Pembrokeshire family kayaking?

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Pembrokeshire family kayaking?

Post by turnpike » Mon Jun 03, 2019 3:23 pm

Hi. I've been hiring tandem sit on tops in Pembrokeshire for a few years to just explore around near land in sheltered areas with my young kids. (5 and 8).

We now own a Gumotex Thaya (inflatable). Can anyone recommend sheltered areas for family kayaking and perhaps a good course/introduction so I know how to check conditions and learn where to avoid etc?

Unless I'm given some decent safe new places to explore and can learn how to avoid any danger for not strong swimmers, I'll stay close to shore in places like Dale/St Davids, Little Haven etc.

I've heard Stackpole Quay is good but again I need to gradually build confidence on what we can and can't do for our kayak and ability before trying new locations.

My brothers out on his boat quite a lot in the area, so I'll be talking to him too but any info and recommendations appreciated.


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Re: Pembrokeshire family kayaking?

Post by pathbrae » Mon Jun 03, 2019 6:36 pm

I can't help with any local knowledge of your area but in general.... (and you've probably done most of this already)

Proper buoyancy aids for everyone and a couple of ways to call for help are good advice. Don't put a phone in a dry bag in the boat - keep it attached to you in case you end up in the water with the boat drifting away from you.
Have a bit of fun with the kids in shallow water near a beach, jumping out and climbing back in so they know they can do it - and do the same yourself
See if you can find some junior paddles for the kids as they'll struggle with a full size set.

I paddle an inflatable double with my wife from time to time and the "avoid offshore winds" mantra is probably a bit overstated. A half decent inflatable is worlds away from the £30 supermarket specials - which I would be wary of!
We take ours on the boat when we go sailing and use it on days when there's not enough wind to sail on. I'd not take it out in anything above about a force 3 (and check the forecast) but for coastal exploring it's an excellent tool We've had one occasion when a valve leaked and it got a bit soft when we were afloat - but with multiple air chambers you'd have to do something really silly to loose all the air - so we went ashore and pumped it up again and made sure the valve was properly closed (so add "pump" to the should carry list) and carried on with no great drama. If necessary, we could probably have pumped it up while afloat.
On a flat calm day with clear water it's fantastic to drift along looking at the life below the water.

If you want to take things a bit further the British Canoeing Coastal Navigation and Tidal Planning course is well worth while.

Above all - have fun and be sensible - and get the youngsters hooked on kayaking. :-)
So much sea - so little time to see it.

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Re: Pembrokeshire family kayaking?

Post by Billy g » Mon Jun 03, 2019 8:16 pm

Stackpole quay round to barafundle is an excellent short trip to do with the kids. Beware of going past barafundle though, the tides on Stackpole head can be strong, and experience of tideraces would be needed round there. High tide either side of Stackpole quay gives plenty of opportunity to explore.

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Re: Pembrokeshire family kayaking?

Post by simon64 » Mon Jun 03, 2019 9:15 pm

Solva harbour at full tide is quite a big area, turn right at the end and you will find an impressive arch, turn left and theres a cave you can go right through but be careful if theres any swell, don’t be tempted to go out to Green scar island as its always windy coming back, even if there was no wind when you went out !
A big plus of this part of the coastline is that there is little or no tidal flow, so thats one less thing to worry about, tidal flow starts to become a factor if you go a kilometre or so west of Porthclais harbour, which is another good launch, very scenic and normally busy with other kayakers etc, turn left here for a short trip to St Nuns bay wih its multi entranced cave and the beach at Carfai bay.
Both harbours dry out at low tide meaning a longish walk to get to the water so go a couple of hours either side of high tide.
Don’t go anywhere near Ramsey sound as the tides there are both very strong and have unusual timing, so if you launch at Whitesands beach stay away from the headland at St Davids head and the coastline to St Justinian, nasty surprises await the unprepared
Another good launch is Cwm yr Eglwys near Dinas head, generally sheltered from a prevailing west wind but beware of tidal flow on the head itself, its pretty safe up to and slightly beyond the sea stack to the left and along the coast to Newport, you may even spot a Dolphin or two.

1st photo the Arch at Solva, 2nd the cave at St Nuns, 3rd Cave on Dinas head




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Re: Pembrokeshire family kayaking?

