Introduction and looking for advice.

Places, technique, kayaks, safety, the sea...
SlopeSoarer
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Introduction and looking for advice.

Post by SlopeSoarer »

Morning all.

As the title says I'm doing a quick introduction and looking for advice on sea kayaking.

I'm 61 year old and have never kayaked or canoed, though windsurfed and sailed dinghies inland. I'm moving from Bolton to Anglesey in the next month or so (a place I've know well and have visited regularly for atleast 55 years).

I'm reasonably fit, enjoying walking and cycling and looking forward to new challenges in retirement. Kayaking being right up there.

My thoughts are to get a few lessons when we've settled in and it gets a little warmer. I've ordered the Sea Kayakers Handbook just to start getting myself prepared.

Am I mad at 61 thinking about taking this up as a hobby? Open sea does give me the colly wobbles but hopefully that's because I respect it and acknowledge the dangers that can come with it.

Any thoughts and advice would be appreciated?

The kayak which I'm leaning towards is the Dagger Stratos 14.5.

Mark Graham
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Re: Introduction and looking for advice.

Post by Mark Graham »

Hello and welcome. You are by no means daft to be taking up sea kayaking at 61, it's adventure sitting down!
Re your choice of kayak - I suggest booking some lessons and trying a few different kayaks to see what suits you. Have a serious think about what you want to do with it - if you plan on doing longer trips or expeditions you might find you need something bigger to carry more kit. Difficult at the moment I know but some manufacturers and dealers do demo days.

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Ceegee
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Re: Introduction and looking for advice.

Post by Ceegee »

I'm the same generation, albeit I've been sea kayaking, on and off, since I was 14.

At 14.4 ft and a beamy 26" (64cm for the 14.5L) the Dagger isn't really suitable for a serious sea kayak, especially in a challenging environment like Anglsey. You should be looking at 5m+ (17' and +/-22"). I think you will quickly get frustrated and grow out of it, especially if paddling with groups.

You couldn't be in a better place. SKUK and Rockpool are both local, as are several excellent coaches and kayak stores. Organize a few demos, and do a course or two. Go to the symposium, do the workshops. I personally think the Romany and Alaw Bach are great all rounders, forgiving kayaks capable of great things too. JMO.

Btw the sea "terrifies" me too, mainly when it is being "unfriendly" and I'm paddling solo. As a newcomer, you should really only consider paddling in company (preferably experienced with local knowledge) initially at least.
Cheers,
Steve C. G.

Chris Bolton
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Re: Introduction and looking for advice.

Post by Chris Bolton »

Sea Kayakers Handbook
I wasn't aware of that book. Seems to have good reviews. Not having read it I may be wrong but being American some of the detail on navigation may need care, and as a very broad generalisation, American kayaks tend to be wider than British.

You might also like to browse the information on our own almanac: https://www.ukriversguidebook.co.uk/sea/almanac/ (but check the date of the article as some parts are getting dated)

Anglesey is an ideal place for sea kayaking. No shortage of coaches, and being an island there's usually sheltered water somewhere. Just watch the tides! You might find Welsh Sea Kayaking a useful purchase.

SlopeSoarer
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Re: Introduction and looking for advice.

Post by SlopeSoarer »

This is why forums are great!

Thanks your experience and advice, all makes good sense to me.

Simon

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Re: Introduction and looking for advice.

Post by mcgruff »

Perhaps the biggest danger of the sea is how damn cold it can be. People often don't understand how bad survival times in cold water are.

https://www.ussartf.org/cold_water_survival.htm

As soon as you hit the water, the clock is ticking. Re-entry and rolling are good things to practice in safe conditions.

Cold water shock can be pretty brutal too. It's almost impossible to avoid the gasp reflex even if you're used to it. Regular cold baths or showers can help build up some tolerance. It's always going to hurt like an electric shock but at least you can learn to try to relax into it and let it pass through you. If you're not used to it it's utterly overwhelming and very easy to panic.
Have fun and don't die.

