Paddles with an Anas acuta...... unashamedly biased toward the sea kayak of that name (actually the voyages of two boats, one 'traffic over gold', one 'quill')

Saturday, 29 August 2009

CKmer meeting in Brittany

We were in Brittany for the CKmer international gathering and after a few days on our own, made our way to Landeda near Aber Wrac'h. Here are just a fraction of the 120 boats.
Taking advantage of local knowledge, small sub groups made a great variety of interesting trips.

Ascending the Abers from the open sea to fresh water, here the head waters of the Aber Wrac'h.

By contrast an open sea crossing to Ile Molene, paddling 7 miles due west from Aber Ildut, the tide carried us 4 miles south to the island. The return was 3 miles following the islands and skerries towards the south-east, like crossing a series of fast flowing rivers. Followed by 4 miles paddling due east across the Chenal du Four, in which time the tide had carried us 5.5 miles north back to Aber Ildut. The week flashed past as fast as the 110 coefficient tide.

The ship graveyard in the river Aulne.

It was nice for me, as there were many greenland style paddlers and we could go along in a group maintaining our rapid but effortless cadence. A blind paddler in a double recognised us individually by our stroke pattern, but we felt as if we were in time. Along with the greenland paddles were a good collection of Anas acutas, almost every colour Valley supplies. Here I am, admiring a rarer boat, paddled to good effect by a 12 year old with a scaled down greenland paddle, it is an Anas chick.

Ile Vierge, Aber Wrac'h

This one is the tallest lighthouse in Europe, 82.9m, with a magnificent spiral staircase occupying the empty centre.

Phare du Corn C'hai

Another lighthouse Phare du Corn C'hai, 2nm off Portsall

Phare du Four

Another Brittany lighthouse for our collection, Phare du Four 1.5 nm off Argenton, calm except for a lazy swell, though the tide was running at a good speed. Philip Plisson was there in more demanding sea conditions!

copyright Philip Plisson

Baie des Trepasses

Attacked by a strange sea monster,

Steve fights it off with his paddle

Raz de Sein in a calm mood

Raz de Sein? yes it is, we had hit a day without swell, the sea like a mirror, and waited for LW slack (Brest -1 hour). An hour earlier it had been standing waves falling in white sheets, but now was an eerie calm.

We circumnavigated the two lighthouses.

Philip Plisson, as always, was there in stormy weather, this image is from his website.

Then, as the tide started to run, already forming strange eddies and boils, we headed back into the Baie des Trepasses, the Bay of the Dead. An hour later it was all white water again. A Breton kayaker said that it was no place to play, a quiet and respectful passage over the many dead mariners was more appropriate.

On the way back, the quiet sea allowed deep passage into the caves.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Loch Scavaig and the Cullin

Next day we left the boats at Coruisk,

to go for a walk.

By now the wind had dropped to nothing, and we met several basking sharks

on the way back to Glen Brittle. A great end to the week.

Lizzies 50th Birthday

More settled weather let us paddle to Soay

for Liz to cut the cake, looking out to the Cullin,

but we paddled round to the windward side to camp, out of the midges,

before the celebration evening out.

Lunch in Loch Bracadale

Next day the wind was SW5-6 with a large swell, so a short paddle in Loch Bracadale and some island walking kept us occupied.

Glen Brittle to Loch Harport

The forecast was SE 4-7 and it turned out near the upper end,

blowing us along the coast in fine style. Around every salient point, the long fetch and clapotis made for tricky seas and it was always a relief to glide into the shelter behind the stacks, here Stac a' Mheadais.

Lunch at Talisker,

sunbathing 'August in Skye' style.

McFarlane's rock was the final obstacle,

and a sheltered cave gave respite from the wind.

However, the swell kept trying to sweep me deeper into the inky blackness to who knows what horrors judging by the sound behind me.

Round the corner in Loch Bracadale we were out of the wind for the final few miles.

Last Week on Skye

It was a mixed bag of weather last week,

Loch Dunvegan,

and the arch at Rogheadh which we could just paddle through.

Once back at the 'wigwam' the sun came out.