Volume 10 Issue 8

   August 2010

August Paddler
The monthly newsletter of Liverpool Canoe Club

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Major Trip Reports.…


31/0710 Use of the Marina Club over the Summer

When using the ramp down onto the Pontoons please only hold the gate open (do not chock it open and leave it unattended) as this affects the security of the boats moored there.  We do not want to lose the use of the jetty and pontoons for launching.


Rota for opening the shed and i/c of water safety at the docks over the summer



Tuesday 3rd  Chris Turner

Thursday 5th  Chris Turner

Monday 9th Camping from a canoe or kayak talk – Ian Bell

Tuesday 10th Keith S

Thursday 12th Keith S

Tuesday 17th Dave Reynolds

Thursday 19th Chris Turner

Tuesday 24th Dave Reynolds

Thursday 26th Chris Turner

Tuesday 31st  Dave Reynolds



Thursday 2nd Keith     If you need a swipe card for the changing rooms and gates please click here…….



31/07/10 Club Paddles
If you fancy paddling on any of the proposed trips this year then please consider offering to act as a coordinator. You won’t be in charge of the trip; you just select the date(s) and act as a contact point to give information / gather prospective numbers etc. Contact Keith Steer with offers of help or suggested trips.  All coordinators will take a list of names and contact numbers before paddlers get on the water - please contact the coordinator before the trip.



2010 - 7th Annual Club Holiday in the French Alps (Briancon) - ideal for playboaters, opens, families and those wishing an introduction to moving water - Contact Keith S if you would like to join us.


Cross Mersey Swim - Competent Paddlers are required to act as safety cover for the swim. You need to be 3 star standard or above - Coordinator Frank Vaughan


Ironman UK 2010 - Kayak Safety Cover Team to cover this event in Leigh (Pennington flash Country Park) - We need 30 club members to help out - Coordinator John Worswick



General Club Night - Liverpool Marina Harbour Club Car Park 6:30 for 7pm on the water start to 8:30 (or Dusk)



General Club Night - Liverpool Marina Harbour Club Car Park 6:30 for 7pm on the water start to 8:30 (or Dusk)


Swimmer safety cover for Warrington Dolphins Swimming Club Event in Albert Dock - Meet at the slipway in Coburg dock - Coordinator Frank Vaughan


The London Triathlon 2010 - Kayak Safety Cover Team - Coordinator John Worswick



General Club Night - Liverpool Marina Harbour Club Car Park 6:30 for 7pm on the water start to 8:30 (or Dusk)



General Club Night - Liverpool Marina Harbour Club Car Park 6:30 for 7pm on the water start to 8:30 (or Dusk)


London International Polo Tournament - Come and join our team in London for the weekend, a fun event with access to a safe Lake - Contact Keith S for more information


2010 Trans Alaskan Sea Kayak Expedition. Following our 2008 successful expedition to Prince William Sound we hope to cross the sound from Whittier to Valdez. (200 miles approx 12 days kayaking) Anyone interested in joining us should speak to Keith S



General Club Night - Liverpool Marina Harbour Club Car Park 6:30 for 7pm on the water start to 8:30 (or Dusk)



General Club Night - Liverpool Marina Harbour Club Car Park 6:30 for 7pm on the water start to 8:30 (or Dusk)



General Club Night - Liverpool Marina Harbour Club Car Park 6:30 for 7pm on the water start to 8:30 (or Dusk)



General Club Night - Liverpool Marina Harbour Club Car Park 6:30 for 7pm on the water start to 8:30 (or Dusk)


Introductory Course for New Members (Week 1 of 4 week introduction to paddlesport) - coordinator Keith S



Wednesday Evening Local Paddle - Chester Weir and River Dee flatwater section above CH1 1SD Click for maps.


Seaquest and Seatour Races on the River Wyre Estuary - Click for more information


Coniston Weekend - Staying at Coniston Hall Campsite. Coordinator Karen Devaney. Ideal for beginners, families and all club members. BBQ on Saturday night - bring own food


Sea Kayak Rescue and Skills Day - Sunday on Lake Coniston. (Self and group Rescue Techniques, Towing and Safety Equipment) - Keith S - Coordinator for weekend Karen Devaney


Introductory Course for New Members (Week 3 of 4 week introduction to paddlesport) - coordinator Keith S.


Introductory Course for New Members (Final Week of 4 week introduction to paddlesport) - coordinator Keith S.


Walney Island Half-circumnavigation with camp on Piel Island - ideal for those relatively new to overnight trips in sea kayaks, navigation and skills - coordinator Keith S


Club AGM and slide show - Prince William Sound (Alaska) Sea Kayak Expedition 2010 - Liverpool Marina Club (L3 4BP) -7:45 for 8:00pm Start


Pyranhafest - Bala - the annual Pyranha weekend for fun, coaches, staff and team boaters - All Welcome


Halloween Paddle - Evening paddle in the dark along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in Maghull. Please bring a torch, Costume or Halloween Mask, any spare day glow lightsticks or similar. Coordinators Jim Slater and Justin Cooper


Bivi style camp on Peel Island. Lake Coniston suitable for all craft; opens, sea kayaks or gp boats - coordinator Keith S


Sea Paddle and Christmas Nibbles Llandudno Beach Cafe - Contact Brian Green


35th Annual Scout & Guide Training Weekend at Bala - Some BCU courses available to members with pre-requisites - BCU Coaches from LCC usually offer to help - Coordinator Alison Bell


Click here for the main Calendar for weekly trips to white water play spots. Informal trips arranged by club members are circulated by the club`s Googlegroups email system.