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Re: Introduction and looking for advice.

Post by ChrisJK »

Hi Slopesoarer.

I am nearing 64 so its a great time to start.
I restarted Kayaking at 60 after doing some in Sea scouts well back.

I think there is a canoe/kayak club in Beaumaris. That might be a starting point, they will have a variety of kayaks to try/hire.
I belong to a couple of clubs in the North west and usually they would be visiting Anglesey fairly regularly. One of the clubs I belong to is 70 miles away from where I live but they were happy to let me join. I just tag into trips I can get to. You can pm me if you wish.

My son bought me The sea kayakers handbook this Christmas and yes it is American but it covers a lot of useful areas.
As others have said the sea can be dangerous even when it looks fine.

Check out the Shrike thread if you want to build your own boat.

Interesting Mcgruff re cold shock I have just started ending a bath with a cold shower, partly for cold shock and partly because it is helpful for the immune system.
I need to buy a neoprene hat.

SlopeSoarer
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Re: Introduction and looking for advice.

Post by SlopeSoarer »

Thanks mcgruff for the reminder of the perils of cold water, I think I'm aware of it but as you point out the reality it is easy to underestimate.

Hi ChrisJK, yes I would definitely look to join a club or two, it makes sense to be with others one for safety but I'm sure I would also learn quicker... oh and I do like the social bit too:-)

Strange you mention the Shrike, I was looking at that this morning. My dad built a Mirror dinghy many, many years ago (over 50) and that got me in to dinghy sailing. As a result I've always wanted to build a dinghy but never got round to it... maybe a kayak is the answer! In the first instance though I'll buy a plastic one.

The Sea Kayakers Handbook arrived earlier today, some good bed time reading for me.

Mac50L
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Re: Introduction and looking for advice.

Post by Mac50L »

Except for PFDs and maybe sprayskirts, everything else you can make yourself. My background had been sailing, dinghy and keelers, but an area I wanted to explore needed a 30' to 40' yacht so it was easier to design and build a kayak. My partner built hers too. Problem, once you start doing it, "Oh, I might build another, Oh, and a few more paddles...."

A tippy kayak, quickly teaches bracing, maybe a bit of ballast in the form of water filled containers to start with until it gets to the "I forgot to load any ballast today, Oh well why bother." Bracing will be instinctive and anyone talks about rolling, that is a failed brace.

Rescues with two kayaks, never try emptying the capsized kayak before the rescue, it takes unnecessary time. Once rescued, you then pump the rescued kayak out. From the rescuing kayak making contact with the capsized kayak I expect the person in the water to be back in their kayak in about 5 - 10 seconds. How long is someone in the water while pulling one kayak over another to empty it and then.....

SJD
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Re: Introduction and looking for advice.

Post by SJD »

SlopeSoarer wrote:
Sat Jan 09, 2021 5:47 am
Morning all.

As the title says I'm doing a quick introduction and looking for advice on sea kayaking.

I'm 61 year old and have never kayaked or canoed, though windsurfed and sailed dinghies inland. I'm moving from Bolton to Anglesey in the next month or so (a place I've know well and have visited regularly for atleast 55 years).

I'm reasonably fit, enjoying walking and cycling and looking forward to new challenges in retirement. Kayaking being right up there.

My thoughts are to get a few lessons when we've settled in and it gets a little warmer. I've ordered the Sea Kayakers Handbook just to start getting myself prepared.

Am I mad at 61 thinking about taking this up as a hobby? Open sea does give me the colly wobbles but hopefully that's because I respect it and acknowledge the dangers that can come with it.

Any thoughts and advice would be appreciated?

The kayak which I'm leaning towards is the Dagger Stratos 14.5.
The Gordon Brown videos may be worth a look.

Jim Potter
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Re: Introduction and looking for advice.

