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

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Kayaking Isle of Man - Controversy!

The weather in the Isle of Man has been terrible of late. We've endured force 10 gales, sleet, snow and much rain. Despite all that I've been harvesting genuine Manx oranges, grown and picked in St Johns. OK, they were grown on an orange tree in my bedroom but we should all do our best to promote this lovely Island.
This leads me to an Isle of Man tourist promotional video which has been screened on British television for the last few weeks. The video is one of a series of promotional adverts produced by the Isle of Man Government. This particular one features the well known kayaker Keirron Tastagh of Adventurous Experiences. It shows him kayaking, rock climbing and coasteering in various locations on the Island (view it here). On Border Television's news program Lookaround, the video came in for criticism by a high ranking official from the Isle of Man Coastguard. He felt it promoted the dangerous and sometimes fatal sport of "tomb stoning" whereby young people jump from high cliffs into the sea. This indeed has lead to deaths in the UK. Tomb stoning is indeed a reckless past time and should be condemned. Whist you could criticise Keirron for featuring in such a CONTROVERSIAL video, to be fare it does not feature tomb stoning. Coasteering is one of the sports his business provides and he offers full training, safety equipment including helmets and buoyancy, supervision by trained staff and all activities are fully risk assessed. I feel that the video is excellent, and that the public will be able to distinguish the fully helmeted Keirron coasteering from the reckless youth plunging into the sea wearing swimming trunks alone. I'm no fan of political correctness gone too far!

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Kayaking Isle of Man - 3 piece Rockpool.

At long last my 3 piece Rockpool Alaw Bach is home in the Isle of Man. I would like to thank Mike Web of Rockpool for doing such a fantastic job of fixing the really quite extensive damage to the cockpit.
I know that Mike is working on a new development of the Alaw Bach. Originally developed as a playful rough water sea kayak with expedition capabilities, what would I want to buy next from Rockpool. Of course these are my own thoughts and not what Rockpool are necessarily doing. But I would want a shorter boat as I would not be planning to carry anything other than essential gear. This would make turning easier in rough conditions. Of course too short and speed would be sacrificed making it difficult to catch that wave ride. It must be ultra light and maneuverable and a carbon option is essential.. The current Alaw Bach does require a great deal of edge to turn it and is susceptible to "stern turn" in a following sea. Perhaps the stern angle could be made less steep removing the in built skeg. Of course a retractable skeg could be added for those that want it. Mike Webb helped to design the NDK Romany. Am I describing a hybrid between the Romany and the Alaw Bach. If so, it should not lose the Alaws sharp angulated hull.The squareness of the sides above the chined section combined with the width gives high secondary stability when the ALAW is edged or leaned over. These characteristics are lacking in the Romany. Make the boats primary stability less however, perhaps by altering or raising the centre of gravity. This should make the boat more playful and responsive (although it would alienate the novice paddler). Finally, the current cockpit is great with it's adjustable play boat footrests, seat and hip supports, but if the cockpit could be made more snug then all the better.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Kayaking Isle of Man - FOR SALE!

Romany Sea Kayak for sale. In excellent condition - £995.

Pyranha Sub 7 O for sale. Excellent playboat in good condition and incorporates Pyranha's Syncro 6 system. £400.

Email address can be found here.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Kayaking Isle of Man - Storms Abound!

It has been pretty stormy here on the Isle of Man. Ian, Jess and myself took advantage of the relative calm of the force 6 westerly winds on Saturday to surf and train at Port Erin. It's not easy to steer or turn a 17.5 foot sea kayak in force 6 winds, and so in between surf runs we would rest by practicing skills in the shelter of the small harbour. The video above is of Ian who really is beginning to perfect his role.
On one such run, paddling out beyond the shelter of the bay and past the green buoy which marks the end of a submerged reef, I looked upwards at a building sized wave just beginning to break. A second later all was white, the stern of my kayak was pointing downwards, and my boat hurtled backwards for what seemed like minutes. Mentally I prepared myself for the shock of capsize. I jammed my knees into my cockpit and put tiny low braces on the left and right alternately. All that was left was for the wave to decide on which side to capsize me. In fact I was spared, the white froth subsided and I emerged into the daylight from somewhere near the centre of the wave.
The weekend's kayaking was made all the more enjoyable by the news that my 3 piece Rockpool Alaw Bach is repaired and will be back with me by next week. I truly am grateful to Mike Webb of Rockpool for once again fixing one of my kayaks. I know that this repair was particularly difficult. Speaking to Mike over the last few weeks really has wetted my appetite to try out the new boat he's working on; but more about that later in the week.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Kayaking Isle of Man - Manx Paddle Sports.

Would you go out in this? A few photos from Manx Paddle Sports surfing session at Gansey Beach, Isle of Man, last Friday.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Kayaking Isle of Man - Thank You.

It was pretty big down at the Sound on Sunday. Ian and I paddled from Port St. Mary to the Calf Sound and sampled the front of the tidal races. I hadn't paddled for over 3 weeks. It always surprises me how quickly you can get rusty, particularly in big seas as we had on Sunday.
I spoke to Mike Webb of Rockpool Kayaks on Monday. One of the reasons I hadn't been paddling was that my 3 piece kayak still hasn't been repaired after it suffered damage whilst in transit from Canada back to the Isle of Man. He has started the repair and it should be ready by Monday. He also mentioned that Rockpool are developing a new sea kayak. It's a smaller version of the Alaw Bach and is aimed at tidal race/rough water paddling but with less expedition capability. We discussed one or two novel ways in which the new boat may be altered to make it more "playful" which we don't believe have been tried before.
Finally I'd like to thank Matthew and Jim. Over the last few days or so they have worked hard to publicise , which has certainly increased the site's traffic. Hopefully this will be transformed into increased sales through the "shop" page from which all the proceeds go to benefit local Isle of Man Children's charity Mobex.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Kayaking Isle of Man - Lofoten Reflections.
I have spent most of the last 2 weeks on the Lofoten Islands in Northern Norway. In fact they are so northerly that they are over 100 Km above the Arctic Circle. In my first blog entry posted soon after arriving in Lofoten I wrote "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." My views have not changed. Indeed the photographs published with my recent entries bear this out. But Lofoten is so much more. It is a place of the weather and is moulded by it. These Islands do nothing in half measures. If it's going to rain then it delivers a short lived monsoon. If the wind blows then it's a hurricane causing "steam" to rise hundreds of feet into the air from the sea. If there's to be a mountain then what a mountain; what they lack in height they make up for in bazaar alternating curved and needle like summits dropping shear down into the sea. And of course, if there's to be a tidal race then Lofoten offers us the infamous mighty Moskstraumen, otherwise known as the "Maelstrom". Indeed the word Maelstrom is now used to describe a system of tidal races, vortexes and whirlpools and the ones in Lofoten are amongst the most powerful in the world.
Lofoten is also a place to find yourself. It may get over 280,000 visitors per year but you would hardly know. Life goes on regardless and there is virtually no commercialisation. In fact very few concessions seemed to be made to tourist at all! You can visit Lofoten and put your life into perspective. Simply take in this concentrated dose of natural wonder, beauty and the extremes of geography, nature and climate and those petty problems back home are put into their rightful place. Lofoten is a place which opens your eyes, and puts the individual into context.