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

Friday, 30 May 2008

Sea Kayaking Isle of Man - Gordin Warner

Today's kayakblog entry is by Gordin Warner who explains why he is planning to circumnavigate the Isle of Man later this year.

Cancer is one of those things I never paid much attention to. It was something other people got. Most of my life I have spent chasing dreams similar to most others, marriage, family, a mortgaged home, a new car every few years and a good education for my son. Solid middle class stuff.

Then in late March of this year I noticed something that was out of the ordinary and headed to my Doctor for a check. Turns out I had a tumour growing in my bladder. So it was off to the urologist and surgery to have it removed. This was followed by 10 days waiting for the results of the microscopic examination of the tumour.

During those ten days I spent a lot of time thinking. I went back and clicked on linking me to Kerrion Tastagh and Jeff Norville's web page. A page I had not looked at in months.

These two guys paddled around Vancouver Island in 19 and a half days trying to raise money for breast cancer research. They succeeded in setting a record for the fastest circumnavigation but they have struggled with raising money for cancer research.

I thought about that and I thought about the excellent care and attention I have received. I don't have the skill, or fitness to attempt such a paddle as Jeff and Kerrion undertook. However I now had a very good reason to do my bit in the fight against cancer. I have benefited from the efforts of others and experienced cancer first hand. It is now time for me to step up.

Months ago I committed myself to a renovation project in Wales where there is a 300 hundred year old shepherds cottage needing the care and attention of this Canadian lad. There's also Holyhead, the North and South Stacks and Penrhyn Mawr three famous tidal races in the Irish Sea to paddle. I'd paddle them last year and was looking forward to them again.

Then it struck me. Kerrion Tastagh, is from the Isle of Man, up there at the top of the Irish Sea. He travelled half way around the world to circumnavigate Vancouver Island in an attempt to raise money for cancer research. I could do the reverse. I would paddle around the Isle of Man and raise money for cancer research. OK it's not the same calibre of paddle, but I'm not the same calibre of kayaker as Kerrion.

At the end of my ten day wait I found out the test was positive. It was a Grade 2 cancer. Not the killing type just the type that can bring about life style changes. Worse case scenario my bladder might have to be removed. I've now had a second operation and am back in another ten day waiting period. Did they get it all, is the cancer gone? In a way it does not matter. I'm moving forward. If it's gone: great. If it's not: my battle continues.

In the mean time I'm raising money to help fight cancer. You can help by following these easy steps.

1.Follow the link
2.Click on the Isle of Man, Irish Sea link at the bottom right which takes you to the Canadian Cancer Society Web page that has been set up for me.
3. On the left side of the page scroll down and click on Sponsor a Participant
4. Type gordin warner into the Enter Participants Name box and click search.
5. In the box below click on gordin warner
6. Enter a donation, click continue and fill in your name and address information so we can send you a receipt.Make a credit card donation you'll get an e mail receipt for tax purposes. Don't forget to add your name to the honour roll.

Every penny raised goes to cancer research. My expenses are mine alone. Thanks for your support.

Monday, 26 May 2008

Sea Kayaking Isle of Man - Ramsay Surfing.

Paddle Buddy/Manx Paddle Sports surfing today in Ramsay.

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Sea Kayaking Isle of Man - Travelling.

Photo: Calf play spot last weekend, by Jessica Egelnick.

A 3 piece kayak is for travelling. Its not quit the fold up kayak promoted by "Dubside" for his "Commando Kayaking", but at 178 cm long, each segment is much more portable than the full 17.5 foot monster! The clip system used by Rockpool and others is strong, but never the less represents a potential point of weakness built into the boat. You would not opt for this, and the higher purchase price, unless you were planning to pack up your boat and fly off to an exotic kayaking location. Physically, the boat is much more portable therefor, but is it logistically possible to undertake intercontinental kayaking expeditions this way? Well, it clearly is as it's been done by others, but these are some of the problems I've encountered trying to arrange my boat's passage from the Isle of Man to Vancouver, Canada.
Firstly, I am booked to fly from the Isle of Man to Manchester Airport, in order to connect with my Vancouver flight. I'll be flying with our largest remaining carrier, as EuroManx have recently gone "bust". My carrier were extremely unhelpful and would not even discuss or entertain the prospect of taking my kayak aboard their plane, however much I was willing to pay. I still haven't completely decided how to overcome this problem. I could drive to Manchester with my kayak using the ferry. I'll be then faced with a ferry and airport parking bill of £300 to £400! A freight company has agreed to take the kayak to their Manchester depot, and then to meet me for my flight with the kayak at Manchester Airport. This is an excellent service and they have been extremely help full and accommodating. The slight problem is that their insurance doesn't cover items likely to break!? Yes that's right it only covers items not likely to get damaged which obviously excludes my fibre glass kayak! This brings me to my other problem. My own travel insurance will only cover the kayak up to a value of £700 against loss or damage in transit. The best policy I can find will cover it up to £1500, still somewhat less than the cost of replacing my probably irreplaceable boat. I guess insurance companies, like low cost airlines do not like kayaks? Well not quite. The true, and so far only stars of this story are Zoom Airlines. They are a low cost Canadian carrier who are taking my kayak, regardless of size, from Manchester to Vancouver for £60! Well done Zoom.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Sea Kayaking Isle of Man - Rockpool 3 Piece Alaw Bach.

