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Welcome To The Go Sea Kayak Blog...
This Blog is A Record Of My Personal Adventures And Wonderful Kayaking Lifestyle. It Is Also A Taster Of What You Can Expect If You're Adventurous Enough To Tag Along. Why Not Get In Touch And Join One Of Go Sea Kayaks Guided Trips On The Beautiful Mediterranean Island Of Sardinia, You Won't Regret it!

Sunday 22 April 2012

A Star Too Far (Part Two)...

With just over a week passed since my 5 Star assessment on Anglesey I was off on the road again & heading to Pembrokeshire to work on my navigation & sit another assessment. I wasn't a total moment of madness as the points brought up by Nick in the last assessment should be reasonably easy to rectify with some practice. I would however have preferred a bit more time to practice.
Camp at St Brides, I've had worse days :)
Another, not strictly legal camp spot :S
I seriously hate paying to lie on a patch of grass :\
Day one of the assessment & it was at Abereidy that we were heading out from with the intention of reaching Porth Clais. There was a North to North Westerly wind & the conditions were pretty rough on the water, hence no pictures.
Despite the conditions we were all pretty comfortable paddling & enjoying ourselves.
however, one of the Guinea Pigs was struggling a bit with the conditions & had capsized a few times which were quickly sorted out. After one capsize it was decided that he should paddle into Gesail-Fawr, the last get out before St Davids Head, he was doing great considering he had a boatful of water but unfortunately he capsized again just before Penllechwen & got swept past that headland minus his boat. Just prior to this I was told to tow his boat onto the beach which I did. This left the swimmer, assessor & the other 5 star applicant heading around St Davids Head whilst myself, two other Guinea Pigs & the Assessors assistant landing on the beach.It wasn't an easy landing & the Assessors assistant quite badly smashed the front of his boat in the landing. the problem we had once ashore was an inability to communicate on the pre arranged channel due to the enclosed location & it was about 45 minutes before we were able to reach the coast guard. In the back of our minds was whether the other group were trying to contact the coast guard & not being successful either.We had a few options available but decided to take the offer of a lift from the coastguard leaving the swimmers boat above the tideline. It certainly wasn't an easy launch from the beach to reach the coastguard & I'm glad I wasn't last.We were told that the other group had made it around St Davids Head with the swimmer on the front deck of one of the boats, pretty impressive! & a relief too.Once back at Whitesands we all got back in our boats & paddled to shore reflecting on what had happened & how we all dealt with the situation. Hindsight is great in these situations & I will always learn a lot from them.To be honest, all though this was a very real incident, the Coast Guard were called as a precaution as we were unable to contact the other group & establish what was happening with them. We just weren't expecting two boats & A chopper to be launched, guess the Coast Guard were playing it safe too.
Everyone coped really well, especially the two guinea pigs on the beach who were invaluable on the day & I could learn a lot from them & as always the Coast Guard were fantastic :)
a few hours rest & some chart work & we were getting ready for the night Nav :S

Day Two & it was from Porth Clais that we launched, same as the night nav (that I thought went well) from the previous night.
Today we were heading into Ramsey Sound & I was feeling very focussed on my navigation, following our position evan when I was not in the lead & really enjoying the nav part too.
We all worked on some skills at the bitches, they weren't huge but there was certainly some flow to play with.

We stopp for a quick break on one of the Bitches.
A seal colony on Ramsey Island...
I didn't bother taking any more pics as it just wasn't a priority for the day, I was busy trying to keep it together. We had a few more challenges thrown in on the way back though it gradually chilled into a gentle paddle, think we were all knackered?
I havent mentioned who I did my assessment with as I got the impression they wanted to keep the rescue thing quiet as people post their own opinions & make the incident sound like something that it wasn't. It was a real incident, yes, but it was kept under control.

So did I pass? Unfortunately not :( There were some points brought to my attention from the night nav, leadership, equipment issues & lack of weather forecasting ability.
I think the leaderships points were harsh as I was focussing hard on my navigation (speed, time & distance) & never once put the group in danger. I'd expect an experienced assessor to understand & make allowances for this though I appreciate the comments as I'll try to broaden my focus during the next assessment.

I'm looking forward to receiving the breakdown of points that I need to work on & have already ordered a book to help learn weather forecasting. I am going to crack this, I've learned loads in the past few weeks & know that I can definitely sort the areas that need polishing.

Sunday 15 April 2012

Following Vectors Holm...

