Volume 14 Issue 6

June 2014

June Paddler
The monthly newsletter of Liverpool Canoe Club

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News items or reports on club activities should be sent to website@liverpoolcanoeclub.co.uk

 

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Major Trip Reports.…


28/5/14 14
Missing footplate from the docks
Fortunately the footplate from the large yellow burn has been found on top of a barge moored to one of the pontoons at the docks.  Many club members spend a lot of time looking after the equipment which now numbers over 135 kayaks and canoes.  If you use club equipment can you please ensure that it is always returned to the racks in at least as good condition as when it was borrowed.

  • All club paddling should be on the calendar and open to all members.  Risk assessment……                Club rules and guidelines……
  • The shed should only be unlocked by the club member responsible for overseeing the session.  They must prepare the white board and check all paddlers are safe on the water.
    All paddlers should add their name to the white board when they go on the water.
  • All club equipment is to be logged on the equipment list before it is removed (hired) from the place of storage.
  • Never remove footrests or other fittings.
  • Buoyancy Aids must be zipped up and hung neatly in the shed.
  • Kayaks should be returned, drained of all water and stored on their sides on the racks (please fill a rack with 4 or 5 boats before starting a new rack space – leave the middle until last)
  • Once a rack space is full, the locking cable can be threaded through ready for locking.


28/5/14 14 Are you getting all the information on club trips and activities – club messaging system
As well as the website the club uses a number of different media to circulate details of club activities to all its members.  You can add (and remove) your own email address to a number of googlegroups in order to receive information and posts from members on events, courses and activities. (You do NOT need a Google account or  Google email) The main group can be accessed here….

 

28/5/14 Major dates for Club events – for more detail check the online the calendar…….

13 -15 June 2014 Anglesey Weekend No2 (Junior Club Camping weekend based at 4 Mile Bridge) Pen-Y-Bont Farm LL65 3EY Coordinator Keith S    High Tide: 1:00 PM BST  9.2m

Sun, 29 June 2014 Hilbre Island Sea Kayak Race  Coordinator Keith S  High Tide:  1:14 PM BST   8.6m

11-13 July 2014 Anglesey weekend No3 - Rhosnieger LL64 5XA coordinator Jenny Brown High Tide:  11:37 AM BST   9.1m

25 July – 10 August 2014 Alpine paddling holidayBriancon, France.  coordinator Keith S Click for more information……

26 July – 3 August 2014 River Thames Expedition (Lechlade to Wallingford to Teddington) - Coordinator Carl Leungsangnam email cleungs1@hotmail.com

10 August 2014 Club run Safety Cover for Liverpool Triathlon Club paddlers required to help Click to book a place.........

17-30 August 2014 Sea Kayak Trip - Great Lakes Toronto Canada - Coordinator Frankie Annan  07710269278

19 -21 September 2014 Anglesey weekend No4 Outdoor Alternative LL65 2NQ  Coordinator Frankie Annan  High Tide: 9:34 AM BST   7.8m

 

28/5/14 May Photo of the Month Competition

 

 

Liverpool Canoe Club Photo Competition Winners



Congratulations to Kathy Morton for her winning photo:

“Typical lunch stop on the Round Menorca trip at Easter” Cala Macarella

 

 

Runner up Jonathan Maddock:

“Jose Santos surfing at Rhosneigr”

 

Runner up Andrew Garland:

“Nicky emerging from a cave in Menorca

Not found your photograph ? – see all the entries for this month………..


Criteria for the photo of the month competition…. 25% Quirkiness and framing of the subject, 25% Quality and sharpness of the photograph, 25% Diversity of the subject material (ie not all one discipline), 25% has LCC logo or clothing in the shot.

 

28/5/14 Pembroke Bank holiday Camping Weekend

Even with wet weather on the forecast 22 of Liverpool Canoe Club's finest turned out for the annual Pembroke adventure. Sarah and Sophie arrived early for a Friday evening surf, while John spent the day enjoying the sunshine along the south coast. In the absence of surf for the rest of the weekend the sea kayakers went off to explore the local shores and the little boats did minimum distance with maximum caves and tunnels. Saturday saw 6 paddlers representing team little boat bobbing about in ankle snapper waves at Abereiddi before the brave took the plunge and had a go at cliff jumping in the blue lagoon, and the very brave (Sarah) took a leap of faith from the very top jump!

 

During the afternoon the sea kayakers were spotted from the coastal path paddling by St Non's bay, ice cream was sampled, footpaths explored and souvenir tea towels bought. Since BBQ's in tents are not the done thing, 2 were lit in the campers barn while a birthday party provided the cheesy tunes and added to the smoke with their own. This might have been the most civilised LCC BBQ with candle light picnic benches for all.

 

Sunday was the start of the tunnel tours! From Abbercastle the little boats surveyed many caves, surged between rock outcrops, caught dinner and scrambled though Yanys y castell island tunnel. A seal joined us as we returned to land and gave Kelly a shock as it tried to haul out on the back of her sit-on-top. A quick shuttle to Porthgain and we made it to wave off the Beeline Britain paddlers under the escort of our sea kayakers out of the harbour.

 

Back on the water we explored the next cave tunnel of Yans-fach island then enjoyed lunch in the sun by the harbour - the chips are recommended and someone was spotted enjoying Bara Brith with a pot of tea! This was followed by more ice cream and coastal walks before more traditional BBQ's and mystic flame fires in the field accompanied by a fantastic sunset. Monday everyone going afloat headed to Ceibwr bay and explored the Whitch's Cauldron, many deep dark tiny caves, 2 more headland tunnels and lucky Sarah saw (disturbed) an otter chilling in a cave all before lunch and the drive home.

 

Jenny Brown   More Photos….

 

Another excellent weekend, thanks to all who came: Chris Thompson, John Maddock, Mark & Vikkii Steward, Alan Peachment, Tony Orton, Tony Bennett, Sophie Steventon, Andy Garland, Tom & Kelly Prime, Sarah Gillie, Debbie Hughes, Bob Giles, Don Brooks, Stephen Gille, Tony Robinson, Steve & Jeanette Bond, Jose Santos, Steve Bond!

 

 

Sunday Porthgain to Abereiddy & return 25th May 2014


Sunday brought a Southerly wind, which wasn’t as strong as the day before, so we decided to do Porthgain to Abereiddy and back.

