All Women Sea Kayak Holiday Week

Sep 22, 2023

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All Women Sea Kayak Holiday Week Blog

A Perfect Week for Adventurous Women

Hey there, amazing women! Picture this: a week filled with sea kayaking adventures, stunning landscapes, and a dash of unexpected excitement. That’s exactly what unfolded during our recent “All Women Sea Kayak Holiday” week, and it was nothing short of magical!

 

I recently had the pleasure of having two lovely women booked on a 5-day “Sea Kayak Holiday”. A Sea Kayak Holiday is a week where we spend our time paddling in beautiful locations around Pembrokeshire with some coaching tips along the way, but with the main focus is getting out on the water and enjoying nature and the scenery. We had all sorts of adventures with varying weather conditions, amazing (and unexpected!) and assisting with an RNLI rescue!

 

Womens sea kayak holiday

I recently had the pleasure of having two lovely women booked on a 5-day “Sea Kayak Holiday”. A Sea Kayak Holiday is a week where we spend our time paddling in beautiful locations around Pembrokeshire with some coaching tips along the way, but with the main focus is getting out on the water and enjoying nature and the scenery. We had all sorts of adventures with varying weather conditions, amazing (and unexpected!) and assisting with an RNLI rescue!

 

Womens sea kayak holiday seal watching kayaker

Planning our Sea Kayak

We kicked off the week with a warm welcome in our cosy on-site classroom. Over cups of tea, we shared stories, discussed everyone’s paddling experiences, and, most importantly, set the stage for a week of fun and learning. The forecast threw us a curveball with some wild weather, but hey, challenges are just opportunities in disguise!

The wind was blowing force 5 gusting 6 from the west and there was some residual swell coming from the north-west. With this forecast in mind and with some local knowledge, we decided that a day paddling out of Cwm-yr Eglwys in the shelter of Newport Bay would be our best bet.

With the forecast being a bit all over the place it also presented a learning opportunity – we chose to stop off at Fishguard Fort on the way so that we could get a look at the conditions and gather more information about what was happening on the water.

From Fishguard Fort, we had a look out to sea and as we expected there was a reasonably strong wind blowing across Fishguard Bay and a bit of swell coming up against the rocks to the East of the harbour. We discussed the state of the sea we were observing and then carried on to Cwm-yr-Eglwys. Arriving at Cwm-yr-Eglwys we had another look at the sea, the protection we were hoping to get from Dinas Head wasn’t as pronounced as we had hoped, and there was quite a swell coming through. It was a great opportunity to learn and discuss the swell direction and its interaction with the tidal flow that flows off of Dinas.

At this point, we changed our minds and decided that it would prove for a better day if we drove the 10 minutes back to launch in Fishguard to make the most of the protection offered there by Strumble Head.

Women's sea kayak holiday

First day on the water

In Fishguard Bay we did a coaching session, discussing turning and edging skills.

Edging is always one of my favourite skills to coach as I find that when done correctly it can open up a whole world of kayak handling, and everything becomes much more enjoyable when you go from feeling like you’re paddling an unmanoeuvrable bathtub and instead feeling like you’re at one with the kayak and can get it to go where you want it to go!

We then stopped off for some lunch on a small beach in the harbour. After lunch, we headed westwards into a pretty strong headwind towards Goodwick.

We looked at all sorts of flora and fauna along the way, looking at the different levels of coastal zonation that were exposed, various seaweeds, lichens and small creatures like limpets and barnacles.

We explored some caves and rock gaps, testing out our newfound manoeuvrability amongst the rocks. Once at the beach in Goodwick, we chose to have another break and took a bit of time to enjoy the unexpected sunshine.

When we got back into our kayaks we enjoyed a much faster downwind run back into Fishguard where we did another coaching session in the safety of the harbour, expanding even further on our edging and turning skills. During the coaching session, we observed 4 crafts (a mixture of SUP and Sit-on-Top Kayaks) on the opposite side of the harbour paddling out of the bay and heading downwind. We had avoided heading this way due to concerns about the wind strength, and I was unsure they would have the necessary skills and experience to make it back around the corner against the wind back into the safety of the bay.

I kept half an eye out for them and whilst we were coaching an inquisitive young seal came to say hello and was nuzzling the end of our kayaks and just generally watching what we were up to, it frequently popped a large portion of its torso out of the water to watch us. Late September is a magical time for us to view the young seals as lots of them are leaving the beaches they were born on and venturing into the water and are very inquisitive.

Unexpected real-life rescue

Whilst the seal watched us, we were getting ready to wrap up our day and I was observing 3 of the 4 crafts attempting to paddle back into the bay, we watched them for 5 minutes and eventually 2 of the crafts made it back but 1 of them was getting pushed further out to sea and the other was nowhere to be seen. I decided it was time to get involved and tow them back around the corner, so we crossed the bay and I dropped the two ladies off on the beach and then popped around the corner to see if I could help. By the time I got to the nearest kayaker, he was a fair way offshore and was in the water and not wearing a buoyancy aid. I introduced myself to him too and had a quick check he was doing okay, he seemed to be in reasonably good spirits despite his current predicament! I attempted to rescue the Sit-on-Top kayak, but the internal compartment was open and the entire craft was full of water internally and was sinking! I instructed the swimmer to hold on to my kayak and was about to get on the radio to call the coastguard when I looked into the distance and saw an orange rib coming towards us! It transpired that the 2 crafts which had made it back to shore had immediately called the coastguard in a panic and they were already well on their way. I stayed with the swimmer until the boat arrived and to see the swimmer safely on, they had also already rescued the other craft and its occupant. I then paddled hard into the wind to get back into the bay (a good bit of cardio for the day!) and met back up with the ladies I had left on the beach, regaled them with the tale of what had just happened and paddled back to dry land with them. All in all, an eventful end to the day!

