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Improvers sea trip – Sunday 9 April 2017 by Sarah Horton

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In February and March this year I was one of a group on a club run course for ‘sea kayak improvers’. This was led by Gareth Jones, with Alan Peachment and John Fay. I am a novice sea kayaker, having only started kayaking last spring. Having achieved my one star with the club (and can I thank my coaches for ‘wet week’), I’ve continued my learning by doing several beginner and intromediate courses on Anglesey, and some one to one coaching. I know from talking to other novice kayakers that it can feel frustrating that you don’t feel confident enough to join in club trips, for fear that you will be the least able or


will hold the group back – so having a course that was aimed at improvers was a great opportunity, and everyone got a lot out of it.

We spent three mornings in the dock looking at technique and then had a trip out to the River Dee on 26 February 2017. A report and photos of that trip by me are here

and also by Hannah Bellamy here

Gareth and the LCC leaders and coaches organised another trip aimed at us improvers, this time to Anglesey. This was offered first to the improvers who’d done the course, and then to the whole club. It was very well attended – there were 15 ‘improvers’ and 9 ‘helpers’ on the final list.

We all arrived at our start point for the day – Bull Bay in north Anglesey – around 9.30am on the Sunday morning. Some of us had stayed or camped the night before, others had met up at Llanfairpwllgwyngyll train station car park having driven over that morning.

It was a sunny morning, and there was a reluctance to don our cags and drysuits too soon in case we over-heated. Eager to get going Gareth duly split us up into four groups, each with two leaders. I thought this was a great way to manage the numbers, plus it also meant that everyone was in a group of five or six. As a novice kayaker I really appreciated this. I felt safe, I felt that I was given plenty of attention and it made for a really enjoyable day.

Pete Thomas and John Worswick led my group. We made our way from Bull Bay to Porth Wen at a nice steady pace, stopping often to make use of the features for practising techniques. Although the sun had left us soon after we set off, conditions were good. We avoided most of the south westerly wind by staying close to the cliffs, there was little swell and on the way out we were with the ebb tide. Pete and John stopped often to check in with the group and talk about how the water looked, what to expect round headlands and to encourage us to observe the wind and conditions for ourselves, to learn from the experience.

We arrived at Porth Wen and all the groups took time there for lunch. There was a good peaceful buzz and atmosphere as paddlers chatted and I felt like I was getting to know more names and faces from the club. Porth Wen – if you’ve not been – is a classic sea kayaking trip and has the remains of an old brickworks which are an impressive backdrop for your lunch.

After lunch we set off for the return trip, against the tide, but expecting the wind as forecast to have picked up as a westerly behind us. The wind didn’t pick up and the sun actually came out again for a while and we had a gentle, peaceful return trip. Pete and John kept up their gentle encouragement and me, Dom and Catriona all felt our rock hopping skills and confidence had been improved.

Arriving back at Bull Bay both John and Dom volunteered to capsize so rescue skills were discussed and practiced – this was optional! Loading up the boats and getting changed there was happy paddler banter and I felt you could sense that everyone had had a really good day, I know I had.

As a novice paddler I really relish these opportunities to have a good day, but also to learn from others who are more experienced. It is a great way to get more time on the water and to build confidence. And for me that’s been hugely helpful.

So thanks to everyone who was on the trip, and to the helpers, and to Gareth for organising it. Look forward to seeing you all again soon.

More Photos at……….