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

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Kayaking Isle of Man - Port Soderick to Port Moar

Steve, Jess and myself decided to shuffle cars and paddle the 16 miles from Port Soderick to Port Moar on the Isle of Man. This is unfamiliar territory for me, especially the latter half of the trip. Sometimes the Isle of Man can feel divided. It's a little over 30 miles in length and yet to travel from the South to the North always seems like a major undertaking. Perhaps its Snaefell, the Island's highest mountain, which cause this division. I'm not sure, but this division extends to kayaking. In the South and West there is one kayak coaching school, and in the North there is the Venture Centre. I trained with the other lot. But this is Venture Centre territory and I've neglected it. This was a mistake as the trip unfolded into a spectacular feast of cliffs, beaches, wildlife and one or two thrilling tidal races. An enjoyable lunch in Laxey with good company completed the whole experience.

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Isle of Man Kayaking - Call for Coaches

Manx Sport and Recreation's instructor Dave Callaghan has been in touch looking for volunteer instructors to help run sessions on the Mooragh Lake for children with additional needs. One to one instruction on double sit-on-tops  is the name of the game and anyone interested should get in touch with Dave on 688559 or 498553. Everyone involved last year should have had a letter recently and been police checked by now but he is looking for  some new faces. This is a very good way of putting something back into the sport, a good laugh and an excellent source of 'hours' for aspirant coaches. Mondays 4.30 to 5.30  will be the time for the initial sessions.
Written by Steve Watt, Manx Paddle Sports.

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Kayaking Isle of Man 1

As you can see from the photograph above, it was incredibly grey and dull here in the Isle of Man today. I don't want to depress you all, but we really had the worst possible conditions for sea kayaking. The sea and sky were grey, and there was no wind and so no waves to play in! It couldn't even manage to rain properly. Instead we got a constant miserable drizzle. Still, off I set from Peel to Glen Maye and back in my Rockpool for no other reason than to get some exercise!
It didn't quite work out like that though. The tide was very high. Although there were no play waves there was a long wavelength swell rolling in from the west. This was barely noticeable as it passed under my kayak but as soon as it hit a submerged shelf, a rock or the shear cliffs which line this route these waves would explode producing a thunderous roar, sending surf and spray many meters up into the air. It was this that caught me out. I was performing some desperate rock hopping in a last ditch attempt to liven up this paddle. I passed between cliffs and some rocks to the seaward side. There would only have been enough room for about two kayaks in this rocky corridor. Suddenly, and with me dozing, two enormous waves exploded over the rocks and filled the passage through which I was paddling. I ascended what seemed like about two meters and was flung against the cliffs, in a boiling, steaming fountain of powerful froth and turmoil. This was repeated a second time, and once again I was flung about like a cork. There wasn't room to perform any conventional strokes as I flailed about in a desperate attempt to stay upright and to maintain the sea worthiness of my glass fibre kayak. The whole fiasco was accompanied by the sickening sound of gel coat and fibreglass on barnacle covered rocks. I eventually power paddled out of the frenzy and into calmer water. I survived to tell the tale, and so did my kayak with barely a scratch! I think I will treat the Irish Sea with a bit more respect in future!

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Pacific Horizons

I've seen quite a few reviews in paddling blogs of the recently released "Pacific Horizons" DVD by Brian Smith. I'd have written one allot earlier myself except that my copy took over a month to reach remote Isle of Man. It can be dangerous of course to say what you really think in a blog, unless of course you are about to do nothing but praise the production. The internet can be viewed pretty well everywhere on the planet, and once out there you can't really pull it back; someone somewhere will still have it in their cache. Having said all that there's no point writing anything if you're not going to be truthful.
The film focuses on sea kayaking in the Pacific North West of the USA and Vancouver Island in Canada. I went to Vancouver Island last year and paddled, and fell in love with the place. This film should have blown me away, tiding me over through a grey Manx Winter evening with sunshine images of my favourite place. Don't get me wrong, I like the film. It's extremely competent and the high definition photography is stunning. The feature on tidal races went down particularly well at . Problem is, there was something awfully familiar about this movie. It must be difficult to think of a new format for a sea kayaking film after the excellent and extremely successful "This is the Sea" series of films by Justine Curgenven. However, is it also necessary to always have reggae type music in the background? Perhaps only Caribbean rhythms work in sea kayaking films? I don't know, but I really did have to go and double check the DVD sleeve to make sure that I hadn't put "This is the Sea 2" on by mistake. Having said that, I enjoyed it and Justine herself appears in the extras on the DVD and looks particularly "hot" I thought - can't wait for "This is the Sea 4"
As an aside, the picture above is not of Vancouver Island but of South Island New Zealand. It could pass for Canada however, as Vancouver Island was once part of the New Zealand land mass millions of years ago, but migrated up north through the Pacific to lie off the west coast of Canada today.

