Sunday, June 24, 2007

Anglesey picture report

This morning I returned with Govert from a fantastic week of seakayaking in Wales. There are a lot of pictures to select and many stories to tell, let's start with a first impression. Hereby a small extract from our logbook The weather situation was "unsettled", another word for real British Weather - it changed by the day and even within the day: sun, rain, wind, no wind, warm, cold - it all passed by: and we liked it -> it made every kayaktrip unique! We stayed at the campsite of Anglesey Outdoors and made day trips. Because we came with one car and high tide was (in the beginning) late in the morning this meant: leaving with the flood stream, returning to the starting point with the ebb stream. Time schedule bevame every day more relaxed: love the long days in June.

(All weather forecast below refer to the inshore weather forecasts issued by the Coastguard from St Davids Head to great Ormes Head incl. St. Georges Channel).

Sunday 17-6-2007: Porth Dafarch - the Stacks: "Exploring the races" - 22 km
7.00 UTC: North backing West 3-4, occ. showers later rain, visibility moderate, sea state slight-moderate.
Start and finish Port Dafarch.
Perfect conditions for a first exploration of the famous overfalls and tidal races of Penrhyn Mawr, South Stack and North Stack. We had a playful nice "roller coaster ride". A surprising sunny Sunday that a lot of other seakayaker were also enjoying. We met Mike with the Royal Navy Kayak Club, Phil leading a NDK 4*-course and Justine, Gemma and Barry playing at Penrhyn Mawr. Seakayaking seems to be popular around here. But the rest of the week the waters of Anglesey were for the two of us...

Monday 18-6-2007: Circumnavigating Holy Island: "Playing with Dolphins" - 35,8 km
7.00 UTC: East - South-east 4-5, occ. 6 Bft, later 3, rain or Showers, sea state slight or moderate.
Start and Finish: Port Darfarch
The weather forecast being to unsure for a trip to the Skerries, we did a anti-clockwise circumnavigation of Holy Island. A nice divers paddle. The experience of the day was being accompanied by five dolphins demonstrating tricks and playing a hide and seek game with us at Rhoscolyn Beacon. Wow!!!!! WW-fun: passing the tunnel in Four Miles Bridge with the flood streaming through creating a standing wave inside the tunnel. The finishing little sweet was lively water at North and South Stack at the last miles (Penryn Mahr was quit calm).

Tuesday 19-6-2007: Menai Strait up and down- "White Water (river) kayaking?" - 28,2 km
6.00 UTC - East-Southeast 4/5 later 6, rain and showers, visibility moderate-good, sea state slight-moderate later rough.
Start and finish: Y Fellinheli.
Again the weather forecast wasn't favorable for our Skerries plan, so we decided to do the Menai Strait. Just after spring tide water was running good and there were some nice spots to practice white water skills at the Swellies. Again the actual weather and the forecast didn't match: returning from Beaumaris we had a powerful northerly wind blowing in the back: easy paddle!

Wednesday 20-6-2007: Porth Darfach in and out: "Rough stuff!"
7.00 UTC - strong wind warning, south-southeast 5/6 later decr. 4, Showers later rain, visibility good-moderate, sea state moderate-rough later slight.

Starting the morning with a powerful wind blowing at least 5-6 Bft. we had a challenging day at the races in mind. But as we paddled out in the surf at Port Darfach and saw what was going on at Penryn Mawr we decided to return to the beach. An hour later we looked from land at the races at Penryn Mawr and the Stacks and concluded returning was a wise decision...

Thursday 21-6-2007: Porth Darfach - the Skerries vice versa: "Unbidden guests" - 43 km
6.00 UTC: Southeast-East 4/5 occ. 6 first, later var. 3, rain and showers, visibility moderate/good, sea state slight-moderate.
Start and finish: Port Darfach.
At night wind had decreased, sea state was moderate again. With the forecast promising wind would go down to 3 Bft. Thursday was a perfect day for a journey to the Skerries. The Skerries are a group of small isles with a Lighthouse about 12 km north of Holyhead. As high tide was late in the afternoon, there was no need to start early. In the morning we visited the kayak-factory of Seakayaking UK. Dave Williams told us all about the production of the Romany's, Explorers and Greenlanders, very interesting!
After lunch we drove to Porth Darfach to start our paddle trip. We reached the Skerries after a swift paddle within two hours: this is including playing in the races of Penrhyn Mawr and the Stacks (once again: can't get enough) and waiting 10 minutes for the Fast Ferry coming in -> the tide was running fast, the GPS showed continuously speeds around 13-14 km/h.
We did look out to visit the Skerries, but when we were there we felt like (and were) unwanted guests. The Island is the home of a giant tern colony. I must admit I really felt guilty visiting this place in the middle of the breading season - I didn't realize this bad timing before - stupid me! All over the place were eggs laying and terns breading and feeding their helpless youngsters. To minimize the disturbance of our visit Govert and I didn't move from the stairs at the landing point. Here we were tolerated by the birds and we had a unique insight view on the live in a tern colony...
On our way back we were surprised by a giant swell building up between North and South Stack. The wind rose and approaching the races near South Stack breaking walls of water came in sight. We changed course to avoid the heavy stuff.

Friday 22-06-2007: Cemlyn Bay to Porth Wen and back: "Looking for a mouse" - 24 km
6.00 UTC: Var. North-Northwest 3-4 Bft, showers, visibility good, sea state slight to moderate.
At the campsite of Anglesey Outdoors we enjoyed a very sunny morning. At noon we drove to Cemlyn Bay for our last paddle of the week. The north coast of Anglesey was hidden in fog. We lunched very long at Cemlyn Bay hoping the sun would make the fog disappear, but the fog stayed. So we decided -on this calm day- to leave in fog and headed north, perhaps there would be less fog a mile out at sea. It wasn't any better out at sea however - we tried to find the little isle Middle Mouse but we missed it (the tracklog of the GPS showed us that we must have passed by Middle Mouse on less then 100 meters distance....) and decided to paddle back to shore and stay close the cliffs to find Porth Wen. At Porth Wen the fog slowly disappeared and sun took over. During an extensive break at the ruins of Porth Wen I headed for a swim in the cold water, Govert went fishing. On the way back we finally reached Middle Mouse. The Mouse rewarded our visit with one of the best tidal races of the week: wind and ebb stream created wonderful standing waves to surf.

Picture of the Dolphins at Rhoscolyn by Govert

5 comments:

René said...

Hi Hans,

Welcome back.

Good story; well written
Regards
René

Rene said...

By the way; what kayak is Govert paddling? Looks like an old P&H Dawntreader.
Was Govert happy with the kayak in these conditions and while playing the tide-rips?

About your pintail I have no questions: performs perfect I guess!

Rene said...

And another thing about you weblog:

When I fill in my webpage-address it makes a big difference if I add "http://" or not.

The link only works if I add it. Looks like not everybody, myself included, adds this normally. May be you can change the bese-settings for this or add the commetn that this should be added.
Regards
René

Hans said...

Hello René!
You have a sharp eye: Govert paddles a Dawntreader indeed. Govert is a not only an experienced seakayaker but also a talented ww-paddler, he is one piece with his Dawntreader and handles it with ease, also in rough and playful situations.
The performance of the Pintail is a delight. I am very happy with it, although I still don't find the boat contact 100 % perfect.
Thanks for the note about the webpage address: I will see what I can do, but that may take some time!
Greetings, Hans

Wenley said...

Hello Hans,

What a breath of fresh, cool, air! A sensational post.