When you’ve made plans for a weekends paddling in Anglesey and the weather turns really bad, what do you do? Well, there is always some messing about in tidal currents at Four Mile Bridge. This was about the only place on the island we could have found to paddle in the 50mph plus winds. In the end we had quite a laugh, seeing who could make it through the tunnel against the current.
Getting to Anglesey early on the Saturday morning, was not without incident. As we approached the Menai Bridge we were hit by a huge gust of wind that saw both sea kayaks on the roof rack break the front Thule roof bar mount. In fact the foot of the roof bar was actually ripped off the roof completely. We found it 250 meters back down the road, once we managed to stop in a safe place on the dual carriageway. When I inspected the bars later in the week the clamp had been pulled through the roof bars leaving a hole in the metal! Luckily, both boats were ok. The remaining few miles across Anglesey, to Anglesey Outdoors were driven very slowly with lots of additional strapping around the foot of the roof bar.
You may notice in the pictures I am paddling a white Valley Etain. Having made the decision to sell my very lovely Carbon Kevlar Nordkapp Førti, Jason at Valley lent me the Etain to demo. Having owned and paddled an Etain prior prior to the Nordkapp, I was interested to see what changes Valley had made to the Etain. My Etain was a pre production model with no pod. I have to say I think the Etain is an excellent Sea Kayak. It is a little more stable than the Nordkapp, but for me has a better leg paddling position, in that it is not as straight legged as in the Nordkapp. This, as I found out, is very important to me having had a knee replacement in 2014 and was the reason for selling my lovely Nordkapp. The leg position may suit some people, but for me, anything more than two hours in the Nordkapp and my knee would be very painful (ie. agony) and I would have great difficulty standing afterwards!
Back to the Etain. I noticed things were different than my original Etain: The top side of the deck has been modified. The deck out-fittings were also repositioned so I was no longer catching my thumb on the deck lines whilst paddling. There is also no pod (not that my old Etain had one), but there is a useful small front hatch, between your knees. This is just big enough for a small bottle of water and a few energy bars etc. But most of all I was sure the hull had been tweaked ever so slightly. However, when I returned the demo Etain to Valley and told Jason this, he assured me the hull was exactly the same. The only logical reasoning for me thinking this is that my paddling has improved from paddling the Nordkapp. I think he may well have a point here. The cockpit is also bigger and wider as I found when I first tried to roll and fell out!
Thanks to Valley for the loan of the lovely Etain!
Best days dicking about for a very long time!