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Thread: Anglesey Circumnavigation

  1. #1
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    Default Anglesey Circumnavigation

    For some time I have considered circumnavigating Anglesey inan open canoe. I couldn’t find any record of this being done before… Maybe there was a reason for that?
    But in June 2015 all the stars were in alignment; a high pressure weather system was in charge, Katrina and I both had 3 days off work,no plans and a friend who could look after our dogs Tyke and Gonzo… Game on!
    Our plan was to drive to Cemlyn Bay on the North Coast spendthe night and then canoe around the Island in our 17 foot Old Town Penobscot using the three disciplines of paddling, sailing and paddle sailing.Our chosen rig was the Solway Dory 35 sq ftexpedition sail with leeboard and rudder also from Solway Dory. We would not use outriggers, but to minimisethe risk of swamping we would use the spray deck that Katrina had made.
    The three hour journey from Halifax landed us at Cemlyn Bayat midnight. A restless sleep in the van led to a 5.30 start to give time torig and load the boat in enough time to get through some of the major tideraces before the tide turned foul. I knew that if we got this initial stage wrong the whole trip would be in jeopardy.

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    We left Cemlyn at 7am, light North Westerly’s were forecastand we decided to paddle. We knew this would help going through the tide races at the Skerries and those around the South Stack. Almost immediately as weleft the bay I could see the waves breaking in line from the headland outtowards the Skerries. The tide pushed us along and we had our first bit of funin some large breaking waves in the tide race.We paddled though and my hat went off to Katrina who kept her cool; shewas exposed in the front of the boat going up the waves and dropping off theother side with a crash.We paddled through several tide races before we headed though calm waters to South Stack.

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    I reminisced about my climbing days when adventures werefound on the cliffs and not the water!

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    The sun was shining and it was hot work paddling.We knew that if we didn’t get to the Penrhyn Mawar before the tide changed we would be forced back.
    Sweating, and thinking we had made it in time, we got to the race just as the tide changed. We tried to paddle through but it was too much and we were forced back. We managed to get further out and caught an eddy behind a rock and this gave us just enough to power through.

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    By now we were beyond the race but paddling hard and notmoving forwards. If anything we werebeing pulled back into the race. We were tired and stuck! With the race just behind us getting bigger and bigger things were looking grim.
    Just at this point we had some luck… the wind picked up “Kat, get that bloody sail up!!”“I can’t hear you!!” “SAIL … UP!!!”
    I paddled like a locomotive whilst Katrina hoisted the sail.It was filled by the wind. Not much, but enough! ...What an experience.We just got through by the skin of our teeth.This confirmed that the most important part of this trip was timing. Five minutes later and we would have turned about.
    As we continued on our way the adrenaline left us and we were blessed to see a pod of dolphins swimming the other way. One jumped clear of the water, about 100 meters away.What a sight!

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    We continued with a steady sail to Trearddur Bay where the tide changed and put an end to meaningful progress. We stopped around 1pm in glorious sunshine and met some great sea kayakers who had spent the morningplaying on moving water.

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    Around 4pm we set off again to catch the outgoing tide. Our aim was to get to the mouth of the Menai Straits.The wind was about force 3 and we had a great sail until the last 2 miles where the tide changed and we sailed close in tokeep out of the strongest flow and hopefully catch some eddies.

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    While I cooked tea, Katrina checked the maps and tide chartsto see how we were doing.We had a choice.We could either keep going into the night to get the tide through the Swellies, or we could camp here for the night and catch the next tide at 10am.The latter would have meant getting to Gallows Point and having to wait most of the day before continuing our journey, putting our whole trip back by12 hours or so.
    There were two factors which led to us making the decision to keep going into the night to get through:
    1.We had recced the Swellies just a few weeks earlier as part of the OCA Canoefest.(I had beenon a two day coastal workshop with Jules Bernard and Katrina had been out in a group led by Ray Goodwin).
    2.We have paddled on the Thames in full flow through the night in a wobbly K2 as part of the DW race.
    So, after a quick meal of pasta, we set off at 9pm against a slightly foul tide to take us up to the Swellies.We paddled slowly past Caernarfon Castle withthe Sun setting to our left.It was a clam, beautiful evening.Thankfully,after an hour or so the tide turned to our favour.

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    We were tired and kept looking for the Menai Bridges...“It can’t be much further now” we kept saying. It was like being on the DWTideway, knackered, constantly looking for the London Eye.
    Eventually the first bridge came into sight. What a relief.

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    We paddled under the first bridge quite easily.But the second one … that was somethingelse!We could see big boils andwhirlpools all around us.The water wasmoving very fast.We were picked up by aboil and swung around… “We’re ok, keep paddling”. The noise of the water seemed very loud in thestill of the night as we went through the main rapid and under the bridge. We kept our cool, and got a push from the tide to Gallows Point.
    This is where we stopped. I fell in mud pulling the boat above the shoreline while Katrina put the tent up beside the road. It was2.30am when we settled into our cosy sleeping bags. We had been on the go for 21 hours!


    Our alarms went off at 7am.
    We quickly packed and caught the out going tide passed Puffin Island (nota puffin in sight!) We paddle sailed to avoid tacking and made good progress.Along the way the Red Arrows saluted our progress with a fly past!

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    We headed for Moelfre where we would have to wait for thetide to change again. My navigation was found wanting and we missed the beach, but we found somewhere to stop just around the corner that involved dragging the boat up seaweed covered rocks.

