CSCC Reports 2007: Anglesey Sea Symposium - May 2007

[Author's note: I have been asked to look at this trip report again. Surely it can't have been that bad?  One year on, I guess I did learn a lot from attending the symposium and the deep sea rescue practice in particular has given me more confidence that I am a potentially useful group member on trips. And there were dozens of other people at the symposium who seemed to be having a great time. So I have made one or two changes to my report.  However, if you're a relatively inexperienced sea kayaker without a drysuit think carefully before attending this symposium. Remember it's held in May and it's in North Wales!  This symposium is aimed mainly at very experienced sea kayakers (including people who have their own kayaking businesses).]

Alex, Chris, Bridget and I attended this year's Anglesey sea symposium.  We all camped on the main site.

Unfortunately the weather was pretty bad (i.e. cold and windy) and while paddling we were mostly confined to Holyhead Harbour, which isn't terribly scenic. For want of anything more suitable for paddlers of our ability, Alex and I attempted four star sea-kayaking assessments. We failed, being told that we did not have the basic three star skills.  

I also failed my safety test after straining my dodgy shoulder at my first attempt at an eskimo rescue. The bloke who was carrying out the assessment didn't seem to believe that I was crocked and loudly insisted that I try the paddle presentation technique repeatedly until he was satisfied, and, after flailing at me with his paddle to make me get away from him on the last attempt, made me swim to the shore towing my boat. He had earlier watched me perform other rescue methods successfully with other (calmer) people, so this left me, understandably, very annoyed. So early in the summer the water was really cold despite wearing a wetsuit.

By this stage I was getting brassed off with talking to the other paddlers, most of whom seemed fairly obsessed with boats and kits and relatively disinterested in the things which got me hooked on sea kayaking in the first place like spotting wildlife and exploring Britain's coastline with friends. And if you have spent much of the day struggling to fend off hypothermia it isn't much fun spending your evening someone singing the praises of their brilliant (and extremely expensive) kokatat drysuit etc. We took to driving off elsewhere somewhere warm and dry for dinner to get away from the symposium for a while.

On the plus side, there were some good coaches at the symposium and they made some helpful observations which have improved my skills at manoeuvring the boat quickly in challenging conditions and in doing rescues once out of the boat. There was an excellent talk on meteorology (I can now decode the shipping forecast!) and some talks on expeditions to Iceland and Greenland. We were all very impressed by a paddler called Karen, who attended. She is disabled from the chest down. 

Camping in North Wales in atrocious weather led to some black humour.  Alex slept in the 'three seconds tent' inside Chris's big tent in an attempt to keep warm and Bridget was forced to move in too and became Alex's 'lady wife' for the week!  I also had a laugh on Nico's rolling machine - look at the photo below a genuine smile!

Chris in particular really enjoyed the symposium. However, the most enjoyable part of the week for me though was visiting Diane, Ian and Jacob and going for a relaxing paddle on Lake Vyrnwy which must be one of the prettiest reservoirs in the UK.

Help me Nico!!!

More Anglesey pics here