Post by turnpike » Mon Jun 03, 2019 10:58 pm

pathbrae, good point about the phone. I can just stick the sim in a cheaper mobile so it isn't a big loss. I do intend to practice getting out and back in. Like you say, it can be turned into a fun thing in small waves at the beach with the kids.

Billy. Sounds good. Thanks for the advice on not going around the head. I've heard you can also go from Broadhaven to Box Bay. Looks interesting but I'll find out more first.

Simon, nice pics! Solva is definitely on the list. Last year we went on an organised boat trip around Ramsey from St Justinians and saw the Bitches up close.

We are in the area at least once a year, so will just take our time and no risks hopefully, but its great to know a few places we might get to on a good day.

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Re: Pembrokeshire family kayaking?

Post by jamesl2play » Tue Jun 04, 2019 9:29 am

This is going to be a shameful plug for a mate of mine but I suggest you give Mike Mayberry a call. Search for Mayberry Kayaking.
Mike is based at Goodwick near Fishguard and he speciazlises in family days out. He also has a vast knowledge of the area and will give you plenty of help.

Happy paddling.

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Re: Pembrokeshire family kayaking?

Post by mcgruff » Tue Jun 04, 2019 10:46 pm

Cold water can be much more dangerous than people sometimes realise.

It's even worse for children. A higher surface area to body mass ratio means they lose heat more quickly than adults.

The following article about the Gareloch tragedy in 2012 isn't quite clear about who was wearing what, or if cold was a factor in all of the fatalities, but it seems to suggest that the young girl who died was wearing a buoyancy aid but succumbed to the cold in the time it took her father to swim 500m to shore, raise the alarm, and for help to finally arrive. ... -interview

The sea is usually significantly warmer close to the shore, particularly on a sunny day when the tide washes in over warm sand but as you move offshore you can quickly get into a much more dangerous situation without realising it. As pathbrae said, you'd want to be confident everyone can re-entry after a mishap. Cold water survival boils down to one simple rule: get out of the water as fast as you can.

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Re: Pembrokeshire family kayaking?

Post by turnpike » Tue Jun 04, 2019 11:11 pm


I just checked the small print on ours and the kids are apparently officially lifejackets according to the seller. The adult ones are listed as life jackets, but the details say buoyancy aid..

Further reading reveals that neither of them would self right a person in anything but calm waters. That's not surprising and is arguably ok for staying near shore, but clearly worth being aware of. ... ories.html

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Re: Pembrokeshire family kayaking?

Post by markflip » Fri Jun 07, 2019 2:29 pm

A plus1 for Solva and I would also recommend Porthgain and Aereiddy as easy places to park, get an inflatable boat inflated and in the water with safe coastal 'there and back' paddles (or go from one to the other if you have a shuttle option and are confident with the distance). Abereiddy also has 'the blue pool' which you can paddle to if the tides reasonably high and is a nice place for kids to muck about in (I always felt happier being there with them in a 'rescue boat' too). Just be aware it gets 'landlocked' at low tide and the tide coming into the pool is strong just as it starts to fill, but it's easy enough to get out and pull/push the boat along to get out, or just wait til it fills up a bit more (portage back to the beach/car park is also an option).

I've paddled quite a bit round that coast in a half decent inflatable, as others have said, wind is the worst enemy with higher sided craft, but if you pick a nice calm day, the kayak is a brilliant way to explore the fabulous coast round there - I usually decide which way I will go once I'm in the water, see which way the current/wind wants to take me and set off against that so it'll (hopefully) help me back. It a brilliant feeling to get to some of the little bays/coves/caves that nobody else can.

I always take a first aid kit/blanket/fleeces in dry bags, phones in waterproof cases (even the cheap ones off eBay etc work fine) and decent life jackets with whistles. Paddle leashes are also a good idea IMO as are ropes fore and aft (it's far easier to tow an empty kayak along in shallow water than it is to carry it beside it).

Have fun!

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Re: Pembrokeshire family kayaking?

Post by turnpike » Fri Jun 07, 2019 3:54 pm

Thanks markflip. Even if I don't get in the kayak in some of these places it's reminded me that after going to this part of the world all my life, there's a few of them I've not visited in a long time. So I'll be putting that right this year.

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