What everyone wants to know about Coasteering

Whenever someone books a Coasteering Adventure with CoasteeringNI we send out an email confirming the booking.  This email includes the date, time and venue of the Coasteering Adventure.  We also include a list of what everyone will need to bring with them.  We also send a reminder email a few days before just to make sure everyone knows what they need to bring.

Those emails either get a reply with the most asked question we ever get or we are asked it when we meet everyone.

Why are the shorts so important?

CoasteeringNI

 

The answer is simple and the response is generally along the lines of “Oh, that makes sense now!”.  You see, the shorts protect the seat of the wetsuit from getting torn or ripped.  At times when you are Coasteering you may need to slide in to the water from rocks.  Even though the wetsuits we use have reinforced seats it is still possible to tear the material and no one wants a wetsuit with a hole in the bum.

People often sit down for a bit when other people are jumping and this too will damage the wetsuits.

Old shorts are grand and the brighter the better!  Bright is good because it helps identify you in the photographs we take, especially on a dull day when the light isn’t so good.

That said, we have had people turn up with brand new shorts that they have bought in the likes of ASDA or Tesco – often these shorts are funky, bright and cheap!  We have had people turn up with pyjama shorts (don’t scoff, they work) and we have had people turn up without shorts.

It’s not a big deal if you forget your shorts, every year we gather up about 50 pairs as people take off their wetsuits with the shorts still on and forget to take them out.  We discover them when we are rinsing the suits after they have been used!

Believe it or not, we have even discovered the odd shoe or trainer that has been left inside a wetsuit – no idea how people can get the wetsuit off over their shoes but hey ho!

So there you have it, old shorts for Coasteering are very important!  Make our day, make them bright!

Coasteering in County Down

Coasteering Ballyhornan, County Down

 

County Down has lots of Coastline with two main venues for Coasteering; namely Bloody Bridge just outside Newcastle and the cliffs at Ballyhornan.  Both venues are awesome although they are quite a contrast to Ballintoy where we do most of our Coasteering.  There are other venues for Coasteering in County Down such as Bangor and Ballywalter.

Coasteering at Bloody Bridge can be quite committing.  If the seas are rolling you ain’t going!  There are few escape routes so if the swells are above 3 foot then it makes it a really difficult venue to use.  There are some awesome jumps though and caves that you can swim in to.  Swimming in caves is a great experience, especially when the swell pushes you up towards the ceiling!

Usually we will meet at Bloody Bridge car park and if the sea is too rough we can always go Bouldering on the river!

The great thing about Coasteering at Bloody Bridge is that you can head back in to Newcastle for fish and chips at the Harbour Inn – that’s what we like to do anyway!

Our favourite venue for Coasteering in County Down is Ballyhornan.  The rock formations here are amazing and they come in a whole range of colours.  Jumps are bountiful here including the challenge of the Devil’s Cauldron and the plank!!  You will definitely test your nerves on these jumps!

There are some awesome channels with powerful currents for adventure swimming and the cave within the Devil’s Cauldron is great for exploring.

Coasteering at Ballyhornan can be quite committing too but we have been here when it is really rough and still been able to take people out.  We know the venue really well and can adjust the Coasteering trip to suit the conditions.

Check out these two albums for some of the craic you can get up to Coasteering in County Down:

HUGE Waves, epic swims and awesome jumps!

Birthday Treat

and the cliffs at Ballyhornan.

My Coasteering Adventure by Kathryn Wilson

It was probably the coldest day of 2013 when I set out on my first day of Coasteering – too cold for new snow but it still lay on the ground.

As we started our adventure I got snug in TWO wetsuits adding up to an extra 8 mm of skin! Feeling nervous but excited we made our way towards our first rock.

To be honest I’ve never really had a lot of balance and I was more afraid of slipping on my dodgy footwork than my first jump! One thing I will say – Stephen has a true talent in supervision of this nature. He knew when to leave me to fend for myself to build my confidence and when I literally needed a hand.

I didn’t really know much about Coasteering before my day out at Ballintoy – not even how to pronounce it properly but what I definitely didn’t know was how rewarding it is. The team really get behind you and tell you anything is possible – within reason of course.

I felt my confidence grow over the day during the activity – a feeling that still hasn’t left me a couple of weeks later. “I can jump off cliffs so of course I can ask my boss for tomorrow off” without the usual nerves. Confidence is everything.

There was a constant positive atmosphere – even when I was feeling tired from swimming or climbing I still kept going as I was enjoying it so much.

I have to say I don’t really remember getting home as I fell asleep quickly that evening. When I woke up I was most excited to check out my footage from my jumps!

I will warn you though if you are going to try Coasteering – you may experience pain in your belly the following day from laughing so much!

About our guest blogger

Coasteering Northern Ireland
Kathryn Wilson is a Female Club DJ, Cool FM Radio Presenter & Producer based in Northern Ireland.

On a Sunday she can be heard co-hosting on Northern Irelands most listened to music radio station “Cool FM” where she has worked since 2010. Her ever increasing popularity is ensuring that she now regularly plays some of the hottest venues across the province.

Keep checking the Facebook pages (www.facebook.com/kitzDJ and www.facebook.com/kathrynwilsonDJ) or follow on twitter @kathrynBwilson for details upcoming gigs.

Contact [email protected] for bookings & info 

Wetsuit love!

Taking care of your wetsuit is really simple and it is guaranteed to extend it’s life and save you money!  We know this to be true because  we do this with all our suits!  Our guides often get a couple of years out of their wetsuits and they use them far more than your typical wetsuit wearer!

Coasteering NI

Here are a few handy tips to make sure your wetsuit lasts for as long as possible

Rinse your wetsuit after every use

At the very least you should rinse your wetsuit as soon as you can after you wear it.  This will remove sea water, grime and sand.  Make sure to use cold or lukewarm fresh water.  If you take your wetsuit off without using a mat or a clean surface you may need to give it a gentle rub where you have stood on it to get that extra grime or grit off.

Why use cold water or lukewarm water to rinse your wetsuit?

The fabrics in your wetsuit will break down if you use hot water – always use cold or lukewarm water.  Equally, your wetsuit does not like to be too warm so avoid drying it in direct sunlight; UV rays will quickly deteriorate your wetsuit. Under no circumstances should you try and give it a quick dry in the tumble drier, on a radiator or in a hot press.  Just because you forgot to lift it out of the boot of your car and want a nice dry wetsuit doesn’t mean you should damage it with this sort of heat – put it on wet and next time you’ll remember to dry it properly!  Leaving it rolled up in the boot of your car isn’t good for it anyway – it will heat up and get smelly!!

Drying your wetsuit

So, you got your wetsuit rinsed thoroughly and now you need to dry it.  Chances are it is inside-out already so get it hanging up as it is, this means if you are going to be wearing it soon it will be dry on the inside.  If you have more time, turn it out the right way after the inside is dry and let the outside dry properly too.  Make sure to check the ankles and wrists are turned out fully.  Normal hangers aren’t ideal so look for something that is chunky or one of the funky slide hangers – this will reduce fabric stress.  When it is dry you can either leave it hanging or lay it flat but do not fold it as this causes creases that will not come out.  Our recommendation is to leave it hanging

My wetsuit stinks!!!!

If you follow the instructions above it is unlikely your wetsuit will get stinky but if does, wash your wetsuit in a bath of fresh, lukewarm water. Reminder: do not use hot water

You can buy special wetsuit soaps or use a small amount of baby shampoo.  Rub it gently and when you have cleaned it rinse it thoroughly to get all the soap out.  Hang it outside to dry but not in direct sunlight (easily done in Ireland).

