Sunday, 29 November 2009

Macclesfield Canal - 29th November 2009

Training paddle, Clarke Lane <=> High Poynton Marina.
57.40 out, 57.50 back. Bit cool, raining with gusty NE wind.

Bollington Pool - 27th November 2009

Half hour pool session practicing rolling. Trying to roll more upright as opposed to leaning right back at the end. Seem to be able to do this OK, better on the RHS as usual. Tried a reverse screw roll on the R and came up OK, but I think that was more due to pulling up once the paddle was at right angles to the boat. Tried a few hand rolls, but not with much success. Coached by Doug.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Puffin Island - 15th November 2009

Second day of end of season meet. Still suffering from a cold (went to bed at 10pm on the Saturday!... missed the slideshows... and the port/whiskey...)

Short paddle around Puffin Island clockwise launching from Trwyn Penmon. A few caves to explore and watch the seals on the NE end of the island. Tide was running quite quickly on the SE side of the island as we paddled back against it. Menai Straights were draining into Liverpool bay on the ebb. A bit of flow/turbulence between the island and the lighthouse.

Kev Jones

Short session helping Jean with her rolling and watching her self rescues. My cold prevented me from participating...

Trearddur Bay - 14th November 2009

First day of NWSK end of season meet on Anglesey, staying at Outdoor Alternative.

Spent a few hours surfing - bit too wild to do too much else. Biggest waves were around 5 foot, but the breakers looked a lot bigger on the outside of the bay.

I paddled my Capella to start with and it handled fairly well (for a sea kayak...) but I swam a couple of times (and rolled a couple). Problem seems to be I fall out of the boat - on both occasions I still had my paddle in my hands! On the later successful rolls I concentrated on keeping myself braced in the boat and this seemed a lot better. I'm not used to fitting in a boat so loosely...

At the end of the session I tried Kev Robinson's plastic Scorpio and I really liked the feel of the thigh braces and I felt much more in contact with the boat. Might have to investigate fitting some to the Capella?

Sunset in Borthwen

In the evening we had a fine meal prepared by Kev and Gill. Spicy soup, Burritos and Apple crumble with custard!

Jim tries out a new orifice for wine consumption

Monday, 9 November 2009

Macclesfield Canal - 7th November 2009

Training session on the canal with coaching from Neil from the MADCC. On the water for about an hour and a half doing sprint starts and a couple of 500m time trials. Curtailed the session though because I was getting too cold!... need to put more than a tee shirt on since there is a bit more sitting around in these sessions.

Best time for the 500m was 2:46, but that was in my sea kayak...

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Bollington Pool - 6th November 2009

1/2 hour pool session, practicing rolls - L and R, passing paddle over up-turned boat before rolling, falling in on the move etc. Was coached by a MADCC paddler - my normal "screw" roll with layback finish may not be so suitable nowadays with modern playboats - was told to start my hip flick earlier and come up with the paddle more at right angles to the boat rather than continuing the sweep backwards. Tried this a few times, but difficult to teach an old dog...

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Macclesfield Canal - 31st October 2009

"Forward paddling" session with coaching from Neil of MADCC. Covered about 6 miles, on the water for a couple of hours. Performed the following routines:
  • sprint starts (try to get up to speed in 5 strokes)
  • starts followed by 10, 20, 30, 40 stroke sprints
  • pyramids of 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 40, 30, 20, 10 sprints with short easy paddling rests between
  • 1 mile time trial - 10 min 20 secs - but that included a boat delay at one bridge

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Bollington Pool - 29th October 2009

1/2 hour pool session with Macc Canoe Club. Practicing rolls - mainly RH, but LH rolls were OK too. Using the wing paddles. Also completed a RH hand roll with the aid of a small float. The boa I was in was a bit big in the cockpit area, would be nice to use a closer fitting boat. Competing with the kids though!

