Friday, 25 May 2012

Brereton Lake - 24th May 2012

Sea kayak rescue practice session on Brereton Lake with MADCC. Went through the usual set of rescues, plus did a couple of successful re-entry and rolls. Left hand side roll a bit dodgy, need to practice some more!

Monday, 21 May 2012

Porth Dafarch to South Stack - 20th May 2012

With a good weather forecast, plus easterly/north easterly winds (2/3 gusting 4) I'd decided to head for Porth Dafarch with Rachael Clarke (Macclesfield Canoe Club). Rachael had only been on the sea once before, so the intention was to have a short/moderate length paddle but to concentrate on some boat handling skills. We were joined by Helen Marriott (Chester/NWSK) who had responded to my invite on the NWSK forum.

We would be launching around 10.30, and the tide was coming to the end of the flood. That meant that the tide race at Penrhyn Mawr would not be working, so I thought it would be nice to paddle around Penrhyn Mawr and head for South and maybe North Stack lighthouses. Even once the tide was flowing against us on the ebb, the eddies in the bays would give us options to make progress as required.

We headed out from Porth Dafarch in wonderful sunshine and made our way around to Penrhyn Mawr chatting and discussing various kayaking topics.

As I had predicted, Penrhyn Mawr was dormant as we paddled through channels and into the odd cave.

As we passed the end of the headland to get into "Abraham's Bosom" (the bay between Penrhyn Mawr and South Stack), we encountered an eddy line and the ebb flow against us. We had to work had to punch through this and get into the bay to pick up the eddy that was now circulating anti-clockwise.

Approaching South Stack

On the north side of the bay we paddled through a thoroughfare made between the sea stacks and the cliffs. We watched the climbers dangling/clinging to the rocks on one section of cliff and then saw hundreds of Razorbills and Guillemots nesting on the ledges of another.

Look hard to see 5 climbers!
We approached the gap between the "mainland" and the South Stack island and I was expecting this to be the crux of the paddle. I nosed through under the bridge and picked a channel through the rocks. There was flow against me, and once through the gap the sea state was reflecting the E/NE wind and was pretty choppy. I decided it was getting a committing location to be taking Rachael, with no landing spots before Parliament Cave and the strength of the ebb tide, so after Helen paddled through and had a look at North Stack in the distance we paddled back to the south side of Abraham's Bosom for a lunch stop. The eddy in the bay was now in full flow and when we passed Pen-Las rock to re-enter the main part of the bay we had to cross quite a flow of water with small waves that was pushing us out to the main ebb flow.

After lunch we returned to Porth Dafarch and practised rescues, rolls, and re-entry/rolls in the still rather cold water. I also found out that my plastic flare canisters do not hold enough air to make them float!... I'm rather grateful to a swimmer in a wetsuit that had a mask that could dive down and get one that fell off my deck.

Rachael heading back to Porth Dafarch
Lovely paddle and refreshing to get in the water at the end. 12.25km paddled, on the water for about 4 hours.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Macclesfield Canal - 13th May 2012

Clarke Lane <> Higher Poynton Marina
Out in 56:43, a couple of boat delays, not feeling very energetic (may be something to do with the previous night's beer and curry....)
Just cruised back in 1hr14min.
Right wrist a bit sore.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Ravenglass Seaquest - 6th May 2012

Good turnout for the 6th running of this popular event - 68 boats on the water, with 90 paddlers. The weather was fairly kind with sunshine and a light (but cool) wind. This was the last time that the event was to be organised by Annette Morris since she has relocated to the Ayrshire coast in Scotland. Next year's event will be organised by Copeland Canoe Club who were present helping Annette with the course setting, race admin and course clearing, so hopefully everything should go as smoothly as it has under Annette's reign.

The event was the usual format - a 3 hour score event over a course of about 15 controls that could be visited in any order and were worth 10, 20 or 30 points with time penalties for late finishing beyond the 3 hours.

A feature of the event this year was the very high tides. This made navigation interesting since the high tide flooded fields and the bends in the rivers that are useful navigation aids were washed out. So you took risks cutting across corners in only a few inches of water, and in a couple of points it was quicker to jump out of your boat and portage over a bank or run through some shallow water to get the best lines.

I went up the Irt first, then the Mite and finally the Esk. This proved a popular route and the top 3 male kayaks all took the same route and jossled for position over the first controls. The lead swapped from me (only for the first control!)... then Alastair Hornsby and then Rob Jones. Alastair and Rob then changed the lead a few times - Rob getting confused at the top of the Irt, Alastair over shooting control 4 at the top of the Mite and also a quick ducking half way up the Esk. Finally Alastair's boat speed in the K1 paid off and he finished a couple of minutes ahead of Rob in a time of 2hrs 14min. I came in a couple of minutes behind Rob in third.

Interestingly, the K2 pair of Ned Price and John Kavanagh from Macclesfield finished in a time of 2hrs 12min. Normally they are further ahead of the K1 singles, but they went up the Esk first and this may not have been the optimum route.

Rob Jones with his 2nd prize bottle of wine

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Macclesfield Canal - 1st May 2012

Clarke Lane <> Higher Poynton Marina
Out in 52:37, back in 54:39.
Funny, thought the wind was against me a bit on the way out. Nice and peaceful on the canal with no boats or fishing contests.