Liverpool Canoe Club Trip to the French Alps Part 1 (Part 2 in next months newsletter) – Briancon Region 23rd July to 8th August

 This year the minibus was fully booked with 15 boats in the trailer and all seats taken in the minibus.  We were also due to be joined by two cars travelling out later in the week. More information…..


Friday – Saturday The trip down – Would we make it?

We set off from Formby before 7pm for the drive down to meet the boat at Dover.  We had a few hours kip on the sailing to Calais.  The trailer was well packed but on the drive down it seemed to pull very slowly up hill.  Which route should we take?  Gap may have less of hill, Col du Lautaret is very high, Tunnel du Frejuis into Italy may put us close enough to empty the trailer and make it over in shuttles. In the end we opted for the latter, first gear for most of the way crawling along at under 10mph.  We just made it over to arrive at the campsite a little before 8pm (24 hours door to door.  Mark Moore  More Photos……


Sunday 25th – Argentiere La Bassee Slalom Course and the Middle Durance

Having only one vehicle for the first few days Keith drove to the get out and cycled back to join us.   After spending a couple of hours warming up and getting used to the speed of the water on the slalom course we set off from the campsite to paddle down the middle Durance.  A bit of a wobbly start but most of us managed ok.  It was interesting to see how much the river had changed since last year with many new channels but fewer trees blocking our way.  Stuart Woodward`s Canoe Control had moved from the Gyronde Valley to this section of the Durance and are located just above the grade two rapid.  We paddled on past the second get out point by the cement works and on to the broken weir.  This has two channels (the left has a 2m drop while the right has a swift flowing S bend with a pour over in the middle at the bottom. The river now widened with gravel banks with several channels to chose from, many with a few up-rooted trees strewn across them.  A few more rapids led to glider airfield and rafting school.  Anthony Vaccaro  More Photos….

Monday 26th – The Gyronde and middle Durance
The Gyronde  Ten of us set off in the minibus to paddle this 6km, grade 3 section of the Gyronde. Initially splitting into two groups of five we were just about to launch when Steve B showed us exemplary leadership skills, informing us he’d forgotten his spray deck and would have to drive back and meet us at the campsite! J. A new group of four and five was soon arranged and we set off on quite low water with plenty of space between kayakers. The river had an 8mph pace and proved exceedingly cold, with plenty of scrapes and scratches with an exceedingly technical first section due to the low water and protruding rocks. With everyone making it to our first eddy point at the river side, we were informed we would soon be entering a gauge, at the end of which was a dangerous weir which would require a portage. Setting off again slightly apprehensive of this obstacle, extra space was given between paddlers to allow plenty of time for breaking out prior to the weir, which proved quite easy in shallow water. Although not high, the weir contained 3 or 4 large rocks which would easily cause pinning and showed why it was more obvious to portage. Following safe passage we continued to float down the river, admiring the views whilst dodging the odd rock until we came to the point where water from the Durance Gorge (a grade 5 paddle) joined ours. Continuing to meander everybody eventually reached the top of the slalom course next to our campsite, where Steve was ready and waiting, and before a technical run to the bottom practising the breaking in and out of the numerous eddy’s. An excellent morning’s paddle. 

Neil Moult  More Photos….


The Middle Durance

My first time on white water, excited, apprehensive but ready to go. The water looked fast but it also looked fun. We followed Keith into the flow and loved it. Mum had trouble relaxing but kept up and upright! I loved it all the way.  I was amazed at how much I actually enjoyed it. I felt exhilarated. The best bit for me was when I followed Keith into some of the bigger waves and they went right up on my kayak. Keith said mum hit all the big stoppers in the water although she tried to miss them, but she didn’t get stopped! She still can’t quite believe she didn’t go in. We got out about two thirds of the journey and the others went on.  I wanted to go on but we got out with Nikky, mum’s guardian angel. Overall it was fantastic and I can`t wait to go again. James Orritt  More Photos….


Tuesday 27thLower Guil to St Clements
We drove to the raft station at St Clements and dropped off the bike.  The minibus then took the intrepid paddlers along the gravel road under the towering cliffs (Danger, route barred signs marked the entrance). At the put in the water was clear and relatively warm.  The start was a little crowded with three groups from Eindhoven all waiting for the return of their drivers.  We headed off into a fantastically picturesque valley.  A waterfall poured down from the left over a 150 metres above us while conglomerate (bouldery, cement like rock) towers and pillars appeared on the river right with the remains of the old fort at Eygliers on top of the tall cliffs.  The river had changed considerably since last year with the channels more defined and clear of trees.  Two excellent little playwaves provided plenty of fun and excitement.  The river then had a sizeable wave train which provided more drama when Sally’s deck imploded and her boat filled with water. She carried on regardless and made it to the bottom of the rapid with her boat now underwater.


