Sea Kayaking Articles from P&H Staff, Team Paddlers, and Friends

Author: Jim Krawiecki

I have paddled on many of the exciting white water rivers of England, Scotland and Wales, as well as many of those in the French Alps. It is my passion for Sea Kayaking which has driven me to write the first comprehensive Guidebook to the Welsh coast, for Sea Kayakers. The Book is called 'Welsh Sea Kayaking' and was published in September 2006 by Pesda Press. More recently I have been working on another guidebook to be entitled 'Northern England & the Isle of Man', which will follow a similar format to 'Welsh Sea Kayaking'.

Anglesey Sea Kayak Symposium 2014

This May Bank Holiday event brings paddlers to Anglesey from far and wide for good reason. Not only is the range of workshops, talks and courses exceptional, but the setting is second to none. The Anglesey coastline reliably provides the variety paddling conditions and gracefully plays host to this worldwide event.

I started the weekend with a trip round ‘The Stacks’ in breezy conditions. This is the first time that I paddled the ‘Jura’, which is latest design from the Venture Kayaks boat shed.

The following few days were spent day tripping, rock-hopping and surfing around some of the stunning stretches of the Anglesey coastline, as well as attending some training workshops.

Life never seems to stop at this festival! Once off the water there is barely time to rest before it is time for dinner. There were inspiring evening lectures about amazing expeditions by Ginni Callahan, Eila Wilkinson and Pete Bray. After all this intense activity there would still be time to wind down with music, dancing and (of course) drinks in the famous ‘Paddlers Return’ bar.

As I was preparing to set off for home, I was told that places were already being booked for next years event…

The Onset of Winter

Nothing compares to the calmness of a coastal wintry scene. Shafts of angled sunlight cast a soft golden glow across the beaches and rocks. Once the Autumn gales fade the sea becomes oily smooth, but without the intensity of high summer, these shores are quiet and utterly peaceful.

Photo: Sean Jesson

Leaving Rhoscolyn and heading for South Stack was almost spooky with gentle swell surging amongst the rocks. Penrhyn Mawr broke the silence and North Stack presented its usual set of challenges.

Photo: Sean Jesson

We completed our circumnavigation of Holy Island by taking the ebb out of the Cymyran Strait and cruising past Silver Bay back to Rhoscolyn. It seemed that the oily smooth waters were just as we had left them.

The next day, Sean and I headed off to Church Bay aiming for the Skerries. This is where the contrast between summer and winter would be greatest. During the summer months the skerries is a madhouse. Thousands of sea-birds nest here; mostly terns and puffins.

As we arrived, The Skerries were all but silent. The neap tide meant that even the rushing sound of the sea was muted. We avoided the seals because there were young pups among them. One of two of the bravest came to check on us. The only sea-birds were a handful of cormorants and the occasional rock pipit. The remains of the summer vegetation now dead and broken littered the ground. In winter this is a bleak and desolate place.

Sea Kayak Expedition Gathering

Friday evening traffic was kind enough to allow me a jam free journey to the north Yorkshire coast for the Sea Kayak Expedition Gathering. On my arrival I was greeted with a hot meal and a beer (Always a good start). As night fell on Friday evening there were tall tales and ghost stories round the fire just to make sure we all slept soundly in our beds.

In the morning everyone split into different groups for workshops on trip planning, fishing and foraging for wild foods.

At lunchtime the organisers laid on a fantastic spread of food cooked freshly on the beach. Fried fish, malt loaf fritters and stewed fruit re-replenished our energy reserves for the afternoon incident management sessions. The local RNLI lifeboat crew from Staithes joined us to try different techniques for rescuing kayakers.

After dinner I showed pictures and footage from last years expedition to east Greenland finishing off with the film Gino’s Greenland. After that there were workshops on emergency boat repairs by Howard Jeffs and navigation & trip planning by Kim Bull.

Sunday was more about journeying with everyone splitting into smaller groups focusing on boat handling and navigation on the move. As we entered Staithes harbour we were once again treated to freshly prepared food before completing the final leg to finish in Runswick Bay.

Many thanks to Ang, Steve, Sophie and the rest of the crew at East Barnby Outdoor Education Centre for a terrific weekend. I’m already looking forward to the next one.

Expedition Skills DVD Review

This is a DVD produced by two sea kayaking experts who have organized countless pioneering expeditions worldwide. The cover boasts nearly 4 hours viewing time, which at first sounds a little overwhelming. However, the viewing is broken down into 7 chapters and the DVD’s format and clear layout make it quick and easy to access the content.

·      Intro – What Expeditioning Means to Me

·      Planning

·      Expedition Kit

·      Food, Fuel, Fluids

·      Looking After Yourself

·      Safety and Communications

·      Appendices

Each of the chapters contain a series of bite-sized articles fronted by Nige Robinson, Olly Sanders along with a whole host of other sea kayak expedition experts that make guest appearances throughout. As well as simple but detailed advice, there are excellent anecdotes and inspiring footage from recent forays to far-flung corners of the world.

The sections on kit and planning are excellent but less obvious issues such as psychology, morale and team selection (which are often forgotten) are dealt with particularly well.

It could be said that some of the filming for this DVD could have benefited form a higher level of production. However, it is important to remember that much of this was filmed ‘on the hoof’ during recent expeditions. In any case, top tips and information crucial to planning your next expedition come across well.  

Watching DVDs can never replace going on a training course or attending a symposium seminar or workshop, but this DVD brings valuable knowledge hard-won by extensive experience, into the comfort of your living room.

Copies of the Expedition Skills DVD can be bought direct from ‘Rock and Sea Productions’ or your local canoe and kayak store.

Bardsey Spring

Spring tides and springtime brought the best out in Bardsey Island, north Wales last weekend. The combination of swell from the south, along with powerful tidal streams brought the surrounding waters dramatically to life all along the rocky shores.

Kev and Gill along with Matt and Chris made the crossing in canoes packed with buoyancy and supplies. The remaining four paddlers carried their cargo in sea kayaks.

Away from the rocks and reefs the sea was pleasantly calm although the booming of the waves pounding the shore was a relentless reminder of the ocean’s might. The golden hazy light and the unusually warm temperatures felt more like mid June than late March.

meadow pipit

Bird life is getting busy all over the island. The sea birds arriving in huge numbers including the Manx shearwaters. In the hedgerows, amongst the flowering gorse and along the stone walls all manner of small brown birds like wren and dunnock are enjoying rich pickings.

Having spent the night in one of the cottages there was just enough time for a short morning walk before heading back to the mainland.

The Cumberland Ring

Our adventures, trials and tribulations seem like such a long time ago. The memories of those intense days on the water may have faded a little but the good news is that we shot some video footage along the way. This has all been put together into a short film.

The Cumberland Ring from P&H SeaKayaks on Vimeo.

Enjoy the moods of the river and the freedom of the coast and perhaps dream up your own plans to try the Cumberland Ring, or plan your very own local expedition / challenge.

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