Post by Jim Potter »

Hi,

Anglesey is a great location to try out Sea Kayaking. I would recommend finding yourself a course to get through the initial stages before spending cash on a kayak. Your viewpoint on what you will want will change dramatically after trying a few out. Plas Y Brenin, Kayak Essential, Roger Chandler, Sea Kayaking Wales, Adventure Elements, Olly Sanders, Eila Wilkinson, Sea Mor Kayaking ( there are others) are all by reputation excellent providers (I would recommend them all). Cash spent on a weekend course or two is a really good investment, and would accelerate your learning and knowledge.

Sea Kayaking club wise there are two local active clubs. Amlwch is on the Island, Snowdonia is more wide spread but is the larger group (At 61 you will be a little Younger than the average member but it won't be held against you!).

I have been a member of Snowdonia for a good few years and would recommend it, google for more details once you are around.
Roll on the end on lockdown so we can get on the water again!

Cheers,

Jim

adventureagent
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Re: Introduction and looking for advice.

Post by adventureagent »

Can't beat joining a club for a smart track to sport.
CELEBRATE LIFE: PADDLE by ALL MEANS !

SlopeSoarer
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Re: Introduction and looking for advice.

Post by SlopeSoarer »

Thanks again all!

I'd spotted the Amlwch Canoe Club, I need to get in touch but I'm sure I spotted somewhere that there was a waiting list to join... signs of a good club:-) As you say you infer being with other like minded people skills should improve quicker, also it will be from a social point of view.

What's the feeling about storing a kayak out doors? I will probably be able to store one in the garage but just in case. I guess theft is the biggest concern, is it?

Chris Bolton
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Re: Introduction and looking for advice.

Post by Chris Bolton »

A major benefit of paddling with other people, other than the ones you mention, is that you don't have to restrict yourself to areas where you can rescue yourself if you get into trouble.

Storage out of doors: if you have a plastic boat, or composite boat with clear resin, it's worth protecting it from UV (sunlight). Pigmented resin will fade on the surface but not deteriorate much otherwise. Kayaks are big and heavy things to steal, so if you store it away from the road and use a cable bike lock to make it harder to pick up, the risk is low (depending on your neighbourhood!)

SlopeSoarer
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Re: Introduction and looking for advice.

Post by SlopeSoarer »

Re UV... good point, so a decent cover should sort that if I can't manage to store in the garage

As a dinghy sailor I was absolutely fine capsizing and did so reasonably frequently, I'm sure with the right preparation, clothing and training I should be reasonably OK with kayaking. How frequent is capsizing with a competent kayaker?

jamesl2play
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Re: Introduction and looking for advice.

Post by jamesl2play »

We are all between swims. It is a fact of life when kayaking.

I second what Jim P said. I have some good mates in Snowdonia Canoe Club.

Chris Bolton
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Re: Introduction and looking for advice.

Post by Chris Bolton »

If you put a cover over your boat, space it so that it doesn't lie in contact, otherwise fine.

Capsizing, it depends what kind of paddling you do. Probably a few while learning, whatever you do. After that, I've had capsizes & rolls playing in surf and on tide race overfalls, but none so far on touring paddles - most of my touring is multi-day, loaded boat, far from home, and I plan conservatively.

SlopeSoarer
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Re: Introduction and looking for advice.

Post by SlopeSoarer »

We are going to be living less that a mile from Trearddur Bay beach and are retired, I have no plans to take risks and will also plan conservatively. I don't see any point at setting out to take risks at my stage in life... maybe when I was younger! We will be able to plan around the weather conditions, tides, etc. Your experience is encouraging but it doesn't mean I/we won't get caught out at some point and I'm sure will.

I quite like the idea of how you describe playing in a more controlled environment and maybe pushing the limits more, at least the experience gained could help you should you get caught out at another point in time.

Thanks for the input.

Simon

ChrisJK
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Re: Introduction and looking for advice.

