Thursday, 29 April 2010

Perseverance... needed not only for building paddling skill but also for finding the right gear! Living far from any gear retailer it is a slow process of ordering, trying on and returning.

Old faithful can't carry a radio adequately.

Continuing my search for a BA I have rejected the Reed. Great radio pocket, space for flares in the back pocket or hand held in front, resonable fit due to good adjustment but when closed the 2 pocket zip pulls catch under my arms and would add to the wear and tear on my drysuit (which is already lathered with seam grip).

Looks like I'll have to go a better fit but with much less capacity for carrying things. Ideally I want to be able to carry radio, knife and flare and strobe without things poking in my eyes or ears, or having to resort to carrying them in my teeth.

Thanks to Karitek and Lomo for their patience.

Next task is to find a deck. Only recently did I realise how long my cockpit is compared to other boats. Blithely hopping in and out I have been encouraging other people with longer legs to do likewise, without really appreciating the advantage of having an Isel. Even the Menai has a smaller cockpit.

After shredding a couple of cheaper neo decks I thought it time to invest - except I have not yet found a reinforced neo deck big enough. I want to get something that is protected around the coaming for practising rescues and repairs.

As for boots - the return of the lonely lomo boot meant NK had a spare pair, which I have acquired.

Tried and tested.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

A Tall ship and a race

Old and new were berthed side by side in Kirkwall this evening.
The Statsraad Lehmkuhl alongside the Varagen.
The Earl Sigurd approaches.
After a quick back paddle to allow the Earl Sigurd in to berth we got a little closer to the tall ship.

The scale of the ship is awesome.
It is a familiar sight here and in the old part of the town the masts are the only thing bigger than the cathedral.
I can see the masts from the windows of my house, whose first owner was a sea captain.
It would have been an impressive sight even then, 120 years ago.
We rarely get to see it under sail.

A lucky few folk, stranded in Norway, hitched a lift back to Blighty on the ship's last voyage from Bergen recently.

With the wind and tide in our favour we made easy progress towards Thieves' Holm. After experiencing the spring tide on the approach to The String we turned for home. As the wind strengthened and the weather deteriorated the return journey was what an absent friend would have decribed as a 'grunt'.

Nice boots!

It was time to head for shore and a cup of tea in NK's copious shelter.
Yes we did get picked up!... although.... for a short while.... we wondered if we should phone the pub to remind them.

(including the run back to the car - thanks Peter)

New rolling knee

One of our senior paddlers has gone to extremes in order to improve his offside roll. 
Now the proud owner of a new knee for that extra ooomph! needed when rolling in surf or at typical 'ramming speed'.

Some people just can't stop collecting bionic bits and pieces.

Monday, 26 April 2010


Yesterday I gave in to aches and pains and got a lift back to the launch site.
Watching this video fairly adjusts your perspective and inspires me to get out again asap.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Bagging the Bruck

On Sunday we completed our annual clean up of the hard to reach places along the Stromness pier fronts.
Under the old lifeboat slipway.
 From the water the view cannot have changed very much since the days of the Hudson Bay Company ships arriving and leaving and whaling ships setting off for the Nor' Wast.

Low tide meant we could get to that old bit of carpet and those bicycle wheels.

Passing the Pier Arts Centre.
Stromness lifeboat

The Hamnavoe is back home providing our 'lifeline' service again after going to Norway to bring home folk stranded because of the volcanic ash.

After 'bagging it' we went for  paddle to the Brig o' Waithe, the site of the first civilian death of the Second World War. We enjoyed a few opportnities surfing in the following sea on the way and  struggled/scrambled/portaged up stream through the weed against the outflowing of the Stenness Loch.

photo: Jackie

After a stop at the fisherman's boat noust I called it a day, thanks to Nick for picking me up.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Everyone on the water

photo: Johnny

A lull in the weather allowed everyone in the group to get on the water for coaching this week.
The trailer stood empty of boats.

It is a chance for us coaches to work on our own skills too. I find my own understanding of what makes a basic stroke effective is enhanced by explaining it to others or listening to folk explain what they think is happening when they are paddling. 

I am missing my waterproof camera to take video for folk to self evaluate their own stroke. 
Hopefully I'll get it back from Olympus soon, repaired and rejuvenated.

We ask folk to try to develop skills in different club boats each week, so from time to time I have to remind myself that I am paddling not only my own boat that I have spent many hours in, but an ISEL! 

Monday, 19 April 2010

Gone Paddling

1 day until departure.
Joe Andrews and James Bonell will set off from Cornwall on Tuesday 20th April on a 3000 mile journey around the British mainland. They will be travelling in two sea kayaks and expect the trip to take approximately five months.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

A Fresh Start

Although most folk were away at the canoe polo this weekend (doing well I hear), and those who were left were otherwise occupied, a couple of us did manage to get boats in the water.
We braved the gusting northerly wind with snow showers and got another seasoned pool paddler into a sea boat for the first time.
Another busy day for the pilot boat.
After getting accustomed to the elements from behind the pier wall we headed off sooth for a short journey aided by the wind and the following sea.

 Before too long we headed back and punched into the waves until we were in the lee of the pier again.
A good experience dealing with the wind and waves.

Another great start - well done!

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Class of 2010

Perfect conditions at our usual launch site for the first of this year's 1 and 2* training sessions.


This week most of our time was spent on forward paddling.
A winter in pool boats has paid off and everyone has got off to a good start on the sea.

photo: Johnny

Monday, 5 April 2010

Ski-yaking mum

Braving blizzards and gale force winds we made our way to the the heart of the Highlands.

Snow shoeing at Loch Morlich

The sun broke through and allowed a glorious day of skiing on Cairngorm.

Yes, it really is Scotland!