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

Monday, 30 June 2008

Sea Kayaking Isle of Man - "The Sound"

Kayaking unfortunately was curtailed yesterday by a rather nasty bout of food poisoning; not something you want whilst confined to the small cockpit of a sea kayak. Today, in a some what weakened state, I opted for the calm, still, pond like waters of the Clayoquot Sound. This inland sea lake filled with an archipelago of small, forested islands, is sheltered from the brutal force of the Pacific Ocean. I just wasn't up for another beating like the one I received on Long Beach 2 days ago. Even this blog is running at half strength it would seem!

Saturday, 28 June 2008

Kayaking Isle of Man - Tofino Surf.

Despite a few hitches my Rockpool Alaw Bach made it all the way from the Isle of Man to Vancouver Island unscathed. The hotel we have near Tofino is on one of the best surfing beaches in the area. Huge waves role in uninterrupted from thousands of miles away in the Pacific Ocean. Suddenly their long wave lengths shorten as they hit the shallow beach and we end up with some pretty spectacular surf. This is great for me and the copious surf boarders; other kayakers seem to opt for the calmer waters of the nearby Clayoquot Sound. I can understand this as trying to paddle out through these 2 metre dumpers is like being slapped in the face by a couple of wet mackerel! Once out there though the surf is amazing, far cleaner, more consistent and reliable than what I've come across at home on the Isle of Man. Still, tomorrow I'm off to the "Sound" to do a little exploring myself.

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Kayaking Isle of Man - Messin' .

Well it's the first day of Summer and the longest day of the year. Here on the Isle of Man this milestone was heralded by gray, damp windy weather with force 6 winds and gale force 8 predicted. Sion and myself did not let that put us off as we headed down to Peel to make the most of a lull in the wind, with a mere force 5 to contend with. We finished up with some messin' around and the inevitable splash as I made my 5th unsuccessful attempt to stand upright in my Kayak. Next time I hit the water I'll be on Vancouver Island, B.C., Canada where it's 19 degrees, sunny and with no wind!

Friday, 20 June 2008

Kayaking Isle of Man - The Truth?

Ok, I guess I should come clean about last weekend's paddle. Although Butler is an awesome paddler, who is reputed to be able to do 46 different types of role, it had been nearly a year since he'd paddled. We didn't time our return crossing from the Calf to the Isle of Man well. The tide picked up to a steady 2 knots, the wind increased to force 2 and yes I had to tow Mike across. Before you rush to laugh and condemn him, bare in mind that the Sound can be dangerous, it's reputation for ferocious currents is legendary, and Mike was a little rusty. We planned to keep this quiet but this is a small Island and word spread quickly. Mike will be out again this Saturday practicing.
(I guess this is the sort of blog entry that can get you into trouble with your friends?)

Monday, 16 June 2008

Kayaking Isle of Man - Old times.

It was like old times on Sunday as Michael Butler and myself headed off from Port St Mary to the Calf Sound. It's been nearly a year since our last expedition to the Calf, when we were almost certainly accompanied by Joe Leech. Butler has been pretty dormant since then when it comes to sea kayaking as has Joe, who is now across in the UK. I can understand the reasons why this may have happened and I'm glad that the old enthusiasm has been re-awakened, as Butler gave me a lesson in hand rolling in front of the crowds at the Calf Cafe. With free coaching available from Mike through Paddle Buddy I for one will be making the most of this opportunity to advance my skills.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Kayaking Isle of Man - Intercontinental Kayak.

