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

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Isle of Man Kayaking - Cod.
This blog may temporarily have to be renamed Lofotenblog. There has been no kayaking so far for me to write about. Places to hire kayaks in Lofoten are few and far between. The weather has been so poor that no commercial paddling enterprise would be prepared to rent me a boat. And I don't blame them as they have their own reputations and commercial well being at stake. Having said that, there has been one day out of the last 7 that I would not have paddled had I had my own kayak with me. This is the reason I had my 3 piece Rockpool built for me and I won't be going abroad again without it.
Lofoten has much to offer however, apart from spectacular paddling opportunities. Every where you go here the cod racks as shown above can be found. During January to April, millions of cod are caught, gutted and then hung on these racks to create a naturally freeze dried stockfish. The islands earn millions from these exports each year, most of which go to Italy and Spain. The ones above were photographed a few days ago in Ramsberg where they seem to have gained a head start. The photographs cannot relay to you the stink though!

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Kayaking Isle of Man - Climate.

I've lived on various islands for the last 6 years. I've grown accustomed to “island weather”. The sort of weather whereby all four seasons can be experienced in the same day. Lofoten however, takes this to a new level. Once you've plucked up the courage to peer out through the window to assess the current climactic conditions, it is not at all unusual to observe sunlight; and it's no ordinary light. It's unique abilities to make even the most dull of colour tones vibrant is unique to landscapes close to the Earth's poles. It tempts and lures you to venture out of your Rorbu (fisherman's cabin). Once outside and just far enough away Lofoten springs its trap. In nanoseconds nature's “power shower” is turned on and even the most high tech of outdoor clothing is penetrated. It is like being thrown into the sea without a dry suite – the effect is the same! You return to your cabin (ours is called “Hilma”) and apply a dry set of clothing. The sun reappears and the game starts over.Don't get me wrong, I am in fact not complaining. This climate is Lofoten and it's all the better for it. The dark menacing sky compliments the mountains and the rough seas crashing against the jagged coastline complete the picture. I love it here.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Kayaking Isle of Man - Lofoten.

It took four separate flights to get Christina and myself to Lofoten in Northern Norway. So far the rain and gales have reminded us of the Isle of Man, but not the landscape. The oddly shaped island mountains which rise straight out of the sea were surely moulded by some strange mythical being. For this is the land of Giants and Trolls, humans cling to the margins resisting the elements. Their formations are pretty houses and Rorbu (fisherman's cottages) sculptured sympathetically so as not to offend the Viking Gods!
There's been no kayaking so far. This is because I don't have a kayak! Nor is there any sign of where one might get one. I'm working on the problem and it would be tragic not to paddle here. It looks forbidding but irresistible at the same time. Tidal races abound as the sea surges through the narrow gaps between the multiple islands which make up Lofoten. I can see them from the shore and they are not small. Add to that the Atlantic swell and the inclement weather and solo kayaking seems fool hardy. But it has to be done.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Kayaking Isle of Man - Isle of Man Kayaking.

With paddles from Peel and Port Erin with Ian and Fiona, I was determined to pack in as much kayaking as possible this weekend. Next week I'm off to above the Arctic Circle - paddling of course. More about that when I get there, internet allowing. In the mean time I get many emails from visitors or new comers to the Isle of Man asking what is available here for paddlers, and so I thought I'd write a short blog to refer them to.
The Isle of Man with its 100 miles of stunning, scenic coastline, crammed with marine wildlife, is a sea kayaker's dream. Whether you wish to take trips, play in ferocious tidal races or surf onto safe sandy beaches, you will find it all here. If you are a river kayaker then I'm afraid it's a different story. There are rivers, which with torrential rainfall, can become a challenging grade 5, but for the most part these remain neglected by paddlers in favour of the sea. There is a reservoir at West Baldwin where paddling takes place, but you require a licence from the Isle of Man Government. To my knowledge only one such licence has been granted.
There are a number of clubs and commercial operations on the Island which can help you get started. Paddle Buddy is an email group which puts kayakers in touch with each other. You would need your own gear, transport and to have reached a good standard of kayaking. Manx Paddle Sports also organise paddling events and can provide some coaching and equipment. There are two commercial operations, the Venture Centre of Maughold, and Adventurous Experiences of Peel, both of which can provide coaching and equipment. Finally, if you want to rent a sit upon kayak then this can be done at 7th Wave of Port Erin.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Kayaking Isle of Man - Ice Cream!

Lower 3 photos by Jessica Egelnick (
Jess and I paddled from Port Erin to the Calf Sound tidal races yesterday. As you can see from the photos above there was quite a bit of flow. The absence of wind did not seem to matter as the sea hurtled through the gap between the Isle of Man and Kitterland. I’ve noticed before that when this race runs to the North West it is much more gnarly and turbulent. It fools you into surfing a clean, steep, standing wave, which, once you have committed, spikes and breaks on you. Support for bracing is offered and then snatched away and several times it was only quick reactions which stopped me capsizing. It was great fun and after about 2 hours Jess and I were exhausted as we paddled back to Port Erin for ice cream.
A sizable crowd had been watching us perform. We thought that they’d be impressed by our rough water skills. Three elderly women who had been in the crowd approached us at Port Erin. They thought that we’d spent two hours trying to cross the race but that we’d had to give up due to the speed of the tide. When I explained that we were in fact in the race for fun, the blood seamed to drain from their faces, and they appeared uncomfortable and walked away! Still, I guess when I’m 80 and use a walking stick I won’t be up for extreme paddling either.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Sea Kayaking Isle of Man - Sailing and Kayaking.

Covering for an absent colleague leaves me facing another work filled week. With this in mind I made the most of the weekend mixing kayaking and sailing. On Saturday, along with Sion, Christian and Christina we opted for a day of sailing with 7th Wave of Port Erin. Jenny Kneale offers a variety of RYA sailing courses, but we were there just to see if we could stay upright. As you can see we didn't always achieve this as all four of us rolled our dinghies and ended up swimming. Jenny is a superb coach. The comprehensive on shore briefing was followed by unobtrusive but poignant single sentence tips which always produced results.
On Sunday it was meant to be a kayaking reunion for myself, Joe Leach and Michael Butler at the Calf Sound Tidal Races. Butler, however, was "incapacitated", and so it was left to Joe and myself to put on a show. We caught the end of the flow and put our kayaks through their paces, with roles, re-entry and roles and some kayak acrobatics. However, it was the local seals who stole the show as 10 or more pursued us on the far side of Kitterland as shown in the video below.