Tuesday, 15 February 2011

I am an utter fool

I find that I am uncomfortable with some of the recent comments that have been made in connection with an incident last year that led to the death of Elizabeth Ashbee.

If you are unfamiliar with the event there is a brief account of the inquest here.

I normally make it a rule not to comment on proceedings in court unless I have been present (the facts as presented are often rather different to the news reports - surely not, I hear you say), but I feel an exception coming on.

Conditions that day were not great (Rich and I postponed our planned trip from Cemlyn to Holyhead and he went walking in the mountains instead), but it was perfectly reasonable to be on the water - indeed many local and visiting kayakers have paddled in such conditions, and some in far worse - 'Utter Fools' according to the coroner - Dewi Pritchard Jones.

We are told that Elizabeth was an experienced paddler, and that three of her group managed to paddle from Rhoscolyn to Porth Trecastell (Cable Bay). We can be pretty sure that the trip was demanding with very strong gusts of wind and a confused sea. In such conditions, it is relatively easy to become separated from ones paddling companions, and much easier to carry on to a safe haven than to stop - particularly if conditions seem to be getting worse.

Much has been made of the party's lack of communications equipment. Place yourself at the scene, and have a think about how happy you would be to let go of your paddle for a while (did someone say 'raft up') - to use a mobile phone (reception poor along most of this bit of coast), a VHF (you might just reach the coastguard or get a mayday relay from some vessel closer to you) or pull out and operate a flare - and this is when you do not know that anything has actually gone wrong.

Some other commentators have questioned the groups experience and qualifications. I am reminded of the advice from motoring organisations a few winters ago - that only drivers with experience of ice and snow should venture out......

One final point. If Elizabeth was an 'Utter Fool' (I suspect then, that I am one as well) she paid the ultimate price, and in my opinion was entitled to do so without censure.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Wobble round the edges of Wales

As promised, the 'Wobbler Extreme' is now available - basically an ordinary wobbler with extra runners.

This gives the options of Easy (Wobbler on a soft surface like a carpet), Medium (Wobbler on a hard surface) and

Tricky (Wobbler on the runners).
Prices and general info on the Anglesey Stick website.

It is that time of year when thoughts turn to going round Anglesey (or maybe the bits you have not done yet), or even round Wales. My choice would be in a sea kayak, but Mark Newton is having a go on his mobility scooter, so if you can lend a hand in anyway I am sure he would like to hear from you.