Sunday, 22 November 2015

River Goyt - 15th November 2015

Macclesfield Club trip down the Goyt from Roman Lakes to Chadkirk.

Fairly high water level (up to 0.9 on the online gauge?) made for a bouncy ride with some nice wave trains.

The horseshoe weir was in a dangerous state with many logs being re-circulated and the toe-back into the weir went out for a good few metres.

Here's a video of the weir:

Here's a video of Sam shooting the broken weir near Chadkirk:

Monday, 2 November 2015

Crosby Beach and RIver Mersey - 1st November 2015

Instead of our normal foray's along the North Wales coast we opted for a change of scenery and decided to paddle on the River Mersey through Liverpool. Unfortunately the weather wasn't being that kind, and a fairly thick fog greeted us as we prepared to launch from Crosby Beach RNLI station.

Crosby is famous for the iron man sculptures by Antony Gormley. A hundred of these cast iron statues look eerily out to sea and provide an unusual feature to paddle through. Not sure if I'd be too keen on them if there was a lot of surf though!

Crosby Beach
Graham approaches one of the sculptures
We made our way along the beach and after a few kilometres we met the breakwater that marks the start of the Bootle docks. Work is ongoing improving the breakwater with what looks like a new berthing area and the dockside supports a number of large wind turbines.

Conscious of the shipping hazard we were checking in regularly over the radios with Liverpool VTS (Vessel Traffic Services) on VHF channel 12. There was little activity though because of the fog. We heard reports of the visibility from the vessels in the area and around the Crosby Channel it was "1 to 2 cables" (a cable is one tenth of a nautical mile).

We passed a number of large dock lock gates and the Victoria Tower and made our way down to the main Liverpool riverfront and the city docks. We were being carried along quite fast on the incoming tide as we took photos of the famous landmarks.

Victoria Tower
The Liver Building
Once past Albert Docks and the exhibition centre we were starting to think of somewhere to stop for lunch. This is not easy, as the whole riverfront is either docks or vertical walls. We ended up stopping on some steps near the Dingle Festival Park - the others used the steps and I had a quick leg stretch after mooring up to a vertical ladder.

I returned to my boat and ate a snack on the water. We then started to head back with the tide now on the ebb.

There was more shipping activity on our return - the fog had lifted slightly, and a big tanker headed out from the Tranmere side. We were twice mentioned over the radio by the VTS so we had to check in and report our position. We were on the east side of the river and a ship was about to leave Gladstone dock and they were concerned of our whereabouts. We paddled swiftly past the lock gates and reported that we were clear and shortly afterwards they opened the lock gates and the ship eventually passed us out in the channel.

With the swift tide it was not long before we were back on Crosby beach making our way past all the iron men back to our launch site.

30km paddled. We left Crosby at 11:15, with high tide Liverpool just after 2pm. We were off the water just after 4pm.

Macclesfield Canal - 25th October 2015

Club boathouse <> Higher Poynton Marina. Out in a about 49 minutes, back in just under 51.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Macclesfield Canal - 18th October 2015

Club boathouse <> Higher Poynton Marina. Out in a about 48 minutes, back in just under 50. Lots of leaves in the canal leading to a lot of them getting pinned to the bow and an annoying wash.

Bollington Pool Session - 16th October 2015

Used my greenland paddle in the pool and practised the storm roll I had learnt with Helen Wilson on Anglesey. At the end of the session I tried a hand roll, and did one first time, but then failed all subsequent attempts. Oh well.

Macclesfield Canal Hare and Hounds Race - 11th October 2015

Finished 14th in a time of 42:24, but was held up for a while at one of the turns due to a barge getting in the way! I think I need to do some more training, that's 4 minutes down on my best time last year. Nice to see so many paddlers out - 20 paddlers in 17 boats (so that's 3 K2s).

Greenland rolling with Helen Wilson - 4th October 2015

Having spent a number of sessions over the summer trying greenland rolls, I took up the opportunity for some expert tuition with Helen Wilson from who was in the country and running courses over the weekend.

So on a nice still Anglesey morning, four students including myself started off the day on Rhoscolyn beach with some yoga as a warm-up.

Warm-up yoga session - photo credit: Mark Tozer
The group had various levels of rolling experience, with all of us having successfully rolled in the past, but Helen still started off with the basics to ensure we removed any bad habits. Helen broke the roll down into its constituent parts and we did various exercises, initially without boats and paddles, and then progressing to performing "balance braces".

Wot? No boats? - photo credit: Mark Tozer
I'd tried to do a balance brace before, but never managed it purely with a paddle - I needed to use my airbags, but with Helen's help I managed to get into a stable position laying flat on the water using only my paddle for additional buoyancy.

We then took turns with individual tuition from Helen, and my basic greenland roll was OK, so we moved on to my goal of developing my forward finishing rolls, namely the storm roll and the reverse sweep.

To learn the storm roll, you start with what's known as the "continuous storm roll". This entails capsizing with the paddle already in a perpendicular position and ensuring the end of the paddle stays in contact with the upturned hull. The idea then is to use a "pry" technique to right the kayak, keeping in a forward tucked position and using the boat as a fulcrum for the paddle. I started this manoeuvre off with a paddle float to give me additional buoyancy, but progressed to performing the roll without it.

Photo credit: Mark Tozer
Once having mastered the "continuous" version Helen took me through a transition roll where I capsized as normal, but brought the paddle round to a perpendicular position before executing the pry. Again, the main tactic required was to get the paddle resting on the hull and staying in contact with the boat as I righted it.

Finally I moved on to the storm roll proper, where the first part of the roll is a sweep followed by a pry to complete the roll.

After a reasonable amount of success with the storm roll, Helen then tried to teach me the reverse sweep. I didn't get too far with this as I was now getting a bit tired and lacking the energy for a strong "crunch" action to right the boat with the required leg action. So I called it a day a little early and went for a more relaxing paddle around the Beacon to finish up.

I learnt a lot and it was great to meet Helen (and Mark again). Hopefully I'll be able to practice a bit more in pool sessions over the winter.

Hmmm... not sure about the skull cap! - Photo credit: Mark Tozer