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Skerries Peer Paddle (non-club organised paddle) by Gary E

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Skerries Peer Paddle (non-club organised paddle) by Gary E

Paddlers: JG, Kris, Shane, Thomas & Gary.

On Sunday (11th June), five club paddlers met up for a peer paddle to the Skerries, a small island off the north-west coast of Anglesey.

The paddle was planned by JG, who was using it as an opportunity to build planning experience as he works towards his Advanced Sea Leader. You wouldn’t have believed it on the day, but a paddle out to the Skerries is considered an ‘advanced’ sea kayak trip owing to its exposed 2km offshore location, the strong tidal currents and the many overfalls surrounding the island and the approach.

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We arranged to meet up at the car park on the west side of Cemlyn Bay for 0830, which meant setting off at 6am to allow for a breakfast stop at Greggs on the A55. Everyone arrived promptly and got themselves and their boats ready to go without any unnecessary faff.

At the beach, JG delivered his briefing, with us paddling on a vector of 304 degrees for an oddly precise total of 52 minutes in order to reach the top end of the Skerries. The exactness of the timings generated some banter, with unfounded shouts of 51 or 53 minutes garnering some chuckles.

With the brief finished, we were all on the water and ready to go for 0900.

We exited the bay and set off on our vector, with the Skerries very barely visible off to our left. As the tide was ebbing, we would drift considerably westwards towards our target despite not paddling directly towards it. The vector is the result of a complex consideration of tidal flow, wind, distance and paddling speed – fingers cross that JG had done his homework correctly or else we could end up in Dublin.

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The sea was flat and calm with very little wind or swell on the paddle out, JG and Shane occasionally pulling out the compass and map to take bearings and ensure we remained on our desired route.

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As we approached the Skerries, there were groups of Puffins relaxing in the water and many Terns flying overhead. A few seals had beached themselves on the rocks to enjoy the sun occasionally breaking through the clouds.

We arrived at the Skerries to the sounds of the nesting Terns that covered the island and a wave from the resident RSPB warden conducting surveys on the population. A quick glance at my watch showed that we’d been paddling for… exactly 52 minutes! To say that JG was smug at that point would be the underestimation of the year, however, it was well-deserved – especially for a first attempt!

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We landed on the Skerries for a quick leg stretch but didn’t explore so that we didn’t disturb any of the nests. We reconfirmed that everyone was happy to continue and that we’d head south towards Church Bay for some lunch.

Soon after we headed off from the Skerries, it was slack water. The sea was glassy smooth and the 6.5km paddle flew by.

Arriving at Church Bay, we noted that it was much quieter than we expected, probably something to do with the rain hammering down the night before. We had a relaxed lunch knowing that we had pretty much the whole of the flood to assist us with our paddle back to Cemlyn.

When we’d been fed, we got back on the water and headed northwards along the coast towards Carmel Head. We hugged the coast, exploring caves and manoeuvring our kayaking in and out of the rocks. As we passed Ynys y Fydlyn we noticed a small tide race was forming, so we took the opportunity to play with the faster flowing water. Breaking in and out of the eddies, ferry gliding and attempting to surf the small waves forming – a welcome bit of excitement on an otherwise calm day.

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After about half an hour’s play, we continued north. As we rounded Carmel Head, we discussed whether we felt like paddling out to West Mouse, all of the group was onboard, so we paddled north until we were about 1km north of Carmel Head, then turned east and paddled directly to West Mouse.

The sea around West Mouse has some flow and a small bit of chop and while we were there, we circumnavigated the small island anti-clockwise. Paddling against the flow on the south of the island raised the heartbeat slightly but was considerably less than we all anticipated.

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From there we made our way directly back to Cemlyn Bay, assisted by the tide and guided by the prominent landmark of the decommissioned Wylfa power station. An enjoyable paddle was capped off by some rolling practice in the bay.

A very enjoyable paddle, great company and great weather.

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