 

We split into the same two groups that we were in on the previous day’s trip from Newgale to Porth Clais. This worked well because my group were displaying quite strong rock-hopping and troglodytic tendencies - Show them a cave and it wouldn’t be long before it was full of kayaks! Needless to say, we were the back-markers. We agreed with Don’s group that we’d just nip around the corner to the right to see an island with a big cave, before doubling back on ourselves. Don’s group took the lead and got a good distance from us, past the island and on towards Abercastle.

We carried on rockhopping and exploring caves until both groups met up near Trefin. By this time, it was getting near to lunchtime, so we went back to Porthgain for a bite to eat.

A team of kayakers – Beeline Britain - were about to set off from the harbour in two doubles. They were doing Lands End to John O’Groats in a straight line using either kayaks or mountain bikes and their next stop was to be Porth Dafarch on Anglesey with some 24 hours of non-stop paddling ahead of them.  After lunch we paddled out of the harbour with them, then they headed off towards Anglesey while we continued our epic voyage around the headland to Abereiddy.

 

http://beelinebritain.com/2014/05/25/wonderful-porthgain-and-on-to-holyhead/

 

 

There were lots of opportunities to rock hop and mess about in caves, with the added challenge of a bit of swell. The last of the incoming tide made a few waves as it pushed between the islands and headland, but it was easy enough to paddle against. We soon got to Abereiddy, where the car park is still being eroded because the sea defences haven’t been put back after a storm over a year ago.

The return trip was more of the same fun, but we stopped outside Porthgain harbour for some rolling and rescue practice.

 

Some paddlers stayed for a meal at the Sloop pub in Porthgain, before returning to the campsite to try and find their tents in the long grass.

 

Thanks again Jenny for coordinating. It was a great weekend and everyone really enjoyed it.

 

Paddlers: Don Brooks, Mark & Vicky Steward, Andy Garland, Tony Robinson,Tony Orton, Alan Peachment, Debbie Hughes, Bob Gilles, Jose Santos, & myself.

John Maddock   More Photos…..

 

28/5/14 Safety Kayak Cover for the City of Liverpool Swimming Club, Ivan Percival Swimming Championships

Just a quick line to say a big thank you to everyone for this morning's safety cover for the Ivan Percival Swimming Championships.

Everyone was great and I think the swimmers really appreciated the team's presence, I know my sister did!

A few of you were interested in the SESA Training and getting involved in further events so I would recommend checking out the details on the LCC website on this. It's a great course and will certainly prepare you well for covering swim events.

Looking forward to seeing you all again on the water, and again, many, many thanks for today's effort!

Oh yes, Mo came 2nd in the ladies event (4mile) and 4th overall swimmer so she was very pleased and thanks the team for the encouragement on the water!

If you're interested in this and wild swimming do check out her blog…..

http://wildswim.wordpress.com/

All the best
Martin M

 

22/5/14 Anglesey Weekend No 1 Tyn Rhos – 16-18th May 2014

Friday Trearddur Bay 16th May

After waiting and planning for the first LCC camping weekend for what seemed like an eternity, eventually the time came to pack and head for Tyn Rhos. Armed with our new Red Tunnel Tent, fishing rods and kayaks then an action packed weekend was soon to be had. When we arrived we found a quiet corner to pitch our tent with a quick launch in the air and attach a few tent pegs we were off to Trearddur Bay to round the rocky headland as John fished for the evenings supper. Rolling waves met us as we circumnavigated the out rocks and we enjoyed a little surf back to the beach with Keenan and Bradley paddling a Stearns inflatable and I in a S6X. John caught some seaweed and an old shoe so a trip to the chippy was in order and then off for an early night.

 

Saturday Four mile Bridge 17th May

We awoke Saturday and decided to join the group at Four Mile Bridge and enjoy the play wave which had just changed direction and promised a morning of fun. Kayaks bombed in and out of the wave as swimmers dived from the rocks and even a crazy few leapt from the bridge who submerged and resurfaced a good distance from the entry point. We all tried each others craft to some degree of success although Paul was intent in dumping any paddlers who had dared to join him in his Canoe. Steve arrived late as usual and Paul convinced him to paddle his Kayak whilst sat upon the deck of his Canoe. Straight into the wave they went immediately capsizing and spent the next thirty minutes trying to recover their paddles and boats. Keith enforced the idea of keeping hold of their equipment by sending it down river. Steve endured a long swim to recover his gear especially after he dumped Keiron who had arrived to offer assistance, but quickly he rolled up and sped away to leave Ste with a long swim home.

 

A great weekend and many thanks must go to Peter for organising a fantastic weekend.

 

Karl Tattum.   More Photos…..

Saturday Sea Trip – Cemlyn Bay to the Brick works and back (almost)

I checked the weather forecast and decided that the wind speed would be at top end of my ability level by the end of the day. However, after a bit of dithering I decided to join the sea trip on the leeward side of the island. We set off from Cemlyn Bay in easy conditions with a mainly following sea and arrived at the brick works in Porth Wen for a relaxed lunch in the sunshine. On the way, we spotted a few porpoises and I learnt about the economies of making your own Greenland paddle.

We headed back when the tide turned. By now the wind speed was picking up and paddling was hard work. As usual the headwind reminded me to paddle properly, by the all over body ache on Sunday I must have got something right. However getting round the headland into Caemas Bay was a real struggle and we made slow progress into the wind. Thanks go to the experienced paddlers for making sure we got round safely, and providing the additional support of a tow line where needed. We all landed safely on the beach on the east side of Caemas Bay, to rest and decide what to do next.

The options were to carry the boats up a footpath to the nearest road or paddle round the next mini headland to Caemas Harbour. I was pleased that going back to Cemlyn Bay was ruled out without any discussion. The experienced paddlers in the group decided we would all manage the short trip to Caemas Harbour if we stuck together. We did ! Here, Bob used his initiative to get a lift back to the cars. The more hardcore paddlers decided to head off back to the cars by boat, the rest of us enjoyed tea and chips from the cafe in Cameas, before packing up and heading back to the camp-site for food, beer and the inaugural LCC band rehearsal.

I woke up on Sunday to more wind and decided to head home early. I was going to listen to a more practised band in the evening and needed a rest. I had to have enough strength to say no to more beer !

Thank you to everyone for being friendly and making it a really good fun weekend, and to the experienced paddlers who ensured we all got back safely.