I arrived at Sully in Adorabella, my new ride, with the intention of working on my vectors. I could have prepared them at home but thought it better to do it at the last minute & at the beach. See how well I really know this stuff.

I didn't get off to a great start as my carefully prepared tidal plan was left at home, whoops. Not to worry though, the causeway at Sully Island had just covered so it was 3 hours before high water. I could still remember my 50/90 calculations so as the tide was currently at 100% & was going to drop off in the hour & 20 minutes it would take to get to the Island I settled on 1.8 knots of tide & arrived at a bearing of 157°. It looked far too shallow an angle but I was going to stick to it & see the result.

An hour & 15 minutes of stringent bearing following later & this was the result, about 80 metres shy, not bad at all :)
 Stuart & Marcus in the race just off the West side of Steep Holm
 Before entering the contrasting calm on the South side of the Island.

After a brief rest & some chockie we carried on to Flat Holm, avoiding the traffic on the way.
 I'm playing in Stu's boat while he try's out the Etain :)
 Always up for a cave opportunity.
Time for yet another walk on the Island, I've been here loads of times already this year, think I better buy some lodgings :)
 Of course these are the real occupants of the Island.
 Thousands of them.
 Then time to head off & shoot the gap at Church Rock. Stu first.
 then its Marcus' turn.
 And after some initial choppiness we had a gentle paddle back to Sully.
 Where I suggest going around the Island for some rock hopping.

Back on the beach & the sun finally comes out. I think we all really enjoyed this one & it was great getting Marcus out to the Islands for the first time.
Another virgin broken in ;D

Monday 9 April 2012

A Star Too Far...

Saturday the 7th of April saw me meeting up with Nick Cunliffe of Sea Kayak Essentials & Mark Tozer for my 5 star sea leader assessment on Anglesey.
Day one & after some chart tasks in the paddlers Return we then headed to Soldiers Point to start our skills assessment day. There would be leadership too but the emphasise was mainly skills. It was to be myself & Dave being assessed today, joining us on the water was Michael who was helping to make up the numbers as one person was unable to make the assessment.
Our route for the day took us around North Stack & down to South Stack before returning to our start point, a long portage back to the cars & an hours rest before making our way to Trearddur Bay for the night paddle.
I must admit that my preconceptions of taking some bearings off some buoys was a long way from what was expected. Mark would basically point to a location on the map & ask me to lead the group to that spot. And he wanted to know how far it was & how long it would take, bearing in mind it was pitch black. Hmmm, this wasn't going to be easy & after some success I screwed up quite badly by overshooting my target by 10 minutes of paddling unable to see my error. My brain seemed to stop functioning by this time. I got us back to where I should have gone, eventually but not without certainty. Definitely something to work on.
We finally finished about 22:30 & I was eating my tea at 23:30 before meeting at 09:00 for day 2. Oh & I'd have to get my tidal planning done before meeting up, hmmm, no lie in then :S
Looking At North Stack... 

Dave Breifing Us Before We Paddle Through The White Stuff At North Stack...

All Calm Again By Parliament House Cave...

Turning & Rolling Skills At South Stack...

Bumped Into Barry Shaw...

Needed A Pee In Parliament House Cave...

Day 2 & we met up at Summit To Sea before relocating to Church Bay for our leadership assessment. Michael was with us again today & we were also joined by Anne. Assessing today was Sid & Mark.
We didn't paddle too far today, which was a relief but there was plenty within our route to be assessed on.
Our route took us to Carmel Head, out to West Mouse & on to Hen Borth before returning to our launch location later in the day.

Again I made a couple of stupid mistakes today but I will learn from my mistakes & not make them again, (hopefully).
Heading Out Of Church Bay...

Tide Race At Carmel Head With The Skerries In The Distance...

Exploring A Cave At Ynys Y Fydlyn...
We all met up at the Paddlers Return for the de-breifing & verdict. As I'd suspected it was a fail but thanks to Nick, Sid & Marks comments I know exactly what areas I need to work on & I've no doubt whatsoever that I can pass next time so long as I pull my finger out & actually practice the techniques that I've learned.

Evan though this was an assessment I actually learned a lot about leadership & navigation. Mark kept apologising for giving me tips but I really appreciated his advice & it will no doubt help me in the future.

So thanks to Nick, Sid, Mark, Dave, Michael & Anne. I had a fab weekend whatever the outcome :D