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

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Kayaking Isle of Man - Surviving Gibraltar.

This blog has been devoid of entries and photographs of late. Part of the reason is that I've "fried" another waterproof camera. That's my fourth in three years. So far I've destroyed three pentax and one olympus marine cameras. Normally I'd go straight out and replace it but not this time. I'm struggling to decide which one to buy. I've come to the conclusion that so called waterproof cameras at best last about one year! Should I buy a cheap camera with poor picture quality or shell out £270 on a top spec Lumix FT2? I still can't decide and until I do photographs on this blog may continue to be snapped on my Blackberry Pearl, like the ones above.
As you can see I was in Gibraltar working for Christmas. Should you find yourself in a similar situation, confined to The Rock which is only a couple of miles square, then here are some truisms:
Be careful who you accuse of being Spanish and never ask why Gibraltar is British.
Do not put food down anywhere unless it is in a hermetically sealed container as the place is infested by ants. Similarly never eat food in the dark although I believe from certain survival programs that ants are quite nutritious.
Electrical goods are sold duty free in Gibraltar, but somehow this makes them more expensive than at home where we have duty!
You are never far from a cannon in Gibraltar.
The best Locum Consultant Anaesthetist job in the World is to be found here but alas, it all comes to an end in March.
The apes, especially the small ones, look cute but in fact they are vicious!
If you are scared of flying never willingly take off or land at Gibraltar airport, especially if there is a nasty cross wind.
That's all,
Happy new year.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Sea Kayaking Isle of Man - Weight.

Paddling in tidal rapids is becoming a sport in its own right. I've been researching tidal race kayaking for a new section in describing well paddled tidal races from around the World. I've looked a little at boat design and its reassuring to find that boat manufacturers are producing sea kayaks designed specifically for this relatively new sport. One well known British manufacturer (not Rockpool) produces a boat which is "heavily rockered, with a flat midsection, the hull gives great manoeuvrability in big water, whilst well defined chines and buoyant ends provide solid stability and control on the wave." Well you can't argue with that and I think that's how I'd want my next sea kayaking "play boat". One slightly less well known North American manufacturer is also producing what it describes as a "British" style boat with a skeg with many of the attributes of the first boat mentioned. One important difference between the two stood out though. The British company is producing a boat which weighs 25 kg. The North American boat weighs in at just 15 kg!
I put this to the UK company as I thought that the 25kg weight mentioned on their web site must be a mistake. It just seems way too heavy to me and they replied "the boat features a heavier duty layup than found on our other boats (the core material is approx. 1mm thicker).We could, of course, have chosen to produce a lightweight boat, but the danger with this is that it will not have suitable stiffness and/or it's failure mode upon an impact will be critical. Our preference is to make the boat extremely rigid, to prevent flex in big conditions, with toughness that will give the boat longevity that light weight will not."
I don't think I can argue with that. Certainly my Rockpool Alaw Bach does flex a bit in the extreme conditions sometimes encountered in our Isle of Man tidal races. On the other hand one of the Rockpools I use is a 3 piece, and it has held together very well. Could this dichotomy of opinion reflect the differences in our tidal races. In North America, especially around Vancouver Island, tidal flows regularly reach double digits and need no weather to whip them up. The races in which the British boat is used are slower flowing, but when whipped up by the frequent gales become gnarly, less predictable and hostile perhaps requiring a firmer layup. At the end of the day I guess it boils down to personal preference. I'm happy with my Rockpool but if I were to consider purchasing a new boat, then I think a trip to Washington State may be in order!
The new tidal race section is still under construction but in the meantime you can read about the Surge Rapids and the Okisollo Waves.