PS. I learnt one other thing on the trip, don't camp next to a red tunnel tent, the inhabitants don't need much sleep !  

Cheers  Catriona H     More Photos…..

YouTube Video of the Bricksworks paddle

A group of 20 paddlers travel from Cemlyn Bay, Anglesey to Porth Wem, where there is an old, now disused brickworks. The group is split into 3 with plenty of experienced people to aid the lesser experienced. This was a brilliant day, with loads of, (to me) new situations and conditions to experience.
What a (great) learning curve   Bob Hamilton  http://youtu.be/axeyFbLTxwk

 

 

12/5/14 Three Local Canoe Shops - three great discounts for members of Liverpool Canoe Club

 

Go Kayaking North West
Marina Village
Preston Brook
Runcorn WA7 3DW
Phone: 01928710770
Email: info@go-kayaking.com
www.go-kayaking.com
15% off RRP for members of Liverpool Canoe Club

Yamba UK
Unit 8, Tardy Gate Trading Estate,

Coote Lane, Lostock Hall, Preston, PR5 5JD
Phone: 07903 573585
Email:
info@yamba.org.uk 
 http://yamba.org.uk/paddlesports-products/

 

15% off RRP for members of Liverpool Canoe Club

Manchester Canoes  
Unit 14-15 Rufford Court  
Warrington  
WA1 4RF
  
Phone  01925 818437  
Email: sales@manchester-canoes.co.uk
  
www.manchester-canoes.co.uk 
 
10% off RRP for members of Liverpool Canoe Club     

 

 

11/5/14 SURFING CROSBY 11TH MAY - Body Boards R US

Today we met at Crosby Coastguard Station at 0900hrs to winds of over 20mph and monster waves developing towards the beach. Harvey, Keenan and Bradley joined John and Tom for some Body Board action as Paul, Keiron, Geoff and I ventured out in our Kayaks to find the biggest wall of water ever seen at Crosby. For over an hour we tried to break through the great wall with only Geoff managing to get through in his Sea Kayak. To measure the height of today’s waves Geoff managed to get his Sea Kayak vertical up the wave and still there was a few feet spare. As soon as he was dumped he quickly recovered with a roll and vertical again he soon broke over the wave.

 

After an hour we decided that this wall of water needed to be attacked with Body Boards so in we went with ten foot of Surf dumping over our heads and squeezing us back to shore.

 

As the tide receded only Paul and Keiron had enough energy to spare to try and tackle more waves. The rest of us took shelter behind our cars with chips and coffee supplied by John - Cheers mate.

 

Karl Tattum   More Photos….

 

 

11/5/14 Oughtibridge Canoe Slalom – Div 3 and Div 4 Sheffield Canoe Club 10th May 2014

Bo, Sven and Will entered into Division 4 competition in Sheffield. Darren was promoted to Division 3.  Why not have a go yourselves at the next event.  Club slalom boats are available.

 

Next event is Wagon Lane Div 3/4   17th or 18th May
Bradford & Bingley CC
EVENT INFO
Email information
bradbingcanoe@gmx.com
Sat Nav BD16 1LT
Get Directions
Double event
First Race Saturday, Second Race Sunday
The WWR originally planned will not be possible this year
Cheques Payable to:- Bradford & Bingley CC
Div 3 Entries up to Saturday 10th May then late entries fees apply
Div 4 entries up to 10 am 17th or 18th May

Mike Sheffield, 1 Beamsley Grove, Gilstead, BINGLEY BD16 3NE

 

More information on slalom and how to start…..

More Photos……….

 

 

11/5/14 Surfing at Crosby – Friday 9th May

After a busy week at work Friday soon came and it was a race to the beach to enjoy the evenings surf and sunshine at Crosby beach. Various craft arrived at the shoreline including Play boats, Sea Kayaks, Body boards, Surf Kayaks and then a Canoe Thing which Paul had squeezed himself into.

 

Karl Winrow gathered a group of friends from his club to join us for their first taste of surfing and little did they know that sooner or later the taste of the Crosby Surf would soon be had. The first wave at Crosby ate two paddlers immediately and taught them how to empty their boats. Karl had had a busy week in forensics and couldn't leave his work behind as he studied the water intensely for over twenty minutes to find the best route out to the surf zone and avoid the dumping waves but on his first ride a wave picked him up and thrust him back to shore sideways as he screamed back all the way. Then he was just unstoppable as he twisted and turned and caught every wave of the afternoon.

 

Craig too had a busy week Horse Racing and arrived to attack the Surf like the true Jockey that he is. At one point he was seen to be whipping the back of his Kayak to force it over the waves and odds on favourite to remain in his boat until he met the Crosby wall of water that sat over ten feet high above his head and seemed to be one hurdle too many which attacked him for a change.

 

We all know Paul deals with window blinds as he insists that we take a group photo next to his van before every paddle but it was 'Curtains' for him today as each and every wave ate him, tossed him in the air and spat him out upside down but like his curtains he managed to pull himself together and recover to attack again. (Apologies). 

 

Sam Preston arrived with his dad Chris who refused to join us after seeing the size of the waves and 'drummed' up some excuse about having to do paperwork in his car. Sam applied his hair gel and fixed his collar in the mirror then strutted to the waters edge and posed for today’s cameraman Colin Muse. Into the water he launched and hit the first wave to complete a 360, back deck loop and a roll and not recover. Out of the water he came dragging his boat and flicking his hair like a true bond model. The Camera never lies.

 

A great evenings Surf finished with further plans for the weekend and talk of how to find a way over the Crosby Wall of Water.

 

Karl Tattum

 

Copyright images by Muse

More Photos…………

 

6/5/14 Scotland at Easter - River Etive Saturday 19th April

It was after a long day on the Orchy that a group of tired paddlers met to discuss where to go over a long lunch in the kitchen. The group sat and began to discuss the different ideas of where to go. Names such as the Nevis, Pattack or The Awe were all thrown about. Although no matter how many rivers were suggested the conversation kept coming back to one River. The Etive; described in guidebooks as ‘quite possibly the best canoeing river in the UK’. A famous run used by paddlers from all over the UK. I think secretly most of the group wanted to go to the Etive from the start.

