There were whoops of excitement when Adam walked into his front room carrying boxes of gear from Palm Equipment. We unwrapped spray decks, buoyancy aids, thermal onesies(!), tow lines, dry bags, water boots. Ian immediately started undressing to try our new gear for size.
One by one the team and extended team started to assemble and the kettle boiled time and time again to welcome newcomers and visitors.
I had driven from Cardiff, Ian from Oxfordshire, Nick from Shrewsbury, Adam from Liverpool. Ian our cameraman and film-producer had spent the day on Tryfan filming some slack-lining and was in desperate need of coffee and some of Ian O’G’s mum’s scones. Simon, another member of the camera crew had driven from the Lake District so some serious miles had been covered in order to make the weekend a success.
At 1am that evening we had finally finished discussing the trip, from film concepts to weather conditions and tides for the following day. Our aim for Saturday was to cover a 35 km stretch of open water and experience some moderate sea conditions.
We gathered at Rhoscolyn on Anglesey. Dressed in our Palm drysuits we carried the two huge double sea kayaks down to the water. The film crew scuttled around us gathering stills and video as well as capturing a few interviews before we departed for Trefor on the Lleyn Peninsula.
The Bay was calm, the sea was not. I felt nervous as we left the safety of the shore and headed out towards the horizon in a grey mist. The salty water drenched my face, the bow of the boat smashed down hard has we went from wave peak to trough. My emotions went from one extreme to the other throughout the day’s paddle, from “why on earth am I doing this” and contemplating how much harder it will actually get, to absolutely loving the excitement of the waves, the physical challenge and team spirit. That’s normal when you embark on a big challenge – I should know to expect this by now!
Ian had the on-deck compass in front of him and led our course in a southerly direction.
We developed a system where we paddled for 55 mins then rafted up for 5 mins to eat, drink and rest. My worries about getting sea sick were put to one side whilst paddling but when we stopped I could sense a queasiness developing. I stared out at the horizon and Nick handed me half a ham & cheese roll for sustenance. Fortunately, as soon as we got going again it subsided.
After about 3 hours of paddling the sun came out and we had stunning views of Snowdonia and the Lleyn Peninsula. Cumulus clouds hung down each mountain and occasionally the peaks poked out above the cloud. Birds, intrigued by our incredibly long yellow tandem sea-kayaks, followed our course.
The wind picked up, it blew directly into our faces, and for the last 3 hours of our journey we had little choice but to keep paddling. It felt as though we were going nowhere. As Ian described it, it was like being a ‘donkey on a treadmill’. We gradually began to see field boundaries on the land in front of us and eventually the old pier at Trefor came into sight. It was hard work. Adam did a brilliant job of keeping the boat into the wind. It was fantastic to be greeted with a warm welcome from the film crew on arrival.
Boat loading, unloading and shuttles followed and 2.5 hours later we were eating green thai curry, expertly made by Ian and Anne. A tasty end to a great day’s training in north Wales.