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

Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Kayaking Isle of Man - Solo Paddle.

This Kayakblog entry is by Steve Watt of Manx Paddle Sports.

First there was a solo paddler coming to grief off Douglas Head, then John had a swim off Bradda Head, then someone ended up in the water off Kirk Michael and today I had a very near miss going around the Calf on my own. If we must paddle alone it is important to learn from everyone else's mistakes. So here goes.
I set off from the ladder by the cafe at noon and headed across the Sound to make a clockwise circuit of the Calf. Three degrees Celsius, a fresh easterly wind, visibility of about four miles and white horses down the left side of the Calf, but I'd said on facebook I was going to race around the Calf and male ego is a terrible thing ! The sea got progressively rougher with strong reflections off the cliffs and it was survival paddling all the way to the Drinking Dragon. Several times I had waves breaking right over the kayak and I had to make far too many high recovery strokes. I was tense, paddling like a novice and extremely worried about everything. I was wearing tights, sweatshirt and light spray-top, didn't have a paddle leash and my flares were in the boat. My new paddle float was in the garage with my towline and pump. I was soon extremely gripped and way out of my comfort zone expecting a swim at any moment and worrying that I would lose the boat in the chaotic sea. There was no turning back as I was on the spring tide, definitely on a one way trip. I managed to surf through the Dragon's gap which is surprisingly narrow at high water into the calm water beyond where I was sick! Got away with it then, but only just. I blasted around the rest of the Calf, just made it round the top of Kitterland against the increasing flow and made it back to the ladder in 54 minutes 40 seconds, a new p.b.But no, I'm not that happy about it, just really concerned that things could have turned out very differently. Next time, if there is a next time in winter I will try to do all of the following. Dress properly for a swim, attach myself to the kayak with a towline, use a paddle leash even though I had a spare, take a pump, have flares in my buoyancy aid and give Julie a precise plan to follow in case I wasn't back after 90 minutes.Have fun in all aspects of your paddling but remember that if you go alone there is a far greater risk and you need to have prepared yourself thoroughly.

Monday, 29 December 2008

Sea Kayaking Isle of Man - Surfing Ramsay.

The waves were half the size they should have been! The wind had shifted through 30 degrees and no longer opposed the receding tide. Still, most of us had driven the full 12 miles from Peel to Ramsay. As a proportion of the Manx national geography that's like driving from Los Angeles to New York and so retreating home without a paddle was unthinkable! Gerry, Steve, Stu, Ian, a young girl and myself took to the icy water for a fairly sedate surfing session. Having said that we all managed a few runs and I even rolled as I leaned off a breaking wave trying to squeeze a few extra yards out of it. You can view Steve's account of the session in video format here.

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Sea Kayaking Isle of Man - Cold.

I never like it when I have to defrost my car prior to a kayaking trip! Normally here on the Isle of Man we are protected from such discomforts by the Gulf Stream. Jess, Jo and myself set off from Port Erin to the tidal races at the Sound of Man. Regular readers will know that this is what we do nearly every weekend. But then it's usually a thrilling place to surf. Today spring tides were flattened by the easterly wind. Had the winds been our more usual prevailing westerlies, then they would have lifted the standing waves and hours of surfing fun would have followed. Still, it was worth withstanding the finger numbing cold to catch up with Jo on his brief return to the Island. Tomorrow we should have guaranteed surf at Ramsay at 13:30 - coffee and mince pies available.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Kayaking Isle of Man - Xmas Slalom Results.

A very pleasant day was had by all. Thanks to John Speakman for the refreshments and to Jim MacGregor for helping to set the course up.

26 individual paddlers took part with many doing 2 or 3 (or more for Liam !!) timed runs. It was great to see so many ladies having a go and beating so many of the blokes. We had the Inter Schools Team event and various mens and ladies teams

QE2 won in 2.10, SNHS 2.27, RGS 3.25 and CRHS 4.57
Ryan/Steve/James in 2.12 (beaten by QE2 mmm !!!!) and Karen/Vicki/Hazel in 3.07

LADIES Karen 1.55 just beating her sister Hazel in 1.57, Emma 2.02, Graihagh 2.34 and Vicki 2.59

GIRLS Jez 2.02, Jasmine 2.20, Rebecca 3.11, Vicky 3.25

MEN Steve 1.26, Ryan 1.32, James Sp 1.35, Jim 1.41, James B 1.48, Gerry ? John ?