 

We all piled into the cars with all our kit and headed over to Glen Etive. At the put in the groups mood changed instantly, we went from being a group of tired paddlers to a group of excited school kids, the put in was next to the first major section of the river. Triple falls; the name is pretty self explanatory. It is three drops in a row, as you came over the first drop you had gone over the second too. It was definitely an exciting warm up, we ran the falls several times and Jack even completed a thorough river bed survey. As we set off down the river the group were thoroughly pumped for what was ahead.

 

There 5 more drops spread across 3 miles with gentle grade 2-3 between which kept us busy as we cruised down the river. The drops were all slightly different with some small, some big and even an auto boof thrown in for good measure. They all had very exciting names such as ‘The great water slide’ and ‘Crack of Doom’.

 

As we neared the final drop the river really began to test the nerve of all the paddlers. We had reached the famous Right Angle Falls. It was named after its awkward lead in which consisted of a tight corner with a small rapid in it. The Prospect of a swim over the falls put some of the group so proper safety was arranged and cameras were placed at every angle to make sure nothing was missed. As the film rolled people began to edge to their boats taking it in turn to run what would become a big achievement for most. Although not physically testing it did seem very stupid to throw yourself off a big waterfall. One last thing, a big thanks to our river leaders Roy and Mark who were great all day.

 

Joe Sheppard

Joe Sheppard  YouTube Video……..                      Chris Murphy  Vimeo Video……..

 


02/5/14 Menorca Sea Kayak Expedition 2014

Menorca is the easternmost island in the Balearics group, situated slightly closer to the coast of Mediterranean Spain than it is to the north coast of Africa.

 

It has a rich history and culture and, for the sea paddler, holds many occasionally challenging but charming days while circumnavigating its fabulous rocky coastline. The shortest circumnavigation would take in some 140Km but it would be very easy to increase this significantly depending on how many bays or caves you might be tempted into.

 

Our group of eight Liverpool Canoe Club sea kayakers planned our circumnavigation for early April, well before the normal start of the Menorcan holiday season which kicks off in May. Our decision to go for an early attempt worked in our favour as, although our first day on the water saw us paddling through some quite marginal conditions in big swells, we enjoyed largely cooperative and pleasant weather. This could just as easily have worked against us as the weather is frequently mixed and even stormy so early in the year. As it turned out, we had the place pretty much to ourselves and most of the beaches were either empty as we arrived or soon emptied as the evening drew close. The daytime temperatures were frequently in the 20’s and, although the nights were reasonably warm, the mornings were often damp with a heavy dew. We had one day of persistent fog that eventually cleared to warm sunshine by mid-afternoon. The sea temperature was about 14 degrees C and so was warm enough to take a refreshing dip but not so warm that any of us felt inclined to wallow. As we made our way around the island in an anti-clockwise direction in order to get the north coast done in favourable conditions, we found no problems in getting fresh water from shops, bars or the occasional harbour tap. Our main supplies were bought from a supermarket in Mahon before we set out but there are other opportunities to restock, especially in the ferry port of Ciutadella on the western end of the island. Most of the smaller resorts around the island were more or less deserted with the shops and bars boarded up awaiting the start of the season.

 

Menorca is known as the windy Balearic as it lies in the path of the Tramontana wind which funnels out across the Mediterranean from the Toulouse Gap, a low lying area between the Alps and the Pyrenees. The coastline of Menorca is frequently rocky with deep caves in unbroken high cliffs. On many stretches there is no opportunity to escape until the next Cala (beach) is reached. Because of this, circumnavigating the island is not a trip for beginners.  We gave ourselves nine days to complete our trip but a couple of adverse weather forecasts meant that we had to complete two long days; one being approximately 30 Km and the other being approximately 34 Km. These enabled us to get on to sheltered coasts but they also meant that we actually completed the circumnavigation much earlier than expected. Rather than use this spare time to wander around the island, we simply paddled on a bit more and chilled out on a nice beach for a couple of days, fitting in a bit of swimming and sunbathing, a couple of walks and a bit of kayak surfing.

 

Flights to Menorca are cheap and plentiful after the start of the season in May but up until then, getting to Menorca is slightly more difficult and more costly. We all flew from Manchester to Palma Mallorca  and the jumped on a short 25-minute domestic flight over to Menorca. Since our connection meant that we would arrive too late to get our boats sorted and our food bought for the trip, we all stayed the first night in Hostel La Isla http://www.hostal-laisla.com/ which is located in Mahon, the island’s main town and ferry port close to the airport. This hostel was a reasonable place and we used it again for the night before we got on our return flights back home.

 

We flew out our own tents and some communal safety gear. To save weight, most of us formed ourselves into “cooking groups” so that we needed only a few sets of pans and petrol stoves. Our kayaks, paddles, decks and buoyancy aids were hired from Menorca en Kayak  www.menorcaenkayak.com and, although there are a couple of other kayak hire companies on the island, Menorca en Kayak is by far the best outfit and has the best boats and kit. Being sea kayak enthusiast themselves, they are well set up to cater for visiting sea kayakers and have a well-stocked shop selling paddling gear. They also have a mountain bike hire company should you arrive during a spell of stormy weather and find yourself unable to get on the water right away. Maria and Carlos are the very friendly owners and they had a minibus to do the airport run and to ferry us around getting food, drink and petrol prior to our trip. They also have a trailer and, if need be, can rescue you (and their boats) from any road head should bad weather prevent onward progress.

 

Everyone enjoyed the trip and, although we completed the circumnavigation successfully, we actually missed out enough interesting possibilities to make it worth a second visit sometime.

 

 

Day 1 Sunday 6th April.  Es Grau North around Cap Favaritx to Cala Prudent

Maria and Carlos kindly took us to a supermarket on the way from the Hostel to their shop and rental facilities in Es Grau.  We loaded the kayaks with our provisions for 8 days and enough water for at least 4 days (some of us managed to load the boats with enough water for all eight days worth).

 

The forecast was a NEly 3-4 but there was a large northerly swell running.  A last study of the weather forecast and we opted to take prediction of good weather for day 2 & 3 to navigate the relatively exposed north coast.  Day 4 predicted a very strong northerly wind, the Tramontana….   We would plan to take a day off while this force 7 wind blew itself out.

