Friday, 26 March 2010

Warm water winter

Tonight was the last of the planned pool sessions with sea boats for the time being, canoe polo takes over again on Friday nights.

Since the cast came off, the BA has improved but still requires its own outfitting.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Journey without a destination

After the massive U turn in plans for the weekend I did manage to get in the sea boat after all.
Predictably my offside roll has become my 'on' side.
On this side I am able to move the paddle freely through air, position it well and flick up.
It is like a very, very high brace.
On the other side I am still moving the paddle through water by the time I start the roll and it takes a little bit more ooomph.
It works, its maybe more like it would occur in 'conditions', but...
I would like another appointment.
As I write this I am aware that it could all change and probably will.

future coach rolls the Isel

'FC'  tried out the Isel and put it through its paces.

FC edging through a 360 turn
Interesting to see what his first impressions were -  he thought that it felt light and he liked the footplate.
Being in the market for a boat, it is all important to try out other folk's kayaks.
Trying the Isel out on a following sea can't be arranged in the pool though...

Friday, 19 March 2010


As predicted, noone is leaving Orkney at the moment.
This was to have been the weekend of the Level 2 coach training in Inverness.
I admit to having become faint hearted about the travelling even before the boat was cancelled.
Sometimes when the boat is just able to go it is worse than being forced to stay home.
Many times I have arrived on the other side of the Firth unable to see straight from sea sickness,
never mind drive away. Driving with boats on the roof in the wind is another issue I could tell tall tales about.

smoke on the water, haze over the land

As it happens, events have conspired to keep not just me, but us all, at home for the time being.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Whatever the weather..

...we carry on canoeing.

After an hour spent rolling on the off side on Friday night at the pool I am pretty happy with the reconstruction of my roll. It feels familiar and solid and if it gets dodgy I can feel what is probably wrong.
I have to thank Dr. S for getting me back on track.
I will keep following the prescription out on the sea.

Saturday started out as forecast with a NW strong/fresh breeze, so we heade to the shelter of cliffs at Inganess. This involved tracking the boats along the beach into the wind. Effective and empowering.

In tandems and solo we set off for a brisk warm up, heading off to find a sheltered bay. Throughout the day the wind behaved unpredictably making it hard to tell at times how effective our strokes were, but our understanding of trim sharpened up pretty quickly.

Communicating what we were doing, counting down for example, helped in the windy conditions as we practised turning.
The green machine motored around as if powered by a hidden outboard, but we know it is the result of good engineering.
an unusual sight in Orkney


Biscuit helped us to observe each other and encouraged us to think of solutions to issues we came up against. My solution to frozen toes was to pour hot tea into my boots! It works folks!
The day ended with us all paddling back to the trailer in a torrential downpour.

Hobbling a bit I wondered about the self inflicted effects of sitting with my recovering broken ankle and foot folded under me all day. I did try to sit up but  I suppose as a sea kayaker I am used to having a really low centre of gravity on the water. Particularly in the stern I felt kneeling was the only option for stablility, manoueverablility and effective paddling.

The next day we sheltered behind the pier and paddled into the wind and with the wind, changing the trim to help us, solo and in tandem we turned using rudder strokes.
HK and Biscuit get to grips with the finer points of the Jstroke.

NK shows us effective trim.

We then set off on a journey from Scapa to St Mary's with a following sea and the wind behind us. Tempted by the conditions, Biscuit soon got us all rafted up and a sail was created out of a tarp.
This worked well but I was distinctly uncomfortable. I don't much like rafting up and I like to be able to see ahead... in short I got out as soon as I was given the opportunity.
It looked much more stable from the outside.

ready for adventure
NK provides the steering

messing about on boats... photo NK

Biscuit looks pleased with the arrangements.

Two hours to get there and 2 minutes to take down, the improvised sail is taken apart and the boats are untied. My GPs says the best speed was about 8.6km hr, but this may have been recorded during an earlier tandem experience with a man 'machine'! The probable best speed was more likely about 6km hr.

Scapa to St Mary's by canoe and canoe raft with sail - 10.4km

Finishing off with further observations of paddling skills, and discussions of coaching style, our canoeing adventure was at an end. Thank you Biscuit!
I learned a lot this weekend in conditions which I had thought would make it difficult to learn but which Biscuit used  to our advantage.
He also modelled a coaching style and approach which I will be drawing on in the future, and in particular over the next couple of weekends.

My paddling weekend ended at the pool with the last coached session for the newest beginners.
Everyone is looking ahead anticipating getting out on to the sea...
I'll see you out there and remember your flask of tea!

Monday, 8 March 2010

Time to get out

A few really spring like days remind me that soon the indoor pool sessions will end for the year (just as the sea temperature reaches its lowest - about 6C) and that this year I have spent more time than ever paddling, or thinking and talking about it, indoors.

Some extra pool sessions with sea boats have been a bonus.
 I have coached an after school group which has been fun and kept me on my toes, and helped to coach a new cohort of adult beginners who are now well ready to get on the sea if they have not already started, indeed, if they have not already progressed way beyond the skill level of some of us who helped them at the start of winter pool sessions!

future coach?

The next few weekends are going to be busy. An open boat course here in Orkney (looking out knee pads and awaiting wind forecast) and 2 weekends away in Inverness doing the Level 2 coaching course.

It appears to be the only way to do it.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Kayaking mum

Warbeth, the beach in the header photo.

'nough said?

Saturday, 6 March 2010

LTPD and the offside roll

Long term is the correct description when it comes to the development of this paddler's sea boat skills.

When I first learned to roll a couple of years back (it took a long time!) I thought it was solid both sides. It actually took one winter of pool sessions to deconstruct what I had achieved, namely trying to change my basic roll to a screw roll, which was a mongrel of  a thing the way I did it, and only reliable on my strong side.
'Never mind!' folk said, 'You can roll up - what is the problem?', but I mourned the loss of the original roll. It had felt like one smooth movement. It was not strenuous and it could be done slowly.

Somewhat reluctantly I returned to the pool last night with the Isel to practise the offside roll.
However had the good fortune to get help from a skilled paddler who could see what the problem was and had effective approaches to remedy the situation.

So I now have a prescription to follow and am eager to get back into the pool to try it again.
Perhaps it is not lost after all.
Results below:
smiles all round

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

The Carta Marina

Back in the day the ancestors had a lot to fear as they travelled around the busy North Atlantic between the Nordic countries.

Nowadays we count ourselves lucky to sight marine mammals and I find it reassuring when I do.
Another reason to get out there.

The Orkney Islands (Orcades).

At the moment spending a lot of time in the pool is unavoidable but I do hear myself describing how differently a sea boat behaves to those folk yet to sit in one.

I am learning different approaches to adult and junior sessions while doing my best to keep everyone active and amused. Potential future canoe polo players are obvious in the junior group...

The seas around here boil with monsters.

...but will the adults dare to brave the briny in a few weeks time?