Sunday, 18 October 2009

St. Bees to Whitehaven - 17th October 2009

Forecast looked good for Saturday, so I arranged for a paddle with some other members of the North West Sea Kayakers. Jean Brown was already planning to be in the lakes, so she proposed the venue of St. Bees and the rest of us (Jim Krawiecki, Terry Hailwood and myself) tagged along.

Jim decides what to wear

Conditions were very clam and sunny. Jean and Jim decided to paddle in just t-shirts with no cags, I on the other hand had a dry suit! In the end I didn't get that hot but mainly because we took a very leisurely pace on the way north to Whitehaven - rock hopping, talking amongst ourselves and chatting to climbers.

Jim and Jean rock hopping

Jim reverses into a small cave

Climbers abseil to the bottom ledges

We paddled under stunning cliffs that in the spring and early summer would be covered in Guillemots, all lined up military style on their ledges. But today everything was peaceful and quiet - no swell, no wind and only the odd call from the birds that were still around.

We started off at about high water, but still encountered a southerly flow as we headed up to St. Bees head. We rounded North Head and were out of the sunshine for a little while as we hugged the coast making our way towards Whitehaven.

Terry approaching North Head

We entered the outer harbour and stopped on the beach on the southern side, near the Beacon. I guarded the boats while the others went to look for a chippy in town (Jim was short of a photo of happy kayakers eating chips for his book). Replenished (OK, stuffed...) we headed back at a fairly brisk pace, this time straight across Saltom Bay.

Right... where's the chippy?

The water visibility was great and we could see starfish on the rocks below us as we neared St. Bees again. A quick inspection of a wreck that lies off the beach, a practice roll for Jean and myself and then we landed for the long carry back up the beach to the car park. A lovely sunset with the Isle of Man in the distance capped off a very pleasant day's paddle. Estimated distance about 20km.

St. Bees sunset

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Macclesfield Canal - 10th October 2009

Clarke Lane <=> Higher Poynton Marina.
53.17 out, 55 back.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Macclesfield Canal - 4th October 2009

Back to the training paddles...

Clarke Lane <=> Higher Poynton Marina
Out in 53.50, back in 55.10. Couple of slight boat delays on the return.

Need to work out a way of paddling in the dark on the canal...

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Fleetwood Seaquest - 19th September 2009

Another week, another race!... no more for a while now I think.

The Fleetwood Seaquest is a kayak orienteering event that starts on Fleetwood's main beach, then turns and goes up the Wyre Estuary. Total distance for the longer "seaquest" is 22kms, while the shorter "seatour" is 15kms.

About 50 paddlers lined up for the "Le Mans" style start and after a brief holdup when another kayak put in beside me and sunk my paddle, I was off. Fairly quickly Glen Parry in his surf ski, Ned (Nick Price) from Macclesfield CC and I were jostling for the lead as we crossed the mouth of the estuary to go to the first checkpoint. Glen made the shortest work of it (no spraydeck!) and took a lead that he maintained through the next few checkpoints as we headed to the turning point at Shard Bridge. I was second with Ned not far behind. At the bridge I clipped the control quickly and left the control ahead of Glen and then managed to keep the lead on the return leg to finish just ahead of Glen with Ned a little behind us. My time was 2hr 14min.

It was nice to win a race outright, but shows the difference in standard between the races down south (see Eddystone and Poole race articles). Glen and I were also in the best boats - if Ned was in my Epic he would have been well ahead.

I won a £30 Brookbank gift voucher, a small shield to keep, plus I get my name engraved on the perpetual trophy shield that stays with the club. So not a bad day out. Thanks to the Outdoor Adventure Group for organising the event. Next year's race is on September 11th 2010.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Poole Harbour Canoe Race - 13th September 2009

Paddled the 15 mile "sea kayak" class, but this was mainly dominated by skis. There seems to be quite a popular surf ski racing scene down south and there must have been around a dozen in the field.

My time was 2 hours and 24 minutes, pretty much what I was expecting, although this was about 40 minutes behind the winner (Ian Lawler).

Conditions were quite choppy in places with quite a strong F4-5 NE wind.