….tht strong Tramontana wind is a fairly regular feature of the region in all seasons except summer. This variant of the French Mistral wind blows NE-SW across the landscape for 3-12 days at a time, and can be bitter when the Pyrenees are covered in snow and ice. Taking shelter indoors avoids the icy blast, but not the shrill moan as the wind swirls around corners and down chimneys to make fireplace flames flicker and die. The English proverb “red sky at night – shepherds’ delight; red sky in the morning – sailors’ warning” is reversed in the Ampurdan; glorious sunsets signal the imminence of the Tramontana, whereas beautiful dawns are the norm.

The influence of the Tramontana can be seen in the rural landscape and architecture, with walls and lines of beech (sic) trees designed as windbreaks, and open arches at the top level of old farmhouses to dry stored crops.

The Tramontana


 

 

With the prospect of good weather we set out from the white walled Mediterranean style fishing village of Es Grau and headed between the mainland and the island of Illa d`en Colom.  The waves were building and the group naturally grouped together.  We were all wondering whether this was a good idea.  The rocky coastline had the occasional glimpse of white sand.  I tried to memorise these  should we need to run downwind to the only possible landing.  Large waves were crashing on the rocky coastline and it was clear a landing would be impossible except on the small Cala`s or Beaches hidden between the miles of black rock.

 

In the distance was lighthouse of Cap de Favoritix.  We appointed a lead kayak (Carole) who set an ideal route and pace.  As we rounded this headland the seas were enormous with kayaks often out of sight in the troughs.  Fortunately the head wind was light and waves were head on.  As we rounded the corner only a few boomers (large breaking waves) caught the unwary.  We soon got used to these and the seas seemed to be easing.

 

After 5 kms paddling parallel to the coast we came across three off lying islands. We paddled through them and found sheltered water and perfect circular bay.  Andy insisted on a stop and some fresh air.

 

Refreshed and refuelled we paddled on round the impressive headland of Punta Grossa (a shear black cliff face some 500m wide).  Two Calas (sandy beaches) beckoned but as they were overlooked by hotels and villas we pressed on to our suggested campsite of Cala Prudent.  This was in a very sheltered inlet with fantastic white sand.  Brews were soon put on, dining shelter erected and camp spots selected.  Wow, what a first day.

 

Keith Steer   More photos…..

 

Day 2 Monday 7th April.  Cala Prudent – Fornells – Cala d`Algaiarens (Es Bot)

After our night’s sleep on Cala Prudent, our first Menorcan camping beach, we were woken early by birdsong and discovered that the heavy groundswell of yesterday’s paddle had died away to nothing and this change in conditions brought with it a surprisingly foggy morning.

 

 Getting breakfast going and repacking our boats proved to be damp and sandy activities but we were soon underway and ready to take on quite a big day in order to paddle a good chunk of the north coast before the predicted high northerly winds had us trapped on this exposed coastline.

 

Although the fog was lifting occasionally and permitting us hazy views of our surroundings, for the most part visibility was poor enough to make navigation difficult. You might think that all we had to do was keep the land on our left during our ant-clockwise circumnavigation but there were enough outlying rocks, islets and false bays to keep us on our toes. Turning on the GPS made life much easier and helped to dispel any doubts as to exactly where we were. Even with the GPS to help us, the sounds of nearby small fishing boats made us wary of straying too far away from the protection of shallow water.

 

 Rounding a number of barely visible headlands, we eventually arrived at the large protected inlet where the village of Fornells is located. Inside this inlet, the fog cleared completely as we made our way to the small harbour which promised a replenishment of our fresh water stocks and, since by now it was close to 11-o-clock, it was a good place to take a break, have a brew and soak up the sun. Fornells is a very pleasant but small and quite place and, although we were forewarned to find it almost completely shut up awaiting the start of the season in May, we found it to be busy getting itself ready and, as far as we could tell, at least a few of the usual bars and shops appeared to be open.

 

After we were fed and watered we paddled out of the harbour towards the next headland and once again into a thick fog bank. Following the GPS again, we eventually arrived at the Faro de Cavalleria which is the most northerly of Menorca’s collection of lighthouses. We were so close under the steep and high cliffs that we paddled by without seeing the lighthouse at all and found our way through a small gap in the off-lying rocks called Pas Cambrol. Still very foggy, we followed a compass bearing across an open water passage towards Illa Bledes and, even though every now and again the fog thinned slightly, sight of this small island eluded us most of the time apart from some tantalisingly vague sightings.

 

By the time we got close to the island, we spotted a small private beach underneath an isolated and very smart looking villa. By now it was time for lunch so we landed here carefully so as not to give the owners of the place cause to shoo us off back into the fog. Another very pleasant place, we found out afterwards that this beach is called Calo Fred; owned by a benevolent Brit perhaps? Thankfully, by the time we finished our lunch, the fog had completely lifted but not before giving us a view of the lighthouse we passed earlier, seemingly floating in the sky above the cloud of fog.

 

 With good visibility at last, we spent the afternoon playing in the many caves as we picked our way towards our next camp spot. After a longish day of about 30 Km., it was beginning to get a bit late by the time we arrived at Cala d’ Algaiarens and, shortly after landing, Keith managed to find  a perfect bivi spot in what is probably a very nice rustic bar during the summer months. It was small but had a roof above a veranda, which was Keith’s bed for the night.

 

The rest of us pitched our tents and got a meal going and Nicky got on with her daily tasks of downloading forecasts from Maria, who owns Menorca en Kayak and also from Steve Gille who, back in the UK with access to a range of forecasts, was watching our backs for any strong winds or big seas. Before turning in we had time to explore some of the area behind the beach and, for future reference, there were many flat and grassy places to camp in shady woodland. Having visited many of the callas around Menorca on previous occasions, I made up my mind that this was likely to be one of the best five star camp spots we were likely to find throughout the whole trip. As I dropped off to sleep under a fantastically clear and starry sky and bright waxing moon, I listen to the din of what was probably a gazillion frogs trying to attract mates.

 

A good night’s sleep found us waking once more to early birdsong and damp, dewy conditions. Keith looked so relaxed in his little palace that, I’ll always remember the beach as Calla Keith. A yacht had silently anchored in the bay during the night but we saw nobody awake as we paddled by quietly to take on the remaining North Coast.

 

Pete Thomas   More Photos……

 

Day 3 Tuesday 8th April.  Cala d`Algaiarens (Es Bot) – Punta Nati - Calespiques

 

Report to follow…..

