I fancied a visit to Penrhyn Mawr tidal race to try out the Gemini SP kayak but Barry was going to the Skerries with a group, which is always a lovely spot to visit when the sun is out. While weighing up the 2 options, it occurred to me that I didn’t have to chose! So Axel and I headed to Penrhyn Mawr for a surf, then about midday we turned and pointed North(ish) & headed out to the Skerries – hoping to be there in time for lunch.
We had a pleasant surprise in the carpark at Porthdafach – Marcus Demuth had come out of his hibernation (well, he hasn’t exactly been sleeping as he’s been busy getting a masters degree & building a house, but he has been largely absent from the Welsh sea for quite some time)! So there Marcus was standing looking at the sea with his Nordkapp ready to go. All 3 of us set off into a bit of a swell & very little wind, hopeful for some fun at Penrhyn Mawr.
The waves could have been a little bigger but it was great to get out and surf. My first impressions of the Gemini SP are good – the kayak is incredibly manoeuvrable & really easy to turn on the waves. I would like to return in some larger waves as I think (and hope!) that the Gemini would really excel here.
After an hour of surfing Marcus returned to the beach & Axel and I decided to go to the Skerries. A chocolate bar provided an engine top up & we set off around the Stacks with a good amount of tide giving us a helpful push. Some playful waves in the outer race at South Stack distracted us from our mission for 5 minutes, but I think Axel’s tummy was rumbling so we soon turned around again and pointed at the red & white stripes on the little island in the distance!
As we set off, I was wondering whether I’d regret paddling almost 10 nautical miles in one of the shortest sea kayaks on the market & was telling myself it would be good fitness training! Actually the Gemini SP didn’t feel slow at all. We made good time and arrived at the Skerries 1hour and 40 mins after leaving Penrhyn Mawr.
We joined Barry and quite a few other folks for a sociable lunch (Thanks for the jelly tots Steve & the flapjack Claire!). Once we’d refuelled we paddled around the island before heading back to Porthdafarch. We didn’t have much tide with us to start with but the flow gradually picked up. Once we thought we were safely past Holyhead harbour, a fast ferry appeared on the horizon, zooming back from Ireland. We soon realised it was going to pass much closer to North Stack than we had expected & we were directly in it’s path. We stopped (OK, so I back paddled a bit aswell!) & waited with the VHF at the ready in case they changed course at the last minute.
I wore a heartrate monitor/ GPS for the trip. although the battery ran out just after we left for the return journey so the statistics for total distance etc are wrong – it was between 25-30 nautical miles by the time we got back. I think the track is still quite interesting though. (The route shows us getting back as far as South Stack because I revived the GPS for a few seconds here to see our speed).
Axel’s blog about the day (with more photos) can be seen here.