Are you all sitting comfortably ..... then I'll begin Well it all started well, the four of us managed to get all our boats on the trailer and stuff in the car and were actually on the road for what should have been a 5 to 6 hour trip. Eleven hours later we arrived having been slowed by bad traffic and trying to tow a trailer with an uneven number of wheels.
Friday night started with a trip to the pub (for all those who made it up in time - the M5 was shut for a while). The late comers hung around drinking beer and talking boll***s, as is the want of any group of kayakers greater than 2.
Saturday dawned bright, and, after a short talk Dave Evans lead us off to Porthmadog (Borth-y-Gest?). Here P&H, Valley and Nigel Dennis each had a trailer load of boats to try. The most interesting where two new prototypes from P&H the x and the y (original names!), The X was a fast twitchy boat (a more extreme sirius?), with little secondary stability, I liked it, while paddling about the harbour, but I am not sure how it will handle in proper seas. Some of the people who paddled it loved its speed and manoeuvrability so maybe its me! The Y seemed a larger version of the Capella. I paddled this boat on the trip on Saturday and was very impressed. It tracked well and turned easily and was good fun to surf.
The only other boats that I did not know there, were the Kayak Sport which valley are importing from Scandinavia somewhere. The Kayak Sport millennium was a nice boat, but it would take me a while to get use to the moveable seat and pedals.
After lunch we paddled in 2 groups down to Criccieth. There was a nice swell coming in and a small amount of breaking waves over the bar at the mouth of the estuary. The trip down took about an hour and a half. The first group then got out or played about until the second group arrived.The plan was to then catch the minibus back to the cars and shuttle. A small group of us decided to paddle back. The group grew to about 20 by the time we headed back. This time we were against the current, so progress was somewhat slower. The most interesting part of the trip was again the estuary entrance, where there was a beautiful clean 3ft surf rolling up against the current coming out. After a bit of reassuring of some of the less experienced paddles we headed off into the surf. 15minutes (and two swimmers) of fine playing later we were through, and started the head bang back up the estuary to the cars. The trip back was about 3 and a half hours.
That evening we had a talk by the nature warden of Bardsey which had some fine shorts of the sound and the associated run. This was followed by a video of mad Americans playing in the rock gardens, caves, gullies and blowholes found around cliffs. They spent there time surfing between the rocks before being splatted against the cliff. Life must be very dull in the US these days...
After that there was a bonfire and beer session outside until the day's surf had reached at least 10 ft and we had all back surfed, looped broached, pole vaulted* (*delete as appropriate).Next morning we set off to a bit of beach east of Pwllheli. After annoying the locals (a convoy of cars with 50+ sea kayaks takes a while to pass, especially on single track roads with hairpin bends. We again split into two groups and paddled out to the Tudwal islands. The weather was hot with very little wind. Paddling was easy and the company good. The Tudwals were a very nice paddle - in and out of a few caves, playing spot the seal - putting the person back in their spitsbergen racing sea kayak (a demo boat). We then paddled on to a nice bay for lunch before paddling a back across the bay to a fond farewell. Total trip about 4 hours. Some people went back to Cwm Pennant for tea, showers and cake, but we headed of to look at the Tryweryn and ponder the coming winter.
And that is that till next year - I will remember to service the trailer - I will remember to service the trailer - I will .....
Ken Spurway on the water.
The 2003 Festival will be on 5th to 7th September.