Sea kayaking team train for Scotland trip
This year the sea kayaking group have been working towards a six-day self-sufficient expedition in Scotland in July 2012. The group have been undertaking a progressive programme of training and development to prepare for the expedition with initial activities taking place on the North Wales coast.
Training began in earnest in March and full reports from Mr Baxter can be found below:
Sunday 4th March
The first day of our journey to the Scottish expedition.
Pupils attending: Will Johnson, Matthew Parsons, Ben Crocker, Robert Warrington, Alex Sharples, Mr Baxter and Kayak Coach Phil Clegg.
We all met at Porth Diana on the edge of the Menai Straits and after a brief kitting up we set off north eastwards to Ynys Gaint to start our training. Phil demonstrated how to use a ‘tilting of the kayak onto its edge’ action to assist in turning the 5m long boats and having gained some skill in this we turned southwest to paddle through the swellies (as the area between the Menai crossings is known). Phil was very informative about both the kayak coaching and the local wildlife and history. We all got used to the unique handling of our long and narrow sea kayaks; boat time means a lot in this activity.
Lunchtime found us west of the Britannia Bridge near Plas Llanfair. We set off after a brief stop to return through the swellies. This time the tidal flow had begun and this gave some great opportunities for us all to practice ferry gliding (moving across the tidal flow without losing ground to it), breaking into and out of the tidal flow and developing a greater all-round understanding of the idea of tidal movements of water. This is just the type of thing we’re expecting to deal with in Scotland.
As we finished out training we ‘jumped’ onto the main flow and a steady 4 knots transported took us back under Telford’s Menai Bridge to Porth Diana. Here, Will and Alex had some rolling/swimming fun in the very cold water!
Sunday 18th March
This was the second day of our journey to the Scottish expedition……
Pupils attending: Will Johnson, Matthew Parsons, Ben Crocker, Oscar Sanchez, Alex Sharples, Theo Smout Mr Baxter and Kayak Coach Pete Jones.
Another sunny day awaited us. We loaded the boats and set off at 9.35am, destination Holy Island, Anglesey. However, almost immediately we realised that things were stacked against us; the A55 was shut following a crash in the early hours of Sunday morning.
After a detour via the Ogwen valley we finally hit Rhoscolyn Bay at 11.10am and were on the water just after midday. The off-shore wind was about force 4 (from the north) so we had to cliff hug along towards Silver Bay. It was nice to see Dr. Roberts paddling with some friends and we even bumped into Phil Clegg!
Pete led the guys through some ‘swell’ rock hopping (ouch! – the sound of boats on barnacles) and after a brief lunch we made a return to the bay. It was clear that the increasing ‘boat time’ was being felt and peoples skill levels were much improving.
Despite all attempts Will couldn’t manage to topple Ben Crocker into the surf and USA remain undefeated.
All the admin completed we dispersed at 5pm following another great day out, and 192 miles in a minibus!
Sunday 22nd April – the difficult third day…
*Pupils attending: * Will Johnson, Matthew Parsons, Ben Crocker, Oscar Sanchez, Robert Warrington, Alex Sharples, Jack Braund, Mr Baxter and Kayak Coach Pete Jones.
Prevailing westerly conditions led us to Moelfre, on the East coast of Anglesey. Heading Northward from the town took us through the tidal flow of The Swnt to Porth Fallong for a welcome lunch break. The low cliffs along this section of coast provided continuous interest as they were covered with nesting Terns and Kittiwakes. The most notable of events was Ben Croker being able to both lose and retain his cool dude image; the former by capsizing for no apparent reason at all, and the second for managing to NOT get his hair wet during the process!
After lunch Matthew followed Ben’s example of capsizing for no reason but this time a full immersion was the order of the day. His interest in the purchase of a dry suit became all the more acute following his ‘dip’ in the sea. Perhaps this was a little chilly in April?
Newcomer, Jack Braund persisted in leaning back in his boat but I’m sure he’ll see the error in this in due course (swimming is only a tilt away). However, he certainly held his own in the company of more experienced paddlers and his stoicism is to be congratulated. Happily, he was still keen to come on our Scottish Expedition, a success indeed.
On the return journey to Moelfre the Swnt tidal channel, between the mainland and Ynys Moelfre, had seen a change in direction of flow and, with the race now running against the wind, much more bouncy water was found. Alex Sharples demonstrated utter mastery of the first phase of an Eskimo roll in the race; Pete putting him back in to his boat though, following a failure in executing the second phase of righting himself! The difficult conditions were coped with well by all and really inspired confidence in what we can expect from each other in Scotland.
Back at Moelfre a brief session on contact towing and rescuing capsized kayakers concluded another good training session. Overall it was a contented and happy band that loaded the boats on the trailer in sunshine, and started on the return journey back to school.
Sunday 6 May
Penmon found us in mirror calm seas as we set off to the far south of Ynys Seriol, or Puffin Island as it is more commonly known. However, with such calm seas, the wake from larger craft certainly travelled far and after a brief swim by one of our party as a result of this we found ourselves at the eastern tip of the island. The shelter of our eddy was soon disturbed (or enhanced) by the arrival of 4-6 seals. It was if we were the batsman in a kayak cricket team surrounded by a close-in catching field at one point.
Progressing along the northern shore we crossed the strengthening tide race back to Penmon lighthouse and then set back against the ebbing tide to the welcome sight of the minibus.
An excellent day, in excellent conditions and with excellent company.