Finally, and we shouldn’t have to say it, do not pee in your wetsuit, it can damage the fabric and glue, it will make your wetsuit smelly and most importantly, it’s gross!

Organising a Stag Party in Northern Ireland

CoasteeringNI

Organising a Stag Party in Northern Ireland?  

That means you are the best man!  Not the “yeah, I’ve known him for years and we get on grand” man.  Not the “he’s a bit of a dick sometimes but I reckon he will keep me out of jail and from getting dead” man. But the best man!

And being the best man means you have to organise the best stag do, the mother of stag party’s.  The sort of Stag Party the guys in the Hangover would be proud of.  The sort of Stag Party that will be talked about for years (in a good way) and everyone will say “you can see why he was picked as the best man, that was epic”.

But, if you have never organised one before how on earth are you to know what you need to do? There are loads to thing about…  Who to invite (and who not to invite), how much money everyone is prepared to spend, how long will it last, where to go, where to eat and crucially, what to do!

Who to invite…

This can be a tricky one but a good chat with the groom will make it easier.  The difficult people to consider are his dad, soon to be father-in-law, his work colleagues, his socially inept and rarely talked about cousin and those two mates that fell out over a girl.

A simple rule is invite people that will make the stag party better as well as those that the groom will feel guilty about if they are not there.  And you can always have another simple night out for everyone not on the A list 🙂

How much should you budget?

You need to be realistic about how much people will want to spend.  If you know that most of these guys are attending loads of weddings this year then you may need to be more thrifty, equally, if they are all loaded then you can go a bit crazy on how much they will spend.  Make sure you think about spending money too, not just accommodation, activities and travel.

And whatever you do, make sure you get money off them upfront – collecting money on a Sunday morning will be a nightmare.  Anyway, most things will need paid in advance.  We recommend giving everyone a deadline for payments with the very clear instruction that if they haven’t paid you they will have to sort everything out themselves – this’ll stop you being out of pocket!

How long will it last?

This will be dictated by the budget you have set and what all you want to do.  Some stag groups just want to get out for the day and night while others want a full blown weekend.  If you want to do loads make it a weekend and if not, don’t! Simples really

Where to go?

Northern Ireland has plenty of choice places to go on a Stag Party – it all depends on what you want to do?  A weekend crawling around bars will be best in Belfast, Newry, Newcastle or Portrush; whereas a weekend of adventure sports followed by sing song around the fire in your self-catering cottages would be great along the North Coast or the Mourne Mountains.

We cannot stress enough the importance of being upfront about being a stag party with your accommodation provider.  We have witnessed groups being turned away on arrival because the accommodation was not expecting a stag party – yes, some places have had bad experiences with stag groups and don’t let them stay.

Eating out

This is pretty simple as the group will normally plan this as the weekend goes along but if you want to get in to a particular restaurant we advise booking in advance and make sure they know you are a stag group.

Going out

Again, think about where you are going before hand, make sure everyone knows if the club or pub has a dress code and make sure stag groups will be welcome.  Sometimes, it is best to arrive in small groups of 3 or 4; bouncers can get a bit uneasy when a large group of lads arrive at the same time.

What to do

There are loads of activities available in Northern Ireland but like everything else you need to think about this in advance.  If it’s just you and the groom an afternoon of paint balling is not going to be that much fun, equally, if you take 40 people go-karting and the track only has 6 karts you are going to be spending a lot of time hanging around.

Cue our shameless plug….

Coasteering is an awesome activity for a stag party because it has everyone participating at the same time.  It can be as thrilling or as tame as you like.  Did you know we have taken people out that can’t swim, they have never even been in a swimming pool, we’ve had people petrified of heights too! You see, we can tailor the Coasteering trip to suit everyone on an individual basis even when in a group.

We can provide a bus service to collect you from your accommodation anywhere in Northern Ireland and bring you to any of our amazing venues.

Anything else?