There must have been about 50-60 paddlers across the various classes. Great cake and burger at the end and a friendly atmosphere with numerous supporters on the beach at the finish.

Had a short paddle with Allen then Gavin after the race. Long drive home though...

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Macclesfield Canal - 7th September 2009

Usual training paddle, Clarke Lane <=> Higher Poynton Marina.
Out in 54.00, but one significant boat delay that meant the likely time would have been around 53. Bit more leisurely on the way back on reaching the massed flotilla of the MADCC at Bollington.

Pretty dark around 8.20pm, will need to use lights in the evening now.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Macclesfield Canal - 4th September 2009

Clarke Lane <=> Higher Poynton Marina.

Out in 53.00.. new PB. Back in about 57, but a few significant boat delays. Also not been out in the evening for a couple of weeks and didn't realise how much the nights are closing in. Finished pretty much in the dark just before 8.30.

Purchased some new Bracsa VIII wings after loosing the last ones on the Eddystone. Assembled them myself this time, making them slightly longer in the shaft. Also the blades are the slightly larger "max" size. I think overall length ended up around 213cm. Still have a few more cm of adjustment (longer) if needed.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Macclesfield Canal - 22nd August 2009

Clarke Lane <=> Higher Poynton Marina
Out in 54.40... one boat delay, but had a bit of a following wind.
Back in about 58, chatting to John from MADCC who was paddling his K1.

Used the Nordkapps, and they felt a bit weird compared to the wings. You can definitely feel the "flutter" as you pull on them. Hopefully should have some wings again for the next outing... I'll try and keep hold of these!

Monday, 17 August 2009

Eddystone Challenge - 15th August 2009

This race is billed as a 28 mile round trip from Plymouth Harbour out round the Eddystone Lighthouse. It is organised by the mayflower offshore rowing club. My GPS track on the day showed the race to be more like 26.

When we turned up we were not sure if the organisers would go for the lighthouse route, or the poor weather alternative up the Tamar. However the forecast wasn't as bad as it had been and conditions were about a F4 SW with a few feet of swell. Still, this is about the limit of safety for the event and with a 3hr cut off at the light, it was going to be tough.

I did manage to get around the light - last kayaker to do so along with a few others and a couple of rowing boats. We were a few hundred meters short of the light at the official cut off, but they let the group I was in go round. Our case was pleaded by Yankee 6 (the yacht stationed at the light) that could see us clearly. In the end only about 7-8 kayaks out of the 30 that started made the cut-off, the rest were turned back.

The paddle out was hard work, I kept up a reasonable rhythm but this didn't yield a decent speed because of the headwind and occasional slamming off the steeper waves. Using my GPS I was maintaining about 4 - 4.4 mph whereas on the flat I would reckon to paddle nearer 6.

I was looking forward to the return run expecting to be able to surf a bit, but being a tired by then I couldn't maintain speed to catch many waves and my boat handling skills didn't feel comfortable when I did. We were going a bit faster on the return, more like 5+ mph but I would have hoped for more. Then about 5 miles out, one wave did broach me and my attempted support strokes with wing paddles didn't work, I capsized, rolled myself out of the boat and ended up swimming. However my "buddy" (Glen Parry) and I had stayed together and I called him over and he got me back in my boat with no other assistance needed.

Not having swum in anger for years I was mighty pee'd off, and my lack of discipline showed when I realised I was no longer holding my paddle and it was nowhere to be seen. My hat had also come off, and I saw it a few yards away and swam to it.... another no-no. I struggled to then swim back to my boat to complete the rescue as the raft was being blown downwind. I completed the race in a time of about 6 hours and 15 minutes [6:17:27 official time] with my spare paddles with no further problems, very humbled and a pair of all carbon Bracsa VIII wings the lighter.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Macclesfield Canal - 10th August 2009

Clarke Lane <=> Higher Poynton Marina.
Out in 53.45, return at slightly slower pace, stopping for chat with MADCC at Adelphi Mill. Still suffering a bit of numbness and slight pain in my L wrist, but doesn't seem to get any worse. Recovers quickly after a couple of minutes rest.

