Mainly kayaking photographs taken on the Isle of Man and beyond.

Sunday, 30 September 2007

Calf Tidal Races - Intermediate Group 30/9/07.

Janet roles in anger and keeps her hat on!

Sam, Neal, Janet, Martin, Keirron, John, Jenny:

There are quite a few more photographs of this session which I'll post over the next few days.

Begginers Paddle to the Calf!!!!

It's not very often that you can entitle a blog entry "Beginners paddle to the Calf". This entails crossing the very tidal Sound of Man. It's spring tides at the moment too. However, conditions were absolutely perfect, and so on a flat calm sea we set off with 5 beginners from Port Erin to the Calf.

Crossing the Sound was uneventful as we kept upstream of the turbulent sea. I did have a limited foray into the tidal race but soon returned to the group.

I couldn't make the afternoon intermediate session which took place in the Sound tidal races. However, I did manage to get some great photographs from the shore which will feature in the next blog entry.

Thursday, 27 September 2007

There's a boat for everyone!

I remember 2 and a half years ago when I first started to kayak my two priorities were:
  1. To actually get my own spray deck on without help!
  2. To stay upright.

I seldom achieved both in the same trip. How things change. Now I worry about what boat I'm in. What are it's characteristics and will it handle well in rough water?

I have two sea kayaks namely an NDK Romany and a Rockpool Alaw Bach. My play boat is a Pyranha 7 0 but that's beside the point. I worry in case I damage my Rockpool and I'm forced to paddle the Romany. No offence to NDK but as a fellow paddler says to me, "there's a boat for everyone, but it's probably a different one for each of us". In other words the Romany is a great boat but just not for me. You can imagine my relief when this week I finally pinned Webby down (Rockpool's Mike Webb who helped design the Romany and the Alaw Bach) to agree to build me a second, but this time three piece, Alaw Bach. These concerns are not without grounds as earlier this year I did trash my Rockpool. It was left with 5 holes in the gelcoate. Webby repaired it for me and now you can't tell, but it meant that I was without the Rockpool for a month or two.
So what's the difference? People ask me this on this NDK dominated Island. Well all I can say is that in the Rockpool I can feel everything. I know where I am on a wave and what it's going to do next through feel. The difference is that in the Romany I have to open my eyes to achieve the same thing. The secondary stability of the Rockpool is excellent and I think that these two qualities are probably inter related in some way.


Sunday, 23 September 2007

Lead Sky - Sunday Paddle

The British Isles are one of the best places in the world to live. It's no secret however, that the weather can be poor. Island weather is different. I lived in Orkney for 2 years, right at the very top of Scotland. There we could get all four seasons in one day. The isle of Man is less extreme, but never the less similar. When we get bad weather we don't have to wait too long for the sun to reappear. What is "bad weather" anyway? When the wind's up, and if the tide's against, you've got rough sea and a kayaker's dream.
A lead Sky and a forecast force 5 to 7 winds should have set the scene for today's paddle from Port St. Mary to the Calf of Man. I sometimes wonder if readers of this blog in foreign corners of the world (today - Brazil, Germany, Mexico, USA, Canada) experience such grey skies as we do so often in the British Isles. Colour could only be added to this trip by some sharp seas down at the Calf tidal races.
The trip to the Calf usually takes about 45 minutes. Large surf waves crashed in from the South West and rebounded off the vertical cliffs creating distressed seas. This boded well for what we might encounter further on.

That promised compensation for the drab weather failed to materialise at the Calf Sound however, as the race could only be described as "playful".

And so watched by seals and the crowd at the Calf Cafe, that's what we did - Play. Roles, sculling, re-entry and roles and some surfing began as we made the most of the small standing waves available.

Returning to Port St. Mary the sun came out. One hour later there was torrential rain - see what I mean!

Thursday, 20 September 2007

Calf Nights - Seat of the Pants Kayaking.

Staff training continued tonight with a paddle from the Calf. We set off at 7 pm with sunset at 7.23. I was both disturbed and reassured by the presence of the lifeboat hovering off shore. Did they know something I should? They soon left for Port St Mary once the darkness began to engulf the Sound, leaving us alone in the increasingly inhospitable stretch of sea.

Sliding down rocks we took the difficult root into the Sound.

We paddled off across the Sound and along the West coast of the Calf. Keirron said we were looking for a really rough bit of water to practice rescues; as you do when it's pitch black. We soon found some and then surfed back to land on the Calf at Cow Harbour with myself leading. It always surprises me how your other senses soon compensate for visual loss at night. You hear those big waves approaching and realise just how much you are subconsciously predicting wave patterns. This is "seat of the pants" kayaking.
Janet came to the rescue with hot chocolate. We had to kill some time as it wasn't quite dark enough to cross the tidal races of the Sound apparently.

