Freesteel Blog » Four winds at Anglesey

Four winds at Anglesey

Saturday, May 12th, 2012 at 6:40 pm Written by:

This is just a quick log with pictures for my memory. Andrew and Ju booked a cottage on Anglesey for their May holiday and brought their kayaks. The week had classic welsh weather with wind, rain and clag, with a sprinkling of sun, but not enough to actually warm anything. We consulted daily to get the low-down on wind and waves (we wanted neither). One of the reasons that Anglesey is a top sea kayaking spot is that it is an island with four sides, so at least one of them is sheltered from the worst of the sea state on any day.

View from bedroom window on Saturday morning before setting off

Saturday 5 May

North wind. We drove to the cottage in Llanddona, dumped our stuff, then went south to Aberffraw, parked for Porth Cwyfan and dragged our boats across slippery rocks and seaweed to reach the water. This is where Becka and I had launched several times in order to dive the Kimya out from Malltraeth Sands. Today we paddled west with no tanks nearly to Rhosneigr and back.

Sunday 6 May
Very little wind. The plan was to go from Porth Dafarch right round the south of Holy Island to Four Mile Bridge with a couple of kayak dives included. We needed to get up early to beat the crowds. This was lucky as it was the weekend of the Anglesey sea kayak symposium, which we didn’t know at the time, though we did wonder why there were so many damn kayaks around the place. There were quite a few divers as well, heading off for a sandy shore dive in the shallow water of the cove who took absolutely no notice of our extremely excellent and practical dive kayaks, as usual.

Dropping off the bikes at Four Mile Bridge

Quickly out to take Andrew on his first kayak dive on the wreck of the Missourri (using Becka’s gear). It was a pretty gloomy dive and he was not impressed.

After Andrew’s dive, we zipped back to the beach, changed around all the gear for Becka and me to head straight across Trearddur Bay over to Main-y-Sais rock 800m northwest of Rhoscolyn Beacon, expecting to be rapidly caught up by the others in their proper speedy sea kayaks, even though they were to be exploring the caves.

We visited some of the caves near Rhsocolyn too.

Then we dived on this Main-y-Sais rock in the middle of nowhere, but we were counting on the fact that we had some surface cover for a change.

After they arrived and watched us drop anchor on the seaward side, the surface cover cleared off to Rhoscolyn Beacon and played with the seals before stopping off to have lunch, though they claimed to have been watching all the time from a vantage point. It was a strange site in terms of currents. It clearly bore the brunt of the north flowing flood tide, but we were diving after high tide. Although there was a two knot south flowing ebb current between Rhoscolyn point and the nearest rocks, there was absolutely no movement on Main-y-Sais. While kitting up in the water, we dropped Becka’s diving torch. (She had been trying to hand me her torch and reel under the water because she couldn’t clip them on, said, “Have you got both?”, I said, “Yes”, when I had her reel (while also carrying my own), and didn’t know anything about no torch, which went straight to the bottom of the sea.)

The kelp gave way to a drop off with the classic deeper water (12 metres) short animal turf, dead men’s fingers, three different kinds of sponges, fat purple nudibranchs, and a good number of dogfish. We found the torch on the second sweep around the anchoring area, which cheered things up. Then we swam south to the end of the reef, and east, each holding one end of the anchor chain until I was close to running out of air after 30 minutes. A very pleasing dive.

On collecting the rest of the crew from Rhoscolyn Beacon, we hauled ourselves along the southern coat of Holy Island, past Borthwen and Silver Bay to the entrance of Cymyran Strait, which was outflowing fast with ankle deep water. It was totally low tide and probably the most difficult time to attempt an entrance of it. Much of our progress was made by dragging our boats upstream in knee deep water, and occasionally sitting and paddling almost at a relative standstill when our legs got too knackered and it was time to give our arms a try. It was a long and winding way to Four Mile Bridge following the channel below the marshy banks that would have been underwater at high tide. Everyone thought it was my fault, but it was planned; there were no other kayaks on the bank as we packed up and got ready to go home (while Becka and Andrew cycled off for the car retrieve).

Monday 7 May
No kayaking. Strong rain and wind. Everyone one was too tired from the day before. Becka and I didn’t go for a walk in the morning, so we cycled to Bill’s house at Waunfawr in the evening and got a lift back after dinner.