 

Brian Green  More Photos……

 

 

Day 4 Wednesday 9th April.  Calespiques – Cala en Bosh – Cala des Talaier

It was rather a leisurely start to the morning, a few of us had time to give our tents and sleeping bags a quick dry on the rocks as we ate our staple breakfast, porridge. We were packed up and on the water before 10am and eased our way out of the bay gently. After 2 km we came upon the port of Ciutadella which was rather large. It was decided where we were heading for and off we went, supposedly keeping close together, but my absence of a functional skeg meant I was drifting and working quite hard to keep on course. Luckily no big boats were heading across our path so with a decent pace, we crossed the port’s entrance to the dock wall.

 

And relax… paddling pace slowing – as it should, we were on holiday after all (Brian!!!!).

 

We passed a few small bays and some had some giant kinder egg surprises at their entrance. Pete the Pirate said the massive yellow buoys were to stop boats entering the bays, but some of us knew that giant kids lived in each bay and after eating kinder eggs they would throw the plastic insides out into the sea in anger if they didn’t get the toy they wanted. He had a lot to learn about Menorcan folklore that Pete……..

If that wasn’t interesting enough, splash, we all saw it – tuna, jumping out of the sea. Well we all saw ‘it’ but a few of us immediately thought it was a dolphin. We immediately stopped paddling and stared waiting for ‘it’ to surface again, but after a few splashes ‘it’ was gone. Probably too scared to swim into the bays where the giant kids live.

 

Again the coast line was stunning and we paddled quite close. Lots of big plush villas along the coast line which all had amazing back gardens leading to the sea. It was time for elevenses, so we stopped at Cala Blanca which was stunning, but unfortunately had rather a large amount of seaweed on the beach. We had unloaded our tea making kits and snacks and were sat on a wall catching the sun and drinking tea when we realised that workers were waiting to clear the seaweed off the beach.  The arrival of our kayaks spread along the beach was stopping them. Naturally we hurried back to our kayaks and moved out of their way…… well sort of, after we had finished eating and drinking. It had been a tough couple of hours since we had set off this morning.  All that chatting and laughing takes it out of you.

 

We had left the West coast and were now on the South coast heading towards our next camp spot. But hold on – surely it was dinner time. We paddled into Cala en Bosc, a lovely little village with a harbour and it seemed to be quite busy. Some supplies were needed, mainly water, but Brian needed crackers for his cheese board. There were many shops and bars, but most of them were shut apart from a tapas bar. Well it would be rude to go to Spain and not eat tapas and accompany it with some Spanish beer. It was nice to sit in the sun and chat and be served some nice hot food and ice cold drinks, but I also felt as though we were cheating slightly. Brian’s constant reminder that we were on an ‘expedition’ had made me feel guilty about eating tapas, but not guilty enough that I didn’t eat them!!! Expeditions don’t half make you hungry.

 

Off again to find our beach for the evening – we had chosen Cala des Talaier, and didn’t we choose well? It was gorgeous, these camp spots were just getting better and better. The few naked men that were on the beach as we arrived soon got dressed and left the entire beach to us. I got in Brian’s bath water after he had washed, while the others played Frisbee and Andy fell asleep on the rocks. I hoped he had factor 50 on because it was hot, hot, hot. The guys lay about soaking up the sun, Caz and Kath did some more yoga and I don’t remember doing anything! Bliss. We had tea and sat around again laughing at some of Brian’s awful jokes, Caz being snatched by an over sized seagull and the mess Kath made attending to the graze on my knee. Another great day and I went to bed smiling because we still had lots more of these days to go.

 

Nicola Corbett     More photos…..

 

Day 5 Thursday 10th April.  Cala des Talaier – Macarellata – Trebaluger - Cala Escorxada

The day began much like those that had preceded it.  I arose at 10:30am and strolled along the beach to where Keith had prepared breakfast, laid out on trestle tables.  I noticed that the white table cloths were rather creased, but I forgave him this fault as he had most likely been up many hours before dawn preparing the repast spread before me.  I decided not to indulge too much, so after the mango juice and yoghurt I skipped the kedgeree and went straight to the full English fry.  Suitably replete, I retired to the solar shower to refresh myself for the day ahead while Keith packed my boat.

 

Oh, hang on.  I think that might have been a dream.  Let me check. Yes, it was a dream.  Let’s start again.

 

The day began much like those that had preceded it.  I arose at 6:30am and stumbled to the rock that I called my kitchen.  Breakfast consisted of a wee, a cough, and a luke-warm mix of coffee, sand and scraps of last night’s dinner that I found floating in my billy.  Keith was asleep.

 

The rest of the camp started to rise and go about their early morning business.  I watched Don walk to his boat to fetch an item he needed for breakfast.  Once there, a confused look came across his face.  He walked back to remind himself of what it was that he was meant to fetch, but still seemed no wiser.  Now slightly more awake, he decided that whatever it was that he was after wasn’t worth the effort.  He got Brian to make him breakfast instead.  Keith was asleep.

 

Kathy, Nicky and Carole were down by the water’s edge, doing their early morning session of taekwondo / feng shui / origami or whatever that stretching exercise is called.  Pete was checking that his wooden Greenland paddle hadn’t grown roots overnight.  Keith was asleep.

 

The sun had risen a fair way above the horizon before we were dressed, packed and on the water.  The day was warm, the sky was blue, the sea was calm and everything was good in the world.  We had no great ambitions for the day other than to have fun, so we sauntered away from our camp at Cala des Talaier and started to explore the enticing shoreline that led us east towards our final goal.  Keith was…awake!

 

The cliffs that lined our route had caves - lots of them - loads of them.  There were more caves than you could shake a stick at.  Believe me, I shook my stick until I could shake it no more but still there were caves that had not been shaken at.  We took every opportunity to explore as many as we could.  I perhaps did not explore as many as some others, but then again my arms were sore from all that stick shaking.

 

We took a break from caving at the tiny cove of Macarellata, which we shared with a school party and an unfortunate couple who appeared to have lost all their cloths.  How careless.  We did not stop long. There were more caves to explore, which we did with vigour and aplomb.  Brian was particularly vigorous in his explorations, and his aplomb was a sight to behold.  In fact, there was hardly a cave along the whole of the coast that did not experience a visit from Brian.  The man was on a quest.

 

We stopped late afternoon at the idyllic bay of Cala Escorxada, after a less than exhausting day of 10km.  Here, we once again stumbled upon a group of absent minded un-clad people.