Womens sea kayak holiday

Day two

On Tuesday morning we discussed the weather – high winds and a lot of rain –  we decided to forfeit the day (I’d already explained that any days we couldn’t paddle would get refunded), as the weather didn’t really leave us with any options. Apparently, a nice day was had by all, exploring the local area by land as opposed to water!

 

Womens sea kayak holiday surfing

Day three

Wednesday morning, more tea and biscuits with our planning session. We decided we could make the most of the sunny weather and hide from the winds on the Teifi river, an easy grade 1 paddle on gentle flow. We drove to the get in and were surprised to see quite how much the river had come up, we knew it had rained but none of us had quite anticipated the level of water in the river – the water was a delightful brown and there were logs and small trees coming down it. We agreed that although it might well be possible to paddle it, we didn’t fancy the risk, and so we called it a day there and then. Again, this was a valuable learning experience for everyone to see conditions that aren’t so favourable!

Womens sea kayak holiday in a cave

Day four

Thursday morning and finally a good forecast for the day! Time to get out and make the most of it. We headed round to Cwm-yr-Eglwys, planning to use that as our start and finish point and to use Dinas head to protect us from some of the swell that was still coming through from the North-West. We got on the water and headed westwards around the headland. We did some rock hopping, weaving in and out of the gaps in the rocks. We then had our first highlight of the day, a mother seal playing with her baby in one of the small bays! As we progressed further around, we met with some swells and a little bit of tidal race, but all well within everyone’s capabilities. We came up to the northern point of Dinas head and spotted something unusual in the water… not a seal… it looked like a fin sticking out of the water in the flow… what could it be?! We headed over for a closer inspection and discovered that the fin was belonging to a Sunfish! I’ve paddled Pembrokeshire a lot and I have heard of other people seeing these strange creatures, but I had never had the joy of seeing on personally. This one was totally chilled out. We sat in the flow and watched it and it came within a meter of our kayaks, it was at least 4 foot long and its fin flopping up and down on the waters surface. They really are peculiar creatures! We sat and marvelled at it for some time before carrying on around the headland. The conditions were good enough and everyone was feeling happy enough in their kayaks that we decided to continue right around Dinas and into the beach on the other side at Pwllgwaelod. We caught the little tiny swell that was running into the beach and then disembarked for lunch. From there we discussed our options, we could either head back around Dinas to where we had come from, or we could continue heading westwards and then finish the day up back at Pwllgwaelod and from there we could walk the short walk through the little cut through that cuts across the bottom of Dinas head and collect the car from there and then collect the kayaks. We decided on the latter option. So, we headed out of the bay again and weaved our way through the rocks, these were somewhat more spicy rock-hops than we had had earlier in the day as there was a decent groundswell coming through. This made it exciting and just the right level of challenging for the group. We worked on our rock hopping skills and then sat and watched another seal (whilst it sat and watched us!). From there we headed back into Pwllgwaelod and concluded our day.

Womens sea kayak holiday surfing

Day five

Friday morning and a tricky forecast again, with a big swell coming up from the South-West and strong North-Westerly winds. We had a look at the map and decided to try out Sandyhaven, down near Dale.

We had a midday high tide so it meant the estuary would be accessible for most of the day, and we had some shelter from the land south of there to give us some shelter from the swell.

We arrived at Sandyhaven (this was also a new one to me!) and made our way down to the water’s edge, we unloaded the kayaks within a meter of the water (bonus!) and then parked up in the car park at the top. We then got on the water and headed northwards, up the estuary.

Initially, we had a bit of a headwind, but this quickly disappeared as we rounded the corner and we were rewarded with beautiful scenery all around us, and lots of Egrets and Curlews amongst other things. We spent a very pleasant time, meandering up the estuary, until we ran out of water depth near the top.

From there we spun around and floated back down with the wind and outgoing tide assisting us. We then headed westward out of the bay, where we were treated to some seals. We came out around one of the small headlands, where we started to feel the impact of the swell that was coming through. We enjoyed the waves and then stopped in at a small beach tucked into the back of the headland. We enjoyed sitting on the sun-warmed rocks and ate our lunch, and then headed back into the estuary, mindful that we didn’t want to land too late and miss catching the last of the water in the bay.

We timed it perfectly and had a very short carry with the kayaks and then loaded up and headed back to base.

Womens sea kayak holiday surfing

A fantastic week join us on our next Sea Kayak Holiday

Despite the weather’s whims, this week was a celebration of resilience, learning, and laughter. Join us next time for an unforgettable journey with like-minded women. Because when the sea calls, amazing things happen!

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