Well, after 2 years of waiting and a great deal of persuasion, I finally picked up my new Rockpool Alaw Bach 3 piece kayak last week. I believe this is only the 5th created and will probably be the last. The others are owned by some extremely eminent kayakers including Freya Hoffmeister and Derrick Mayoleth and so I don't know how I got one, but I'm glad I have - it's superb.
First Rockpool build a standard Alaw Bach. They then proceed to saw it into 3 pieces. After that the new bulk heads are moulded and the clips which hold it all together are added. The 3 pieces are aligned by using male to female sea shell moulds as shown below. These allow the pieces to line up precisely and with no twist or slippage. Why sea shells? Well not much else has such a large surface area enabling maximum contact. Each segment is held together by six adjustable clips as below, although just one seems enough. It may well be over engineered but I'd prefer it that way when battling a tidal race!
There is carbon in the cockpit but due to technical difficulties the boat is mainly fibre glass. Having said that there is a minimal weight penalty for having the portability built in.
So how does it handle? Well to my surprise it is different to my standard Alaw Bach. It's more twitchy and playful. I can only assume that the centre of gravity is slightly different. Whatever the reason it is in my opinion the ultimate rough water sea kayak which enables me to travel the World. It's next appearance should be Vancouver Island, Canada, in the Summer.

Many thanks to Mike Webb (Webby) of Rockpool Kayaks for building me such a brilliant kayak.

Monday, 12 May 2008

Sea Kayaking Isle of Man - Penrhyn Mawr.

Photos by Sion Scott
Here in the Isle of Man we have some great tidal races. But they are not as well known as Penrhyn Mawr in North Wales. I picked up my new 3 piece Rockpool Alaw Bach at the weekend and headed straight down there. I've paddled this race a couple of times before, the last time being about 18 months ago. I don't know it well but I regularly paddle races at home. There should be no problem just heading into the flow on my own. There was no problem but it wasn't what I expected. The speed of the flow was phenomenal. I don't think I've experienced such force in any of the tidal races here on the Isle of Man. Unprepared, and perhaps a little too relaxed, in less than 5 minutes I was hanging upside down underwater, staring into a green abyss. It all happened so quickly. My bow turned fractionally sideways onto the flow and in microseconds my new kayak lurched to the side. A high brace landed in a white whirling froth which offered no support. I gathered myself, scarcely able to believe I was submerged and rolled back up. I had to as there was no one near by. I continued playing for another hour, but much more cautiously.
Penrhyn Mawr is different. I don't know it well enough to be blaze about it. One things for sure I'll be going back to rectify the situation.

Monday, 5 May 2008

Kayaking Isle of Man - Calf Missed!

It was a gloriously hot, still and sunny day here in the Isle of Man. The smell of sun cream permeated my dry suite as I set off for today's paddle. We chose the coldest, mistiest corner of the Island as eight of us set off from Port Erin to the Calf of Man. Leaving the sun behind we disappeared into an icy wet sea fog, hugging the craggy coast for fear of losing our way. It is easy to become disoriented in such conditions and all sense of distance is lost. Really quite suddenly, the Calf Sound tidal race appeared in front of me and we bunched up to discuss tactics. We had a very mixed ability group, but decided to crack on using the eddies through the Sound. A ferry glide across the race was required to cross to Kitterland, the small islet shrouded in the middle of the Sound. Wisely, one paddler decided to take his chance to beach and remain behind. One by one Steve and I escorted the remaining kayakers through the fast moving water to the safety of Kitterland. Peeping around the corner, it was impossible to see more than 10 feet ahead and we retreated. You have to be able to see someone to rescue them after all and we are nearly at spring tides! Well it didn't go to plan but no one could say that it was dull!

Saturday, 3 May 2008

Kayaking Isle of Man - Isle of Man Circumnavigation.

Photos above, Tofino, Vancouver Island, B.C.
It's 5:30 am! I often awaken early, but most often when I am on call. You never quite know if and when the phone will ring! This lasts for 72 hours over the weekend. Mostly its calls simply to let you know that a case is going on. Sometimes however, within seconds I can be required to be on the road heading for the hospital with a very sick patient waiting for me. You can imagine it can be difficult to relax. Thinking about kayaking helps and with this in mind I was grateful to receive an email from my favourite part of the World this morning - Vancouver Island, Canada.
I'm headed there myself for a 3 week kayaking holiday later this year. This will be my second trip to this kayaking Mecca. I've been contacted by a chap from Victoria asking for help during his planned circumnavigation of the Isle of Man! He is planning to complete the trip with all proceeds from sponsorship going to charity. This emulates Keirron Tastaugh's and Jeff Norville's record breaking trip around Vancouver Island last year. I think a couple of non-Canadians holding this record my have ruffled some feathers over there! This trip however, will be much more leisurely. I've offered the loan of a kayak and to show the way. There's much to sort out and I'll keep you posted. ......... oh damn..... is that the phone?