Travels with Paddles

a sea kayaking journal

Axel Schoevers (Photo: A. de Krook) Name:
Axel Schoevers
Rijswijk, Zuid-Holland, Netherlands

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Stacking it again

A beautiful sunny day generally means I favor paddling out to the Skerries. Lucklily I did not do that today and went along for 'stacking it' again. For one, it's grey seal pupping season. Steve told me that the Skerries is full of them now; not to be disturbed. The other reason that today was the best South Stack race I ever paddled. Maybe even my best tide-race surfing ever.

With all the South Stack magic, I almost forgot that we had more than an hour great surfing at Penrhyn Mawr before heading on to North Stack. I had to do two precautionary capsises of which one I swam aferwards and had to do a re-entry. So exhausted I was that I could not hold my breath anymore after the first failed attempt to roll.

All of the beaches were taken by the seal pups. The only undisturbing lunch spot we could find was a rock ledge beyond North Stack in the shade. Out of the sun it was chilly.

After lunch, North Stack was very dissapointing for surfing. We continued directly to South Stack to find the most wonderful running race. Sunshine made it all less scary. Wave after wave. Sometimes broaching, bracing and sometimes just continueing the surf after broaching when pivoting on the foam pile and down again, go, go, go... Magic!

Steve and Ed just kept on going when I thought it would be enough. I imagine when the locals do not want to stop or had enough, it must be very special. There is no eddy at the race, so it is full-on all the time. The eddy is 10 minutes paddling to South Stack and 10 minutes back up again to drop into the race again. With Ed, Steve, Zoe, Tavi, Gerard & Lianne. Hope to be back again in November.

Saturday, October 01, 2016


I checked if the "Saturday Club" would be paddling today. They're all out paddling allright but working... Ed texted me that it would be 'Stacking'. Porth Dafarch was full of sea kayakers (and cars) as when it would be at a symposium. School groups, Coasteering, 4* Training, and us two. The weather is a bit grey and drizzly but the sea water is still comfortably warm.

By the time we made it to South Stack the tide had already turned. North Stack was rushing, but too fast to catch waves. It does not help when it is blowing force 4 WITH the current. So we dropped down to South Stack. I was a bit intimidated by the sight of it. I saw surf-like breaking waves with 'tubes' and spray blowing off the tops like on a good beach surf day, but this is South Stack. Memories of many years ago of being trashed there gets me a bit more cautious today and I aim for the side of the race and go from there. South Stack was even worse with the wind. Forever on the pivot point on the wave hitting a wall of wind and only once dropping down for a long surf. Too much hard work on the arms and shoulders (and feet); exhausting... Once off the front waves, never making it back where the real action is.

Back in the eddy at South Stack for a short rest and one more go. Not before we are hit by a heavy squall; hurting in the face. Glad it is not hail. And the fog horn at South Stack going off. Again, the headwind killing any easy surfing.

Back at Porth Dafarch more and more groups return and more and more 'Saturday Club' members gather at the Paddler's Return for a pint and food. We were the only ones being hit by the squall. Stacking allright today, but more that the wind was stacking against us.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Park & Play

Only Dale, Levi and I are left to go paddling. The general concensus at breakfast was to rather go "Park & Play" than to go on a trip. The wind and tide is perfect for paddling out of Cemlyn Bay to the tide-race over Harry Furlough's rocks. Nigel urged us to leave soon...

When we hit the race it was better than I had ever experienced it here before. Very easy to catch the waves for long rides with easy manoeuvring; some bracing required. Later we were joined by Steve & ?. We were spoiled with the easy rides, so after an hour we already called it a day when it took more effort to catch the waves. Park & Play it was.