We lazed in the sun, brewed brews and idly chatted the afternoon away.  Once the heat of the day had departed we put up the tents, or prepared bivvy gear, and then sat and shared a bottle of Scottish medicine while yarning about the events of a wonderful day.

 

Keith was asleep.

 

Andrew Garland  More Photos…..

 

Day 6 Friday 11th April.   Trebaluger – St Tomas – Inside Illa de L`Aire to Calo des Rafalet

The sun gently rose warming the tent and burning off the morning dew.  You could hear the gentle lap of the waves on the golden sand with the birds in the background gently tweeting then rudely interrupted by the distinctive sound MSR stove.   Okay, I guess it's time to get up then!  A few people are starting their daily routine packing gear away and most people eating porridge which seem to be the favourite morning breakfast.  Sitting around having a few brews and collecting items that seem to be spread around the beach as we did move from the evening Sunnyside to the morning Sunnyside trying to get every ounce of that beautiful warm sun feeling.

 

Everybody had packed and was sitting in the kayaks with spray decks and buoyancy aids on when we all realised that Keith was still stretched out sunbathing.  Yes sunbathing with his headphones in and in another world.  After a little gentle persuasion, Keith finally got his kit on.

 

We set off pretty relaxed as flat seas enabled us to visit every nook, cranny and cave.  We were not rushing and generally just having a beautiful day.  We did not set off till 1040 thinking can we really stop for elevenses so soon?   We decided to have a slightly earlier lunch and we would call into Son Bou which was pretty much a deserted tourist resort, except for one crazy German marching up and down the beach.  He did the full-length there and back and back again and again and again.  People started looking for a supermarket for a few luxuries of the alcoholic type but sadly they were all closed.  The only people around were maintenance people starting to get the resort ready for the summer.

 

Nikki, in the meantime, had switched her mobile on to get an up-to-date weather report.  We had two sources; one from the people we hired the boat from and in the UK shore base was Steve G.   I watch Nikki's face as she read the weather report and her face definitely changed.  Raising a hand with the mobile phone in shaking it saying guys I think you need to all read this !!!!!  Yes you guessed it, high winds due in two days, 4-6 northerly.   Would we be able to finish against such a head wind?

 

We decided we had to get near to Mao today to take into account possible Sunday’s bad weather.  This came as a bit of a shock especially when I looked up the distance to be paddled.  The tempo went up a few pegs and people started throwing food down their necks as we would not stop for some considerable time and distance.

 

We set off from Son Bou at about 13:00 hours; we had only paddle 7 Km in the morning believing we still had 4 days to cover the remaining distance.

 

The winds were filling in slightly so the rock hopping and cave visiting had to stop. With determination we paddled on and on and on.  People were asking for rest stop and others saying just around the next headland.  That's the disadvantage of having a map on your deck as you know that it might be a fib. So we raftered it up eating various sweets jelly beans.  All the wine gums have gone and taking on liquid.

 

Soon after that we entered a beautiful cove (Cales Coves) which I had the privilege of visiting in Peters and Carol's boat in the summer of 2012.  It brought back some nice memories that lifted my spirits. The cove has a small hostelry on it with a couple of small boats which supply fresh fish every day With evidence of caves carved out from the soft sandstone high above and all us around in the cove. 

 

No sooner had we arrived it was time to leave.  It is just paddle, paddle and more paddling. More jellybeans just round the next corner and just looking up at high cliffs knowing we just have to keep moving forward. 

 

Eventually the welcome sight of the large Lighthouse of Cap de Llevant that stood on a off-lying island.  The seas were getting more choppy on this headland with the Lighthouse seemingly getting no closer. There was a plan to try and camp on this island but after some careful consideration (we could get trapped on it because of the weather) you've guessed it; we just kept on paddling. 

 

Finally we turned the corner heading into land or should I say sheer cliff.  Faces still popping jellybeans and a heart sinking feeling that can't be a camp site here!  Andy disappeared into what I can only describe as a slit in the rock.   To everybody's delight we were prove wrong and we found a small rocky beach, no wider than the length of a sea kayak with a small boat house with a flat roof.  We all remained sitting on the water, saying there is no room here but Keith pointed out you can get a tent on the flat roof !!!

 

It was a struggle to get eight boats on the shore.  We had to tie them together to stop them floating off to sea during the possible storm.  Another concern was torrent water rushing down the gully as the skies were now looking quite threatening.

 

People literally fell out of the boats obviously somewhat tired after 34KM touching land about 1910 pm.  We got organised with a meal and a set of dry warm clothing Thanks to Kathy's jet boil a nice hot drink was soon taking effect and enabled me to gather enough energy to put my tent up.  

 

Walking back to the cave where we were brewing up I realised I was somewhat wobbly after that long day on the sea.  Thankfully Brian made that evening's meal - thanks mate.  So crawling into my tent that was on a small sandy floor to the deep ravine behind the boathouse.  This gully had trees everywhere which quite frankly made it look like the fairy Glen.  Definitely time for bed early in the hope to recharge my batteries for the next day.

 

Don Brooks   More Photos….

 

Day 7 Saturday 12th April.   Calo des Rafalet – Sa Mesquida – Es Grau (Finish) then on to Cala Presili

After arriving late at our amazing hidden grotto-like campsite at Cala Des Rafalet, a night’s sleep was disturbed by the only rain of the trip with a couple of heavy downpours, which had mainly cleared away by the time the birds were singing from 3.00am onwards, different varieties joining in as dawn progressed. We also had our very own reliable dawn chorus, each day at around 6.30-7.00, the first cough and ciggie of the day was partaken by Andy and this became my own alarm call that it was approaching time to get up and get going.

We were all up by around 7.00 and while we breakfasted under the overhanging cliff, Keith followed a narrow path to the top of the cliff to do a quick recci of the sea conditions, and the report was good to go. The forecast was for Easterlies going north so it was decided to complete the final leg of our circumnavigation back to our starting point at Es Grau, in case the winds increased enough to prevent us finishing before we ran out of time. Boats were packed with slightly wet tents and gear due to the rain in the night and we set of somewhat sadly for our final leg.

 

We headed out to cross the entrance to Mahon, one of the largest natural harbours in the Mediterranean. It was early and quiet but as we were crossing a potentially busy shipping lane, we collected together as a more compact group. On relaxed sections we often became spread out, but when crossing any shipping lanes, harbour entrances, it is good seamanship and safer to stay close to each other present a more compact and visible presence and make it easier for any traffic to make a decision as to the best track to take.