BOYS Nick 1.33, Dave ramsey 1.47, Liam 1.49, Dave watt 1.49, Patrick 1.54, Alex 1.56, Richard 2.06, Jack 2.09, Finlo 2.15, Chris 2.17, John 3.08.

It was obvious to the spectators and timers that the standard has risen tremendously over the years with the under 18s in particular have fantastic skills and confidence in attacking the course. As a club we need to encourage these young paddlers as much as possible and if anyone has any ideas as to future events please get in touch.

Sunday 4th January, 10am ish from the Patrick Road...Mass Paddle Down the Neb, everyone is invited. Ring if you need any gear.

Friday, 19 December 2008

Kayaking Isle of Man - Manx Paddlesports Xmas Slalom.

Manx Paddle Sports are holding their Christmas Slalom this Sunday on the river Neb near Peel. At Glen Faba Bridge between Peel and Patrick. Everyone is welcome to come along and have a go. We are setting up the course from 9am and there will be practices from 10am and timed runs from 11am.
The best part is where you get yourself into a 3 person team and try to beat the school teams.
Soup and baps, tea, coffee and mice pies are provided for paddlers, timers and supporters.
It is a fun event for adults but quite serious for the kids so please come along and show your support.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Sea Kayaking Isle of Man - More "Gnarly" Photos!

A few more photographs from last weekend spent in the Isle of Man tidal races. Taking these pictures is not easy. Fortunately this particular tidal race is quite narrow and the photographer can shelter in side eddys. It's impossible to handle a camera in the flow of the race. Even so, on several occasions I was sucked in and left with the little Olympus compact camera flailing on its cord around my neck as I battled to stay upright.
The photographs were taken from some distance. There's no point using the digital zoom incorporated on the camera. Instead each picture is heavily cropped, some to about a tenth of their original size squeezing every possible useful pixel out of each image. They are then tuned, and pixels actually subtracted to sharpen these highly magnified images. They end up with the slightly surreal, painted texture you can see above.
Acknowledgement to my fellow photographer Jessica who snapped the shots of me.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Sea Kayaking Isle of Man - Gnarly.

It was a memorable weekend in the Calf Sound Tidal Races for myself, Ian and Jess. Saturday saw spring tides with little wind making the race playful. It lured us into taking ever greater risks and we all rolled in anger. Sunday was much more gnarly. Shark fin waves appeared and disappeared at will. None ran parallel and they seemed to conspire together to trap us. The video below gives you some idea. Watch how violently my boat is pushed sideways as I'm hit by a breaking wave near the end of the clip! (You can view a magnified version of this video here.)

Monday, 8 December 2008

Kayaking Isle of Man - Olympus.

The weekend was devoid of photographs, not kayaking. Ian, Jess and I paddled from Port Erin to circumnavigate the Calf of Man via the infamous Chicken Rock Lighthouse. The lack of photographs was a result of another camera death last week. So far this year I have drowned a Pentax Optio waterproof camera, a Pentax K1OD (my fault, it never pretended to be waterproof), and a Sanyo Xacti waterproof video camera. Do these cameras have an inevitable and built in limited lifespan? Maybe I just expose them week in, week out to an overly extreme Irish Sea? My latest hopes lie with the Olympus 1030 SW. It certainly looks the part with it's thick metal casing, sturdy screw fixings and automatic metal lens protector. Olympus claim that it is waterproof down to 10 metres and that should be enough even for my most extreme paddling maneuvers. It can withstand a drop from 2 metres and I suspect I'll be testing that out soon. Finally it can tolerate being sat upon by even the most sturdy of your friends, with 100 kgs worth of crush resistance! So why put my faith in this particular camera? Well I already have an Olympus E3 SLR camera which is one of a very, very few splash proof digital SLR cameras. But more importantly Olympus dominate the invasive medical diagnostics market. They manufacture a variety of flexible, fibre optic medical telescopes which are passed by doctors such as myself, into unmentionable body cavities and fluids. After that they are sterilized in some of the most noxious liquid chemicals known to man! I am hoping that some of the decades of "waterproofing" expertise gained by Olympus Medical Equipment is now being utilised in their latest waterproof cameras.

Friday, 5 December 2008

kayaking Isle of Man - More Recent Photos.

More force 8 surfing and spring tides at the Sound races photographs. (2nd photograph down by Robert Servante)