Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Greenland Intensive with Cheri and Turner

I have just returned from a truly excellent weekend of learning in Skye with Cheri Perry and Turner Wilson of Kayakways, hosted by Skyak Adventures.

Two days of traditional paddling and rolling skills meant there was a lot to learn and remember. Adjusting and refining some rolls I had built up on my own as well as beginning the elements of a forward finish roll was plenty on its own, but looking again at the paddle strokes with the skinny stick was a further challenge. 

Practice at Armadale.
 The opportunity to try a variety of paddles and get some expert advice was a great experience. Some were too heavy, some were too wide, but for me the 'razor' blade was just right. 
No more splash and plop!

Cheri at the end of a rainbow.
Cheri and Turner demonstrated not only their own accomplished Greenland skills but their excellent coaching skills as they explained and broke down each skill for all of us and then helped us work on our individual goals.

Justine films Cheri demonstrating how to use an avataq.
The view from Breakish, Skye.

Boats waiting.
I was so busy learning new things, and with no pockets in my tuilik, there are only a few photos to post though lots of pages in my notebook were filled every evening as I trawled my memory for all the precious nuggets of knowledge and advice.

Two traditional SOF boats join the fleet.

Cheri demonstrates and Turner explains in his own inimitable style!
I have taken away so much to work on from this weekend - there is plenty to keep me busy until I have  another opportunity like this. Most of all it was fun to learn new things with no assessment other than your own goals to work towards. Meeting other paddlers (and boat builders!) keen to get to grips with traditional skills was a novelty for me too. I highly recommend taking up the opportunity to be coached by Cheri and Turner if they are anywhere near your part of the world - their skills are inspirational!

Now I have a dilemma - to commit to the stick completely or continue Euro blade coaching commitments.... L2 assessment in 5 weeks....

Wednesday, 4 May 2011


Taking advantage of the continuing good weather and calm conditions we followed Northern Kayaker out west to Birsay and launched opposite the Brough.

NK sets a course towards the cliffs.
 The cliffs began as low ridges of fissured rock and grew higher and higher as we progressed.

NK squeezes in to a narrow pasageway.

Soon we came to the giant's eyes.
Eyebrows of  dripping greenery draped the cliffs above us as we plunged onto the first socket.

Approaching the dripping curtain.

Looking in.

Looking out.

Malcolm and Jackie pop out the other side.
 Some caves were linked with small passageways between them.
Some innocent looking caves invited paddlers in, instilled confidence and then turned into violent 'washing machines'. Others looked like narrow straight tunnels which would require reversing out of by hand - NK went in, disappeared and then unexpectedly popped out  bow first from an adjacent opening.

Sun beginning to set.
 The scale of the cliffs and caves on the west coast of Orkney is awesome.
 Most of the west facing caves were enormous and well lit by the setting sun.

Big cliff, little boats.

Awesome entrance.

Follow the light...

NK finally emerges from another cave.

Approaching the Kitchener Memorial.
 This short paddle took about one and a half hours which was spent mostly exploring and appreciating the awesome scale of the place.

As we approached Marwick Bay the red sandstone cliffs glowed in the light of the setting sun.

Waiting for the green ray.
We were lifted into the bay by the gentle glassy swell.


Sunday, 1 May 2011


Time to exercise the paddle muscles again after many weeks of wrestling canoes, coaching and rolling and not really going anywhere. My paddling partner had not been out for over a year so I thought I might be able to keep up.

Back on the water.
 We followed a familiar route in beautiful sunshine, taking our time and respectful of old injuries.

 There were lots of nesting birds: eider, fulmar, shell duck and guillemots.

Head of Holland.
 We passed the 'interesting bit' last seen from above on a walk. From these cliffs the wildlife is regularly observed in order to assess the impact wave and tidal energy installations might have.

Deserted beach.
 Time for a break on a sandy beach.

Three boats.

Kirkwall Bay with St Magnus Cathedral.

Big boat, little boat.
 We passed the North Isles ferries Earl Thorfinn, Earl Sigurd and the Varagen.

Back home - Shapinsay slip.
Great to get out on the water on such a beautiful day, hopefully there will be many more days like this to come.