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

Monday, 23 March 2009

Isle of Man Kayaking - Learning to paddle again!

I took my new Mega Jester Trident out today in an attempt to familiarise myself with the new surf boat. After nearly 4 years in sea kayaks, I needed gentle conditions to get the hang of it, and to adjust the foot pads etc. But as I arrived in Port Erin the promenade flag poles were buckling in the force 6 to 7 winds! Simply removing the boat from the roof rack and carrying the ultra light carbon Mega to the sea proved difficult enough. And so it was a harsh christening for me and the new boat!
My first impressions were of how vulnerable I felt in this tiny, feather lite kayak. At the same time the infusion moulded carbon/kevlar structure felt rigid and strong, despite the pounding it received. The low profile means that you are mostly in the water rather than on it, until surfing of course. The lack of buoyancy bulk heads offering storage for safety gear such as flares and VHF means you have fewer options, especially when alone as I was. Emptying the boat, even on the beach, is not straight forward as there is no plugged drainage port. Self rescue might be a problem. However, rolling the Mega wasn't!
The waves weren't massive but the wind was menacing. This thoroughbred boat is so sensitive, twitchy and sharp that I constantly had to brace and paddle to stay upright. Its nothing like a sea kayak, and beach surfing is nothing like tidal race paddling. But after 30 minutes I got the hang of it. Being able to spin in a second to catch that perfect wave was a revelation. Once I abandoned the stern rudder and adopted a front "D" stance with my paddle, just flicking left and right as necessary, I got some amazing runs. However, I was surprised at how easily the bow buried itself on steep waves and I had to lean quite far back to maintain momentum.
I've still allot to learn about the boat and beach surfing. I also need to get a spray deck that fits, and doesn't leak and implode. But I think I've made a sound investment enabling me to paddle in virtually any weather conditions now.

No comments: