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

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Sea Kayaking Isle of Man - Boat Swinging.

I think my Rockpool Alaw Bach is the ultimate surf boat! Well, so long as you are surfing a tidal race that is. But surfing onto a beach in a force 8 gale with a receding tide; well it's just too long. Try turning 17 ft 20 of fibre glass through 180 degrees to paddle out for your next surf run. It can be done but it's exhausting. So the remit for Saturday was to find a short surf boat which felt to me like my Rockpool, but shorter! I thought this would be a tall order as Stu, Steve, Shane, Emma and Ian brought a variety of boats down to Peel Beach for some "boat swapping". Not so. All the boats were so different. Everyone has a boat which suites them and all the boats were great. But one stood out to me. The minute I took to the water in Steve's Mega Jester Trident I knew this was the one. It rolled, sculled and even edged just like my Rockpool but of course you could spin it on a sixpence. And there was that same seat of the pants feel that I get with my Alaw Bach whereby you can sense every ripple beneath you.
Sunday, Ian and I headed out to the Sound tidal races. The flow was phenomenal and the middle picture above is of Ian inadvertently getting sucked into a tidal race at the "Drinking Dragon". I soon followed, distracted by the process of obtaining the above photograph. Don't be deceived by the small size of the waves, it was not easy to extricate ourselves. We finished up with some advanced tidal race kayaking in a somewhat larger race at Kitterland. It was gnarly, confused and BIG. No photographs as I've drowned yet another waterproof camera (Sanyo Xacti). Does anyone else manage to achieve my levels of camera homicide?

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Kayaking Isle of Man - Sea Kayak in a Bag!

Bagged Rockpool 3 piece Alaw Bach with conventional Alaw Bach behind (above and below).PVC outer layer with nylon inner layer and tough 12mm foam filler (below).Bagged 17 ft 20 sea kayak in the back of a BMW X5 (below).
It was a devastating blow last year when, on my return from Vancouver with my 3 piece Rockpool Alaw Bach, I discovered extensive damage to the boat. It spent several months with Rockpool undergoing repairs. It's now back with me, all be it with a few war wounds. I'd transported the 3 pieces across the Atlantic and the North American land mass blanketed in several layers of bubble wrap. In addition, I'd taped split pieces of pipe lagging foam onto some of the more vulnerable edges. Clearly, these protective measures were inadequate. But there's no point owning such a kayak if you cannot roam the globe with it. There had to be a better way?
I hope this is it. A tough, waterproof PVC foam filled bag manufactured for me by Trifibre. The PVC is sandwiched around 12 mm tough foam. The bag measures 185 cm by 50 cm wide and 60 cm height. It incorporates a tough zip extending around 3 edges. There are handles and a shoulder strap. In addition there is room for cut 5 cm profiled foam pieces to separate the 3 pieces from each other. All kayaking gear, including dry suite, paddles, buoyancy etc. also fits into the one bag distributed inside the 3 kayak pieces. On the top I've had printed in large yellow letters a "fragile" warning. The whole thing can be carried by two people and fits into the back of my BMW X5 with ease. OK, this isn't quite "commando kayaking" as promoted by Dubside. It would be difficult to dispense with the car, but hopefully the bag will offer easier transport around airports, and may resist the disgruntled baggage handler more effectively than the previous arrangement.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Manx Paddle Sports - Force 8 surfing!

Yesterday, Jess and I in sea kayaks braved the Sound tidal races, barely making progress against wind and tide as we attempted to enter the boiling, bubbling cauldron that was the sea on the west side. Today it was the turn of the surfers in a force 8 westerly pounding straight onto Peel Beach. I don't have a surf kayak yet and a sea kayak would have been hard work. Instead I hope these photographs help to capture some of the fun experienced on a cold winter day on the Isle of Man.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Sea Kayaking Isle of Man - Sound Paddle Meet.

All above photos by Robert Servante
I went to the Calf Sound, Isle of Man, twice this weekend. The first time was with Jess. Spring tides against force 5 winds meant that it was survival rather than play in that tidal race. The second time was just perfect. Steve Watt of Manx Paddle Sports organised a tidal race kayak meet where all manner of kayaks turned up. I'm grateful to Robert Servante of the Isle of Man Photographic Society who snapped the above photographs of me.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Kayaking Isle of Man - Surf Kayaks.

I'm looking for a surf kayak. I've been struggling with this for some time. I know what I'm looking for in a sea kayak for surfing tidal races. But to really make the most of the Manx surf smashing onto our beaches in the familiar and continuous force 8 gales, I need a shorter, more maneuverable boat. I've been looking into it and this is what I've come up with so far.
Surf boats have a curve called the "rocker". It can be seen from side on and extends from stern to bow. A low flat "rocker" creates a fast boat, whereas one which is curved like a banana is slower but more manoeuvrable. You need speed to catch a small wave. Hence a flatter rocker will suite the beginner more, making it easy to catch small "beginner" type waves, sacrificing manoeuvrability (which the beginner may not be able to exploit anyway). On the other hand, the seasoned surfer can handle big waves, which the slower curved rockered boat can catch, allowing the expert to exploit the curved boat's greater agility to it's full potential.
The shape of the tail also seems to be relevant. If you are starting out then it's best to pick a tail shape that suites all conditions. The squash tail is more pivotal with less drag than other tails, ending abruptly. It offers great manoeuvrability in all wave types. Other tails seem to be ideal for particular wave formats and are best left to the experts.
The rails are the carved edges that you dig in whilst carving a wave. My Rockpool sea kayak has very sharp square rails which makes it excellent at carving up tidal race waves. Rails can be low, mid or high. Not surprisingly the mid sized option is the all round solution, the high rails are for beginners, and the low rails are for experts allowing rapid, precise turning in the wave box.
Fins keep you surfing straight, a bit like the skeg on a sea kayak. The bigger they are the more stable that forward drive, preventing side slip. But turning can become difficult. Beginners should choose flexible fins which aid turning. The more rigid they are the more difficult turns can be, although in expert hands they make turns more snappy. Likewise, the longer the fin the better they work, that is, until you try turning which will be more difficult the greater the fin length. Fin positioning is a science in itself. Needless to say you could opt for a finless kayak as I think I will. (I hate skegs anyway).
Various hull shapes are available including vee, concave and convex. Flat bottomed hulls give a smooth ride and high speed in all conditions and are a good all round option.
So in summary, I need a flat bottomed, flat rockered, squash tailed, mid railed, finless surf kayak!!!! Well I think so anyway.

Friday, 7 November 2008

Kayaking Isle of Man - Manx Paddle Sports.

Manx Paddle Sports - Events Diary:

This Sunday 9th November on the Mooragh Lake from 11am to 2 pm.

Surf contest Sunday 16th November.

Christmas River Neb Slalom Sunday 21st. December.

Mass Paddle down the River Neb from St. Johns to Peel (28 boats last year) date to be decided over Christmas.

Surfing every weekend....... Check our new web page for further details on

To join Manx Paddle Sports for the next 12 months (November to November) please send £10 per adult, £15 per family and £5 for pupils. For this membership fee you get third party insurance on club meets, representation for canoeing through the British Canoe Union and a good discount at many canoe shops in the North West.


Saturday, 1 November 2008

Sea Kayaking Isle of Man

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.