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

Sunday, 31 May 2009

Isle of Man Kayaking - The Perfect Race.

To be honest, some of our recent missions to the Sound of Man in search of excitement have proved a little dull. It can be massive in the tidal races there, but it hasn't been. When it is it's great! But when its massive its usually gnarly. It lacks the glassy, smooth, consistent waves we crave. And so it was off to the far side of the Calf of Man to check out a new tidal race at the Stack.
I've seen this race many times but steered well clear. It's often ferocious, with all but the very front most waves "hay stacking". If you succumb to the turmoil and fail to role, this race continues for miles. In fact it sweeps around, past the whirlpool ridden Chicken rock and beyond. A difficult rescue would be required and a very long paddle back to safety.
Despite all that, we have noticed that if you arrive right on low tide (Port Erin time) and at neaps, this race may be the Isle of Man's answer to Penrhyn Mawr. We have more checking out to do, but Ian, Jess and myself enjoyed very surfable smooth glassy waves, only spoiled by a gusty force 5 blowing in the wrong direction. Without the wind this could be the perfect race. We also wonder what it would be like at Spring tides? We'll be back soon to answer these questions.

Friday, 29 May 2009

Isle of Man Kayaking - New.

At last the latest version of is up. It's a work in progress with still quite allot of content to add in. The new layout was necessary to allow this to happen, as well as a need to rewrite it in php.
Of note, as well as the kayaking outlet directory, to which commercial operaters can add their outlet details and a link, there is a new paddling gear directory. There are over 160 currently available kayaking products from 7 major manufacturers listed. The directory includes a usual price, details, a photograph and the opportunity to read or write an independent review of any listed piece of gear. The idea is to have it all in one place and most importantly, any reviews will be left by paddlers and not producers. There is also an accompanying "buyers guide" written by Jessica Egelnick for the 5 product categories listed.
Of interest to Manx readers or visitors to the Isle of Man, there is a new surf kayaking guide by Steve Watt listing the best surf spots on the Isle of Man, and tidal race information and guide by John Scott.
There is also a new "best of the blogs" page with my choice of the best kayaking blogs which will be regularly updated, and a live feed generated kayaking news feature listing the latest paddling stories from around the World.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Isle of Man Kayaking - Basking Shark.

Spring tides last Sunday promised some exciting paddling down at the Calf Sound tidal races. This did not materialize as fast flows were not converted to surfable standing waves by that essential, but absent bit of wind. Instead, Jess retired early through boredom, and Ian decided to go fishing. On the way back to Port Erin we encountered one of the biggest fish in the World. This lone basking shark kept us entertained for a while before we returned to Port Erin for ice cream. We may have outgrown this race and plan to explore an all together more lethal alternative this weekend. Perhaps we need to raise our weather threshold or maybe some combination of the two is required.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Isle of Man Kayaking - Mass Paddle.

After my recent solo paddle, Saturday's outing was at the other extreme. Steve Watt of Manx Paddle Sports organised a "mass" paddle from Port Soderick to Gansey Beach, with 17 kayakers. It was great to see so many people and so many different kayaks on display. It has to be said that at times the conditions were advanced, particularly around the headlands. However, Steve has obviously coached them well as apart from a few tows due to strong winds, there were not many problems.
Still, back to familiar territory for me as I'm off to the tidal races at the Sound. We have Spring tides and so the races should be running well.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Isle of Man Kayaking - Solitude.

I paddled alone for the first time in a long while yesterday. I enjoy paddling with my usual paddling partners, but there is something special about the solitude you can experience under inaccessible cliffs, like those between Port Erin and Fleshwick. People in the UK and beyond may feel that the Isle of Man is remote. But compared to Orkney and the Western Isles, both of which I know well, this is a busy little place. Like the photo above, the lack of any visible or audible evidence of humanity can make you look at things from a different angle. Or maybe it is all the free time I have now and being in control of when and if I work. Certainly being back in control of my life has made me allot happier. Unfortunately, further stories emanating from my former work place greatly sadden me.
Tomorrow, there is a mass paddle from Groudle to Peel. This marathon commences at 11 am, and there is overnight camping at Gansey - should be fun.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Isle of Man Kayaking - Surfing Gansey.

