Glasgow-to-Skye sea kayak. radio documentary tonight 14 Nov (or online)

Cheers Tim for pointing this out: bbc site, documentory about 1934 pioneer sea kayak expedition “the canoe boys.” 

Facing tidal races while “wearing singlets and kilts, and with only the inner tube of a car tyre for safety…” Very adventuresome stuff!

 Comment and narration by Simon Willis (adventure writer and journalist) and Cailean MacLeod (sea kayak expert coach).


Ynys Dulas

Ynys Dulas is a  scrap of rock off NE Anglesey, mainly covered in seals.

Don’t get stranded, or you will have to sleep here:

tower at yxys


Beacon / Refuge for the shipwrecked. 

As we went back from there towards llugwy beach, a group of 3 seals followed us very closely, and two more off to the side, keeping their distance, but swimming when we paddled, and stopping to look at us whenever we stopped.

spot the seal

They stayed with us for over a mile, and seemed to like following the stern of our boats as long as we kept a steady, not-too-fast pace, in a straight line. Right-way-up or upside-down just next to the back of the boat. Every time we stopped and thought they had gone, they popped up again and looked at us.

The friendliest, a female with an orange plastic tag, played with us all the way to the beach and then stayed 50yds offshore and watched us get out. I think I heard her say “Where are you going! Come back here and play!” Because of the orange tag we wondered if she was a released rescue seal? We were very sad to say goodbye. Magic.

More photos.

Choir of Angels

Singing seals, joining in with to the sound of lighthouse foghorns. Do they sound like a heavenly host of gilded angels?

Tenor section Bass section

No. Not much.

But they are very nice.

Porth Oer - setting off for Bardsay bardsay island

A lovely weekend in Wales. Dinny sea-kayaked round Bardsey island in the fog. Cath, Alison and Helen were “tumbled by friendly waves” at Hell’s mouth. Leo was 21 again (again).

 Cath surfin Surfin

On Sunday a trip round the Tudwalls. More singing seals and baby seals –


East Tudwell from West Tudwell



More seal pics from Alison and more surf pics that make the surf look loads smaller than it was, really! from Helen.

Book review – Welsh Sea Kayaking – 50 Great Sea Kayak Voyages

Welsh Sea Kayaking – Fifty Great Sea Kayak Voyages – Jim Krawiecki & Andy Biggs

Pesda Press 

Welsh Sea Kayak Cover

What is it? This is a sea kayak guide covering virtually the whole Welsh coast, divided into trip-size pieces. The chapters are very thorough, with overview and trip detail, diagrams, tide explanations, difficulty ratings and colour photos. Some of the photos are aerial, which is a nice touch. All the pointers you need.

Is it readable? Yes, it is. As well as the technical stuff on how to do the trip, there are descriptions of natural or local history, warnings about which islands are snake-infested, and tales of ancient shipwrecks.

Is it a replacement for Snowdonia Whitewater, Sea and Surf? Snowdonia whitewater sea and surf is a super book, and for years was the only guide with enough inshore detail on currents for kayak use. WSK certainly builds on that, with great new charts, and obviously it contains trips in South and Mid Wales not covered by the Terry Storry book, and gives you more up-to-date gen on where to eat and camp as well. Two great books which will sit nicely together on your shelf, great charts in the WSK, and character and anecdotes from the SWSS

Can any of these trips be done using General Purpose kayaks? Well, this is a sea-kayaking guide, and as the saying goes, “When in Rome, buy a sea kayak, and then walk away from Rome and towards the sea, then go sea-kayaking.” 

You need the right kit for the job.

Having said that, the trips are divided into 3 difficulty ratings, green=”not as hard as blue,” blue=”middling” and yellow=”challenging.” While many/most trips would be plainly beyond sensible thought in a short boat, some of the green ones, or shorter parts of some trips, are ones we have done, or might do, in GP boats. E.g. Puffin island, Greenscar, Llandwyn island, Roscolyn Beacon and the Tudwells trip can all be feasible, in the right conditions, in river boats.

Any gripes? No, none. Its a lovely book. It doesn’t always have time estimates in it for how long trips take, but then that will vary depending on many things, and users should anyway have the know-how to estimate expected journey times based on the maps provided and the tidal features described. With regard to the maps: In any sea kayak guide, authors have to decide how to balance detail vs clarity – mentioning every last overfall, flow variation or feature, or giving a clear view of the trip and the main markers of the journey. In Welsh Sea Kayaking, its good to see the clear, attractive solution they have chosen – the diagrams are certainly very clean and consistent in format, and do the job well.

All in all, this is a great guide for planning your sea trips and getting new ideas about beautiful places to explore. Its also very nice for reading in your armchair even if you have no intention of getting salty. I love it, and feel that it opens up endless possibilities for future trips – its going to be very well thumbed.

Mission (too) successful

Operation Brainwash, whereby non-paddling partner is gently persuaded to kayak by means of pain-aversion behaviour-moulding, is now complete. My beloved has this week voluntarily chosen to paddle when he didn’t even have to. He is currently having a thouroughly nice time on holiday without me. This is, obviously, illegal.

 Little Fitzroy Island, Australia.

Fitzroy Island, Australia

coral sand

Featured Blogs of the week – SWSeaKayak and Solent Kayak Pages

I think one or two lucc folk are Cornwall-bound soon, so here’s a great website to inspire you to do a bit of sea kayaking there: Mark Rainsley’s South West Sea Kayaking blog. He’s paddling the whole SW coast bit by bit, taking lovely pics, and scattering it all with tidbits of smuggler history and musings. He’s busy writing a sea guide to the area, just like the Welsh Sea Kayaking book, only about a different place, written by a different author, and with different words and pictures…

I can’t go to Cornwall… because I’ve got to go to Hampshire on holiday instead 🙂 So I’ll mostly be looking at another excellent kayak blog from the south, which is the Solent Kayak Pages blog, by Neil Goodyear. Again, lovely photos, and also very clear logistics explanations for river estuary and sea paddles, a fantastic resource.

Ocean Paddler Magazine Review

Just got the 1st issue of Ocean Paddler magazine through my letterbox yesterday. I think I may need to buy a coffee table to put it on – it is very glossy with high-quality pics and poshly produced. Not at all what I was expecting for the low subscription price:

Special offer £25 for first 12 issues, offer available until 1st Aug only.

Ocean Paddler Magazine issue 1 cover

Articles include expedition reports from Tasmania and other far flung places, by famous names: Jeff Allen (expedition paddler), Justine Curvengen (film maker “This is the Sea” DVD series) and others. Also articles about places the average paddler has rather more chance of visiting: the gradually growing popularity of Croatia as a sea paddling tourist destination, along with detailed logistics of how to arrange it yourself, lists of operators et. Practical sections include one on basic incident management, and a “Photo class” from Doug Wilcox, who many will know from his regular contributions perfect pics of scottish  coast and islands on ukseakayakguidebook community pages.

Its a very good mix. Exactly what you’d want: Some stories from people who’ve taken the trouble to go to dangerous, remote or extreme places so that I can enjoy hearing about them in the comfort of my armchair / bath; Some dream holiday destinations to aspire to visiting; Some practical advice to think about. Also a lot of reviews of equipment for shiny-gadget-gazing.

The only small quibble I have with this magazine is that the writing is a bit small. Being a so-called “Young’un”,  my eyes just aren’t as good as they used to be… But I guess that small print also means you get more words for you money, baragin!

This is a super magazine, and is obviously instantly popular with the sea kayaking community, see more opinions on this thread of ukriversguidebook and this blog review at southwestseakayaking.