Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Spirit Dancer

Spirit Dancer is visiting Orkney and has for the last week been at the Kirkwall marina.

We meet the 'Godfather of canoes'!
Kirk Wipper, whose collection established the Canadian canoe museum, is also visiting to see Spirit Dancer off on the next part of the voyage around Orkney. I was delighted to be able to meet him.

Chris and Barbara Cooper have been sharing the experience of paddling the big canoe with local folk each evening before they take Spirit Dancer to the North Isles on Thursday.
Tonight it was our turn to try it out.
The boat was fast and manouverable.
Chris told us that it can cope with a F5/6 with an experienced crew.

Mr Mackayak and the orca and eagle design painted on the paddles by Barbara.

The crew of 19 with Chris steering at the stern.
Paddling into the wind was no problem.

Chris told of past voyages and plans for future destinations.

A great experience!
Lots more photos of the whole visit in Fiona's collection here.

Paddles up...

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Part C

Part C - Safety, Leadership, Group Skills

C1 - Personal risk management
C2 - Awareness of others
C3 - An assessed accompanied sheltered water journey
C4 - Sea stack ascent

First leader.

Second leader.
'That's Hemp Stack!'

'Hmmm...'  Mark has an idea!

First to reach the summit?

A new ritual is established.

First of many journeys which may or may not include sea stacks.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Greenland or Bust!

Midsummer weekend and the weather is poor. Most folk are otherwise occupied and can afford to wait for Tuesday evening, forecast to be 'perfect'!, for paddling on the longest day. Unfortunately I will miss this opportunity due to work commitments, fortunately these work commitments (20 of them) take me to Hoy (the island in the header photo) for a couple of days, where we will be outdoors all day....

Meantime I continue with the personal quest and carry on with reading, watching and practising rolling and related strokes. If paddling different craft improves technique and heightens awareness of transferable skills, then Greenland rolling must do the same for the 'Euro' roll.

Following a link in OP I found Helen Wilson's video. She says it doesn't matter what you have in your hands - stick, Euro or driftwood - its all about the body. This is good to hear. The more I think about the paddle the less successful I am..... so conversely, the less I think about the paddle the more successful I'll be!

Sunday, 13 June 2010


A quick 2.5 hour trip today from the 3rd barrier to Burray via Hunda.

A sail boat passes the Flotta flame.

Lots of young birds, including geese and eider.
A few grey seals and common seals with pups.

Underwater world.

The Pentalina arrives in St Margaret's Hope.

11km about 6nm.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Single blade syllabus

So it was time to get to grips with a single bladed paddle. First we all stood around while, of all people, I named parts of the boat and explained about trim and the importance of communication.
I remember the moment well! Bemused, baffled and perplexed wondering WHY?!
Now I am coaching open boat at a very basic level, and I empathise. There you are - a getting to be pretty competent sea paddler, master of your own destiny even in quite big seas and raging winds reduced to... well what felt to me, like flotsam.

Luckily for everyone involved I don't know all the fancy names of the strokes and don't speak French so there was no fear of further complication. I looked them in the eye when I mentioned transferability of skills.

In tandem everyone got to grips with moving forward, paddle placement and positioning themselves. Sweep strokes and stern pry worked effectively. The stiff breeze from the north assisted in exploring trim when paddling solo and gradually moving about and changing position made sense as we went back and forth into and with the wind.

My coaching handbook got wet. Although I didn't open it once we were on the water - it felt comforting to have it close at hand. I am used to evaluating sea paddling skills by considering - Body, Boat and Blade. Change the order to Boat , Body and Blade and it is disorientating.

Despite the reservations of the salty sea kayakers everyone made good progress - they are a determined bunch. I learned a lot - nothing helps you learn like helping other folk to learn. And perhaps if we choose to spend a bit more time in open boats some folk might begin to enjoy it.

I draw the line at hitching a tarp as a sail though.....

Next time: J stroke, draws and prys...

Monday, 7 June 2010

Junior expedition

This weekend some were exploring the fjords of Norway, and others, the committing west coast of Orkney. I spent my paddling hours with a family paddle - our first proper 'journey'.

Dad and youngest lad.
We weren't the only family with young 'uns on the water.

Of course all such trips must include a bit of fire and cooking of meats in secluded spots.

After starting out with flat water, as we left the bay there was a little fetch and some reflected waves off the low cliffs.

Soon junior was seeking out any clapotis or bouncy waves and showing us how to rockhop.

I am a sea kayaker!
The trip only lasted about 4 hours but the memories will last a lifetime.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

If it was my home

It would obliterate all of Orkney and Shetland and the north coast of Scotland...

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Gotta get out

After the big winds on Wednesday it was a beautiful day today with light and variable winds. Three of us put in at the pier - our excuse was a missed session on Wednesday but the truth was probably closer to a desire to get on to the water on a bonny night. After a think about hanging draw and a bit of practice we crossed the bay and met 3 visiting paddlers from sooth who were enjoying the weather and remarking on the warm feeling water. Nice to see visitors were enjoying a paddle, we don't get many, though in the last week I know of three groups of visiting paddlers... perhaps they will return to our Paddle Orkney event next year.

Malc checks out the little cruiser.

After a look at the steam? boat anchored in the
bay at Dyke End we returned to the pier amid the buzz of a couple of jetskis.
But before long they had 'conked oot' as they do, and we were left in peace again.

Harald, Erlend and Einar.
The new pilot boat - John Rae.
The wet bit tonight was high braces, static braces and sculling for support.

Malc rolls the Isel.
Nice boat!