The Guil now joins with the Durance with a series of boils and turbulent water.  Both groups then spent a while practicing breaking in, ferry gliding and rolling in moving water before paddling over the shingle beds past a gravel works to the St Clement Slalom Course.  Here we spent the rest of the afternoon playing on the waves.  Headcam Tony tried out his camera underwater and Nicky later practiced with her throw line with Jim as bate.  Mark and Neil entertained the people in the café with rolling practice in the warm swimming pool as the rest of us finished off the day on the terrace of the café.


Sue, John and Ben joined us on the campsite with their caravan, now a little worse for wear after a high speed blow-out of a tyre on the long journey down.  Later that night most of us went to watch the street circus and performing acts in the centre of L` Argentiere-la-Bessee. Keith S   More Photos…….


Wednesday 28th – Upper Durance and Upper Guisane
Upper Durance 
Third time lucky for me today, my third try at white water and at last a little relaxation on fast moving river, fantastic! At first the same nerves attacked me as I followed Keith across a bed of rocks and swirling but shallow water. Over that obstacle, I found a new level of calm, and began to enjoy the journey. A little way down, a good sized boulder tried it’s best to get me over, but I used a low brace and made it through, a little ruffled but upright and very pleased with my self. As we progressed the water was reasonably kind and I managed to steer really rather welbenl! Towards the end of the run a couple of corners between low cliffs reminded me I am still most definitely a beginner, but proud as punch I made it through. After a short rest we headed for the last stretch of our journey, through some fantastic bouncy rapids (wouldn’t have said that two days ago) fantastic!    Sally Orritt  More Photos….

Upper Guisane After feasting heartily (well those of us who had remembered our sandwiches anyway!), we packed up and shipped out to attempt the upper Guisane, and attempt it we did! After dropping off bodies and boats with Dom declining to paddle the upper most section (he didn’t want to show us up), 10 of us launched from below le casse. There was a great deal of discussion with Jim regarding the number of cemeteries along the riverside (3 in all I believe) and the distinct lack of hospitals. Despite this gloomy speculation we set out with high spirits and enjoyed some grade 3 water, flanked by trees and breathing fresh alpine air. After passing Môntier les Bains we arrived at the S bend, a continuous raging rock filled section which managed to claim victim to 5 of the 10.

Keith set off first and glided effortlessly through the raging rock filled torrent to reach the middle to take pictures of the rest of us struggling. Helen managed well before hitting a rock and getting flipped upside down. She was distracted from her rolling attempt by the arrival of Neil on top of her! With one shoe lost and her dignity taking a scrape from the rocks Helen recovered her style and continued well. Meanwhile Neil’s dramatic run left him relatively dry and thinking “I don’t know how I did that!”. Well done Neil, however you did it. Anthony’s run started well with him avoiding many of the boulders strewn in his path. And it would have continued so, but he seemed to change direction when Helen went over, perhaps to catch an eddie. Alas this change in direction spelled a disaster for Antony as he like others became pinned on a rock and felt the river’s chill water bite. As for myself I initially enjoyed the technicality of the S-bend as I navigated the boulders, but as more boulders stood in my path it became a case of picking the line with the smallest ones! The river flow didn’t let up and when Helen and Anthony went in the situation became desperate. I changed course and was confronted with a massive boulder. I thought I’d had it but instead the water took me straight over the boulder. If I was anyone else I’d call me a lucky so and so!

The second group fared similarly. Mark led the way with a fantastic run, his high braces a credit to him and he made it down without a scratch (relatively speaking). David’s run entered difficulty when he “ended up on the wrong side of a rock”. Having been pinned he bailed but provided livebait for Nicki and Anthony to practice rescue techniques. Jim also got stuck between a rock and a hard river. After gracefully tumbling out keeping hold of his paddle (well done), he watched his boat float away. Initial retrieval attempts failed but Jim was eventually reunited with his boat 200m downstream. Nicki’s paddle turned to a swim halfway through the S-bend but she declined comment on how this occurred, “I can’t precisely remember”. The cold water must have been a shock! Steve came next and miraculously managed to survive unscathed.

We regrouped at the bridge in Les Guibertes before continuing down, being joined by Dom, John and Ben for the final stage of the paddle. We took in the beautiful sights as the river passed through Villeneuve town before taking out at Chantemerle. There were no further incidents, which is just as well because the upper Guisane exhausted us! All in all, an equally tiring and thrilling day!


Michael Brockway  More Photos….


Thursday 29th – The (Campsite to Embrun) 

It was an early start all the group set off down the river from the campsite the water was at different level (lower) and there was a number of trees blocking the way but after a few wobbles and a couple of little swims everybody seemed happy. When we came to the slalom course everybody gave it a good go. A special mention to Sally, James, John and Ben, well done.

