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

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Kayak Isle of Man - Money!

I don't know any wealthy professional kayakers! Of course they are in it for the lifestyle, and not for the money. This is just as well as there's no money in it. We have two centres on the Isle of Man offering kayaking tuition and equipment. It's worth thinking about what you get for your money from these two professional outfits.
Each charges about £15 per hour. It would be usual for a sea kayaking session to be of about 3 hours duration, and so that gives a total of £45 per outing. Well, you may think, the sea is free and so it's pretty well all profit? Unfortunately it does not work like that. One of the Island's kayaking companies uses fibreglass Romany sea kayaks. They cost about £1200 each and as they are glass, and in the hands of novices, they have a very high rate of attrition and are replaced with brand new ones every few years. Of course there are plastic equivalents at about half the price, that last twice as long, but they are not the same. Kit including paddle, buoyancy aid, cag and fleece for each paddler will cost at least another £200 and wears out quickly in the harsh, salty, marine environment. Business overheads such as offices, phones, trailer, vehicle, diesel all add up and as for commercial insurance, well this costs several thousand pounds per year. Finally, to get to be a qualified kayaking coach takes many years of expensive training, assessments and refresher courses. On top of this the more junior kayak coaches in your employ will need paying also.
Well, when you think of all the above £15 per hour seems like a bargain. It also explains why the above picture shows one of the last times I carried out any commercial coaching, and why I'm still in the somewhat more lucrative employment of the Manx National Health Service.

Friday, 28 March 2008

Kayaking Isle of Man - Storm Gathering.

25th to the 27th October 2008 at Angelsey Outdoors. Download a booking form here.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Kayaking Isle of Man - 3 piece Update!

I've been asked quite often recently "where is my new carbon 3 piece kayak from Rockpool?" I wondered that myself and so I gave Mike Webb of Rockpool Kayaks a call this morning. Mike answered the phone and quickly said that he'd been attempting to build an all carbon 3 piece Alaw Bach for me but was having real problems. He sounded exasperated and I felt slightly guilty for ever asking him in the first place. He does have a business to run after all without people like me asking for work intensive, one off non standard boats - my words not his. He was fine. I think he was just fed up that he hadn't succeeded. He said that he just could not get the carbon to wrap around the fittings. I don't completely understand all that myself but when a fibre glass craftsman like Webby tells me it can't be done then I believe him. Instead we've compromised. It's going to be part carbon and part fibre glass. He'll start it Friday and I hope to have it in 3 weeks time. I've begged for some construction photographs in the mean time, and if I get them I'll post them. He did finish up by saying he's never going to build another one so don't even think about phoning up and asking for one!

Kayaking Isle of Man - Links.

The recent storms we have suffered on the Isle of man remind me of some of the kayaking politics we have here. These too can be described as "stormy" on occasion. I was also reminded of this by an email I received from some one I regularly kayak with. She told me that she was planning to set up her own kayaking web site based on the Island. As well as some discussion around format, content and logos, she was concerned that I should not be upset by the new "rival" site. We should not fall out over it and good communication and cooperation were essential with this new venture.
Initially I was a bit confused by this. Why should I be concerned by the arrival of a new kayaking web site? I welcome it. I've seen networks of blogs and web sites working together produce entertaining, informative and highly placed (in terms of search engines) web publications. After several emails it dawned on me what she was referring too. My own web site eventually led to me falling out with a kayaking coach here on the Isle of Man. In fact, many months on, it is clear to me that he is still very upset by the whole series of events. However, if you take the time to look at the situation logically, it is easy to see that everyone wins from this. The more kayaking web sites on the Isle of Man the better. The worste thing that could happen to your site is that the new site rises up Google e.g. when you enter kayaking and Isle of Man, and pushes you down the search engines a notch. But if you link with the new site, each becomes much more powerful. Try putting just "kayaking" into Google and there are no Manx entries anywhere near the top of the list of 16 million sites! If we could learn to cooperate in this way then we would all benefit. There are only about 4 kayaking websites on the Isle of Man, and only two of them will link!!! I find this bazaar and self destructive.

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Kayaking Isle of Man - Good Coaching.

I was walking high up on Bradda Head on the Isle of Man today. Looking down from the steep cliffs into Port Erin Bay, I watched a master class in good kayak coaching and group control. Two coaches escorted three novices along the north side of the bay. Steep cliffs provided shelter from the force 6 northerly winds. At the end of the bay and in a sheltered spot, two novices were left with one coach whilst the third student was escorted individually by the most experienced guide into rough water. One swim was swiftly resolved with a rescue and a contact tow back to shelter. The group then proceeded back to the harbour with sizable surf pushing them back to shore. The lead coach escorted closely the weakest paddler, whilst the slowest paddler was escorted side by side by another coach at the rear. The third novice needed no help but was occasionally rounded up by these two pros when he or she (too far away to tell) became over confident and strayed from the group in the surf and swell. The group control was superb and the identification of which novice needed what cover was exemplary. I had a panoramic view of the whole master class. I only hope that my former coach passed on these same skills to me which he demonstrated so proficiently in Port Erin today.
No pictures, instead Ian showing a very relaxed surfing style in Peel yesterday.

