a good boat for chewing up the miles.  It would be nice to compare it to it's more playful brothers.   

If you would like to try out any of the boats seen here, they are available for demo at http://www.upandunder.co.uk/ 

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Festive Paddle

The weather wasn't playing ball over the Christmas holidays so we settled for a paddle around Cardiff Bay for our annual festive paddle.  From left to right we have Peter, Taran, Sean, Blaine, Me and Chris.  Simon turned up to see us off with a few beers for each of us, good man.
Making an effort with my Santa hat.
We paddled up the River Taff beyond the Millennium Stadium as far as the strong flow would let us before we had to give in.
We then headed around for a lap of the bay, reaching Mermaid Quay just as the heavens opened.