Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Rich pickings

Construction now has its own blog at Anglesey Boat

Rich needed to log some trip planning for his next qualification, so Tim and I were treated to a mystery outing last Sunday. Leaving a car at Moelfre, we were guided round the coast to Porth Eilian

Boat loading and personal kit transformation from normal clothes to the ridiculous number of layers you seem to need at this time of year was accomplished fairly quickly, though no doubt Rich looked at his watch a few times....

and we were soon heading out of the bay.

Once we were near Lynas, Rich could relax a little - his timing was spot-on, and we were able to benefit from the last of the flood....

all the way round the corner...

(must visit the 'hermit's' cave here - presumably an old Adit)

and down to Ynys Dulas

Where we got rather too much attention from the seals (the largest male I have ever seen stayed ashore, thankfully)


some of which followed us to Traeth Lligwy....

where we had a tea stop before cruising down to Moelfre.

About 12k paddled in slightly miserable weather, but good company.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

What are you going to tell the coroner - part three

Construction now has its own blog at Anglesey Boat

I think the important thing to note at this point, is that Dave is vocal and complaining. Coughing up blood can be very serious, but more or less the same symptom can result from blasting the nasal membranes with saline jet-wash.

I carry a (thankfully) large paddling jacket in my front hatch (one that will fit over my buoyancy aid), and Dave was able to get this on under his own PFD and jacket, and as a consequence downgrade his F cold back to B cold. Shame we did not have hot tea, or the stove.....

Time to be cruel to be kind, and get Dave working with a long boat drag over the sand spit to a safer launch spot - at least he had the lightest kayak - but still painful progress initially.

Back on the water he cheered up a bit, and was soon paddling well, but after about 500m was suddenly hit by exhaustion (delayed shock?). Rich took on the towing duties, while I was in the novel position of keeping Dave talking (I never thought I would say that) and paddling for the rest of the short trip back to Malltraeth.

The only real casualty of the day was a bag of apples, but it could all have been a lot easier with say a group shelter, and the stove.

We all like the sea because it is unpredictable. Trips at the same location can be very different due to varying tide and wind conditions. You don't really know what to expect, so maybe just take all the kit?

When you are on the water as part of a small group of paddlers, you can become the de facto group leader without warning .......... are you ready?

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

What are you going to tell the coroner - part two

Construction now has its own blog at Anglesey Boat

In rescue situations, there is often a fine line between prompt and decisive action, and having a bit of a think. This was not a standard deep water rescue, and two outcomes looked more likely than a successful recovery of paddler and boat - injuring the casualty through collision, and taking a swim myself. This thinking looked even better in retrospect when it turned out I was the only person not swimming at this moment.

I was getting used to the breaking waves, and was fairly content to stay close and provide moral support when Dave asked for a tow. Luckily, my tow line was behind my seat under my spraydeck (I don't think it would have been much use) which only left one option. With an upwind approach, I managed to turn on a smaller wave and drop the stern of my boat into Dave's very welcoming hands.

Now Dave is not a small chap, and remember he was still holding on to his own water-filled boat. The paddling was interesting - rapid acceleration with each breaking wave and me paddling as hard as possible (no worries about broaching with such a good drogue), and then an abrupt halt as the wave passed - but we were making real progress.

At this point, my footrest failed on the left side, but on a more promising note, Rich arrived and took care of the water-logged boat, so our speed improved and Dave was soon able to walk ashore.

Still had to concentrate a little as the surf landing was not all that friendly - but soon near enough to Dave to hear him comment that he was coughing up blood and freezing cold.

What now?

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

What are you going to tell the coroner - part one

When I was an outdoor pursuits instructor in the 1980s there was a popular phrase (see title) that we like to think could help you decide on the balance between real risk and perceived risk.

Most outdoor pursuits (or at least, as they are presented to beginners) have a relatively high perceived risk, but a low actual risk. For most participants, the journey to and from the activity will have carried rather more real risk, and serious injury is rare.

Sometimes things do go wrong, and I was recently reminded that you can end up being responsible for others even when you are not coaching or instructing.
This will also be the time when you have left some kit behind.

It was a calm day, and we had planned a short bimble down the Malltraeth estuary.

After a stop for apples at Tim's beach, where we found we had no tea (I had left behind a drybag with my flask, woolly hat, towel, etc), we continued down the estuary.

Despite the calm conditions, there was a strange mini tide race for our entertainment - enough to get you wet, but unlikely to throw you out of the boat - though Dave wisely kept well clear of the worst (later learned that there was good surfing on The Lleyn from a very regular swell).

On the South side of the estuary on the 'corner' that leads to Llanddywn, the aforementioned swell was producing some significant surf, and Rich was keen to go play.

On the edge of the breaking waves, there were some good opportunities, and I had caught a couple of rides when Rich went past like a steam train on a wave that took him for several hundred yards.

I was just considering how to introduce Dave to assisted passage making, when he also went past - not on the edge of the surf, but deep in the middle of it - first on a wave, then broadside to a wave, and then inevitably, under a wave.

He executed a pretty swift wet exit, and managed to grab his hat as well as keep hold of paddle and boat, and was left standing in about half a fathom of water that was B cold apparently (later upgraded to F cold).

I shouted that he should make his way ashore, and I would come and help him empty his boat.

Two steps shoreward, and he fell into a big hole, and on resurfacing was hit by two or three sets of breaking waves. He was doing his best to swim in the right direction, but making very little progress towing an excellent sea anchor (kayak with too much water in).

What now?