Post by ChrisJK »

Going through the strait might be a tad risky so perhaps not for your first trip out unaccompanied!

Chris Bolton
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Re: Introduction and looking for advice.

Post by Chris Bolton »

less that a mile from Trearddur Bay beach
A good place to practice kayak handling is the Inland Sea at Four Mile Bridge. On an incoming tide there is a flow of fast water from the bridge which is good for testing your balance (and then your rescue techniques). Once you get 100m from the bridge, as I remember it, the water is shallow enough to stand up.

mcgruff
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Re: Introduction and looking for advice.

Post by mcgruff »

ChrisJK wrote:
Sat Jan 09, 2021 7:13 pm
Interesting Mcgruff re cold shock I have just started ending a bath with a cold shower, partly for cold shock and partly because it is helpful for the immune system.
Yeah I often do that too - as much so I can wash on camping trips as anything else. The only chance of a bath is to jump in a river or the sea. It definitely perks you up :)
Have fun and don't die.

SlopeSoarer
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Re: Introduction and looking for advice.

Post by SlopeSoarer »

ChrisJK wrote:
Sun Jan 10, 2021 9:32 pm
Going through the strait might be a tad risky so perhaps not for your first trip out unaccompanied!
Ha, ha definitely not!

Even from just walking around the island it is possible to observe there are many areas I'll be avoiding and probably at the wrong end of the age spectrum to ever have the skills to undertake them.

On the plus side I also suspect there will be much safer areas dependent on weather and tides.

I want to learn safely and lessons will be my way in to the sport/hoby:-)

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source ... uFbFAXGqOj

SlopeSoarer
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Re: Introduction and looking for advice.

Post by SlopeSoarer »

Chris Bolton wrote:
Sun Jan 10, 2021 10:10 pm
less that a mile from Trearddur Bay beach
A good place to practice kayak handling is the Inland Sea at Four Mile Bridge. On an incoming tide there is a flow of fast water from the bridge which is good for testing your balance (and then your rescue techniques). Once you get 100m from the bridge, as I remember it, the water is shallow enough to stand up.
I had thought this would be a safe place for the reasons you say apart from the water being forced through under the bridge. It would give fishermen there a good laugh though:)

SlopeSoarer
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Re: Introduction and looking for advice.

Post by SlopeSoarer »

jamesl2play wrote:
Sun Jan 10, 2021 8:49 pm
We are all between swims. It is a fact of life when kayaking.
That's good to know and with proper preparation, care and recognising my own limitations, I should be OK.

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Ceegee
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Re: Introduction and looking for advice.

Post by Ceegee »

Trearrdur is a lovely spot. It's where the symposium runs a lot of the workshops. I remember a very cold swim (exhausted after a long day) when Mark Tozer demanded a final self rescue I just wasn't up to anymore. Everything stopped working, but he refused to let me off the hook. Eventually my daughter gave me a quick bow assist when he wasn't looking. Heading out, turn right and you are into the Penrhyn Maw races pretty quickly, so take care.
Image
Cheers,
Steve C. G.

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Re: Introduction and looking for advice.

Post by Sean_soup »

ChrisJK wrote:
Sun Jan 10, 2021 9:32 pm
Going through the strait might be a tad risky so perhaps not for your first trip out unaccompanied!
For day one, deffo. One of the less risky places around Anglesey to find a little excitement later on though. ;-)

Joining a club is cool, but I would say that if the OP is interested in a rapid learning curve it would be daft not to engage with any of the island's excellent professional coaches. There is literally no better place in the world to learn to deal with and enjoy what they call 'dynamic water'.

SlopeSoarer - if you do enjoy a rapid learning curve (and as a fit 61 year-old there is absolutely no reason to think you wouldn't), you might find yourself outgrowing that Dagger boat and wanting a 'proper' sea kayak very quickly indeed.

