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

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Sea Kayaking Isle of Man - Tide Race.

Just a few images and videos from our trip to the Calf Sound tidal races on Sunday (top: Ian, middle: John, bottom: Jess).

Friday, 15 August 2008

Kayaking Isle of Man - Swim!

It’s hectic at work at the moment with the Manx Grand Prix motorcycle races about to begin. I grabbed the chance to take a quick paddle from Port Erin Beach yesterday. I didn’t have time to arrange company and so I headed out to the choppy waters off Bradda Head alone. I passed the dinghies of 7th Wave weaving back and forth across the bay, and waved at their fleet of sit upon kayaks hugging the shore line. But once around the corner, below Bradda Tower, I was alone in the disturbed and sometimes frantically choppy sea. It was here that my recklessness began. It started with left and right roles, one after the other. A bit of sculling for good measure soon progressed to an attempt at extreme photography. In the interest of providing my readers with an unusual and interesting photograph I inverted myself and attempted to take a photograph of the underside of my now up turned kayak. I guess I’m not as athletic as I thought and my spray deck popped and with the choppy water rebounding off the cliffs, I parted company with my kayak. It was at this point I was grateful for the hours of time I have spent in tidal races practicing wet re-entry. Without this I may have met a watery end on the shear cliffs beneath the old mine workings. But within 30 seconds I was back in the boat, all be it with a cockpit full of water. My recklessness continued as I opted not to re-apply my spray deck and I played with the swell with my slowly submerging kayak. The cockpit now completely filled, every wave had to be braced and played. Any speed I might have achieved was gone as my heavy boat writhed, tipped and tried it’s best to expel me. Eventually, beneath Port Erin Life Boat station, I jumped out, expelled the water and re-entered to paddle home. Well, sometimes you have to make your own fun!

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Sea Kayaking Isle of Man - Bits.

The next few weeks will see a flurry of kayaking activity here on the Isle of Man. On the 16th August 2008 Gordin Warner arrives on the Island in preparation for his circumnavigation of the Isle of Man. The 5 day trip is in aid of a cure for cancer and you can donate here. One day earlier on the 15th August, two kayakers supported by David Grieves in a yacht, will attempt to cross from Whitehaven in Cumbria, to Ramsay on the Isle of Man. The journey has been completed before, but at 53 km across the busy Irish Sea, this represents a formidable open crossing. They hope to arrive approximately 2 hours after low tide at the beach below the lifeboat station in Ramsay. From the 14th to 18th of August is the annual Isle of Man Sea Kayaking Symposium which in the past has attracted some internationally recognised kayaking coaches (photo above 2007 Isle of Man Symposium).
The lower photo above shows some of the damage my 3 piece kayak suffered on its way back from Vancouver to Manchester Airport. As you can see the gelcoat has flaked away from the fibreglass on the lower hull. Unfortunately there is further damage to the gelcoat on the upper deck around the cockpit. It seems to me that some kindly baggage handler has dropped this segment onto its port side from some height. Either way Mike Webb of Rockpool Kayaks is currently making repairs to this segment. He described the task as "difficult". I'm not sure whether the boat will be back in time for my next trip to the Lofoten Islands, Norway, in September. Either way I can always rent a kayak. I particularly like the following quote from Lofoten Kayaks: "Kayaks are available for hire to anyone who can demonstrate an Eskimo roll technique with equipment in the boats". I think that's exactly how things should be!

Monday, 4 August 2008

Sea Kayaking Isle of Man - Familiar Waters.

I didn't plan to paddle out of Port Moar yesterday, but a dark cloud hung over Laxey and I drove on up the coast for a few miles. It was the first outing for my new car with a kayak on board. In particular I've installed two sets of the new Thule 837 Hull-A-Port Pro Kayak Carriers. They are a development of Thule's previous J bars. The main improvements include better padding, a slightly more horizontal lower bar making loading more easy, and of course they now have a hinge allowing the upper bar to be lowered. Having been excluded from may car parks by the height of my previous vehicle with it's J bars, this latter point certainly seems to be an important improvement. My only concern is that being fairly absent minded, I may forget to lower the bars and pull the roof off my car!
All that aside it was a great paddle. There was no sign of the Venture Centre lads whose kayaks and gear I parked next to at Port Moar. I had the sea to myself. There was just enough bounce and wave break off the headlands to provide entertainment on my trip to and from Port Cornaa. The water is different here to Vancouver Island, and this was a comfort as I was paddling alone. The waves were sharper, more widespread and unpredictable and you have to keep one eye over your shoulder. But today at least, they lacked the brutal power and ferocity of those I'd become familiar with off the West Coast of Vancouver Island.