2019-07-14 The Skerries

2019-07-14 The Skerries

I had arranged to meet Kris, Si and anyone else who was interested at the Holyhead truck stop cafe for 0900. Kris had a plan to paddle to South Stack and then to paddle PM tidal race later in the day. As we left the Truck Stop, Kris bumped into a friend of his who told him of their plans to paddle the Skerries. Si said he was definitely interested in doing a Skerries trip and Kris had never been out to the skerries. As for me I'd rather do the Skerries over SS/PM anyway. So off we went to Cemlyn Bay.

Setting off to the Skerries from Cemlyn Bay, the swell from the north was quite evident. At Harry's, the swell was coming through the tidal race at a tangent, making the wave's quite messy, occasionally very big, and generally quite unpredictable. We didn't hang around playing in there for long. We were soon on our way out to the first cardinal - Victoria Bank. Now this was the first time I would be leading a group out to the Skerries, and I put into action what I'd learnt on previous trips: Ferry out to Victoria Bank, then Ferry across to the next cardinal Coal Bank using the paddles as a line of sight method of keeping on the right ferry track. Basically line one end of your paddles up with one of the cardinals, then looking down the shaft of your paddles look to see if you are ahead, on track, or behind the other Cardinal.  You can then take corrective action to ensure you end up at the next cardinal


Using paddle shaft to check position between two fixed objects
Using paddle shaft to check position between two fixed objects

Once we had arrived at Coal Rock Cardinal, you then start to ferry out again to the next cardinal, Ethel Rock. But when you get about half way between Coal Rock Cardinal and Ethel Rock Cardinal, and Archdeacon Rock Cardinal is in-line with the Skerries, it is time to drop onto the Skerries.  Looking back at my GPS track I have to say I am rather pleased with my course. It is really easy to be tricked into thinking that you are not moving along at a rate of knots as everything around you is moving at the same speed! Get it wrong and you will be rewarded with a big ferry glide in order to reach the Skerries.

As we approached the Skerries, we were rewarded with a big tidal race to get through, into the shelter of the inner sound. I have to say the conditions were a little on the large side. In fact, they were probably at the limit of what you would want, as LCC who followed us out about an hour after us soon found out. They had three swimmers to deal with and were assisted by a guy in a rib, in getting back to the island.

On the island I delivered a bottle of wine to the RSPB wardens. These guys do an excellent job caring for the terns, puffins and other wildlife visiting the island and I am sure they appreciate the odd bottle, chocolate bars etc. As for us many photos were taken and food was scoffed.

We did a little paddle around the island, being chased by the seals who had been serenading us in the inner sound. We then set off to Carmel Head.

Now with Anglesey being such a big target, it shouldn't be difficult to paddle across to the mainland, but by now the full force of the tide was running, and as we had already found, conditions were big. We didn't seem to be making much progress at first. But then I heard the Platters race. Looking over my shoulder, I decided I didn't fancy being at the front of that race, with its breaking waves. So I dropped back and entered it from the side. Both Kris and Si however, dropped right into the front of it with Si getting a bit of a surprise, as he and his boat were tossed about. No swims though, which I was quite grateful for. The current proved too strong for us, with us being pushed further and further back, before reaching the shelter of the huge eddy behind Carmel Head, coming up from Holyhead.

Sheltering from the flow behind Carmel Head there were a few caves to explore. We were all pretty hungry again, so a stop for some more scoff was made, sliding the boats up a seaweed covered beach. Great protection for the boats, if a little slippy for us.

It was just then a case of eddy hopping our way back to Cemlyn bay.

Back at the beach we practiced our rolls for the onlookers. LCC arrived again to collect their cars from their one way trip and many stories were told of the days adventure.

What a fabulous day.

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1 Comment

  1. Alan Riggott
    19 July 2019

    Nice blog post. Thanks for including the tips about navigating using the cardinal marks to ferry out to the Skerries. I’ve made a note.



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