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

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Rules?

Ever tried to construct a website? There are two ways broadly to do this. Firstly you can use a template e.g. MySpace, and within constraints you can drag and drop text and pictures to where you want them. You have little control over the style of the page however. Alternatively you could start with a completely blank page as I do and use code and design software, Creative Suite 3 in my case, and let yourself and your imagination go wild. It’s that simple, except that it isn’t. Once you’ve mastered the software and learned code, no mean achievement in itself, you can create a beautiful web page on your screen. Things start to go wrong however, when you upload it to the web and it doesn’t look quite the same as before on you computer. It gets worse. You then look at it on someone else’s computer and depending on which browser, screen resolution and text size setting they are using, your once beautiful and complicated web design looks more like something the cat might have produced whilst walking across your keyboard!
Basically there are rules. They’re not written down but they exist. They help explain why the best web pages are simple, why text fonts are often on the small side and why there is a lot of “white space” on many modern websites.
I think I’ve hit upon a design for the new website that I’m happy with. But with the above in mind expect simplicity where there is currently clutter. Expect white where there is black, but expect rotating Flash slide shows where there are currently stills.
It was good to hear from Joe Leech yesterday. Jo left to study in Bangor North Wales, a few months ago and is having a great time. He seems to have migrated from sea paddling to Grade 5 river running and has some content for the new website. I look forward to paddling with him and Butler again in the near future. Judging by past experiences this paddle should be right at the extreme end of “extreme”.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

www.KAYAK.im


Being on call for anaesthetics for 4 out of the next 5 days means paddling this weekend is out. It also means that work on the new website is in; at least so long as not too many people require surgery this weekend. Testing over, the new CSS, XHTML website (I only mention this because my current site is so primitive) is currently under construction with the homepage flash movie created this evening. The format will change too. I hope the site will continue to reflect kayaking here in the Isle of Man. Indeed there will be some new pages included which will incorporate Manx Paddle Sports (photograph above) into Kayak.im. Their current website will continue, but urgent news, future meets and membership details will feature on www.KAYAK.im .
In addition however, the new site will focus on my own kayaking experiences and there will be a non kayaking section. Colour coding will enable paddling purists to avoid these pages if they can't bear to stray from kayaking web content. Estimated time to completion - about 1 month.

Monday, 19 November 2007

The "ideal" kayak?



Above Picture Courtesy of Derrick Moyoleth, www.kayakquixotica.com

As an anaesthetist I have often speculated about what properties the ideal anaesthetic drug would posses. It would be quick to act, wear off quickly with no hangover effects, stable in terms of blood pressure, breathing etc. etc.. It was nice recently however, whilst talking with Mike Web, owner of Rockpool Kayaks, to talk about the "ideal" kayak.
This should be lightweight but strong. It should have excellent storage capacity for expeditions, with a hull designed for handling rough seas. The seat should grip the paddler so that you don't slide around in the swell. There should be a skeg just in case I should ever decide that I needed one after all. The ideal kayak should be easy to transport, preferably coming apart if required. Finally it should be beautiful to look at. I don't think that this kayak exists quite yet, but it soon will. Rockpool are going to build a carbon version of there 3 piece Alaw Bach for me. It will have the seat from their racing kayak which grips the paddler as you get in. Obviously it will come apart into three pieces as in the photograph above. You can have a skeg in a 3 piece, the slider resides in the rear segment behind the paddler. It'll be black, reducing the amount of gelcoate required to cover the black carbon underneath. Of course, being a Rockpool there will be plenty of glitter.
It won't be ready until the new year. It's the first all carbon Alaw Bach Rockpool have built and a prototype needs to be constructed first. Soon you will be able to follow construction progress on the main web site at www.KaYAK.im .

Friday, 16 November 2007

Contemplation!

This morning I went paddling a little way down the coast from Peel towards Kirk Michael. The sea was calm, and there was a force 4 wind blowing in from the southwest. The paddle was unremarkable, and so why am I mentioning it? Well unlike during my last paddle during which I battled against force 7 winds, this morning I had plenty of time for contemplation. In fact the subject I have been contemplating has been troubling me for several weeks now. This morning I decided to break my silence, so here goes.
A month ago a letter was sent to me as webmaster of www.KAYAK.im by the owner of Adventurous Experiences, the Peel based kayaking company. He was effectively trying to prevent me from publishing any photographs on this site obtained during my frequent paddles with his "Adventure Club", or during coaching sessions I gave whilst working for his company! He believes that this content and my comments, particularly in my blog, may have harmed his business and offended his clients. There is no evidence that this site has caused any offence; the blog is archived in it's entirety and you can judge for yourself. However, this will explain why the site has been static for a while.
I have been planning a new website for some time and indeed, there are some test pages up and running on the web. However, could www.KAYAK.im continue to reflect kayaking on the Isle of Man without this material being made available? Should I change the nature of the site and make it just a personal website reflecting my hobbies and interests? No one person has a monopoly on kayaking on this Island. The number of visits, hits and machine logons to the site is well up again this month compared to the last, and I would assume therefor that there is a demand for a Manx based kayaking website. With this in mind I am reluctant to change the nature of www.KAYAK.im .