Neal then led us back to the Calf Cafe and Keirron, who must have been using a concealed sonar device, guided us through the rocks and onto the tiny beach.
Night paddles aren't conducive to good photography I've found; I'll try to improve by Sunday.

Sunday, 16 September 2007

There are two ways to land in rough water!

There are two ways to land in rough water - the right way .........

...... and the wrong way!
I couldn't go on this paddle but it looked like great fun.

No Sunday Paddle!

It's Sunday and I'm on call. The wind is up, the seas are massive and I can't go. If there is one thing about kayaking I enjoy more than any it is paddling in rough water. Indeed it cannot be rough enough for me. So long as it's physically possible to make distance against the wind I'll go. It's bound to be an epic paddle but to read about it you'll have to look elsewhere.
Yesterday, Christina and I walked from Port St. Mary to the Calf Cafe, on to Port Erin for ice cream, and then back to Port St. Mary. This took all day and below are some of the pictures we took. Especially for those reading this Blog from outside of the Isle of Man I hope they do justice to the stunning scenery this Island possesses.
We didn't arrive by bus, I just thought that this hole in the wall was prone to exaggeration!
Below is Christina with a raging tidal race behind her.
An unfortunate end to a vessel at Port Erin, washed up onto the rocks.

Friday, 14 September 2007

Night Paddle.

5 Star/Staff training continued last night with "night navigation" starting at Fenella Beach.
More than anything else in kayaking I struggle with this. It's not even the navigation part its the night aspect of the exercise. Indeed, although I have no concerns what so ever about paddling into a tidal race in a force 8 to rescue someone during 5 Star assessment, I will probably fail the night nav!
The exercise started badly when my instructor asked me to take a bearing. Peering down at my map with compass in hand I set to the task. Before I was able to provide the bearing there was an unpleasant cracking noise from beneath my boat as I washed up onto a rock. It was only after several severe "edges" and a role that I was completely satisfied that there was not a big hole in the bottom of my Rockpool - just a small scuff. John recovered my map which was now sinking into the depths and I tried again. I was only 10 degrees out.
The other issue is that I can't actually see at night - although this may be the same for everyone. I think Ke**r*n may have given up on me although he's kind enough not to show it and I can't blame his instruction which was excellent.
I'll try to do better next Thursday!

Sunday, 9 September 2007

Sunday Skills - sea and rock.

The adventure club Sunday paddle set off from Port St. Mary for a short distance to find a spot for skills practice. We started gently with low braces but soon progressed to what turned out to be Keirron's forte - heavily edged turns with supportive sweep strokes. He's kept this particular talent of his close to his chest as I've never known him to teach it before. This showed as he excelled at it .....
.... the rest of us, well, there were frequent splashes and plenty of rolling going on. I tend to avoid putting pictures of myself on the site but this is me trying to emulate Keirron, and then me upside down about to roll back up.
Well, to warm up we paddled on up the coast to the chasms. Last week we saw Jan and Terry rock climbing. They were with us today, but some real pros had taken their place!
We returned to Port St Mary and found it had changed. It has become a scrap metal port!!!
There is quite allot of new content on today and quite allot more to go on this week. Some visitors not using Explorer e.g. using Firefox or Mac, or with low resolution screens may experience some loading problems. I will try to resolve this as quickly as possible.

Monday, 3 September 2007

A Sunday Paddle.

From Port St. Mary to the Sound and back marked the welcome return of Lauren after her three month trip around South America. Jan and Terry were missing but turned up a bit later on a cliff top near the Chasms! I've no idea what they were doing there but it's always good to see those two. At the Sound I caught the last of the tidal race. Everyone else felt it was too tame for them and ate cakes and drank hot chocolate on the Calf instead.

Sunday, 2 September 2007

What's "in" a website?

I first posted about 5 months ago. It was conceived to allow fellow kayakers to view photographs I have taken during our Sunday paddles on line. I anticipated about 10 visits per week. I enjoy creating the site and I would still produce it if just 1 person visited per week.
Last month the site received 23,000 hits through 600 separate visits by 200 individual machines from various parts of the world. Though not a huge amount this is far more than I ever expected. Spurred on by this I am currently working on new content, still photo rich but with more text and facts. The site will evolve but it will remain non commercial and retain its amateur status and appearance.