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Kayaking Isle of Man - Storm2!

......... more storm pictures from Peel on the Isle of Man .........

Friday, 21 March 2008

Kayaking Isle of Man - Storm!

It really was a bit "rough" here in the Isle of Man today. I wasn't able to kayak today but believe it or not others did!

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Kayaking Isle of Man - Around the Calf.

On Saturday the gentle "Girls" paddle attracted 10 out of 13 Paddle Buddies. Sunday's rather more extreme paddle around the Calf of Man attracted two of us. I guess we are all different. To me kayaking is all about playing the waves, using your skills to survive, and yes, a large dose of adrenaline thrown in. But I think these simple statistics demonstrate that this is not every one's cup of tea. I once asked my former kayaking coach why we didn't do more extreme paddling? He said that most people didn't want it. He was even concerned about people on shore observing some of our more reckless activities. I didn't agree with him but he was right.
Either way Jess and I set off from Port Erin, played in the tidal races at the Sound of Man, and then circumnavigated the Calf. It was Jess's first time around the Calf, in conditions which were not easy. Rough seas, flowing tidal races and strong headwinds meant that by the time we returned to Port Erin we were both cold, tired and very hungry.

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Kayaking Isle of Man - "Girls" Paddle

Jess organised a "girls" paddle for today. For some reason this struck a chord with both male and female paddlers alike, as 10 Paddle Buddies pitched up at Niarbyl. Ian, Steve, Robin, James, John, Sarah, Jess, Julie, Emma and another Sarah took over the car park below "Ned's" cottage. With Jess leading we set off into the unforcast force 5 winds. It's a long story, but suffice to say, some of us ended up at Glen Maye, whilst others found themselves in Laxey!?!?!? However these mysterious events managed to unfold one things for sure, Jess organised a great day and got us all in touch with our feminine sides!

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Kayaking Isle of Man - Collisions!

Life is full of collisions, and so it would seem is kayaking. The above crash occurred on Saturday at Gansey Beach. All involved were fine. It's easily done. I collided myself with a surf boarder that day. I was riding a very large wave in a 17.5 ft sea kayak. I though I would miss him easily. At the last moment the pitch of the wave increased. This pushed around the stern of my sea kayak onto a collision course with the surfer. I didn't have time to react. Of course the correct thing to do would be to capsize but there really wasn't time. There's no excuse. He was fine and I apologised. There was no harm done. His reaction was great and he acknowledged my apology. Later on I saw him collide with another surf boarder. Again a good natured exchange followed as apology's were issued. It was great to see sea kayakers, play boaters and surf boarders sharing the beach in such a good natured way.
Thanks to Sarah for the photos.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Kayaking Isle of Man - Contacts.

It's funny who you meet through kayaking. I met two people this week , both of whom it is very easy to like and respect. On Thursday I met Wayne Hickey of Mobex. Mobex are an Isle of Man charity specializing in outdoor activities, including kayaking, for challenging kids. Wayne is an experienced kayaker himself holding a BCU level 3 coaching award. He also holds the Isle of Man rights to sell Palm, Dagger and Ainsworth Kayaking gear. He (and Mobex) are linking up with to sell this gear. All profits will be ploughed straight back into Mobex benefiting children and families here in the Isle of Man. Paddle Buddy members qualify for discounts of up to 20%. A formal web page is under construction, but in the mean time if you would like to purchase gear from Wayne his email is and his mobile phone number is +(44)7624 484505.
The second person I met whilst surfing sea kayaks at Gansey Beach was Nigel Dennis. Nigel owns Sea Kayaking UK who build sea kayaks and also run training courses and expeditions. This legend has circumnavigated the UK in a sea kayak. He is known throughout the world, not just for his famous Nigel Dennis Kayaks but also for his coaching skills. He is certainly the best coach I have ever paddled with. I would thoroughly recommend booking one of his courses at Sea Kayaking UK. Most of all with Nigel, as with others who excel, I notice his great humility and unassuming nature. He treats everyone as equals and with great respect and is an excellent example for all kayaking coaches to emulate.

Monday, 3 March 2008

Kayak Isle of Man - Peel Sea Kayak Surfing.

Due to an uncomfortably busy on call (which isn't over yet!!!!) I was unable to join Paddle Buddy members Fliss, Steve, Ian, Jess and Stu on what sounds like a great day of surfing in Peel, Isle of Man, today. Thanks to Noah who took the photos above.