A 3 piece kayak such as the Rockpool Alaw Bach really is aimed at those of us wishing to take our kayaks aboard planes for overseas exotic paddling. But is it of any use as a day to day kayak, which you can pack into the back of your car and paddle locally? Would you leave it in your car ready for that unscheduled paddle, and is it of use to those who may struggle to lift a boat to and from a roof rack? Well I decided to find out.
I dismantled the Rockpool and stuffed it into the back of my short wheel base Isuzu Trooper. Taking it apart on your own is not difficult but you do have to manipulate the boat extensively to undue the twelve clips holding it together. 4 of these are located on the underside of the hull and so the boat must be turned on its side. I managed this on my own, and I even prevented the segments from crashing to the floor but I wouldn't say that this is an easy task. To be honest, if you think that this may be easier than lifting the entire boat onto a roof rack, using a step ladder in my case, then think again.
You can see from the photos above that I did manage to stuff the three segments into my car. This was not easy however, and by the time I had slid the passenger seat forward, there was no space left for much else, let alone another person. Mercifully I will be taking delivery of a larger vehicle soon, but this is a big boat, and even in three pieces each segment is about 1.75 metres in length!
I had a great paddle and put the boat through it's paces off Peel. It is much more twitchy than my standard Alaw Bach. It wants to tip over and challenges you to play every wave or suffer the consequences. But after a short while this changes from being a problem to a positive feature as this playful rough water kayak becomes a joy. It can be hard work but if you put the effort in it rewards you with brisk, precise manoeuvrability and can surf even the smallest waves.
To get home I was tempted just to place the kayak on the roof rack in the usual way but there was a lamp post in the way and so I dismantled it and stuffed it back into the car. Its portability is not a convenience locally. This boat is a truly intercontinental kayak, or for long car trips where driving may be easier without a 17 foot kayak on the roof. It's a joy to paddle however, and reminded me a bit of the new Tide Race Xcite which is an evolution of the Rockpool Alaw Bach!

Friday, 13 June 2008

Sea Kayaking Isle of Man - British Columbia.

Well, in a week or so I'll be back in Canada. For now visits are restricted to Google Earth and reviewing old photographs taken on my previous visit last year. British Columbia really is a special place. I guess it depends on what you want from a holiday, or even a potential emigration spot. Vancouver Island has what I yearn for. Everything is just on such a different scale. The sky is big, it's lower border framed by huge snow capped mountains, carpeted in endless forests. The wildlife is abundant. After a short while you don't even turn your head when a bald eagle sores overhead. I would turn my head if a black bear approached I think. Even more alarming is the fact that a great white shark was caught not far from where I'll be staying (and kayaking) on Vancouver Island! (read more) . Still, I enjoy paddling in advanced conditions and this is just a different slant on it. You can follow my adventures in Canada right here on kayakblog as they happen.

Monday, 9 June 2008

Sea Kayaking Isle of Man - Torpedos!

I've paddled every day for the last three days at Laxey, Peel and Niarbyl. For two of these paddles I was accompanied by Fiona. She's a very good paddler but dropped the sport for a while when the Manx Canoe Club disbanded a few years ago. She has coached in the past and certainly has most of the skills at her finger tips. However, perhaps the thing I find most intriguing about Fiona is her kayak. I think it was once a World War 2 torpedo which has undergone some kind of conversion! It lacks bulk heads, deck lines and the optimal length for speed. And yet she throws it around with precision, her role is balletic and yes, I even struggled to keep up with her at times. We joked about this and so she won't mind my seemingly unkind comments. Either way, Fiona tried out my Rockpool and will be paying the factory a visit in the near future.

Monday, 2 June 2008

Sea Kayaking Isle of Man - Weekend.

Paddles from Port Erin to Port St. Mary and back with Fiona, and a trip from Peel on Saturday with Christina, left Sunday for those jobs that needed doing. One of those tasks was an essential bit of maintenance on my now 2 year old Rockpool Alaw Bach.
The seat in the Rockpool is fibre glass and is suspended in the cockpit by two bolts. The hull is also fibre glass and potentially movement between the seat and the hull during paddling could wear a hole in the bottom. This is compounded by sand which frequently gets into the cockpit from the beach. It is like slowly rubbing the inside of the hull with a piece of sand paper. To overcome this most manufacturers, including Rockpool, place adhesive neoprene padding under the seat to cushion it and prevent it from rubbing on the hull. However, constant moisture eventually allows these pads to break free and the abrasion commences. Luckily with the Alaw Bach the seat can be easily removed and fresh neoprene pads applied. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to remove the seats in kayaks made by other manufacturers. Replacing the padding can be difficult as can keeping this area sand free.