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    After food and a few hours rest (Katrina caught forty winks)we set off with the tide. The wind had picked up and was blowing force 4 but we decided to paddle to start with as sailing it would have meant tacking.

    We met further tide races.The biggest ones we’d come across on the whole journey.They were great fun. We were relaxed and “Yeeehaaa”d as we stormedthrough the 6ft waves. At one point wewere broadsided and took in some water but the spray deck saved the day!
    The wind died down but we continued and after a short break we sailed and paddled in the sunset to finish at Cemlyn Bay around 10pm.

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    It was a superb trip. The weather was perfect.The scenery and wildlife were spectacular.
    Last edited by skeathy; 12th-June-2015 at 10:49 PM.

  2. #2
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    Great achievement. Who cares if it has been done before, that's a serious paddle. I take my hat off to you both.
    Matto

    Ours was the marsh country, down by the river, within, as the river wound, twenty miles of the sea.


  3. #3
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    Excellent! What an amazing trip!

    Thanks for sharing.

    Doug
    When there's trouble on shore, there's peace on the wave,
    Afloat in the White Canoe.
    Alan Sullivan


  4. #4
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    Wow that's an impressive trip. Well Done both of you and Thanks for posting it.

  5. #5
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    Brilliant stuff - what's next ?

  6. #6
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    Brilliant adventure. Congratulations to you both

    Andy
    The river flows, flows to the sea
    Wherever that river flows, that's where I want to be

  7. #7
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    A great account of what must have been a magnificent adventure. Any tips on constructing a spray deck and how best to hold it on to the boat? It looks to me from your pictures as though you may've laced it to holes drilled through the boat, is that right? It is something I have wondered about.
    Also, nice to see that a serious trip can be carried out with the lug sail and without outriggers.
    Thanks
    Ian

  8. #8
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    Blimey, I've done this trip twice, in a 21' and then 34' yacht and it was hairy both times, especially rounding South Stack. It's one heck of an achievement in an open canoe that the vast majority of us would love to undertake, but just haven't got the bottle to do so. Well done to you both.
    Paul
    Just goin with the flow

  9. #9
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    Very impressive indeed, well done. Can be pretty tricky round there when you can see what your doing but in an open canoe and in the dark.........!

  10. #10
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    Well done.

    Rob Egelstaff and I did not go around Anglesey when we circumnavigated mainland Wales back in 1992. Dave Howe and I landed in Trearddur Bay on Anglesey when we did the Irish Sea Crossing in 1994. Also I have been around the Stacks and on another occasion out to the Skerries in canoe but never the complete circumnavigation of the Island.

    Looked great in the pictures.

    Ray
    www.RayGoodwin.com

    Paddling a Venture Prospector (in CoreLite X) using Downcreek Paddles

  11. #11
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    Really well done ... and a super Blogg too
    DCUK
    Can't ytpe or roopf read

  12. #12
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    Thanks for all of the positive comments.

    In relation to the question about the spray deck: We bought a 10mt roll of cordura fabric from Ebay for around 40. The stitching was done with strong upholstery thread. We put tabs along the inside of the hem in order to thread a cord through. The cord was threaded through the tabs and the lacing on the boat to hold it all in place, but this is a tedious process for getting it on and off so we're now considering screwing some hooks into the side of the boat and using bungee instead of cord, this will be quicker to put on and off. We used velcro to hold down three edges of the "hatches" (the other edge was sewn) but after this trip we plan to add a couple of buttons to each side in order to make it more secure, and possibly a baton across the width of the boat where there is no thwart between the hatches in order to stop water from pooling so much.

    I can take some close up photos of the spray deck if this will help at all.

    Colin

  13. #13
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    Great stuff .A real epic .Thanks for sharing.

  14. #14
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    Impressive trip. Nice to see someone doing a serious trip without the outriggers.

  15. #15
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    Most impressive. I have done the trip several times in sea kayaks and been 'mildly concerned' for my safety in a few of the places you mentioned!
    A ship should not ride on a single anchor, nor life on a single hope - Epictetus

  16. #16

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    A great blog - thanks for sharing! Photos bring back great memories from sea kayak trips in the past.
    Looking forward to your next blog already.

  17. #17
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    Absolutely fantastic trip and account! I paddle and sail around Anglesey a lot and appreciate some of the conditions that you must have encountered, huge respect and just a little jealousy :-)

    Graham

  18. #18
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    Thanks very much for the details of the spray deck construction and your thoughts on improvements.
    Quote Originally Posted by skeathy View Post
    I can take some close up photos of the spray deck if this will help at all.

    Colin
    That would be really interesting. Perhaps I should encourage you to put it in a new thread as I expect it might be of interest to others and more easily found by those using the board's search engine in the future.
    Thanks again.
    Ian

  19. #19
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    That's a proper achievement, well done to you both. Nicely described, you definitely portrayed the serious nature of the trip!
    Covering as many malmiles as possible before being distracted by the pub!

    Paddle Points - where to paddle

  20. #20
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    Excellent!

    What an adventure.

    Most impressive, well done.

    "I stepped up on the platform. The man gave me the news. He said - you must be joking, son, where did you get those shoes?"

    Crow Trip Log

  21. #21
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    What a thrilling adventure you had! You two are some crazy open boaters! (In a good way.)

    Thanks so much for the blog, it proved very absorbing and distracting; so much so that I forgot I was in the office.

  22. #22
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    Inspiring stuff. Brilliant blog. Thanks
    Never kiss a man in a canoe

  23. #23
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    Respect mate, that took some nerve in one canoe

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