The river Durance starts as a small stream above Briancon…. That’s what the river guide tells you! From having a nice afternoon nap on the banks of the Durance a marathon trip in force ten gales. Eight of us set out for the section from St Clements to Embrun.  The current was running at a reasonable rate or fast for the Alpine novices. The river has a varied amount of challenges, wave trains, small play waves, swirling eddies and boils, and a number of places to practice impeccable rolls (Anthony and Jim). After a relatively slow build up and some bouncy waves led to the infamous Rabioux rapid. Due to the nature of this drop we took it one by one. It was good to see the first of us to get down trouble free. Neil nailed it…nice one. Steve, Anthony and Jim pulled off seriously bomb-proof rolls even if I do say so myself. The river led on for a further 16 km with loads of more rapids of varying lengths and difficulties. I`d love to give a more detailed description of the lower Durance but it’s really difficult to recall accurate details when in the zone or as I like to call it the haze of terror. Anyway, all got down in great spirits and not surprisingly a bit tired after a 40Km paddle.   Jim Slater  More Photos…..

The Team,

Mark Moore, James Orritt, Sally Orritt, Richard Orritt, Jim (dayglow) Slater, Neil Moult, Helen Siertsema, Nicky Pyper, Keith S, Steve Bond, Mark Garrod, Ben Cooke, John Cooke, Michael Brockway, David Brockway, Dominic Buckley and Anthony (Headcam) Vaccaro


More Photos…….


22/07/10 New Brighton Paddle Wednesday 21st July


 After the heavy rains of previous days and flooding in Seaforth the evening looked sunny.  5 of us met at new Brighton and Mike and Brian were paddling across from Crosby.  There were a few waves building beyond the pole which marks the outer end of the New Brighton breakwater.  However, first we paddled over the enormous cruise liner which was exiting the port.  After a few photographs we headed round to Perch Rock and played in the breaking waves for a while.  Then a dark black storm hit over Liverpool, the rain started and bolts of lightning lit up the sky.  Brian and Mike had to paddle back across into the storm, after a few second thoughts they headed off.  Upon landing at Crosby the setting sun produced an eerie yellow sky.  A magical evening.


Brian G, Steve B, Mike B, Stuart N, Jeff C, Keith S, Karl T and guess appearance from Mark M    More Photos……



21/0710 Endless Summer Weekend – Saturday 17th July - Bull Bay to Moelfre


Having just got back from the Capel-Curig 2 Star weekend I was not planning on two consecutive weekends - however, seeing the pictures of the various sea trips on the Monday night talk at the club house the thought of getting out on the sea became very compelling. The seed was sown and I made plans to take my boat out on a sea trip, it's a cross over boat with drop down skeg and tracks pretty good for a river boat - more importantly I felt confident that I could handle most conditions that might come my way and have some fun at the same time. As the boats were unloaded and lined up on the pebble beach at Porthllechon at Bull Bay  Kirk & Brian strongly suggested I use the sea boat they had spare - this posed a few quandaries most of all, I had never paddled a sea boat before and the sea conditions were at best, testing - having pondered for at least 60 seconds my mind was made up by the sea boat being unloaded and mine being securely locked on one of the cars roof rack.


My first impression when on the water was - 'Tippy' - "It's ok just keep paddling and it will be fine" I was told that's the way they are - it felt like I was tiring to balance on a knife edge - within minutes we were out of the shelter of the headland and straight into what I can only describe as, a very challenging environment !!!! - The incoming tide was being pushed up by a force 4 to 5 strong wind which was coming diagonally behind and across our canoes. My thoughts and feelings at this time were one of self preservation - Tom our assessor at the last weeks 2 star course would have been proud of my numerous low brace support strokes - going back was not an option as the wind and sea conditions made this impossible so we headed on towards Port Amlwch - this is a buttressed concreted fortress of a sea port which reflects the prevailing sea conditions and protection needed - a sea wall some 60 feet high protecting a narrow haven of tranquillity where I could at last relax and get my head together -  It's funny how bizarre things happen at moments like this - we had just got out of our kayaks when a Brass band struck up with drums & bugles that sent sound waves clattering around the high rock faces of this peaceful port - quite bizarre.


I new I was pushing my own canoeing limits and I didn't want to spoil the others paddling day out so I had to make my mind up about the rest of the trip - It was suggested I used Christian's split paddles which were longer than my own general purpose blades - these I gratefully accepted - more importantly I felt the support of the group and was willing to back my own skills in getting to grips with this boat and the prevailing sea conditions - so we set off along the coast towards Point Lynas.


The paddle made a difference and I tried to relax letting the boat have it's own way - paddling in the lee of the cliffs kept the wind  from playing havoc with the sea and so I began to get into a rhythm. We made the beach at Point Lynas about 1pm were we had lunch and a chance to stretch out. Upon landing I thought Kirk was a bit keen as he was doing a series of press ups on the rocks - a new chapter has now been written into the canoeist manual on use of Zips, dry suits and Toilet breaks but we don't need to go their do weee!!


