Women’s Sea Kayak Retreat Weekend

Jun 10, 2024

Women’s Sea Kayak Retreat Weekend

I recently attended a Women’s Sea Kayak Retreat Weekend held by Sea Kayak Academy. Here is a short write-up of my experience with them:

The day started with meeting our coaches, Amy and Nic, introductions and trip planning – checking wind, swell, tide and waves to find the best spot for a day of kayaking. Based on the conditions, we decided to paddle from Solva, a picturesque Pembrokeshire harbour. Amongst the group, our kayaking experience varied, everything from one previous coaching day to a lady having a final paddle before a hardcore adventure in Norway, and a Belgian Kayak shop owner on holiday. However, the varying levels of experience didn’t matter as the general aim was to have a fun, relaxing day out and learn or consolidate a few techniques.

sea kayak retreat kayaker near rock arch

The weather gods were on board and the forecast was for sunshine, calm sea and a light northerly breeze. The tide was out at the harbour which meant a shallow paddle, pulling the boat through the shallowest parts and catching a ride where it was slightly deeper until we got to the mouth of the harbour.

Spray decks on, hatches checked and we headed out and turned right towards Porth Clais. This stretch of coastline is an absolute delight and the perfect playground. Paddling between rocks, reversing into caves, and squeezing through narrow chasms was fabulous – and a great way to practice skills for all levels without boring drills.

Sea kayak womens retreat

A coast filled with Marine life and History

Oyster catchers, cormorants and gannets – diving at speeds of up to 86 kph – were just a few birds around, whilst the crystal waters meant spider crabs and jellyfish were easily seen.

We were wending our way around the coast, sometimes chatting or enjoying the quiet space.

Passing the remains of an Iron Age fort at Porth y Rhaw eroding into the sea. Excavations had found evidence of 8 round houses, glass beads and plates from Roman times, but now only the last few ripple-like mounds of earthworks remain.

porth y rhaw iron age fort arial picture

Shipwrecks

Round yet another Rocky outcrop were the remains of 3 tug boats that were grounded and sank in 1981. On their way to Greece from Liverpool, the lead tug had engine failure and all 3 ran aground on the jagged coast.

Old sea lore suggests bad luck if the name of a boat is changed without due deference to Poseidon and following a strict name-changing protocol…. The Peacock, Weather Cock and Heath Cock were given new Greek names and sadly perished, now locally referred to as ‘the Cocks on the Rocks’!

tug boat engines shipwrecked

A late and lazy lunch in the sunshine and a chance to chat or swim then back into the kayaks heading to Solva.

sea kayaks on a sunny beach at lunch

The inlets were a great opportunity to practice edging and draw strokes as well as timing, catching wee wavelets through a squeeze of rocks. Sitting deep in a cave with the light reflecting and sound distorting was an eerily mystical experience, the songs of rocks have been recorded and it was almost possible to hear them.

sea kayaker in front of two caves in the sun

Turning the corner to Solva harbour our timing was spot on and the tide was high so no walking and we could land in the car park, but there was a good wind funnelling down the valley which meant a heads down paddle back.

So a fairly perfect day on the water… Great company… Instructors who were able to coach individuals –  extending skills and confidence… blue skies, salt water and a kayak… a very good day!

 

[Images of tug wreck and fort from google]

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