(Photos by Ian Smith)
On Saturday I went kayak surfing at Gansey Beach, Isle of Man. I spent most of the time swimming, and these are my excuses:

1. I have a new surf boat which I'm not used to.
2. My sea kayak spray deck does not fit the Mega surf kayak and kept on leaking and imploding!
3. I was using a sea kayak paddle!
4. I have a new surf boat which I'm not used to.
5. I didn't want to show Steve Watt up.
6. The waves were too big and the wind was too strong for surf kayaking?
7. The water salinity at Gansey Beach on that day wasn't quite right.

There .....

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Isle of Man Kayaking - keeping busy.

Oddly, despite the fact that I have no job, I have been and am I incredibly busy. I quite my job a little over a week ago. It wasn't really planned but I reached a point where I was no longer willing to tolerate what was going on. It wasn't just one thing it was a combination of factors, although there was a "final straw". I reached a point where unemployment seemed preferable to the situation at work. Have I regretted my decision? I can say an emphatic NO, not for 1 second. I would do the same thing again. Don't get me wrong, it hasn't been easy. There have been moments of abject depression and worry, but they have been short lived. I think that's where the keeping busy comes in. I was already coding for a new, larger version of and I've immersed myself in it. I'm not sure that this will ever lead to anything commercially viable, but that's not the point. It keeps me occupied whilst I get things together.
And so, if you are ever in my position, the take home message is KEEP BUSY!
Anyway, I reckon the new is about 2 weeks away.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Isle of Man Kayaking - Down Time.

I guess quiting your job for the reasons I did is of great interest, as the web stats for would testify. The surge was only interrupted by the 24 hour down time which occurred over the weekend. My web hosting company had problems with the server, and now I've been moved to a different, hopefully more reliable facility. It could be that people are tuning in to read about all things kayaking? On the other hand, one or two may be expecting something a little more dramatic!
Since leaving my job the weather has improved, or maybe it just seems that way. It was certainly sunny enough as Jess, Ian and myself headed down to the Sound from Port Erin. The race was small, but very playful. Unfortunately the fun was all to short lived as we were on less than spring tides.
Monday, and it was back to work! Well, believe it or not I am working pretty hard. The difference is that I don't drive to work anymore. Instead I walk downstairs to my office. There is a plan of sorts which I'm not totally sure about. But what I lack in confidence I shall try to make up for with determination.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Isle of Man Kayaking - Joy.

For me, there are only two things that can truly take your mind off the World and it's incumbent problems! One of them is thrashing it out in a big, gnarly tidal race and that's what I'll be doing this weekend.
PS Thanks to the many people who have sent me kind messages through various media with regard to my recent change of circumstances. A BIG THANK YOU!

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Isle of Man Kayaking - Gone!

It's Wednesday the 6th of May 2009. For me this date will stick in my mind for a long time to come. It's one of those days that changes your life. Things will never be the same for me again. Life could get allot better, but it could easily go the other way. In a couple of years I may look back on this day and regret what I have done. On the other hand it could be a chance to start over and enjoy a much happier existence. So what have I done? I've resigned from my job as a Consultant Anaesthetist in the Nobles Hospital, Isle of Man! For the very first time since leaving school 26 years ago I am unemployed.
So why would I throw all that away? I was put in an impossible position at work which I could not resolve. Of course, I could just go and get another anaesthetic job somewhere else. Who knows it may come to that, but I'd like to try my hand at something else. I don't know what yet, but I can put together reasonable web sites, and I can paddle. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Isle of Man Kayaking - Open!

On Sunday Ian and I paddled from Port Moar down to Port Cornaa on the East side of the Isle of Man. To be honest it was fairly flat and it should have been an uneventful trip. At Cornaa I practiced my role as I do on every trip I make. I think everyone should do this but, just one bit of advice ...... make sure you've zipped up your dry suite before you role. I can tell you the Irish Sea is bloody cold at this time of the year!

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Isle of Man Kayaking - Chicken Rock.

Located a mile and a half off the southern most tip of the Calf of Man lies Chicken Rock, with it's formidable lighthouse. This is the most southerly land mass administered by the Manx Government. There's a light house there because the rock is treacherous to shipping. It's also pretty treacherous to kayakers. Exposed to the prevailing westerly and south westerly winds, the rock has vast, endless and constant tidal races sweeping around it. These often meet with eddy currents creating turbulent, boiling, whirlpool infested waters! This seemed the ideal spot for Ian and I to practice our rough water landings, roles and self rescues! Well, to be fair it was pretty sedate for chicken rock this day, and the rough water landing was made in a gentle swell. There was even time to climb the 30 feet or so up the iron ladder to the locked lighthouse door to snap some of the photos above.