Holyhead Sea Kayaking

The kayaks ready to go.

Whilst climbing on the beautiful coast lines of Pembroke, Lundy, Holyhead and Lofoten, I have watched sea kayakers paddling below the crags and I’ve often thought how I would love to give that a go. The opportunity arose when Steve Scott arranged a taster sea kayaking session for the Climbers Club pre-AGM entertainment.

Five of us signed up, me, Pete, Steve, Ian and Clair, and we met our instructor, Eila, at the sea kayaking centre in Holyhead.

After some initial instruction indoors – where to check the weather forecast, what to think about with tides, looking at the charts (not maps!), we got ourselves kitted out and we inspected our kayaks.

How tight does the buoyancy aid have to be?
Ian checking out the foot rests. Clair and Laetitia having a chat.
Pete and Steve just about ready for the water now.
The kayaks are ready to go.

Pete was all excited about getting out into the open sea, planning a quick trip over to The Skerries, a small group of islands about 3 nautical miles out. We all laughed, but secretly were keen to get out for a real adventure as well. Eila was sensible, however, and said that today we wouldn’t actually be going outside of the harbour while we learn some techniques. Doh!

But we soon realised that was actually a very good idea.

Laetitia concentrating on paddling.
Ian and Laetitia.

After a few hours practicing various strokes and turns it was time to practice rescues.
Eila braved the water first and Ian did the rescue. Despite having blue lips by the end of it Pete and Ian both volunteered for a dip in the water.

Eila preparing to get wet.
Eila in the water.
Pete preparing to get wet.
Pete getting wet. At this point I had to drop the camera and get on with the rescue.

…. but Pete got very cold in the sea, so Eila gave him another coat to warm him up.

Pete looking like a penguin.

It was a fantastic day, and now I’m looking forward to getting the kayaks onto the open sea where we might have to tackle some waves. Steve suggested a climbing and kayaking meet. Sounds great!

Here’s a link to where we were.


4 thoughts on “Holyhead Sea Kayaking”

  1. Yeah, had I thought a bit harder about the fact that Eila was wearing a drysuit and still had blue lips after she got out of the water I would have had second thoughts about volunteering for a rescue practice! It seemed like a good idea to experience first hand how hard it is to recover, empty, and get back in to the boat away from land. But hell, that water was so cold! :freeze: The moment I entered the water it took my breath away (I was wearing a thin surf-style wetsuit, kayaking cagoule, and buoyancy aid). I just got so cold so quickly it was frightening. I could hardly hold on to my paddle or boat, started shivering, and was quickly completely dependent on Laetitia’s help to get me back in my boat! Imagine how serious it would be in rough water with a gale – the kind of conditions it would happen in for real, that is, the kind of conditions to have caused a capsize in the first place? Serious!

    On a warmer note, the “storm-cag” Eila gave me, especially when the sun came out for a moment on the black material, was amazing. Even if it did make me look like an oversized penguin from one of Ian’s reports! :mrgreen:

  2. Lovely photos and write-up which gives a really good idea of what to expect when one goes on this activity.

    The sea kayaks are graceful, long and thin. One notices this most from the side-angle shot of Laetitia.

    Was the dunking worth the experience?

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