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

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Sea Kayaking Isle of Man - Christmas in Gibraltar.

The exodus started a few days before Christmas. Firstly, the personnel I'm in Gibraltar to provide anaesthetic cover for, began returning home to the UK for the Christmas holiday. This left me with no work to do. Then, the gated accommodation in which I am resident gradually became moth balled. The catering staff disappeared over a week ago, then the cleaners and finally all the other inmates vanished. A large complex which seems capable of holding over 100 with function rooms and dining halls, even a gymnasium now only seems to house me. I went for days over Christmas without seeing a sole, apart from the security guys on the gate. Occasionally I would hear footsteps and a squeaking noise from elsewhere in the large building, but I never actually saw anyone. Perhaps it was mice, I really don't know. I'm just so grateful they didn't turn the WiFi off before they abandoned me. Thank you BBC for the iPlayer. I wasn't completely alone however. On Boxing day may room was invaded by ants who polished off the remainder of a box of Thornton's Chocolates for me. Clearly, feeling as abandoned as I did they swarmed into my room in search of some Christmas goodies. It was a nightmare trying to keep them out of my laptop, which they pursued around the room as it sought higher and higher points of safety. Still now that Morrisons is open again I've just exterminated them all with a can of insecticide.
Just a snippet of what Christmas in Gibraltar is like!

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Sea Kayaking Isle of Man - Gibraltar.

I've never practiced medicine outside of the British Isles before. All my previous medical jobs have been for the National Health Service. And so, as I find myself working as a Consultant Anaesthetist in Gibraltar for the next few weeks, my environment must seem unfamiliar! Certainly some aspects do, and in particular the warm sunshine makes a welcome change from the freezing weather being endured back on the Isle of Man. Yet in other ways Gibraltar is very familiar. Being here reminds me of my initial days when I moved to the Isle of Man some five years ago. It's all very strange and yet familiarly British at the same time.
Gibraltar is a British territory with it's own government. Just like the Isle of Man it uses £'s as it's currency and English notes are readily accepted. It is not an island but it feels very much like one, especially to me as I'm not allowed to drive across the airport runway into Spain as I am on call the whole time. Just like home, it is very easy to identify who is from the territory and who is not. Historically, smuggling has been rife just like on the Isle of Man, exploiting it's low taxation regimen. Yes, in many ways this is a home from home.
In other ways it is Gibraltar is very different. It measures 2.6 square miles into which are packed over 25,000 people. The rock dominates, leaving very little flat land and most of that has been reclaimed from the sea. Tiny zig zag tracks lead to the summit which is studded with war time relics, telecommunications devices, gun batteries and of course the famous apes roaming free. This was a fortress and past and present military buildings dominate. But with the reduction of Gibraltar's strategic importance new civilian office buildings dwarf the old ramparts and fortifications. Gibraltar now strives to become a low tax financial centre, just like the Isle of Man.
Paddling is not an option for me on this trip due to work commitments. I should imagine it would be a fascinating place to explore by kayak. Just beware of the hundreds of ships passing through these waters as they enter the Port of Gibraltar and the Port of Cadiz in nearby Spain.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Sea Kayaking Isle of Man - Isle of Man.

I've been away a lot recently. I've paddled on salt and fresh water lochs in and around Fort William, and in the open sea out of Portree on the Isle of Skye (lower 2 photos). These paddles have been great and I would certainly return to Scotland to paddle some more. But now I'm back home in the Isle of Man and I can really appreciate what we have here for sea kayakers. As I paddled alone out of Port Erin and headed north towards Fleshwick Bay, I pondered the stunning scenery, the energy left in the sea after our recent storms and the shear variety of locations and conditions to be enjoyed by the sea kayaker here. Of course, it's not all perfect and certainly the dead pigeon which bounced off my head and onto my spray deck as I emerged on my second role was most unwelcome! But despite that it is so good to be home.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Himalayan Whitewater Championships

This blog entry was written by Christina Dawkins of GRG Adventure Kayaking.

On the 27th-29th November a small village along the Trisuli River was overrun with professional kayakers for the 9th Himalayan Whitewater Championships (or the ‘Rodeo’ as it is locally known). With over 60 Nepali and International competitors, this competition was far from easy and they had to fight hard for a place at the top. Compared with 1992 when there were just 7 competitors, this event has grown and grown. Sponsored by NARA (National Association of Rafting Agents) and Paddle Nepal, these guys made sure the event ran smoothly.

The Rodeo is a great event to give Nepali kayakers who would not normally get the chance to compete at an international standard and show the world what they can really do. This year the world was certainly watching as we saw competitors from America, Canada, South Africa, Japan and even Russia!

The event combines a Slalom, Freestyle and a Down River Race. The Slalom comprised of 15 gates on the ‘Surprise Rapid’, 3 or 4 of which were upstream, making the kayakers cross the main flow of the river, really testing their skills. Next was the freestyle which gave people the chance to show off their playboating skills. Many opted for smaller playboats, but as competitors were only allowed one boat for the whole event it was a difficult choice to make. Points were awarded for loops, cartwheels and other stunts. After two or three heats, it whittled down the competitors to the main players and Santa Maila Gurung, coming third was the only kayaker left in a creek boat, with Santosh Gurung and Anup Gurung who took second and first, were both using playboats. On the final day was the down river race. This was made harder this year as the course was extended to 17 km, a lot of which was flat water. The ‘Le Mans’ start sorted the men out from the boys and many different tactics were used, some even ditched the idea of a sorting out their spray deck as they thought they would lose too much time. After a few kilometres gaps were appearing and the leaders pulled away from the pack. Once the team hit the "Upset Rapid", the largest rapid on the Trisuli, creek boats did much better than the smaller boats and many of the kayakers flipped. It was a close end, with Sean Bozkewycz coming in first. Although most the excitement was for the third position which saw two competitors sprint bare foot across the rocks, dragging their boats behind them to be first to cross the line. Photo finish!

The Rodeo isn’t just about kayaking. It’s a great way to spend a weekend and the parties in the evening sort out who the real kayakers are. This year we had a Hungarian DJ providing us with great tunes to dance the night away Nepali style!

On the final day, awards and prizes were given out to the winners of each event and an overall Champion. Kayak equipment was given to the locals and internationals won tour and adventure packages such as Bungee Jumps and Safari trips. Santa Maila Gurung of GRG’s Adventure Kayaking retained his title of Whitewater Champion for his third year taking home a brand new Jackson Riot to add to his collection. Many of the kayakers made beating Maila their goal this year and came to the river weeks in advance to practice their skills. Unfortunately for them he wiped the board, being the only competitor to come top three in all events and taking the overall win. He was closely followed by brothers Nim Bahadur Magar and Santosh Magar who also got to take home some fine equipment donated by Peak UK.

This year saw another big push for the Nepali Women’s team. Guided by Inka Trollas the girl’s team have got bigger and better. Susmita, who this year has had the opportunity to compete internationally, took the first place for the girls winning her second kayak in two years. Her younger sister, Goma, also did well this year and we hope for more and more girls to get involved in the coming years.

Another great Rodeo, enjoyed by hundreds of people from around the globe. Keep an eye out for next years event. We’re hoping to make it an even better event next yer. Perhaps this could be the start to get Nepali kayakers on the road to the Olympics or more international competitions.

If you would any more information on the Himalayan Whitewater Championship, please feel free to contact