Sunday, 31 January 2010

Orkneyrolling Saga

The pool.
The scene of triumph and defeat, achievement and loss.
However tonight I managed to build a more measured and positive approach to off side problems with the help of a very skilled friend.

Watch and learn.

Slowing it down helped.
So did practising sculling, slowly, on the off side,
thinking about arm positioning,
bringing the blade back far enough,
engaging hip flick early enough.

In fact just watching it being done expertly was helpful.
Thank you!

getting set up
(not the same roll! - digital cameras capture randomly timed images!)

I'm sure this saga will continue, indefinitely....

Gusty and gutsy

Too cold for a paddle.

Cake eating companion gets taken to the hill, well away from seal carcasses.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Northern Exposure

We have comparatively warm water for being so far north. About 8C at the moment - bathtub warm compared to the conditions our Canadian counterparts enjoy...

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Unsatisfactory Sunday

As seems to be the way, the more I tried to improve the roll on my wrong side, the more it deteriorated. I tried changing the feather on my paddle, but it continued to dive mysteriously. I got a friend to guide the blade and I rolled up effortlessly, tried again without help and failed. The right side remained reliably unaffected and rescued me on each attempt.

Meanwhile the foot began to complain... and all too soon my time was up!

The video footage is too distressing to show you here, and is being archived with strict access policy for personal evaluation purposes only.

No more promises of video footage from me. So, for your entertainment here is some more from The Hurricane Riders

Monday, 25 January 2010


The surf we avoided on the south and east side was still crashing in epic proportions at Dingieshowe on Sunday.

Dingieshowe is a huge dune on a narrow sandy isthmus which reaches across from the East Mainland to Deerness ('almost an island'). The dunes spearate the two contrasting sides. Tranquil St Peter's Pool,a wide shallow muddy bay, and on the other the open ocean. In the dunes there are the remains of a broch. The name is derived from the old Norse for 'Parliament Mound'.

There is a traditional tale which describes what once may have happened at this place, perhaps inspired by the occasional uncovering of the evidence of a building beneath, by storms over the centuries.

The Fiddler and the Trow is an old Orkney folktale about a fiddler who ventures inside the mound at Dingieshowe to play for the trows. He comes out after a night's celebration to discover that many years have passed....

Copinsay on the horizon.

The ocean crashes in through the winter depositing more than a few unlucky seals and a great deal of ocean trash. After the winter storms plastic debris of varying grades, sizes and colours is incorporated into the dunes for future archaeolgists to wonder at.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

To Halley and beyond

With winds and big swells from the east we decided to go from Halley to Mull Head with a new team member plus eight paddlers on the water.

We set off into the wind, the gentle rolling swell building as we progressed...

Cathy and Antje.

...but soon decided going all the way to Mull head was a trip for another day.
We were pushed back with the wind and the swell, passing lots of little waterfalls that only appear in winter.

To make up for our amended itinerary we  played with the wave between the headland and the rock at Northquoy Point on the way back. A man in a plastic boat showed us how, but though I tried several times, I could not anticipate which wave was going to break and give the biggest lift.

'Its behind you!'

No caves but cool waves.

Rather than just put in we crossed the bay to where the waves were fairly dumping on the shore and an imptomptu masterlass for one began on landing, launching and surfing (ha!). Of course I wanted to join in and duly did so, arriving on foot.
I had leaned too much and rolled right round with the breaking wave filling pogies and boat with sand.

Usually overconcerned about staying in my boat I'd forgotten how much fun it is to come out -  really refreshing! I need to do that more often! I'm going to take a leaf out of Northern Kayaker's log book and throw myself at the fluff now and again.

Smiling but sandy, returning to the briny.

Jackie does his surf stuff.

Halley - Covenanters Memorial - Northquoy Point - Iron Hellia.

Perhaps more of a meander than purposeful journey, but...
'Those who wander may not be lost'. - Unknown

Monday, 18 January 2010

Where have all the comments gone?

Seems like you have to click on the title of Scullin' Sunday and scroll down to read the comments - don't know why!

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Scullin' Sunday

Couldn't make it to the surfin' today but I'm hoping that might be something we do a bit more this year.
At the pool tonight I thought I would think about sculling for support and find out if what I think I do really matches what I do. I have restrained myself from posting a comment in a recent blogging debate about sculling - worried that I might unwittingly be suffering from the Lake Wobegon Effect - I needed photographic evidence.. and here it is ...
So its in a pool boat, I am using a bent shaft and I always look at the paddle blade in the pool - a bit strange as I usually look at the sky in the sea boat in the sea. Left hand acts as a pivot and is held quite still.

