Thursday, 20 September 2012

Year 3 Round-Up

Another year of kayaking under my belt and I am now into my fourth.  Here are collection of pictures from some of my more memorable trips of the year.  I kick off from last September and my annual Skye trip.  I remember Taran sodding off for a few weeks so I was left to paddle solo.
We had a late summer so October and November were really nice.  I did a couple of local paddles around the usual routes.  The above picture was from a paddle where the cliff had only hours before been a lot further away from that caravan in Porthkerry near Barry. 
The weather then took a turn for the worst through December, strong winds and big big swells.  We didn't let that spoil our annual Christmas Eve paddle out to Flat Holm.  The year before we were almost knee high in snow.
Throughout the following month the weather continued to deteriorate.  We continued to paddle every weekend what ever the weather.  This picture was taking within Barry harbour during a very strong squall.  We were lucky the wind was onshore and we got blown ashore.  With all this rough weather paddling my confidence hit a peak.
We thought we would try out a couple of night paddles, this one taken at Lavernock outfall on the way to Penarth.
Then we did a night paddle out to Flat Holm.  It was a great experience and seeing a huge orange full moon rise above the horizon when we got there just topped it off.
We finally made it out to the Worms Head, The Gower, a long awaited trip.  This one probably marks very high as one of my favourite paddles.  Although it looks sunny it was still January and was bloody freezing.
A lot of surfing, rough water paddles and a few local trips followed.  I sold my beloved Venture Easky and finally got out for a few paddles with Eurion after knowing him 'on-line' for quite some time.  Then a brief spell of settled weather approaches in mid February.  We take the opportunity to cross over the Bristol Channel and spend a night on the English shores in near freezing conditions.
The spell of settled weather lingers long enough to welcome a couple of other 'on-line' friends, Mike and Steve from Pembrokeshire.  We manage a paddle out to Flat Holm and Steep Holm from Penarth.

During March I test my map skills and paddle out to Tusker Rock in zero visibility, which made what would be another 'same old same old' paddle all the more interesting.   
Finding Nash east cardinal in the mist wasn't an easy task, listening for the bell seemed to do the trick.
We finish off the spring with a trip out to Pembrokeshire and meet up with Martin in our finest fashionable kayak gear.   
Myself and Taran undertook a massive trip covering the whole of North Pembrokeshire in a day from Dinas Head, Fishguard to Porth Clais, St Davids.
A very memorable night this was...water got into my kit bag and I spent the whole night in sopping wet gear.
The seal encounters the next day made up for it however.
 I spent most of April building my boat while huge seas battered our shores, it's really not turning out to be a good year.  So we kick of May with another paddle out to the Holms with a night stop over on Steep Holm.
A very comfortable night it was to...mmmmm.
But once again the experiences more than made up for it.
June was spent doing a lot of this...some would call it surfing I would call it getting battered by very big messy cold waves, or rolling practice!

This memorable experience was taken in February.  Huge and I mean huge swells bombarded the shores of Southerndown.  After paddling from Llantwit we, no Eurion decided to land.  Prior to this I had always been nervous about a surf landing.  After I knew it could only get better.
During July more unsettled weather meant I spent most of my time catching up on my boat build, still yet to be completed.  The deck is glassed and the hull is ready to be glassed.  
A rare spell of settled weather greeted us in August so I met up with Mike again for a paddle in Pembrokeshire...
Out to the Smalls.  A huge achievement to the small island 20 miles off St Davids Head.  We believe we are only the second to paddle out to Trinity House's most remote lighthouse.  
Seals on The Smalls.  Writing this I've come to realise I've only made three trips out to Pembrokeshire this year.
The following weekend I found myself doing another 40 miler across the Bristol Channel, this time to Heddons Mouth with Eurion.
We managed to cross back over that same afternoon in just over 3 hours each way.
During a family trip over to the other side of the country in Kent I manage to squeeze in a paddle with some local paddlers.  I finally got to use my tow line on this one...yes I think I am definitely a stronger paddler after that one.
I end the year not as expected.  I should be in Skye in this one but I'm stuck on my local stretch on Nash Sand Bar.

If I had to describe the year I would say...'unsettled'.  Not a great year weather wise but I feel all the more experienced, stronger and confident for it.  Skye has been pencilled in for the Spring and our expedition across the Irish Sea is also been postponed until early next year.  I'm looking forward to a good winters paddling now and too see what adventures the new year will bring.  See you out there..


Scott said...

Hi Stu,

Looks like a good year. And making the best of the weather conditions. Hope to be out more next year! Hopefully see you then.

Taran Tyla said...

Some fab memories their Stu.
I've often thought the meaning of life was to be happy & get fab memories so maybe "sea kayaking" is the true meaning of life ;D

Stuart said...

I can't believe some of that was a year ago! Good times and plenty more to come...

Mark said...

Just discovered your blog and am really enjoying reading about your experiences...Myself and a good friend have just taken up Kayaking and had a good day today practicing off Newton Beach near Porthcawl...took a few tumbles and experienced some of the biggest waves I've seen, now I know what a rag doll in a washing machine feels like...two paddles under our belts and confidence is high, but more is enthusiasm...Paddle on...

Stuart said...

Hi Mark

Thanks for reading. Newton bay is a good place to practice. Ye the conditions looks a bit choppy this weekend, I know that rag doll feeling :)

If your on Facebook check out our new page, there's also a link at the top my blog. There seems to be loads of newbies out there so we're going to organise a couple of paddles soon...