 

Having crossed with no issues we paddled up around the headland and on around the coast, looking at some of the fortifications to the north of Mahon. Stopping for elevenses at a beach at Sa-Mesquida, which could be a potential campsite for any future trips.

 

Arriving at Es Grau about 1.00pm., finishing our circumnavigation of Menorca in 7 days, we had the compulsory group photo, but no one was keen to end the trip there and then so it was decided that we would touch base with Carlos and Maria, and then head out again to make the most of our 2 remaining paddling days.

 

We had lunch at a small quayside bar, where we planned to retrace our steps out to Favatix lighthouse, and camp at Cala Prisilli, which would give us shelter from the Northerly 4-5 winds forecast for Sunday and have a day or two chilling on the beach and exploring our surroundings on foot.

 

As we paddled back out the conditions were very different from a week ago when we had big swells. It was relatively calm in the sheltered waters as we looked for Cala Prisili. The navigators located the correct beach and settled in like a group of beach bums for 2 nights (the tents going up at dusk and down at dawnish).

 

Kathy gave us another demonstration of her caring doctoring skills and re dressed Dons ankles following sores from his brand new and previously untried sandals. She also administered to Brian who had trodden on a spiky patch of vegetation. Thanks to Kathy from all of us for looking after our medical needs.

 

After our evening meal and some drinks, it was noticed items left out to dry were becoming wetter rather than drier, this was the time to put the tents up, after which we sat around the pretend campfire to drink, look at the stars and the moon and talk until bedtime.

 

Carole Thomas    More Photos…….

 

Day 8 Sunday 13th April.   Cala Presili (Rest Day)
After our gruelling journey, circumnavigating Menorca in 2 days less than planned, we reported back to Menorca en Kayak, refuelled with some giant sardines & tapas, picked up a cerveza or 2 and paddled on up to Cala Presili for some (well earned ??) rest.

We quickly discovered that our practice at resting throughout the journey had paid off, and even Andy was able to lie down and do nothing for a while.

The tideless Med allows you to pitch pretty close to the water (Tony Vaccaro would love it). As I listened to the noise of the waves crashing seemingly a foot away from my tent, I remembered the wind forecast and decided putting all my dry bags inside one big one for a quick getaway would suffice, and resumed resting.

Another beautiful sunrise announced the start of another glorious day. Having peered out and taken 20 photos if various stages of sunrise, I re-zipped my tent and snoozed on.

After a casual breakfast and breaking camp lest the camp police arrive, we looked at the beautiful water. It was vast, blue, still and salty, and we weren't getting on it. Today was all about resting. Puzzled by this option, we looked around for something to do and or eyes stumbled on the distant lighthouse. It was time for a land adventure and we all set off for a leisurely stroll.  Not quite all. Keith was asleep (r Andy G).

The walking was gentle and we enjoyed chatting about the week’s adventures of cave hopping, stick shaking, frisbee throwing and paddling. Although quite a distance from the beach, Keith assured us he waved frantically at us when we climbed up to the trig point near the lighthouse..... Suspicious minds suggested he may have been asleep. 

Dry bags were resited for elevenses and we each tucked into 1/7th share of a Snickers, cereal bar and 2 tangerines.

Unsatisfied by our meagre elevenses we hastily returned to camp for some Thomas pancakes. Half of us made tea, the Thomi pancaked, Brian boiled salt water for a brew and was promptly sacked. After producing 50 pancakes Pete hurried into his boat to hide his newly acquired pancake knees...... Be warned: beach pancakes should only be made when wearing SPF30 or above.

Keith went for his daily dip with the jellyfish whilst Brian and Pete did a little light surfing and rolling. Caz and I ventured in for a freezing dip whilst Nicky sat under the tarp wearing her snorkel gear - keen to use it having brought it all that way!.

The trap had an outing and we continued to practice lying down. I set up a foot clinic and demonstrated a complete inability to bandage and an appealing bedside manner that should ensure no one bothers me with medical queries when I'm busily trying to lie down.

After an afternoon gathering firewood, we decided to respect at least one law of the land and simply admired our pile of wood whilst settling in to another night of star gazing. Keith produced an app that demonstrated that the Ancient Greeks may have been completely off their heads on some sort of hallucinogens when naming the constellations. Under the stars we gathered round our pile of wood, talked of nautical miles and latitude or is it longitude? Reminisced about a brilliant week and polished off the beers, sherry (Andy's wine), whiskey and hot chocolate wishing we could start again, anti clockwise.

A brilliant week with a great group of folk. Thanks to Pancake Pete for all his organisation and the rest of the crew for a wonderful trip.

Kathy Morton       More Photos……

 

Day 9 Monday 14th April.   Cala Presili back to Es Grau

Day nine return to base.  People reluctantly packed their boats knowing this was the last day and the end of the trip. Nikki, realising she had brought her snorkel all this way and had not used it yet said is anyone going to use it.  Keith obliged.  When he returned he declaring the Mediterranean has no fish in it !!

 

We all clambered into the boats one by one.  Carole and Kathy were still sitting on the beach.  “come on girls time to go back”.

 

So to make this final trip as long as possible we certainly did hug the coast, entering the bay where we first set off that seemed such a long time ago.  We huddled together for the official team photograph thanks to Keith.  We touched base one by one.  Soon the boats where on the racks and I was rushing off to the shop where I knew there was a shower but unfortunately I was beaten by the Norwegian couple who had gone round the island and a double at the same time as us.

So with most others looking human again, we went to the Taverna.  Several of us could not wait for the evening meal and had a massive fish platter.  The second table looking over massive dinnertime celebration but I thought I would save myself to the evening

 

The minibus took us back to the hostel, which I must say was very good and a reasonable price.  Later we strolled out into the main port where we dined in a place called 42° where we had an excellent meal for an excellent trip.

 

Don Brooks  More Photos….

 

Paddlers: Pete Thomas, Carole Thomas, Andy Garland, Kathy Morton, Nicola Corbett, Brian Green, Don Brooks & Keith S   All the photographs…….

Why not book a place on the club talk about the expediton - “Paddling around Menorca” 14th June 2014

29/04/14 May 2014 Newsletter Published
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