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 Justine's Journal

CackleTV Productions


Seakayaking in big waves
Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Last weekend was the seakayaking symposium in Anglesey, North Wales. There was rain, wind, sea mist and mud, but everyone was smiling because there were also big waves which is what most people come to Anglesey for. Yesterday afternoon was the highlight for me, when I went to my favourite tidal race play spot with Ginni Callahan, Axel Schoevers, Steve and Pete. As we left Porthdafarch Beach our kayaks rose and crashed down over 7 or 8 lines of small surf - enough to give you a face full of water a couple of times. When there is surf on Porthdafarch, you know that Penrhyn Mawr will be exciting, and I it was with a mixture of excitement and apprehension that I rounded the corner where the tidal race comes into view. Even from 500 metres away we could see the lines of white horses crashing down - the waves would be BIG. We paddled through the main race with the tide and our kayaks went up and down, up and down on perhaps 6 metre high waves curling towards us. We tried to break out to the right behind a rock where there is usually a flat eddy, but today the sea was all over the place, and it was hard to make out where the eddy started. Everywhere was a rollercoaster. The biggest waves were in the middle of the main channel and looked pretty scary.

I hesitated and watched them for a while - were they just big or were they crashing down powerfully? I was searching for big waves without the big impact! Steve was already in there, pointing upstream and paddling hard to catch a ride. His 3metre long kayak looked pretty small, but if he was in there then I wasn't going to sit and watch any longer! I had my deck-mounted camera on the front of the kayak and I pointed it forwards as I tried to catch a wave. I don't think I look behind me very often when I'm surfing, I feel the waves coming as the back of my kayak lifts underneath me and if it feels like a steep wave then I paddle hard to try to drop down the face for a good ride. The back of my kayak was lifting and I dug in with my paddle and leant forward as I accelerated downhill onto the wave. The kayak was at an intimidatingly steep angle and I was looking down at the trough waiting for the impact. It didn't come for a while as the wave pulled me back up the face almost as quickly as I shot down it - the ride lasted for an exhilarating few seconds and then suddenly my bow sunk into the trough right up to the cockpit. I half expected to be unbalanced and maybe even capsize but I was lucky and my bow easily slid back out from under the water. Now I really was grinning! Ginni, Axel and Steve were all surfing happily and I tried to follow them for a while with the camera on to capture that feeling of being in a big tidal race. I haven't checked the footage yet but I think I got Ginni being turned 180 degrees by a wave. Pete had a brief swim but Ginni rescued him quickly. Steve tried to tow Ginni and Pete into the eddy, but first of all his towline clip came off and the second time it broke altogether! I was really usefully filming it all! A bit later, I got out onto the rocks and got some good shots of the others surfing. You can see the results when the sequel to 'This is the Sea' is out - hopefully in September.

I've already written more than I intended to... over all it was a fun weekend and great to see old friends like Hadas Feldman, who was giving a talk about her circumnavigation of Japan with Jeff Allen, and meet new people like Sean Morley, who paddled around Great Britain, Ireland and all the outlying islands last year ( including a 40 mile crossing to St Kilda). Sean is a very skilful paddler who paddled in the junior racing world championships, and can do impressive tricks in a wave ski. Alun and I did some filming with him rockhopping in parliament house cave in a racing boat with a rudder!! That will be in the next DVD as well.

Enough typing...... I have to give a talk about my Tasmania expedition tonight at Anglesey Sea and Surf Centre, so I better go and prepare it!


Blogger bonnie said...

ooooohhh...GOD does that sound like fun...I love the Hudson River & NY Harbor but the most we ever get to surf there is ferry & tour boat wakes. Cool stuff! Have looked in now & then since finding Kayak Wisconsin but had gotten the idea you weren't actively blogging once you'd finished the Tasmania trip - this was a blast to read though (even if it made me jealous!)


11:16 pm  
Blogger Justine Curgenven said...

Wow, thanks for posting the first comment on my blog Bonnie! You are right I was a bit frightened of the blogging phenomenom for a while but I have turned over a new leaf and decided to write more regularly. I'm off to 2 seakayaking gatherrings in Newfoundland and the Great Lakes in a few days so I'm sure I'll have lots to write about from there!


8:48 am  
Blogger Michael said...

Loved your video, blew me away. I can't wait to see more of your work. I hope you had a blast in Newfoundland you must hit my neck of the woods or ocean I should say. Nova Scotia is my home province and we have lots of big surf but nothing like the waves you play in. As my son would say "you're Awesome".

8:06 pm  
Blogger Quit Smoking said...

Hello fellow fisherman,

Did you know that 16% of the U.S. population goes fishing at least 16 days a year?

Did you also know that over 75% of the nations fishermen do not fish during "prime time"; fish feeding hours?

Those precious few moments before twilight can be absolutely magical. Even up until 11pm at night, the largest predators of any species feed ravenously.

Don't believe me? Check out Daniel Eggertsen's story, and a picture of a couple of his catches here : "Evening Secrets plus more"

I want you to do me a favor and try it out so I can see what you think of it, and if it works for you as well as it did for me.

You will be one of the first to try it out.

Gone Fishin',


11:22 am  

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