Initially I'd suggest looking at joining an 'intromediate' course with one of the the coaches who maintain a fleet of boats for their clients to paddle.
In particular I'd recommend:
http://www.seakayakinganglesey.co.uk/
https://seakayakingwales.com/
https://www.adventureelements.com/

At any time really, but especially once you have your own kit and are starting to progress a bit, it would also be well worth taking a look at Kayak Essentials.
https://www.kayakessentials.co.uk/

Aled
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Re: Introduction and looking for advice.

Post by Aled »

+1 for https://seakayakingwales.com/
Anglesey is a great venue for sea kayaking - I recommend you try some tours and boat demos - seakayakingwales.com would be a good place to start.

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Re: Introduction and looking for advice.

Post by seawolf856 »

Jim Potter wrote:
Sun Jan 10, 2021 9:39 am
Hi,

Anglesey is a great location to try out Sea Kayaking. I would recommend finding yourself a course to get through the initial stages before spending cash on a kayak. Your viewpoint on what you will want will change dramatically after trying a few out. Plas Y Brenin, Kayak Essential, Roger Chandler, Sea Kayaking Wales, Adventure Elements, Olly Sanders, Eila Wilkinson, Sea Mor Kayaking ( there are others) are all by reputation excellent providers (I would recommend them all). Cash spent on a weekend course or two is a really good investment, and would accelerate your learning and knowledge.

Sea Kayaking club wise there are two local active clubs. Amlwch is on the Island, Snowdonia is more wide spread but is the larger group (At 61 you will be a little Younger than the average member but it won't be held against you!).

I have been a member of Snowdonia for a good few years and would recommend it, google for more details once you are around.
Roll on the end on lockdown so we can get on the water again!

Cheers,

Jim
This is a great post from Jim. All his recommendations are spot on. I am 61 and I have only been sea kayaking for a handful of years but Anglesey is my 'back yard' and you tend to learn very quickly in this amazing sea kayaking environment.
Try and take the advice regarding contacting a local coach, I did this in my early days and with their help I progressed to become a moderate water sea kayak leader in a few years, age is no limit.
Kayak essentials (Nick Cunliffe) based on Anglesey has a great website full of free resources and you can also subscribe for a few quid to get access to much more information, including lots of stuff filmed on Anglesey.
One recommendation I would add is to do a Coastal Navigation course with a local provider. This will enable you to tune your understanding of tides and weather for the very complex waters surrounding Anglesey and enable you to safely undertake the maximum amount of paddling straight from your front door. If the myth is true, Admiral Nelson was supposed to have said "if you can sail around Anglesey, you can sail anywhere".
Anglesey's waters demand care and respect, choose your kit carefully, always tell the Holyhead coastguard when you are venturing out (they are a very helpful bunch) and don't be afraid to stay on shore if conditions are not to your liking.

simon64
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Re: Introduction and looking for advice.

Post by simon64 »

Try the Stratos, its a good kayak (sea kayaks don’t have to be a certain length or beam) a lot of people have them as play the sea boats, and they are forgiving for a newbie, if you get a “proper” sea kayak later you can hang onto the Stratos as a second boat.
Yes longer kayaks are “faster” but thats not everything, my experience of group paddles is that the pace is generally fairly relaxed.
I paddle a Virgo, same length as the Stratos, and for my paddling needs it is better than something longer as I like to explore caves etc, So choose a kayak based on what sort of paddling you want to do.
You have to feel happy in whatever kayak you have, when i first started most sea kayaks were not forgiving at all, tippy, hard to turn etc, the modern designs are better and certainly kayaks like the Alaw bach and Bach eto are great, and are built locally to you by nice people, as are Celtic paddles.
P&H Virgo

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Re: Introduction and looking for advice.

Post by ARP »

They’ve said it all! You are in one of the best places for sea kayaking. I also took it up late on at 58 and am nervous of the sea. But it is an amazing thing to do. Don’t forget, amongst all the sport that you can get to beautiful places and see fantastic wildlife
Learning, learning and more learning

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