The best best man will organise the stag party well in advance.  He will work out which weekend suits the most amount of people and book accordingly.  At peak times of the year you will need to do this months in advance and certainly no less than 8 weeks.  Last minute stags are not impossible so if you are ever stuck let us know – we can help with everything above.

Make sure everyone’s travel plans are known and that  you have mobile numbers for those travelling separately.  It is not uncommon for one car load to be late or last for hours.

Finally, it is your duty to look after the best man (never leave him alone with the rest of the hallions) and make sure everyone gets to know each other as soon as possible – getting that ice broke early on will make for one awesome weekend!

  • Stag Party Northern Ireland

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Understanding Tide Tables

Understanding Tide Tables is something that is very important for some of the Coasteering venues that we use in Northern Ireland and Ireland.  Ballintoy is brilliant because we can coasteer there no matter what the tide or sea state is like – it can be really rough and it’s great and it can be as flat as a pancake and it’s great.  Other venues need certain conditions to make them safe and that’s when reading a tide table is crucial…

First off you need to know where you can find tide tables.  There are loads of sites that offer them but we really like the clean interface offered by the BBC site

Tide TableSelect what area you need and then you will see  3 columns on the left of the graph.  These show:

  • High and low tides
  • The times
  • The height of the tide

This is pretty straightforward, the tide will be at it’s highest at 0320 and then again at 1505.  Note, although it might appear that tides work it in a 6 hour cycle this is not actually the case.

The height of the tide also varies and this is to do with the stage of the moon and it’s gravitational pull.  When we have a new moon or full moon we will experience higher high tides and lower low tides.  See next diagram

Tide Table 2If you compare both graphs you will notice that the height difference is much more dramatic in the second graph – that’s because this one if for a full moon.

Another important thing to know is that for a period of time at high tide and low tide there is very little gravitational pull and therefore the sea will be relatively still.  These slack tides can last 1-3  hours split on either side of the actual low or high tide time.

It must be remembered that there are many other factors that determine whether it is safe to go in the sea.  Local knowledge is a huge factor and one which should never be overlooked.

We will be adding some more information on “understanding the sea” over the coming weeks but if you have a question please get in touch.

Coasteering Guidance for Instructors

We have said it many times – Coasteering is the fastest growing Adventure Sport in the UK and Ireland.  Great news for us – we just love introducing people to what has to be one of the best natural thrills there is.  But with an increase in the sport there are consequences:

  • Over use of some of our venues putting pressure on our environment
  • New Coasteering providers, some of whom have limited experience and do not fully appreciate the risks that can be involved
  • Increased exposure will encourage people to try Coasteering without the use of a Guide and often without the correct equipment

Thankfully there are a number of brilliant Coasteering providers across the UK and Ireland and many of these companies have been involved in the development of the Coasteering Charter.  Although we have not had the opportunity to get involved we are 100% behind this and are pushing to get in introduced to Northern Ireland.  We will keep you up to date on this and in the meantime you should have a look at these videos:

 

You don’t have to think on your feet!

As you know Coasteering involves traversing and climbing over rocks and wet rocks are slippy!

fiveten_canyoneer2

So, what can you do to stop slipping?

Well, we advise wearing sturdy boots or trainers with good grips (avoid vibram soles if you can) and we do not permit neoprene booties, sandals or crocs!  Yes, they are designed for water sports but they lack angle support, toe protection and fall off your feet!

In an ideal world we would all own a pair of 5:10 Canyoneer 2’s!  We have been huge fans of the Canyoneer for years now and the Canyoneer 2 is even better.  In our opinion if you are serious about Coasteering you need to own a pair!

Why should I own a pair of Five Ten Canyoneer boots?

