Surf Kayaking – Rest Bay June 2012   8 comments

While Jane and the kids were away I cheered myself up on a dreary wet afternoon by treating myself through retail therapy and bought myself a dry-suit for my kayaking adventures. For the uninitiated it’s a total immersion suit that you put on over the top of normal clothing to eliminate the problem of stripping off a cold wet-suit exposed to the elements, easily the worst aspect of British watersports especially in the winter. I tried on a couple but the majority have a zip that runs across your back which is pretty hard do up on your own. I eventually chose a Palm Cascade as it has a zip across the front and was as easy to put on as these things are i.e. not very!

I bought it mainly for winter gear when a wet change is pretty unpleasant. Seeing as the weather was pretty wintry anyway I thought I’d head down to the beach to try it out. Rest Bay is about the nearest bit of coast to where I live and I can be parked up in about 1.5 hours from home.

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When I left and most of the way down it was pishing with rain but when I got there, it was blue skies all the way. It’s a pretty nice spot with a broad strand of sand (well mud/sand anyway) backed by low limestone cliffs.

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The views are unusual in that there is vista all the way across the Bristol Channel to the Gower and eventually to…. Port Talbot Steelworks! Still the grassland above the cliffs is very pleasant and the nearest town, Porthcawl, has been done up very nicely.

As the beach is very fine sand/mud, when it’s choppy like it was today the water looks disconcertingly brown and mucky. Still can’t waste good waves so I pulled on my new dry-suit over the clothes I drove down in and went in.

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The waves were very broken and choppy which isn’t always great for surfing and bloody hard to paddle past the breaking waves. However I got some surprisingly good, long and steep rides made all the more enjoyable by the warm and unexpected sunshine. It felt very odd in the dry-suit as opposed to the wetsuit I normally wear, much colder without the neoprene insulation that the wetsuit provides.

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Strangest thing is that when you capsize the air trapped inside becomes buoyant and the whole suit floats on the surface. Must look pretty comical!

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After 3 hours of hard work and high quality fun and thrills, I called it a day and went back to the car to see how “dry” I was. Amazingly, the thing works. I had on my fleece suit I use when winter skiing which along with my socks was bone dry. Only problem was obvious, in warm sunshine you sweat and in a total immersion suit there is nowhere for that sweat to go. The cotton T-shirt I had on was damp but it definitely wasn’t salt water so the suit had done its job. I’d need something that doesn’t soak up the sweat to become damp and clammy in future. Well pleased with the new gear option but definitely an for winter rather than a shock, warm sunny summer afternoon – still a wetsuit for those conditions.

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I headed home in glorious sunshine, a fine day out on the surf. Enjoy the video footage

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8 responses to “Surf Kayaking – Rest Bay June 2012

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  1. Aaah, the mighty TPE. They’ve been touring again, did you know? Be amazing to see them live again. (They are, or used to be anyway, absolutely brilliant live.)
    Looks like you had fine old time, sunshine too. Do you have a painting of yourself soaked to the skin in the world’s heaviest downpour, in the attic?

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    beatingthebounds
    • Never saw them live but their albums are brilliant.
      I’ve done my my time in the rain, a certain walk by the Afon Mellte a few weeks ago springs to mind :). I don’t think “The Picture of Andy Jones” is going attract a big audience
      Went backpacking last weekend in the rain as well – blog post to follow in a couple of days

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  2. Looks very cold and wet to me – I’m a bit of a wuss when it comes to water – but I can see that it might have a certain exciting appeal if it didn’t involve getting wet…
    (I even hate washing my hair in the shower as I can’t stand the feeling of wet hair sticking to my back!)

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    • I’m still a bit of thrill seeker and speed junkie in my middle-aged years. It does give an alternative outdoor play opportunity when the weather is bad (although in this case it turned rather splendid.

      As you can probbaly tell from the ocassional photo of me that appears on the blog, my days of “wet hair sticking to my back” are a distant memory 🙂

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  3. That looks like super fun. I’ve not tried surf kayaking, but my son has one, so maybe I should try it one day. What is your camera mounted on for the shots/video of you? I presume it’s a helmet cam for the shots looking forwards?

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    • Great fun and hard work, sit on kayaks take a bit of getting used to in the waves, they tend to tip over quite easily. Took me half a dozen days out before I really got the feel of it. At least you don’t have to drag them out and empty the water out when you capsize (which I do frequently!) – just hop back on. They catch waves pretty easily and it’s a real rush skipping down the waves. Go on – give it a whirl 🙂

      I use a camera called a Go Pro HD Hero. Sits within its own little waterproof housing. You stick/glue a fitting onto the helmet or the boat (it’s the white circle on the front of the boat – designed for surf boards) and the camera clips and screws into. Also has a head strap (like a headtorch) and a chest harness which I use for skiing and other mad water sports I do

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      • I assumed it was a Go Pro. Middle son has one which he uses on his mountain bike; maybe I’ll get a waterproof housing and borrow it for kayaking. (I’ve previously borrowed a cheap helmet cam that eldest son had. He had used it on his motorbike helmet and road cycle. I found the footage from that was shaky on a mountain bike, but haven’t tried it for other things).

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        • The head mounted approach always looks a little shaky where there is lots of head movement like kayaking although it works ok when I’m skiing. The fixed point on the boat is much better (apart from my ugly mug) or the chest harness is also good in more active situations although it does catch the paddle. Looking forward on the boat would be good but it’s hard to see over the bow.

          It’s cracking little toy but not far short of £500 with all the various fittings, attachments, housings and the like

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