.So my shoulders are not flat in the water but my body is floating in the water quite comfortably with the boat balanced. It doesn't seem to make much difference if I scull on the surface, with my head on the water surface or scull up to about a foot under the surface with my head below water, it feels pretty stable.

(video - Northern Kayaker)
Ineresting to see how fast I'm moving the blade - doesn't feel that fast and its possible just to lie there with the paddle quite still, so that is a mystery.

Starting to come up and my elbow opens out.

I'd like to compare this with what I do in a sea boat though - I think it would be different.

There was lots of rolling practice tonight and Northern kayaker was rolling like a fiend.

Next week I plan to video some more to analyse.
Comments welcome!

Friday, 15 January 2010

Canoe polo

After a brief introduction to the rules, the uninitiated joined the ranks of the canoe polo training session.

During fast and furious play...

...some of the new players got stuck in.

Great spectator sport!

Weekend weather outlook

A little too much wind is forecast for practising wind assisted rolling and nipping out from behind the pier at Scapa and catching a wave, but some folks have other paddling pursuits to keep them going, more on that later.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Blue Skies

photo - Johnny

Weather is returning to normal here - wet and windy.
Nice to look back at clear skies.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Magic Paddle

I forgot to take a few things including my camera to the pool last night, luckily right before I jumped in I realised I'd forgotten my deck, stayed dry and went home to get it. While at home I also picked up my 'magic paddle' and arrived back at the pool still without camera.

I acquired the magic paddle from a highly repected fellow paddler, coach and experienced friend who passed on its 'magic' to me. I took it to the pool as a kind of teaching aid. There are rules to its use though, the main one being use it where you won't accidentally strike the bottom of the pool with it.

The magic allows the paddler that extra few degrees of headspace under water to consider what is actually happening in the roll. I find that using the combination of mask, magic paddle and warm water I prefer to be upside down, or somewhere in between. I know this is not 'realistic', but it is enjoyable and it has helped me understand and learn kinaesthetically. It also works in the sea!

It's a wing of course!

Sunday, 10 January 2010

The Snow and the Flame

On Sunday 10th January we set off from St. Margaret's Hope in South Ronaldsay. After a perilous scramble over an icy old pier, I managed, with much help, to assemble all the essentials.
Unfortunately unlike Johnny I was without sunglasses. The clear skies meant, as we headed south west, we were looking into the low sun most of the way out.

Aided by the easterly wind we made light work of going south.

Mary(aka NK) and Johnny.

Johnny and Kristian.
It was all happening down in The Hope. First the lifeboat appeared and raced towards Flotta. A helicopter simultaneously passed overhead.
Johnny watches the lifeboat.
Mary and the Pentalina.

Then the Pentalina raced past with a promising looking wave building up behind her two hulls. Disappointingly however, by the time it did reach us tales of wakes of mythical proportions had been dismissed as nonsense.

We went as far as Hoxa Head, contemplated crossing Widewall bay to the Altar but decided time was against us and turned back for The Hope. We passed the WW2 gun emplacements and the new light before stopping for afternoon tea and toast.

Passing below the WW2 archaeology.

Peter passes the light
The snow and the flame.
A very pleasant afternoon which was dominated at all times by the view of the Flotta flame and the snow covered hills of Hoy.

Blue boat takes a break.

After watching the last rays slip over the horizon we turned and paddled hard into the easterly wind for about 3km - a stiff push back but I was pleased with my fitness. We arrived back in The Hope in darkness, the Pentalina looming over us.

10.01.10 - 14.3km.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Back on the water.

15 weeks to the day since I broke my ankle I managed to get back on the water (of the briny variety) with a bit of help with the lifting and portaging of the boat over the icy slipway to the water's edge.
NK and myself afloat.

After a dramatic couple of hours attempting to reach Stromness which involved two of our vehicles spinning on icy roads and going into verge or ditch (thank you passing farmer in tractor!), we eventually made it on to the water by returning to the put in place closest to home - Scapa. Thankfully no-one was hurt and no vehicles or boats were damaged either.

We left the pier and passed Hemp Stack, the spring tide allowing us to paddle between the stack and the rocks seen to its right below. On our return this rock hop was out of our reach.

After a cup of tea at Deepdale we headed back in the last of the sunlight.

The first of many paddles this year I hope.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Happy New Year

Happy New year to all. Looking forward to another year of paddling in great company and a few new challenges which are non-broken-ankle related. Cheers!