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Sea Kayak Improver Trip, 26th February 2017 by Hannah Bellamy

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To put our skills into practice, our 3 session sea kayak improver course cumulated on Sunday with an open water trip on the Dee estuary. In the wake of storm Doris, the original plan to paddle to Hilbre was changed to a more sheltered paddle, up the estuary, from the Dee Sailing Club towards Parkgate.

We met at the Dee Sailing Club bright and early, donned our thermals and dry suits, and carried our boats down to the beach to launch. Keith Steer described where we were headed and off we went, at first paddling at about 45 degrees to the north westerly to get clear of the beach.

In the strong wind and great waves, we kept in a large group, 16 altogether, with Keith at the head and our coaches Gareth Jones, Alan Peachment and Mark


Pawley (unfortunately John Fay had hurt his back and was unable to join us) supporting and watching out for us from all sides. This was
my first trip on open water (aside from a tame potter on the Devonshire coast in the glorious sunshine of the height of summer!), but I got use to the motion of the sea quickly and using mark’s very smart paddle (thank you again!) I surprised myself by making good headway with my improved paddle stroke described by a fellow paddler as ‘steady and efficient’! Once clear of the shore, we paddled into the wind, choppy waves coming from the side, but I trusted in my sturdy club Scorpio (and my improving support strokes!) and thoroughly enjoyed either ploughing through the waves or floating over them to fall down the trough on the other side.

We paddled for a couple of hours, with the little white houses of Parkgate ahead, before turning into the marshes to fuel up on bananas and homemade treats. We didn’t stay too long as the tide was receding and the marshes were becoming muddy, so we continued up the channel through the marshes.

Compared with the waves of the open water, the little ripples in the channel were deceiving because even though the water looked calmer, we were paddling right into a wind tunnel and we all had a tremendous workout (I’m still feeling it a little now!). Determination was needed to keep on course and I found it was helpful to keep looking ahead, as looking sideways or behind gave you the illusion that you were either staying still, or worse, going backwards…!

We powered on and after another couple of kilometres we all came together to form an ad hoc raft and had a breather. We then headed back downstream where we really had an opportunity to put our ‘keeping on course’ techniques into practice, edging all the way to keep from drifting onto the bank!

Due to an increasing wind the decision was made that we should dock back where we had stopped for elevenses, and shuttle the kayaks back to the Dee sailing club, rather than paddling with the wind behind us. All 12 drivers cleaned the marshes mud from their boots and packed impressively into Mark’s van whilst those of us who were left watched the boats and enjoyed the


sunshine that was appearing.

Once back at the sailing club, warm and dry, we rounded off our trip with a drink and chatter in the sailing club bar.

The trip was a wonderful introduction to open water, perfect for the weather that we had as it was challenging, but not excessively so; it gave us the opportunity to practice the skills we had learned and built on during the course and I felt very safe in the group as everyone was watching out for and encouraging each other. I hope we can paddle together again!


A huge thanks to Gareth, Alan, John and Mark for running this course, and to Keith for heading the trip. I can’t wait to get back on the water!

More Photos of the Dee Estuary Sea Trip…..
More Photos of the Sea Kayak Training in the docks……