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

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Sea Kayaking Isle of Man - Sea Temperature.

On Saturday as Ian, Jess and myself paddled down to the monstrously savage tidal races at the Calf, the sea temperature was about 7 degrees C. The air temperature was less at about 4.5 degrees C. Water conducts heat about 25 times more rapidly than air and immersion in cold sea water can be rapidly fatal. Survival at 7 degrees C sea temperature is about 1 hour. Of course, wearing the correct immersion clothing can markedly prolong this. Neoprene full immersion suites can prolong the survival time for up to, but not a guaranteed, 24 hours. We all use Kokatat full dry suites with fleece liners underneath. The dry suite itself will provide virtually no insulation and the fleece undergarment is essential. Unfortunately, this is not the end of the story as up to 75% of body heat can be lost through the head alone. Factor in some failed roles and some failed re-entry and roles and without head protection survival time is markedly shortened. There was always a good chance of rolling yesterday and we were wearing neoprene or aquatherm head hoods. This gear is not the same as a full neoprene survival suite, and survival time in these temperatures would be much less than 24 hours.
Of course survival time is not the same as the time the immersed paddler remains fully functional, which can be much shorter. The definition of hypothermia is a core body temperature of 35 degrees C or less. Mild hypothermia is defined as a core temperature of 32 to 35 degrees C, and moderate hypothermia as 28 to 32 degrees C, the latter having a mortality rate of 21%. Hypothermia depresses the function of every organ in the body. Cardiac output is halved at a core body temperature of 28 degrees C, heart conduction defects occur below 33 deg C, and ventricular fibrillation (VF) occurs below 28 degree C. VF means no blood is pumped by your heart to supply your brain and body and you will probably die. All this is preceded by confusion and muscle rigidity preventing further self rescue attempts and ultimately preventing swimming. Breathing is depressed and airway protection declines possibly allowing suffocation by sea water.
So, if you enjoy extreme sea kayaking in the Winter like we do then make sure you have the right gear and don't paddle alone.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Sea Kayaking Isle of Man - Orkney.

We seem to have fallen into a pattern. At spring tides we play the tidal races at the Sound, and at neaps we paddle the 10 mile round trip to Chicken Rock Lighthouse from Port Erin, Isle of Man. It was neap tide on Saturday and so Jess and I made our way beyond the Calf of Man, and on a further mile out to sea to the light at Chicken Rock. We sought shelter from the tide for chocolate but while rafted up the tidal race seemed to grow by the second. Jess and I moved away and in doing so I was sucked into a whirl pool with a white water centre! It had appeared from nowhere. These events caused no real problem but I had been sent this article from Orkney by a colleague who works in my former hospital. I've no idea how this paddler became unstuck but I guess there's a lesson for all of us in how quickly things can change, especially in an area as tidal as Orkney.
Update: you can view a news report of what really happened to the Orkney paddler here.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Sea Kayaking Isle of Man - Just Photos.

A few photographs from today's paddle to the Calf Sound tidal races, Isle of Man. Photos by John Scott, Jessica Egelnick and Ian Smith.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Sea Kayaking Isle of Man - Chicken Rock Tidal Races.

I hadn't paddled for four weeks having been away working in Gibraltar. I think both Ian and myself thought we might be a bit rusty. Still, on Saturday with only the freezing cold temperatures to contend with we didn't feel that the force 4 winds and weak tides would pose much of a challenge. We headed off from Port Erin to circumnavigate the Calf of Man via the infamous Chicken Rock Lighthouse. All seemed reasonably calm at Chicken Rock until as is so often the case there, within seconds a squally, breaking, sizable tidal race appeared from nowhere. North Easterly winds aren't usual for the Isle of Man and I'd never encountered a race running to the North of the rock like this before. Ian and I counted our blessings as we made the most of the tidal race action. If you want to see what some one's face looks like as it dawns on them that they are in for a freezing cold dunking you need look no further than Ian's face in the last photograph. Of course he successfully rolled back up.