Without a doubt these are the stickiest boots you will ever wear!  Sticky boots mean you know that when your foot lands on a wet rock you are going nowhere and that confidence is second to none.

fivetensole.jpg

Stephen is on his third pair in 6 years and he swears by them.  Recently he turned up for a Coasteering trip and realised he forgot his Canyoneer’s, luckily he had a couple of pairs of approach trainers in the Jeep! Unfortunately, they did not give anywhere near the same traction and Stephen certainly had to work hard to ensure he didn’t slip.  Stephen said it was a class trip but he had to concentrate where he positioned his foot whereas he normally is looking well in front or back as he strides and jumps across the rocks.  We doubt Stephen will make that mistake again!

So, what makes the Canyoneer so good?

The  Canyoneer 2 is sleek, adjustable and comes with a lightweight upper that provides superb support with ergonomic flex for precision and control. Leaving nothing to be desired, these shoes are made with Stealth rubber soles that grip like nothing else on slippy rocks and boulders.

Features:

  • The synthetic, padded uppers are sleek, comfortable, supportive and highly abrasion resistant
  • High friction co-molded Stealth C4/S1 soles provide incredible traction on all surfaces
  • Buckle and strap closure for easy in and outs

Specifications:

  • Uppers: Synthetic
  • Midsole: Polyurethane
  • Outsole: Stealth C4/S1

Where can I get a pair?

For local stockists check out http://fiveten.com/ but it is also worth looking on ebay – we recently saw new pairs being sold for only £50 instead of the standard £90 – we have even seen them sold for more than £100! And in fairness, we would pay that if we had to!

What to look for when choosing your Coasteering provider

Coasteering comes with thrills and with thrills come a certain level of risk. However, choosing the right Coasteering provider is very important and will ensure you have a brilliant day out whilst remaining safe.

Below you will find some advice and thoughts which you should consider when deciding who is going to take you on your Coasteering Adventure:

Ask them do they have insurance and can they email you a copy of the insurance certificate.

Coasteering like all other Adventure Sports carries a certain level of risk and it is important that you make sure you are looked after should anything go wrong. As standard, you should expect your provider to have £5 million public liability.

It is not common practice for providers to include personal injury cover and this is something that you may wish to look in to yourself.

You may also ask your provider for copies of their Risk Assessments – especially if you are working with a group of young people! Please note that there are responsibility issues should you review the Risk Assessments.

Ask them what equipment they will provide.

Any Coasteering provider worth their salt should provide you with a 100% neoprene wetsuit, a well fitted helmet and buoyancy aid. It is usual for you to provide your own swimwear for underneath the wetsuit, shorts for over the wetsuit, warm socks and old trainers or boots with good grips.

In winter you should be provided with neoprene socks and gloves although a deposit or hire rate should be expected.

How much are they charging?

There are a number of factors that must be considered when deciding how much to charge for a Coasteering session:

  1. Ratios – current guidelines recommend a ratio of 1 instructor to 9 participants. Some providers work on much higher ratios allowing them to charge lower rates – this may have a negative on your Coasteering trip, that is, not enough time on the water, lack of proper instruction, lack of safety cover, etc
  2. Equipment– to provide all of the specialist gear for Coasteering it will cost anywhere from £100 – £200 per person. If your provider is cheap chances are the gear will be too (if it is even provided)
  3. VAT– if vat is part of the cost it is normally a good sign that you are with a reputable provider. Their turnover is a strong indicator of their success.
  4. Testimonials and evidence – is your provider online? Do they have a website? Can you see photos and videos on their Facebook page and Youtube Chanel? Do they have reviews on Trip Advisor? These are all good ways of checking their credibilty as well as getting an insight to how much fun you can have coasteering.

Providers offering coasteering for as little as £10 or £12 per person can not be providing what we view as minimum standard – BEWARE of cheap Coasteering!

Some other questions you may wish to ask:

  • Do your instructors have First Aid certificates? Can these be viewed?
  • Have your instructors got relevant experience and qualifications?
  • Does your company have any affiliations or accreditation?

One last thing… Coasteering is a brilliant adventure and suitable for a wide range of ages and abilities – get up off your sofa and try it!

BOOK NOW!