Thursday 14 June 2012

Cliff Walking

Amongst some of the sea paddlers at Glam Boaters there is an 'in' joke that some people take up cliff walking after paddling with Taran, today was my turn to experience that feeling.

We had arranged to paddle form Sully to Penarth, not a long paddle by any means but it was going to be a bit of a slog against the prevailing South Easterly wind.

Arriving at Sully Taran was nearly whooping with excitement when he saw the western tip of sully island, to be honest, at that point, I can't say I shared the same enthusiasm.

We paddled out, Taran charging into the playground and me cautiously making my way to try and skirt around it via a much calmer route. When I did eventually have a peak around the corner I saw even bigger waves, I quickly made my mind up that the only way I was going to get around the island was on foot.

As I turned my boat I caught sight of Taran playing in the race, his boat was pretty much vertical on the face of a wave, and I could see water from bow to stern, it was one big wave.

Taran's playground at the western end of Sully Island.

 (Apologies for the quality of this one but something was up with my camera, not focusing and making everything curved. The little black spec on top of the wave is Taran)

After completing my 'walk of shame' I was back on the water and paddling into the wind. Not long after this I found myself walking yet again, I had spotted the Rannies and they looked messy.

The Rannies. Image courtesy of Taran.
   By now I was getting good at this walking and shame action I had going on.

The Rannies not looking to bad from shore
After an eternity I manage to find a suitable launch spot for my kayak and continued on to Penarth.(I think my camera was playing up again as it's flattened the sea this time)

I have to admit though this leg of the journey was the roughest conditions I've paddled in since starting sea kayaking, it was uncomfortable and it certainly tested my comfort levels not to mention my low brace but in some respects was fun in a bizarre way.

Taran catching a wave at Penarth.

 Cliff walking ?  Not for me just yet anyway.    


Friday 25 May 2012

Two Weeks In May

Imagine just drifting, sitting there alone in the complete silence of the moment. Not the slightest sound from any direction, not a breath of wind, not a ripple on the deep clear crystal water. The sensation of warmth on your face as the sun wins its battle with the early morning mist and still has enough strength to penetrate deep into your soul, today was going to be a good day.

This was not some figment of imagination, these were the conditions I encountered during one early morning paddle off the south east coast of Ireland.

Whitesands, Garrylucas.

For two weeks in May I found myself in Ireland, having agreed to help a relative with the restoration of a property that was in need of some major work, a bus man's holiday of sorts if you like. With little time to commit to a full days paddle I had to resign myself to catching an hour or so before work, the only fly in the ointment that I hadn't planned was that I really had to wrench myself away from this coastline, it truly is a wonderful place.

Northern coastline, Courtmacsherry Bay 

Unknown Cove Courtmacsherry Bay

The section I paddled the most stretched from Kinsale to Courtmacsherry, which includes the

Rock Gardens, Courtmacsherry Bay
 Old Head of Kinsale, the most  prominent and famous headland along this stretch.

Having paddled more days than not I  inevitably took hundreds of photo's and went to enough places to keep me writing for a very long time indeed. Thankfully it's not my intention to write a day by day account, I've just selected some photo's and words that I think portray the beauty of the area and its affect on me.

The secrets of the Old Head are slowly revealed as you make your way around, it's all about a dramatic coastline with sea caves, sheer cliffs and an abundance of wildlife. I saw my first Otter happily swim by without a care in the world, until of course I tried to take a photo, seals played tag with me popping up in front and behind my kayak but ultimately wouldn't get too close. The eastern cliffs teamed with sea birds that made sounds more reminiscent of a national geographic documentary in some far flung corner of the world. I was centre stage in the greatest theatre in the world.

Western cliffs, Old Head

Evidence of the geological activity that helped shape this coastline.

The Old Head Lighthouse

A grinning face hidden in the rocks ?
Sea Caves, Old Head of Kinsale

It would be amiss of me not to mention the most famous incident that happened off the shores of the Old Head. It was 7th May 1915 when the RMS Lusitania fell prey to the German U Boat, U20. In a matter of minutes 1198 people lost their lives, with only 761 surviving the incident.
The sinking shocked the world and turned opinion against Germany, which helped America enter the war. Legitimate military target or not, the debate still is ongoing today. 

The situation is complex though, as the Lusitania was carrying rifle ammunition to the UK as part of the war effort under an obligation to the admiralty. A popular conspiracy theory has it that British intelligence agents leaked information to German agents in the US thus sealing the liners fate and helping nudge America into the war. Whatever the truth it is a shame that such a dark chapter in human history should touch this beautiful area. 

As mentioned I feel as if I could write forever about this area but for now that's it. I am planning to add a Further Information section including maps to assist anyone wishing to visit this area, which I would thoroughly recommend if you have the chance. 

Saturday 17 March 2012

Grand Slam

As the Welsh rugby team prepare for their encounter with France,Taran, Jules and I head towards Aberavon Beach for our own surf encounter, little did I know I'd be having my own grand slamming a few hours later.

The surf at Aberavon was smaller than expected (Phew) but nevertheless provided us with some good fun.  I wanted to explore some surfing skills and get used to the characteristics of my boat in this environment, Jules was going to meet up with us later on.

A feel for the conditions and a grand stand view of the mess coming towards me, I tried to capture some of the larger green waves before they broke but they just looked flat when I viewed them on the computer.

After an hour of messing around Jules arrived and got stuck straight in. Jules catching some air time on the lip of a lovely wave.

As the water wasn't too cold I decided to actually swim in the water and see if I could get some shots from that angle. Taran was out of the water messing around with his big lens and new camera, so Jules had to be the model on this occasion. After I told him what I was planning he said I was mad, maybe, but lets give it a go anyway.

 The result....see nothing to worry about.

And right there for the action.

I get back into my boat and start having a mess around.

By accident I make a very late take off and my bows start to pearl,

Going vertical, yeee ha

With no chance of a recovery I try to do a pirouette. (Looking at this pic now I can see that my body an boat are rotated in opposite directions, I think I needed to use the the other blade to pull the boat around. Any thoughts anyone?)

Just about to crash, and the next wave lining up to get me, better be quick with the roll.

Aberavon is a lovely beach that seems to go on for miles and miles and was a superb location for todays paddle, clearly waves don't have to be massive to have fun in a seakayak. Today I simply wanted to improve my basic surf skills, but I left with a taste for getting the boat vertical who'd have thought.

My thanks to Taran as usual and Jules for capturing my grand slam moment.