2017-05-20 ECSK Anglesey Meet – A Day of Two Halves

Ron grinning from ear to ear after his surf in the Inner Race

The start of the day saw us meeting around Simon Beasley’s caravan at Anglesey Outdoors looking at options for a paddle. The group of ten was going to be of mixed abilities and with a strong southerly wind blowing, our options were going to be limited.

Mick Hargreaves
Mick Hargreaves

In the end it was decided to paddle from Porth Dafarch towards Trearddur Bay in the hope of getting to for lunch.  Basically,  due to the mixed ability we were going to have to play it a bit by ear.

Paul Miller rock hopping
Paul Miller rock hopping

On the water the sea state was a little messy with the occasional swell sometimes coming through. We rock hopped our way around to Trearddur bay. It was soon quite obvious who the weaker members of the group were. Consequently progress was quite slow.

ECSK Anglesey Weekend
ECSK Weekend
ECSK Anglesey Weekend
ECSK Anglesey Weekend

By the time we reached Porth Diana, where we stopped for a tea break, it was obvious continuing to Rhoscolyn was not going to be at all wise. We had already rescued one paddler multiple times, who kept checking on the fishes, in the messy conditions.  So, back to Porth Dafarch was the most sensible option.

ECSK Anglesey Weekend
ECSK Anglesey Weekend
ECSK Anglesey Weekend
ECSK Anglesey Weekend
ECSK Anglesey Weekend
ECSK Anglesey Weekend
ECSK Anglesey Weekend
ECSK Anglesey Weekend
ECSK Anglesey Weekend
ECSK Anglesey Weekend
End of trip one at Porth Dafarch
End of trip one at Porth Dafarch
Scooby Doo house
Scooby Doo house
ECSK Anglesey Weekend
ECSK Anglesey Weekend

Back on the beach the group seemed more than pleased with the shortened trip and most were quite happy to call it a day. I suggested to the stronger paddlers (Chris, Ron, Simon and Mick) about maybe going around the coast to the Old Lifeboat station and maybe a quick peep at . By now the swell and wind were beginning to pick up and conditions were beginning to look quite lively.

On the way to PM
On the way to PM
Phil Clegg and his group near Mini Mawr
Phil Clegg and his group near Mini Mawr
Old lifeboat station - great fauna on the rocks (not Simon and Chris)
Old lifeboat station – great fauna on the rocks (not Simon and Chris)

Going through Mini Mawr was certainly fun and we bumped into Phil Clegg of Sea Kayaking Anglesey bringing his group back. Following the coast things calmed down a lot, but you could see Penryhn Mawr (PM) gnashing its teeth in the distance.

Chris going for the surf
Chris going for the surf
Ron W having fun
Ron W having fun
Ron grinning from ear to ear after his surf in the Inner Race
Ron grinning from ear to ear after his surf in the Inner Race

We stopped at the Old Life boat station for a bite to eat before dropping into the inner race of PM. It was most definitely lively. Soon we were joined by Curly and Jules, who had been playing in the outer race, but had come in to find some shelter. Apparently it was beginning to break above their heads out there!

Mick working those edges
Mick working those edges
Guys coming in from the outer race after the waves started to dump on them!
Guys coming in from the outer race after the waves started to dump on them!

So we played for a bit surfing the waves in the inner race. Ron Walker had an excellent surf on one wave and his grin was a mile wide! But it wasn’t long before it was time to make our way back.

Chris going for the surfChris going for the surf

In ferrying up against the flow Mick decided he was too hot and took a swim. There was some mix up in the rescue, which left Mick’s boat disappearing off into the distance. I managed to take the obligatory photos, before realising Mick’s boat was off in the flow and about to disappear behind some rocks. Luckily, I managed to empty it and get a line on it and drag it back, before it became feral.

Mick takes a dip to cool off after playing in PMMick takes a dip to cool off after playing in PM

With Mick safely back in his boat and suitably cooled down, more ferry attempts were made until we were all safely above the inner race.

Now you see me
Now you see me
Now you don't
Now you don’t
Big n'bouncy
Big n’bouncy
slowing down to keep an eye on Ron
slowing down to keep an eye on Ron
the group is splitting
the group is splitting
Chunky waves
Chunky waves
Swell is picking up
Swell is picking up
Wind is picking up
Wind is picking up

But as soon as we started crossing the bay,  the wind, swell and waves were all increasing! I realised Ron W was paddling quite slowly, so I kept with him. All the time conditions were rapidly deteriorating.

Conditions are building up!
Conditions are building up!
Where are you going
Where are you going

At Mini Mawr we were beginning to get walloped by the odd breaking wave. Jules came along and clipped onto Ron and started towing him, but somehow his tow didn’t work, so I removed Jules’s tow and clipped myself on to Ron.

The guys disappearing off!
The guys disappearing off!
Coming back from PM it was getting rougher
Coming back from PM it was getting rougher

Heading for Porth Dafarch, I now had the swell coming behind me and consequently Ron and I were being surfed out of turn. Ron later told me he was doing everything he could do to stop running into me. It wasn’t the best tow, but there was no time to stop and sort it out. We had to get off the water and make it quick. It is a credit to Ron that he didn’t capsize in the conditions whilst being towed. But then I have never seen Ron capsize.

On reaching Porth Dafarch I unclipped the tow and let Ron paddle in the last couple of hundred meters.  Ron was not at all happy at being towed. I would say he was quite angry at first, but being the gentleman he is, his anger turned to smiles within a few milliseconds.

Ron Walker
Ron Walker

By the time we had carried the boats up the beach, the sea was a mass of white breakers. I knew I had made the right decision in towing Ron off the water. We would not have stood a chance out there now.

In case you are wondering about Ron’s abilities, I should and I hope Ron doesn’t mind me saying; Ron is in his eighties and is an absolute pleasure to paddle with. He is a legend!

When I asked the other three, how come they left Ron and me to it, they said they had difficulty turning around in the wind and swell. I was very glad both Curly and Jules stopped with us and assisted. Thanks guys.

A fab days paddling!

1 Comment

  1. Graham Cooke
    23 June 2017

    I don’t envy you towing on those conditions! We had been playing in PM that day then gone on to Parliament House Cave for lunch. Getting back round South Stack was really tough and PM was quite big and confused and surprisingly fast for neaps. It was indeed a hard slog back to Porth Dafarch. Lucky we were too late to help you tow 🙂

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