Freesteel Blog » Return to Llandudno Pier

Return to Llandudno Pier

Monday, March 31st, 2014 at 8:21 am Written by:

Not quite such successful conditions as when we dived under LLandudno Pier the first time. This time we were attempting to take a couple of strangers who wanted to get into kayak diving on the first available day with reasonable conditions since September last year. (It’s not been a good year for weather.)

There was a brisk easterly wind, and the waves were stirred up. It was somewhat bouncy under the pier. Even this far from the shore the water was still the consistency of weak tea (with milk). But I got the anchor in. Then, just as we were in the water with waves crashing past our ears, three guys in safety gear and orange jump suits stuck their heads out from above, and shouted. “Hey, what are you doing? You’ve not got permission. This is private property.”

They began shinnying down through the barnacle and mussel encrusted iron work.

Oh crap, I thought. Abort the dive. We can outrun these fellows because they’re not dressed for swimming, but I don’t want to be stuck here when the heavy guys in drysuits and their brand new rubber boat comes around the corner to “rescue” us against our will. Then we’d have hours of them hamming it up about how seriously dangerous it was to be poking in such a place, it was against the law when it’s “private property”, la, la, la.

I dipped down in four metres of water and fetched the anchor. The only thing that’s dangerous is when you panic and try to do things in a hurry because you’re disturbed. Now we could be blown downwind into all the nasty pillars and cross-beams with the waves pushing up and down. Fortunately, the anchor must have fallen back in, because this didn’t happen. The men in their full body climbing harnesses (not clipped to any ropes, mind you), safety goggles, hard hats, heavy boots, but no life jackets now seemed to be ignoring us as they got on with their busy work of measuring the pillars of the pier. After scraping some of the mussels off one piling with his hand, the man wrapped his retractable metal tape around it and shouted its circumference measurement to someone up top. Later, two of them were pulling the soon-to-be-very-rusty tape along one of the diagonal struts in a more comedy slap-dash manner than our efforts at cave surveying. I could not believe it. Don’t they have the architect’s plans for these piers? They’ve even been rebuilt several times in the last hundred years. Those bits of structure aren’t going to change shape. And even if they did, due to shifts and movement of the ground, you’d have to measure it a heck of a lot more carefully than that.

Didn’t matter. We were back on our boats and the anchor was irretrievable, caught under a submerged bit of railing. I had to cut the line and lose it. This is only anchor we’ve lost in 10 years.

One advantage of kayak diving is that when the diving is no good, the kayaking can be okay. The three of us paddled across to the Little Orme, with our friend on one of our Ocean Kayak Scramblers, and Becka on their Ocean Kayak Frenzy, which was quite a lot slower and more bathtub shaped. It gave her some exercise.

The cave at the Little Orme was not very interesting due to the low tide. We walked up its beach and spied the bright skylight high in the ceiling. Then we paddled back along the cliffs which were totally bereft of birds. So, it’s not even nesting season yet. Anyway, how do they cope when the water visibility is like this and they cannot possibly see the fish they’re supposed to catch?

The previous weekend I was cycling along the north coast of Wirral with Francis, Tom and Anna and saw about 30 kite surfers out on the shallow sandy water. “That looks like a sensible thing to do in this horrible winter weather,” I thought. I remember seeing my first kite surfers near West Kirby way back in about 2003 when Becka and I first took our dive kayaks on an amazing expedition (for us): a paddle around Hilbre Island on our own. They were zooming around like jetskis near the shore. One of them seemed surf directly towards us at 50 mph, become air-born, and then land head-first in the water ten metres behind our boats. I dismissed it as an option which required far too much skill and coordination, when we were just getting to know our new toys and Becka was still freaked out about the possibility of ocean currents. (It’s the wind that’s the real problem, but no one is scared of that at first, are they?) Anyway, if these people would get back in touch, maybe we could talk about some lessons and a new complete waste of time.

There are yet more things I could do that I could be on average less good at. However, it is very local, so it would be rude not to give it a go.

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