We met a group of canoeists in the sheltered bay - expressed pleasantries - and headed out to the point - 'apparently' 'their is a rock shelf  around this point that makes the water do interesting things - 'apparently' this is  a feature of the trip all I know is that the sea became really big with rolling waves and for good measure a good blast of a force 5 to make the equation that more delightful - the worst bit was having to turn across it  - encouraged by the shouts of just ....... Paddle -  I did and found myself in the position of surfing in a sea kayak - seeing the bow of my boat disappearing down under the water into a trough as I slid down a wave was actually a bit of  good fun -  a stern rudder or two kept it on track and we made good progress around the point and onto Dulas Bay.


We were now sheltered from the wind and the sea conditions flattened has we hugged the coast and I could do what I love best about canoeing which is to paddle my own bit of sea with my thoughts, taking in the scenery and knowing I had managed in part to develop a few more skills and to complete my first sea trip of some 5 hours and about 10 miles in distance - all that was left was to paddle around the headland at Moelfre to the landing point just beyond the life boat station - this last section proved illusive as by now the tide had turned and we had turned into a head wind  - sitting down with a cool pint of Guinness that night brought a real poignant significance to the name of the camp site pub, the 'Paddlers Return'.


John Pegram        More photos……..      More Photos from Chris Murphy……..


19/07/10 Endless Summer Weekend – 16-18th July


Well, summer ended on the Endless Summer weekend with a lot of rain, a great deal of rain and a fair bit of wind on the side. Thanks to the 30 LCC members who attended and made it such a great weekend - even if the weather didn't play ball last night. Mike A


Sunday on the Straits – 18th July
I arrived late for my first experience of Alternative Anglesey missing out the first day and arriving about 5pm Saturday evening.  Not 100% sure that I was in the right place I asked the manager if there was anyone from the Liverpool Canoe Club at the site.

‘Anyone?  There are bloody thousands of them!!’ was the response. 

After refusing to take any money from me I left to find everybody else.  Quickly setting up my tent I joined everybody for food, a grand affair with a barbeque on one side and a three course banquet with drive through facilities to the other.  After food the beers were broken out (wine at the banqueting table) I felt it would be rude not to join in, luckily a bottle of rum had found its way into my car and I found myself relaxing and enjoying the friendly chit chat.  During this it came to light that the local pub was located not 100 yards from our camping area.  A couple of games of pool accompanied by Karaoke (I was told that the performances we better in the bar area) rounded off a pleasant evening.

Waking early the next morning it became apparent that the generous offer of a money back guarantee if the weather was bad would come in useful. This was due to the small tornado which had swept through the campsite taking at least 1 tent with it.  For the first time in my life I experienced ‘van envy’.  Breakfast at a nice little café was followed by a short drive to the start of our trip up the Menai Straits.  The guys were very supportive and helpful, assuring me that the water fall was not too bad and the waves would be no higher than 3 or 4 foot.  Adrian also seemed sure that the dragon did not come out from under the bridge on Sundays.  It was a most enjoyable paddle and I tried to pick up some of the useful information that came in my direction. All too soon it came to an end and we were back on dry land packing up the gear.

A great weekend mainly due to the generosity and friendliness of everybody involved, I was only disappointed that I could not make both days.


Al Grantham        More photos……..

19/07/10 Hilbre Island X 2 – Sunday 11th July



Sun 11th's trip to Hilbre Island started 24hrs earlier for one paddler (it was Mike Alter) who misread the e-mail and arrived early Saturday morning.......alone. He said he had a great day and made the full trip around the island. On Sunday, as planned, a small group met on time and under Chris's expert advice devised a plan to reach the island in a fairly strong wind state. One paddler insisted he should try a roll / capsize in his loan boat We successfully re-seated him in his kayak but again he insisted on another capsize / roll before he decided to leave for breakfast.


It took nearly one and half hours to make it to little eye against the strong headwind, where we stopped for lunch and a bit of sight-seeing. We then went on to achieve the quickest ever return journey in under 15 minutes.  The Guinness book of records couldn’t keep up with the pace so unfortunately it is an unofficial record.       


Paddlers were ....Sunday team ....Karl, Chris, John, Peter, Jim, Dave, Steve, Will, and Helen.....................Saturday team....Mike Alter.

Hilbre Island X 1 - Saturday 10th July


Fantastic, a Saturday trip to Hilbre thought I. Meet 0900 for a get on at 0930, I can't find my tide book but I trust Karl’s figures, weather looking good - perfect, I'm going!


I'm really excited now, I haven't been to Hilbre in ages and the last time I went I got shouted at by the warden, so its up early, butties made, flask filled and off to collect my boat.


I arrive at West Kirkby, I'm slightly early but no matter. There are some other paddlers getting ready, but I don't recognise them so I will wait for Karl as I'm a bit shy - my mum always told me not to talk to strange men dressed in neoprene and wearing skirts.


Seeing as I've got a bit of time to kill, I will watch these guys off. I get to the slipway and think to myself that the water was high if we weren't leaving until 0930, but hey, maybe Karl got the times wrong. I suit up and move my boat down to the get in. Another paddler arrives, but I don't recognise him or his boat.


