Sunday, 22 June 2014

Thunder Bay to South Ronaldsay

An early start on the morning after the solstice, from Sandwick in South Ronaldsay to Saint Margaret's Hope.  

with my fabulous new paddle from Joe O Blenis!

 Not only beautiful to look at but exactly the measurements to fit me and very satisfying to paddle with.
looking sooth towards the Pentland Firth

incredible sandstone rock striations
 Reassuringly we passed plenty of nesting seabirds around Harrabrough Head,
approaching the Altar
and felt the tide gently but effectively draw us north as we left the Altar.
from inside the Altar.
 Across Widewall Bay and past Hoxa Head.
we eventually arrived in Cromarty Square in The Hope.


The first 15 km of many with my new stick.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Home Ground

Back in Orkney the sun shone and the wind abated long enough to explore some caves and tunnels at Rerwick. While it rained a couple of miles away and thundered in Birsay in the north west, we were far enough out east to stay in the sunshine all afternoon. In sheltered spots the sea was glassy and very clear. Clear enough to see top shells grazing on the kelp.

The rock strata picked out by erosion provided ledges for scarfies who launched themselves with inelegant gusto as we approached. Steep sided geos and deep fissures punctuate the the rock face. Its easy to miss the arches and tunnels unless you are paddling close into the cliff.

A slight swell on a smooth sea broke on rocks and skerries providing rockhopping opportunities.

The cliffs face east so it is usually a place of dark and gloomy stone walls topped by a WW2 battery of  searchlight foundations, gun emplacements, battery observation tower, magazine building, engine room and the remains of accommodation and dug outs...

and the occasional otter....

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Scottish Women's Paddle Symposium 2014

This year I attended the SWPS at Findhorn for the first time and coached a couple of rolling sessions over the two days. Although I didn't spot another paddler dressed in a tuiliq or sporting an avataq there were a couple of skinny stick users in the sea kayaking crowd and plenty of interest in trying a different approach to rolling.

The weather was glorious (reminder to self - apply suncream after rolling demo), the location for the rolling sessions at Hopeman harbour was perfect - an outdoor swimming pool sheltered on all sides and with a nice sandy bottom.

To start with we had a think about body movement and flexibility and then went on to compare kayaks and paddles. Thanks to Pam and Alan Forsyth I was able to show a range of paddle designs and materials. I also got to try out the new Gearlab paddle which one of the participants was using - interesting! However as usual my faithful roll friendly paddle is my Joe O' stick, which is perfect for sharing with others too.


It was very rewarding  supporting individual progress from static brace through to butterfly roll and beyond - hopefully the sessions allowed folk to get to grips with the foundation skills and the confidence to go away and practice, knowing a few reasons why certain things work well.

The weekend trip allowed also me to get van season underway, and get on the road on my own again. Once past Dunbeath and Berriedale Braes (graveyard of Orkney vehicles with any kind of lurking clutch problem) it was all good. It was interesting to hear what other women had to say about the various van sizes and their driveability', kayak carrying capacity and living space. Reassuringly quite a few folk had issues with reaching the carriers to secure them - another 'not just me then' moment. Unsurprisingly the weekend was punctuated by people saying things relating to strength or stature which I had already thought of more than once myself!

A women only event is a great way of meeting other women paddlers and coaches and supporting each other's personal development. It is reassuring to hear other folk have had similar experiences and issues in their paddling careers, quite often having shared preferences in learning styles. It also creates opportunities for meeting up with other paddlers later, and sharing future events like

Thanks to the organising committee, and Tania for the photos and helping coach on the second day.
Looking forward to next time!