Tuesday 8 May
Southerly wind drove us to the north coast. I suggested we go east from Cemaes to Point Lynas. This turned out to be against the max west flowing ebb tide owing to a consistent misreading of the maps in the Welsh Sea Kayaking guidebook. In it they show a
flow arrow near Middle Mouse pointing west with the words 5kn Sp; -0045 HW Liv. This does not mean that there is a 5 knot current flow rate going west 45 minutes before Liverpool high water, so that three hours after this time it should be slacking off. Instead it means that the current starts flowing west 45 minutes before Liverpool high water, and sometime during this flow period, say about three hours after it begins, it maxes out at 5 knots.

Brick works at Porth Llanlleiana

Luckily close to the coast was an eddy which carried us along to just short of the headland between Porth Llanlleiana and Hell’s Mouth (Porth Cynfor) where there was no space between the main flow and the rocks, with standing waves and all that stuff. Ju didn’t like it at all, and turned back. After an hour of delaying and faff (hoping for conditions to improve), she swapped boats with Becka because her sit on top Ocean Kayak Scrambler is impossible to capsize, though it is slower and less able to beat the speed of the current. There is always a penalty for stability. We only just got ahead, and two porpoises distracted us from the stress as we got past the madness.

Going against the current towards Porth Wen in what Ju claimed were 5 metre waves

The cavey bit north of Bull Bay

The rest of the journey passed without mishap, except for the problem that Becka was now in a proper sea kayak and was unfortunately enjoying it. Yes I know they can go faster and more efficiently, but that means you’ll have to go further in a day to be satisfied, and the amount I’ll get knackered will be much greater. Not only that, going bigger distances will put us further out to sea and in more danger, tempting disaster (which will be my fault). For me paddling after about the fifth solid hour is a bit of a drag. At least when you go kayak diving you have a finite mission to accomplish. Even caves can be short enough to get done in four hours. With sea kayaking you’re always going to draw a route that’s 30kms long to somewhere and every day is going to be like a horrendous marathon.

Waiting for the Andrew and Becka cycle off and fetch the cars

I checked out the depths and currents in line with East Mouse near Amlwch in anticipation of at one point soon diving the wreck of the Dakotian (the viz would have been terrible from the storms, even had we got there on time). Then Becka tore her drysuit neck seal trying to get it off. It had to happen soon because the rubber had already perished after only a year.

Raiding the co-op for crusty buns for a fondue that evening.

Wednesday 9 May
The east wind meant we did the west side of the main island, from Porth Tywyn-mawr north past Church Bay to Ynys y Fydlyn, which is a rocky outcrop that is full of caves. The plan was to take a quick hike from there up round Carmel Head. However, by the time we got there we had been into so many sea caves on the way we were no longer interested, and it was rainy and cold. It was all we could do to eat our cakes and turn around. Out on the horizon I saw about 20 sea kayaks in a line, like moving dots. It looked like they were riding the 6 knot current back from The Skerries to Hollyhead. Lazy buggers!

Departing Porth Tywyn-mawr

On the drive out I had overshot the junction in Valley and found a new canoe shop. Becka bought a proper kayaking cag and a rescue throw line, because she was warming to the idea of doing proper sea kayaking, and no more of this much more fun and sensible sit on top trips.

Caves on near Church Bay

Thursday 10 May
Totally blown out with rain pounding down. I got some work done. We walked downhill to the coast from the cottage and saw that the sea was foggy. Bill and Siân came for dinner in the evening.

Friday 11 May
A strong northerly. Becka and I made out excuses and headed back to Liverpool, leading the way to the marina by Conwy where Andrew and Ju chose not do the Conwy ascent due to the high winds. Dropped Becka’s suit off with Rubber Man who lives up the hill from Conwy, having been tipped off by the canoe shop, with the request that the latex is replaced by a neoprene neck seal (not sure it’s going to work), and went home. Weekend has been spent working, digging in the allotment, and completely reorganizing the garage in case it needs to make room for some unwelcome sea kayaks (though to be fair a hang glider might fit along the wall in the same space).

1 Comment

  • 1. darklord replies at 25th July 2012, 4:57 pm :

    Deary me, Julian, you want to lighten up on the sea kayaking front…. 😉

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