0930 comes and goes, no sign of Karl or anyone else I know - this other chap is faffing around his car. Oh well, I'm here, its flattish, I'll just go out to the buoy and wait a few minutes.


Its lonely out here! That other chap has put his boat on his car and gone.


The air turns bluer than the sky as I decide that no-one else is bothering to turn up. So stiffening the sinews and stopping the quiver in the upper lip, I man up and head off to Hilbre on my own - very silly, don't paddle on your own, I never do it. A bit more blueness hits the sky, this is cabin fever setting in.

 Paddling along, it is actually quite nice not worrying about anyone else. The seals are following so I decide to take some pictures - the seals all disappear! Its like that old kit Kat advert with the roller skating Pandas. (I'm showing my age now. If you have never seen the advert, youtube kit Kat panda).


Seeing as I have obviously set off late, it's a case of around Hilbre a quick play in the overfalls, no stopping for lunch, and then straight back before the tide turns and I am fighting both wind and tide. Pausing to admire the view, listening to the weather report, and lying back whilst I watch someone wade through the water to a stranded boat, I completely tune out. Unfortunately I hadn't heard the huge seal come up right behind me. Having got so used to the quiet solitude, I nearly capsized when he suddenly decided to exhale noisily and splash back into the water. And with that it was back to paddling, and back to shore.


A great trip!  Thanks for organising Karl.  Mike A


13/07/10 Kayaking Photography talk at the club last Monday 12th July


Jonathan Maddock`s gave a very interesting talk on taking kayaking photographs last night, consequently it was very well attended.  A lot of tips were offered on how to get the best out of both your camera and the conditions.  Jonathan used many of his photographs while on club trips as examples.  Composition, lighting and cropping were all important in getting that outstanding photograph. 


Faces give that added interest; too many kayaking shots are of peoples` backs paddling away in the distance.  Jonathan`s favourite technique seemed to be to get light reflecting up from a kayak or wave to add light and contrast to a face.  Shapes and leading lines also seemed to feature heavily in his photography.  If you missed the talk we would hope to put on a similar one some time next year.  (Next months talk is by Ian Bell and is on “camping from a canoe or kayak”) Click for more information……


See more of Jonathans Photographs at http://www.photohorizons.com/

13/07/10 Capel Curig training weekend (1, 2 and 3 star)


The club weekend based at Dol-gam campsite on the banks of the Llugwy was well subscribed.  We all met on the campsite on Saturday morning with the river up to its banks after the nights heavy rain.  Theo had run Forestry Falls earlier that morning as he claimed there was nothing in the upper Conway.  With the water flowing through the trees it was probably wise.


Darren Bohanna`s 50 ATC students and staff met us on banks of Llynnau Mymbyr – the lake next to Plas y Brenin.  Our coaches (Mark G, John B, Carl L, Ian B and Keith S) took several groups of two star, 3 groups of 1 star paddlers and 5 candidates for their 3 star Award.  Tom, the ATC level 2 coach took our paddlers.  This cross over works well and ensures good practise and a variety of teaching and learning.  Strong winds and heavy rain made paddling the open boats (canoes) difficult but the lake and river was the highest we had seen it for years (to the bottom of Plas y Brenins ski slope.


To finish the day we paddled down to Jim`s Bridge where the 3 star candidates were picked-up by the ATC minibuses and our paddlers walked back along the forest track for their cars.  Later that evening we heard about Mandy`s shopping trip to Llandudno which had turned into an epic when she had to return by train to Liverpool to pick up the spare electronic key as the key fob had died and stubbornly refused to start the car.


This year the midges were blown away by the strong wind and the BBQ was a less fiery affair (Mark opted for fish and chips rather than “button burgers”.


 Sunday was a more pleasant day with some sun and lighter winds.  Most groups made it into the Second Lake.  Although the number of passes were less this year it was clear that paddlers needed to broaden their paddling experience (more trips and variety, especially with open boats).  Feedback from candidates indicated that the weekend was most enjoyable and that they had learned a lot from the variety of training offered.  Congratulations to Liam Mckearney for his paddle sport start, Clare Warren for her 1 star and to Phil Mckearney for his 2 star.


We all paddled the Llugwy down to Jim`s bridge again while Carl worked out how to solve car keys version 2.  (He had slammed down the boot with his key trapped and it locked his car remotely.  With his son on his way to bring spare keys he did manage to prise his way in with the use of a coat hanger!)  I think I am going to take a spare set of keys next year.


Phil P, John P, Liam M, Kathy M, Clare W, Jim S, Mandy S, Keith S, Mark G, Carl L, Ian B, John B, Mark M, Ivan F, John P, Michal G, Chris T and Theo G        More Photos……


07/07/10 A Day Trip to Lundy


I've wanted to sea kayak to Lundy ever since I went there on a climbing trip a few years ago. It's a granite island in the Bristol Channel about 5km long by 2km wide - about 20 nautical miles West of Woolacombe in Devon. My ideal scenario was to take climbing kit, camp there, climb the "Devils Slide", a 400 foot easy angled granite slab, circumnavigate the island, then paddle back - probably over three days. Unfortunately, logistically, that was quite a big ask. It would need at least one other competent sea kayaker, ideally with some climbing experience. It would also mean booking the camping well in advance (camping is strictly limited on Lundy), and would mean taking at least one day off work. Most irritating of all, if the weather was not good on the day, it would all be for nothing. Due to these reasons I'd left the trip on the back burner for the past few years.