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Leaning on the wind!




The weather today on the Isle of Man is much the same as yesterday, with force 6 northwesterly winds, gusting to force 7 . I couldn't wait any longer - I really wanted to paddle. I chose to paddle from Port St Mary to Gansey , a trip which I describe in the guide section of my website as safe for coached beginners and for skills sessions. This was not the case today. Much of the time was spent either leaning on or battling with the force 7 gusts. At one point my kayak resembled a speed boat as the wind to the rear and the tide on the bow meant that the Rockpool raced through the water. A bow wave built but the standing waves were low in height and so the bow failed to bury; one of my least favourite things too happen.
When the sea is like this the surface becomes a map. You can see the wind as the circles of ripples race around. I picked my way between these and set the bow up into the wind before turning. Steering can be nearly impossible in this weather and you don't want the wind to hit the bow from the side. It's worth remembering that if you do get caught out and need to turn your boat back into the wind it can be easier to spin the kayak the long way round, bringing the stern to wind first.
Later on I was taught another salutary lesson. I always practice rolling on every trip. I can roll on either side. In winds like this it can be impossible sometimes to roll up on the downwind side. If you can roll as easily on the left or the right side, rolling on the upwind side is effortless. Today I had to rely on this for the second time in recent months, resetting my hands and paddle underwater, and letting the wind bring me back upright.

Friday, 9 November 2007

It's Hell out there!



The top two photographs are of Fenella Beach, Isle of Man about 2 hours ago. The lower most photograph is of Christina on Long Beach, Vancouver Island, Canada.
Rather optimistically I went down to Peel for a precursory look prior to some rough water paddling. It's been blowing force 6 to 7 here for several days now, and this short trip was in hope rather than in expectation as it's hell out there. I'll try again tomorrow. The wind is straight in to shore and with a receding tide the water is literally boiling! This is difficult to capture with a small compact camera but there really are no formed surf waves to climb on the back of. It's often like this here. The Isle of Man is surrounded by large landmasses containing four countries. To the west is Ireland, to the south is Wales, to the East and North is England with Scotland further to the north. Contrast this with the uninterrupted path enjoyed by those massive Pacific surf waves pounding the West Vancouver Island coast. Perhaps I've got post holiday blues but I wish I was there now.

Saturday, 3 November 2007

The Calf.





Back from Vancouver it was time for a paddle in the cold gray waters of the Isle of Man. From Port Erin to the South Harbour of the Calf of Man was surprisingly choppy; even more so on the way back. Whilst in Canada I purchased a reinforced neoprene Snapdragon spray deck. I've had a great deal of trouble with previous decks I've used. They're either difficult to apply (aquatherm or nylon decks), or last about three trips before they split, as with previous neoprene decks I've used. This one applies really easily, doesn't leak when I roll and seems tough.
I've never really walked around the Calf of Man before. I tramped from the South Harbour to the lighthouses, which are there in abundance. There are even helpful road signs. People go there to get away from it all! I met at least three people on this short trek - seemed quite busy to me. During the paddle back I bumped into Ian who was paddling a Rockpool Alaw. There now seems to be at least three of us Rockpool paddlers on the Isle of Man!
http://www.kayak.im/ will change in the next few months. I'm creating a new site with CSS, spry, XHTML, Flash movies etc. In other words it should be much more professional looking than the current site. The content will also change; more about that nearer the time.

Friday, 2 November 2007

Shades of Vancouver.





The first time we were in Vancouver it poured with rain. This time we had glorious sunshine. What a difference a blue sky can make, and not just to photographs. The crowds were out in force and Vancouver displayed the vibrancy and sophistication that I thought must be there hidden behind the rain clouds. The highlights included the Old Quarter towards Gas Town and of course, Stanley Park.
I am now back home on the Isle of Man. My kayaking habits are about to change. I have given up my membership of the Adventure Club. This marks the end of an era for me as I have been a member now for several years. In future I intend to concentrate on rough water paddling, surfing and tidal races.