Sunday, 6 January 2008

Wild Isle of Man 2!

I am no play boater as I may have mentioned once or twice before. I have been sea kayaking for nearly three years now, and yet you could count on two hands the number of times I've been in a play boat. This weekend however, I decided to give it a go. As yesterday's blog bares testament, Saturday was more a case of endurance and survival than "play" as we battled the force 8 gales here on the Isle of Man. Today was different, as gentle well formed surf waves rolled up Fenella Beach.
With my Pyranha 7 o and three mates from Manx Paddle Sports I began my surf runs. I've surfed a thousand times in my Rockpool Alaw Bach but this was different. I just couldn't get up enough speed to catch the wave. The best I could manage was side surfing through the break zone. My regular sea kayak spray deck often imploding on me resulting in the inevitable swim. What could be wrong? Well, my boat wasn't long enough and so I borrowed one that was. This time I was in a Necky Jive and catching waves became much easier, although I displayed little control. Again, if I inverted then off came my spray deck as a prelude to another embarrassing swim. Also, the bow would tend to bury itself. I learned that there was a similar boat called the Necky Glide with a more upturned bow and that this would be much better. Perhaps I should get one? It then dawned on me that I already have a boat with enough speed to catch any wave. Nor does the bow bury. In addition getting in it becomes part of me and I can feel every wave. This is a boat that would have got out through the surf yesterday in a force 8 gale, and it has. This boat is a Rockpool Alaw Bach and it is the ultimate rough water boat. I'll grant you though there can be a slight issue when it's fibreglass hull meets a rocky beach at speed, but hey, you can't have everything.

Saturday, 5 January 2008

Wild Isle of Man.

It was forecast to be force 8 gales on the Isle of Man today and the meteorologists got it right. Blowing straight down Fenella Beach on the west side of the Island, and with a receding tide this made for some challenging conditions. Like with anything though you can have too much of a good thing. The surf was big but breaking, and that was assuming you could actually paddle out against the wind to reach it.
The new version of has been up and running for two weeks now. The site focuses on kayaking on the Isle of Man. December was a good month with site traffic having tripled compared to the previous month. Paddle Buddy, a free service which enables paddlers to meet on line and arrange trips, has taken off well with numerous sea kayak and play boat sessions being planned through the group forum already.

Thursday, 3 January 2008

Coach 3 Certificates!

When I write these blog entries I always try to include predominantly happy, cheerful content. Very often I read other peoples' scripts to cheer myself up and escape mundane moments at work. This entry however, does not meet these criteria. Instead, with the knowledge that this blog is fed to in mind, I hope that someone who works for the British Canoe Union (BCU) might read this entry.
Last Summer, along with two others, I underwent my Sea Kayak Coach Level 3 Assessment on the Isle of Man. Those readers who have endured this ordeal will know that it is a prolonged, rigorous, intense and exhausting assessment of the candidates' paddling and coaching abilities. We all passed. We all sent off our correct documentation along with our fees to the BCU and eagerly awaited the proud moment our certificates would arrive. Unfortunately this moment has never occurred. We have confirmed that our documentation was received by the BCU. A series of phone calls and other communications have remained unanswered and ignored. At least two of us are still awaiting our Coach 3 certificates. So come on BCU, let me write a happy sequel to this blog entry and send us our certificates!

Tuesday, 1 January 2008


"Hardcore" doesn't refer to us. Instead it describes those brave souls who took to the icy sea in Peel for the annual New Years Day dip. Ian, Jess and myself in contrast were wrapped in fleece, shrouded in our dry suites and afloat in our luxurious sea kayaks as we paddled out of Peel today. After an hour or so of hard paddling we stopped off in the harbour to practice our skills. At this point I relearned a salutary lesson. I rolled 7 or 8 times, a couple of re-entry and roles, followed by dry re-entries. I've done these a thousand times. Finally after attempting to establish just how far I could crawl along the top of my kayak to the bow and then paddle along, I unceremoniously re-entered the Irish Sea with a splash. No problem, I'll just re-enter and role back up, except that it suddenly seemed so much more difficult than it had just 15 minutes earlier. Nor did I care. I was just happy floating as I felt slightly drunk. These are the first signs of hypothermia. I realised, got back aboard and off we paddled to the warmth of our cars. I'm still frozen some two hours later as I'm writing this .............. I think I'm off for another hot coffee! You have to admire those New Year dippers!