A few months ago one of my mates announced that he was getting married in Cornwall. As the date got nearer, I decided that it was too far to drive down just for the wedding, so I thought that I'd spend a few days in the South West and do some climbing. I also started to seriously toy with the idea of going to Lundy. It clashed with the LCC trip to Scotland, so that ruled out most of the sea paddlers that I know, but one or two of my mates showed an interest. I even suggested that it could form a memorable part of the stag do, there was some initial enthusiasm for this, but it didn't last... I did manage to persuade Alison to go down to the South West for a few days cycling/climbing though, and I started to consider perhaps just going to Lundy for a day.


A few days before the trip, and planning was already at an advanced level, I had ruled out buying a chart, as they were expensive, but I had found a website with a small diagram of Lundy and the North Devon Coast, and I'd borrowed a laminated map of Britain from Keith - I now knew that Lundy was roughly due West of Woolacombe. Even better, the tide times were just about perfect, if I went on the Wednesday, on the way down to Cornwall, I wouldn't need to get up early to catch the ebb, and if I paddled quickly I should even get back to the mainland before dark. The general consensus seemed to be that this plan was a little optimistic, but I decided that the thought of floating around on the Bristol Channel all night would probably motivate me to paddle harder if necessary.


I went up to the stag night in the Lake District on the Sat, Sun and Mon - I then had all of Tuesday to finalise the plans and drive to Devon. The first thing I thought that I ought to do was thoroughly practice self rescue, as I've never tried to get back into a sea kayak in rough water (thinking about it, I've never tried to get back into any type of boat, in any kind of water). My back garden wasn't the ideal place to practice - but I compromised and watched a short video clip about it on You Tube (having watched it, I also made a mental note to stay in my boat at all costs). I found some co-ordinates for the landing beach at Lundy, for Woolacombe and for Lee bay (a couple of miles West of Ilfracombe) - and stuck them in my GPS. I then thought I'd try and calculate a bearing taking the tides (nearer neaps than springs) into account - adding 10 degrees, then a bit extra (or is it less?) for magnetic variation. I figured that, as in anything other than flat calm I'd be lucky to stay within ten degrees either side of any bearing it didn't need to be too accurate. The weather forecast was still good, the only downside was that the surf forecast was pretty high, there had been a couple of days of high winds, and a swell of six to seven foot was forecast at Woolacombe.


We drove down to Woolacombe that afternoon, arriving just before dusk, we could see Lundy out to sea, not far from the setting sun - it didn't look that far away at all... I got up early the next morning, had breakfast and then we drove down to Woolacombe beach. I started to unpack all my kit, sorting it out and sticking it into dry bags etc. The surf looked pretty big (a good six foot), but I thought that I should just about be able to get out OK. There was no sign of Lundy, but I knew that it generally wasn't visible in the mornings. By 09:50 I was nearly ready, but the bay was now full of surfers, I started to think that if I did get caught by a large wave, and side surfed back in to the beach, I'd take quite a few of them out - and from memory they don't react very well to that. So, a quick change of plan - I stuffed everything back in the car, tied the boat on to the roof again and drove to Lee Bay. The sea there was as flat as a pancake. I tried to phone the Swansea coastguard to tell them my plans - but no reception - I delegated that task to Alison, then quickly got ready and paddled off towards Morte Point.


I soon passed the lighthouse, keeping well out to sea, as there was a big swell crashing on to the rocks. I amended my planned bearing slightly, as I was now a couple of miles further North than I had expected, and paddled steadily off, seemingly into the middle of the ocean. After a few kilometres I noticed that in my haste to set off I'd clipped the far end of my deck pump on to my deck lines just out of reach. After a few athletic contortions I accepted the fact that it definitely was out of reach, but consoled myself with the thought that in a sea large enough to need to use it, I probably wouldn't be able to stop paddling anyway. The sea was pretty empty, I saw a couple of lobster boats a few miles away but little else, after about 10 or 12 km I saw a slight shadow in the cloud on the horizon - perhaps it was an island, perhaps it wasn't? I saw a few gannets, several small groups of guillemots and razor bills, and then a couple of pods of dolphins and/or porpoises, which all helped to relieve the boredom. The island slowly became bigger, and occasional glances at my GPS confirmed that it was indeed getting nearer. The tide seemed pretty negligible until the last kilometre or so, when I had to paddle reasonably hard to cross the tidal race that runs to the South of the island, but I was soon across the main flow, and then paddled into the small bay, which is often the only reasonably sheltered landing place on the island.


