After a good night in the Paddler's Return with Gareth and Sarah, Sunday morning arrived all too soon. Sticking my head out of my tent, I met Becka and Jules who had arrived in the night and had pitched their tent close to mine. It was raining and by the time I'd been to Mickey D's for breakfast, coffee, wifi and a spot of dry trip planning, it was pouring down. Sheltering from the rain in the small Campers kitchen, we did introductions and discussed the options for the day. With the forecast having changed once again overnight, the best option I thought would be to start at Trearddur Bay and paddle around the coast towards Penrhyn Mawr, and see how far we could get, depending on the conditions.
When we arrived at Trearddur Bay at around 09:30 the wind was already blowing from the NW, giving us wind against tide conditions. Consequently the swell which had been forecast from the SW was very much coming from the NW!
On the Trearddur slipway, as I was leading this trip, I went through my Sea Kayak Leader checklist.
I also called the Coast Guard using my DSC VHF to provide them with our details etc. Looking out to sea the conditions didn't look too bad. It was only when we ventured out of the bay, that the swell became apparent.
As we headed around the rocks, I could see Becka was heading straight towards a partially submerged rock, so I pointed at it to make her aware. Becka, to my horror took this to mean paddle towards where I was pointing, just as a wave broke over the rock. Luckily Becka put in a big support stroke and all was well! Phew! And lesson learnt for me! After all I had only just gone through the signals we would use five minutes earlier! I think a STOP signal might have been better!
This was the first time I had run a trip with people I had not paddled with before and I have to say it was quite nerve racking. It felt just like when you take that first drive after passing your driving test and there is no instructor in the seat next to you, ready to bale you out. My nerves were also not helped by the fact that we had good 3/4 star conditions on leaving the bay.
We rock hopped our way around to Porth Dafarch, where everyone was happy to continue on, before moving on around the coast. I think I was relaxing more by this time as both Becka and Jules were paddling well in the conditions The conditions if anything had become slightly worse. But by sticking to the shelter of the cliffs, where we could, we were able to miss out on the worst of it. Although as we rounded the cliffs at Dinas, the conditions definitely merited four star conditions. You could also see Penrhyn Mawr bearing its teeth across the bay.
At the Old Lifeboat we stopped for lunch and did a beach clean. We all filled our hatches to the brim and Gareth even managed to adorn his boat with a new plastic spoiler. The cove certainly looked a lot better when we had finished.
By now the tide had turn and on leaving the cove conditions had improved for the better. Now we were able to get really close into the cliffs and we did some caving and lots of rock hopping. Paddling back was now so much easier. But being mindful of the expected gusts forecast for later, we didn't really want to be out there too long, so headed back.
In the protection of the rocks at Trearddur Bay, Gareth did a spot of coaching with Becka and Jules. And then I got Gareth to practice his roll. Gareth was all I can't roll anymore, but when he did it, he popped right up first go. It was then he remembered his large plastic spoiler we had found strapped to the back of his boat. He said no wonder the boat took a while to come around. Oh yeah, sorry Gareth I forgot to mention that!
Back on the Beach at 14:30, I tried to call the Coastguard to let them know we were safely off the water, but I had poor reception and all I managed to get across was that I would call them using a phone! One changed and loaded up I called the coastguard on my mobile and had a very nice chat with a lady asking all about our trip.
Another great days paddling where I learnt a huge amount.
Thanks to Gareth, Sarah, Becka and Jules. I am looking forwards to paddling with you guys again!