Three clients and I met at Solva on the Pembrokeshire coast where the canoes and safety kit was already waiting on the harbour slipway.
Following us 'kitting up' and a short safety briefing we set off into the harbour, starting a coaching session which developed the clients confidence and ability in controlling the canoes (and which also enabled me to assess their skill and capabilities in order to plan the length and challenge of the afternoons coastal journey).
Much fun was had within the harbour, working as pairs in the canoes to turn the craft plus forwards paddling, reversing and stopping as well as playing a number of games and challenges designed to develop and consolidate the skills each paddler had. Only once each client was happy with their competent paddling did we turn our sights to the sea and the real adventure of coastal canoeing!
Leaving the harbour we headed along the coastline staying outside the zone of the small swell waves impacting on the cliffs as the group settled into a rhythm and got used to the rise and fall of the swell. Within a very short time indeed we had seen a large seal who was curious about our small flotilla and surfaced around us sporadically for the next few minutes as we gawped and marvelled at it, excitedly pointing and trying to find cameras as it did so.
The wind was rather against us as we paddled and a short paddle back towards the harbour convinced the group that passing around the next headland would have made for some very serious and committing paddling on the return journey. This fact didn't dampen the adventure though and we began to explore the gullies and caves of the rocky coastline as we scouted for a sheltered spot for our lunch.
Landing should have been a swift and easy affair but we got rather distracted by a row of buoys in a sheltered bay and time was happily wasted as we pulled up a large lobster pot to discover a fine crop of spider crabs waiting for the fisherman to collect. These are a delicacy on the Continent but we rarely eat them in the UK ... I'm not one for seafood though so I didn't feel I was really missing out!
Refreshments taken care of we resumed our paddling, heading out past the rocky guardian of the harbour and across to the jagged teeth of rocks breaking the surface as the waves rose and fell. Working hard within each canoe we began setting challenges between the pairs as each craft threaded its way between the rocks, using the incoming swell to push through the channels between rocks and walls.
Time had passed rapidly as we were out exploring and in no time it was 4pm so we headed back into the harbour, paddling up past the moored yachts and back to the slipway ... which is conveniently close to both pubs and cafes (I'll let you guess which one we chose to have our debrief in!).
Our next Coastal Canoe Adventure is in Pembrokeshire on August 12th then August 13th
followed by trips in Anglesey on August 16th then 17th