Simon is half way around his Circumnavigation of Wales by Sea Kayak
Simon Ford first contacted Mayberry Kayaking in early July. I recall his introduction was something along these lines…
Simon I’m planning a trip around the whole of Wales and I only started kayaking in March. You’ll probably tell me to get more experience but I’m going in August to raise money for Velindre Hospice as they were so great with my fiance who passed earlier this year.
Well, I like a challenge and having almost circumnavigated Wales by Sea Kayak (we’ve yet to finish the top bit) I knew exactly what skills Simon was going to need to achieve his goal. We met for a day one to one coaching session a week later and I got to see him paddling. We headed to Ramsey Sound as Simon said he hadn’t done much tide race work. Ramsey Sound was somewhere Simon was worried about paddling and it would be on the ebb. Exactly as it would be on his journey so an ideal introduction to tides and streams around the coast of Wales and a great chance for him to see the safe line through.
My first impressions on the sea were wow he’s quick! Being ex-army and having put himself onto a training programme for his adventure Simon was very fit but adding some efficiency to his forward paddling was essential if he was to be able to paddle almost daily for a month. Simon has a rudder fitted to his sea kayak but we also looked at some steering skills in case it failed, he would need to be able to cope until he could fix it on land if this happened.
We also made time to explore some of the impressive caves on the North end of Ramsey Island. I think Simon hadn’t considered the enjoyment part of his sea kayaking challenge until now, being completely focused on getting the job done instead.
Altogether a very successful day’s coaching. Over a coffee afterwards we talked about a further two days with an overnight camp. As conditions during this day were very calm we would watch the forecasts and wait for more moderate sea conditions.
Because of this we were able to arrange Simon’s next two days training as the sea around Pembrokeshire was beginning to pick up ahead of a summer storm. F5 winds and a slight to moderate sea were exactly what Simon needed. I was all set to go and then a group of four booked in for a trip to Skomer Island so I briefed Taran on what Simon needed and sent them on their way; time spent learning how to cope with waves from the side and learning how to use the waves to travel downwind, interpreting the weather forecast and applying it to the maps and charts to work out what to expect in various places and a chance to see how the sea state altered with wind with and against tide.
After these three days coaching Simon felt very confident about completing his adventure safely. He left during the first week of August and we’ve been in regular contact since, helping with weather forecasts and tidal planning at the crux points. He’s been a little reluctant to mention us in case he fails but we know he’s going to succeed and far exceed his £10k target. Please donate if you can on his justgiving page. I know he’ll appreciate it.