It had taken me three hours and fifty minutes to get there, I now had a couple of hours to kill before the paddle back. I unpacked my dry bags, took off my wet kit, hung it to dry on a boulder, then wandered up the steep path to the cluster of houses where the majority of the inhabitants and visitors stay. I noticed from a signpost that the landing fee had now gone up from £3.50 to £5.00 (ouch!). Nevertheless, I thought that I ought to go into the island's pub, the Marisco Tavern and pay the fee, as I could then sign the sea kayaking visitors book that is held in the bar. After waiting for about twenty seconds in the empty bar, my frugality overcame my desire for immortality in the visitors book - I had tried to pay after all... I then wandered through the small campsite towards the old disused lighthouse, as I remembered that you used to be able to climb up to the top of it, and sit in a deckchair where the light used to be. You still could, so after climbing the granite stairs I sat up there for a while and took a few photos. I also phoned the Swansea coastguard to let them know that I'd arrived and would be heading back at low tide. All too soon I had to start walking back to the boat, to eat my butties and then be ready to paddle back. Walking back to the landing bay I realised that there was actually a strong Easterly wind blowing, strangely I hadn't noticed it when it was behind me. Great! - that should allow me to savour the paddle back even more... 


Just after low tide, I put on my paddling kit again and dragged the boat down to the sea, at least I could see the Devon coast in the distance, so I didn't need to worry too much about bearings. The first part of the paddle seemed to go relatively quickly, even though the island steadfastly refused to get much smaller whenever I looked back at it. In the middle of the crossing though, the North Devon coast hardly seemed to be moving past me at all, but at least I could glance at my GPS every so often, just to prove to myself that my destination really was getting closer. I had decided to land at Woolacombe as opposed to Lee Bay, as I figured that it should be easier to get in through the surf, rather than out through it, and that there should be less surfers (or at least less body boarders) around after 20:00. More to the point Alison was probably more likely to happily wait there for a couple of hours, rather than at the very quiet Lee Bay. As I paddled in to the bay the surf was still pretty big, and dumping, and there were still quite a few body boarders. Ah well, I was committed now... I found a relatively quiet spot, smiled politely at the surfers, who didn't seem especially keen to share the waves, and waited for what I hoped was a calm spell. After one or two false starts, quickly followed by some energetic back paddling, I reached the beach, still pointing forwards and hopefully without unduly alarming too many surfers.


I dragged the boat up the beach a little and quickly got changed, as it was pretty cool now. The paddle back had taken 4 hrs 26 mins, the GPS showed that I had travelled over 69km, of which I guess about 3km was walking on the island. No sign of Alison, so I found my phone and gave her a ring - just to get an automated message saying that the phone was turned off. Hmmm, not exactly what I was hoping for - the tent and campsite were about six miles inland. I dragged my boat up towards a couple trying to have a romantic evening on the beach and asked them if they'd mind looking after it, while I wandered round the car parking spots in Woolacombe. Fortunately I soon found Alison wandering along the path overlooking the bay, she asked where I'd come from, as she had (allegedly) been looking out for me for at least the last hour. I decided that it was probably best to make no comment on that, at least not until after she had helped me carry my boat up to the car... Soon the boat was on the roof, the car was packed, and the sun was setting over the sea, not far away from the island.


A grand day out!   More photos……….   Dinny Davies

05/07/10 White Water Rescue and Safety course for Club Members – River Tryweryn 3 July 2010


We arrived at the upper site to find two other informal groups running similar courses.  Theo tried to negotiate but we just went on anyway.  We followed a similar programme to previous years by looking at equipment, throw line techniques on the land.  We then practised defensive and aggressive swimming in the rapids above the chipper (a large angled mesh designed to force fish through the counter).  Landing a throw line near to a swimmer proved more difficult that it looks. We spent some time at this before most perfected the art.  After lunch we looked at rescuing gear and boats.  Several scenarios were setup to look at basic rope techniques.  The emphasis was on KISS (Keep it Simple).  To finish, we looked at a foot entrapment and how to stabilise a victim. 


A few of us paddled down to the bottom car park to round off a sound weekend.  If you are thinking of paddling on moving water you need to go on the next course run by the club.   More Photos……


Key recommendations from the course:

  • Better to throw a line too soon rather than too late!
  • Need river shoes with good tread and grip
  • You need buoyancy aids with more flotation for aerated water
  • Buoyancy bags are needed in stern and ideally in front of plate footrests
  • Slings should be NOT be sewn together – simple overhand knot in the end
  • All karabiners should be screw gates

05/07/10 River Tryweryn 2 July 2010


Seven of us arrived at the White water Centre.  Write-up to follow……….   Kirk W


05/07/10 Chester Weir – playboating on Wednesdays 30th June 2010


Although the Dee was very low the weir at Chester provides moving water at any time of the year.  We hit the water for some playboating and general play on the steps on the left.  After pulling off some vertical moves we were joined by two local playboaters who proceeded to burn us off pulling dry flatwater loops followed by clean cartwheels in each stopper.  We watched for a time before heading off to return to the cars.


Jim S, Ivan F, Theo G, Mark G, Jon S and John C


More Photos…..


29/05/10 July`s Newsletter Published
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