Saturday, 28 August 2010

Windows of opportunity

Back at work + short busy evenings + nasty cold =  missed paddle to the tidal race at Eynhallow this week. Exactly the sort of thing I want to get experience of.  I console myself in the usual way - Eynhallow is not going anywhere, it will still be there for another time... My ability to be 'philosophical' about this varies!
Sometimes in a group of paddlers there is someone else who can't come along because of other commitments, health issues or broken bones.
On the trip there are reminders - the obvious caves they would have relished, rock gardens which would have tempted them and breaking waves they might have whooped in.
Best just to enjoy it when you can then...

Monday, 23 August 2010

Newark to Tomb of the Eagles

Leaving from the Kirk at Newark Bay in South Ronaldsay we paddled toward Bigore Head and then straight across to Great Head and Lay Taing. Beyond here thar be caves! This was all new territory for us all as this stretch of coast is exposed and tidal so not always accessible.  As well as a Gloup (cave with a collapsed roof) there were many very large caves with many singing and apparently oblivious seals.

Nick chooses a cave.

Spot the kayak...

big cliffs, small kayaks.

Another one!

Someone is behind me!

Grand cave exit.

New boat = happy man.

Some caves turned into tunnels.

A boat emerges from giant nostrils?!

Exit or entrance?

Which exit?

Halcro Head.
After a break at Ham Bay below the Tomb of the Eagles we headed for home - our window of tidal opportunity was drawing to a close.
Heading home through the stack at Clett of Crura

About 10  miles.
A spectacular maiden voyage for Malc's new Rockpool Alaw Bach TCC.

Friday, 20 August 2010

An early night out

 Every year there comes the moment when the increasingly shorter days begin to impact evening paddles.
Even before the launch daylight was fading.
The serene conditions invited a crossing but time available meant this was not to be.

 4* leader.

Plastic first.

Towards Mull Head.

Hide and seek.


Wednesday, 18 August 2010

For sale

Wilderness Systems Tempest 165
This is a great boat in very good condition.
Very comfortable and forgiving but performs well too.
Read about it here
Open to offers....

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Birthday cake

Many thanks to my mother-in-law who organised this fabulous cake for a recent birthday...

Complete with logos and norsaq!
I love the way the water splashes the side of the boat and laps on the beach of brown sugar!

Friday, 13 August 2010

Skyak guinea pig

This week I visited Skye to take part in the 4 star sea leader award as a guinea pig. Having done the training more than a year ago I thought this would give me a good opportunity to paddle somewhere new and different while observing the assessment in process and deciding on future goals.
The 2 days were run by Jas Hepburn and Ken Nicol for Skyak.

The first day involved two groups planning and leading a trip from Armadale towards the Point of Sleat. The wind built up towards the end of the afternoon so we finished with a bit of a surf in through the skerries at Armadale on the following sea, the leaders working one to one with us.

Getting ready to set off from Armadale.

Waiting for the CalMac ferry for Mallaig to leave.

Lunch break with the mountains of Knoydart on mainland Scotland in the distance.

Figuring out precisely where we were.

Heading back on a following sea.

Follow the leader.
Adam an Eleanor keep an eye on us...
The following day the weather was again glorious - so we went to Kylerhea in search of tidal conditions in order for there to be sufficient challenge for the candidates. The flow here gets squeezed into the 500m channel and was flowing at about 3 to 5 knots (this is a guinea pig guessing!). Although the guinea pigs like me were supposed to be  'mock' students, this location did provide a real learning activity for me and a few others. No pictures I'm afraid. I observed the various rescue scenarios set up by Ken and Jas and the impressive team response which the candidates executed to get the 'casualty' out of the tidal flow and to shore within a few minutes.

Well done to all the candidates... this guinea pig has got goals!

Friday, 6 August 2010

New Norsaq

After a bit of investigation I found that the norsaq Helen Wilson uses is made by Joe O Paddles who had just held a symposium at which Helen gave rolling clinics. Joe responded to my enquiry straight away and helpfully put me in touch with Mike Holgate at Poole Bay Canoes who has started importing Joe's paddles and norsaqs. A bit of measuring and emailing later I have received my own norsaq made by Joe.

As soon as possible I was off to Scapa, down the slip, into my boat and underwater. I had just enough time to try a couple of butterfly rolls which worked fine on one side, and then on the other after I adjusted the boat position to account for the wind.

New fixture for the deck.
Butterfly roll gripping norsaq in the middle.

Looking forward to many hours of practice while the sea temperature allows...

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

A butterfly and a bat

Looking at the last rolling video over and over I realised I was making a fundametal mistake in the hand roll by keeping one arm out of the water and pushing down with the other, so I decided to practise the butterfly roll and the 'bat' (read fat blue norsaq) roll, to improve body position.
This felt like taking a step backward. Just how far am I going to take this? Why not just stick with someting that is effective already? but I had to give it a try. Sure enough the hand roll felt less reliable but there is something else not quite right - I am still to figure that out. Also it was significantly easier on one side that the other I am sure this has to do with the resistance of my buoyancy aid on the day hatch.

I am in shallow water to be close to the camera on the shore and to save time with emptying the boat when the inevitable happens ( I also believe the water is 1 or 2 degrees warmer here), but because of the onshore wind I ended up touching the bottom a few times. This is quite good as it makes you tuck up round the boat in a U shape. 
After a certain amount of time I resort to a snorkel mask as my eyes start to hurt from the salt water and I get an ice cream headache between the eyes, it allows more thinking time. 
I am aiming for 90% thinking and 10% effort.
The camera combination is really helpful for analysing what worked/what felt awkward and so on - that is my excuse for saving so much footage. I used a gorilla pod mount on the boat. It worked fine - I don't like the idea of drilling a hole in my boat!

This time Helen's instruction to keep the chin up was the main point I tried to focus on and it worked very effectively if the rest of the roll was on track.

The only vantage point I could find to film from above was over water clogged with jellyfish, but I hope to film there before the water gets too cold this year. Filming from above might reveal the obvious...I am hoping practising little and often will help all this stick, but a great reason for doing this is you can't think about anything else other than what you are doing there and then. Its addictive!