Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Straight to the point

I have been making a couple of harpoons for the Storm Gathering - they are a bit rough and ready, and only traditional in the sense of being made (largely) from driftwood.

Harpoons with Norsaqs
Real harpoons with metal tips, thrown by an expert would of course be capable of killing large sea mammals (Pete Baars?) whereas these are only likely to maim, and will probably only ever be used in anger against a floating hula hoop.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Not the fruit and veg man - a guest blog entry by Rich

Simon and I are about to undertake the new BCU UKCC 4* Sea Kayak Leader Award (yes, I’m aware of the ridiculous length of the title, but this isn’t Twitter), and therefore needed some trip planning practice. Someone suggested a trip from Caernarfon to Trefor, so following a detailed consultation with the charts and the tidal atlas, decided that Tuesday morning was the perfect time to do it. With a weather and wind forecast that changed by the hour and an early start to drop a vehicle off in Trefor, it all looked like the trip would be shelved but for a last minute decision to just do it.

Coed Helen

We got on the water by Coed Helen at 09.30(note to self: a great access and egress point with toilets etc.) to get to Abermenai Point for slack water at 10.40. The first bit of the trip was good fun, especially at one point on nearing Fort Belan noticing that we’d been stationary (despite our best efforts) for a good 5 minutes. One should never underestimate Spring tides in the Strait.
Approaching Fort Belan and Abermenai Point

However, once round the corner, with a quick stop by Simon to adjust his backrest, we were making good progress with the tide increasing in speed in our favour along the coast.
Simon adjusting the backrest in his Nigel Dennis Kayaks Romany

The cannons at Fort Belan

A lot of clapotic wave action due to South Sands sand-bank and the steep shingle beach added to the excitement. We stopped for a quick bite to eat and a very fast cup of tea (courtesy of Simon’s fancy new stove) at Dinas Dinlle. The landing on a dumping shingle beach added extra excitement, but the beach did provide us with a nicely-built bench to sit on.
Anglesey Stick on Dinas Dinlle beach - Simon packing away his JetBoil

From here on the weather improved steadily with Holyhead Mountain coming into view behind us, basking in sunlight (unlike us) and with the wind going round from the North-West (beam-on) to North-East (stern). The following wind and increasing tide, as well as the refreshments increased our pace and soon we were steaming along, taking in the dramatic views of Bwlch Mawr (509m), Gyrn Goch (492m) and Gyrn Ddu as well as Yr Eifl (564m), the latter of which providing us with a perfect directional beacon to our ultimate destination.
The mountains of the Lleyn Peninsula

Soon we were rounding the corner past the fish farm of Pontllyfni,
Fish Farm and Pontllyfni on the left, Clynnog Fawr on the right

past the 7th century church of St Beuno in Clynnog Fawr (an important stopping place for Pilgrims on their way to Bardsey in medieval times) before the pier and harbour wall of Trefor provided us with a glimpse of our finish, approximately 4km away.
Trefor coming into view nicely, with the pier and harbour visible

A final slog to the finish was again rewarded by a very fast cup of tea before the boats and kit were bundled into the car to set off back to Caernarfon to pick Simon’s car up. Nearly 21km of paddling in just over 4 hours on the water.

Trefor harbour with Yr Eifl in the background