Portland Harbour - 9th August 2009

Short half hour paddle with Allen in Portland Harbour. Launched from "windsurfing beach" across road from main car park and then paddled under Ferry Bridge and back again. Allen had a quick go in the Epic and seemed to like it.

Weymouth Bay - 8th August 2009

Looking towards Weymouth town beach

Solo paddle, launching from the car park by Secondwind watersports shop at the end of Preston Beach road. Sunny, but with a F3 NW.

Paddled towards Weymouth, along the beach and to the harbour entrace. I then went due E across Weymouth bay to reach the coast again near Bat's Head. Carried on to Lulworth Cove for a snack, then further E into Mupe Bay for a quick call of nature!

Paddled back along the coast to launch point. On the water for 4hrs 20 minutes, covering about 21 miles. Conditions going across the bay was small chop with occasional whitecap on my port side. Maintained track OK using rudder and slight lean when needed. From the GPS I seemed to be doing around 5.2 mph crossing the bay, then more like 5.8 - 6.0 mph once alongside the coast again heading to Lulworth. Return was slower, perhaps averaging around 4.8 mph into slight headwind.

Paddling the Epic and using the wing paddles.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Macclesfield Canal - 3rd August 2009

Clarke Lane <=> Adlington Marina
Bit of a late start, so turned around at Adlington. Still keeping it a bit easy to avoind straining my wrist. Paddled with my normal LH feather. On the water for about 1hr 40min.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Macclesfield Canal - 28th July 2009

Clarke Lane <-> Higher Poynton Marina.
Experimented with different paddle "feather" to try and reduce the numbness then pain in my left wrist.

On the way out I tried 0, about 30, and also RH feather of about 45 degrees (I normally paddle about 60% LH feather). The zero feather seemed to be the most comfortable, so I paddled all the way back that way.

Instinctively it didn't feel that different, and watching my wrists the left hand was not flexing as much as before as would be expected. Not sure if the zero feather is less efficient than the 45-80 degree feather that most racing kayakers use. My time was a bit slow - about an hour on the return, but I put that down to being a bit reserved trying the different paddle configuration and protecting my wrist.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Macclesfield Canal - 25th July 2009

Clarke Lane <-> Higher Poynton Marina. Out in 54.20 with one boat delay, so not too bad. Left wrist was starting to hurt... hand was going a bit numb, so I took it a lot easier on the return (~63 minutes). Can still feel the wrist now, typing this a day later. May try to alter paddle feather or switch to RH control for a while.

PS - saw a kingfisher today. First time I've seen one on the canal.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Macclesfield Canal - 19th July 2009

Clarke lane <-> Adlington marina. Steady/touring pace, on the water for about 1hr 45min. Taking it easy because my left wrist has been playing up a bit... suffering from too much training/racing.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Macclesfield Canal - 10th July 2009

Training paddle. Clarke Lane <-> Higher Poynton Marina.
Out in 53.11, which is a new PB. Was returning at a reasonable pace too, but stopped to chat with MADCC members at Adelphi Mill.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Macclesfield Canal - 6th July 2009

Training paddle - Clarke Lane <-> Adlington Marina (bit short of time!)
On water for about 1hr 15min, about 2/3rds of which was at a reasonable pace.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Macclesfield Canal - 3rd July 2009

Training paddle - Clarke Lane <-> High Poynton Marina.
Out in 53.50, back in 54.50. Calm and sunny. Nice to not have the threat of a thunderstorm or downpour! Seem to be getting fairly consistent times. Just need to work out what to change to get the next time improvement!... perhaps some fartlek might be appropriate.

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Macclesfield Canal - 29th June 2009

Training paddle, Clarke Lane <-> High Poynton Marina.
53.40 out, going fairly well on return but slowed down when reaching Bollington due to blisters on right hand... still to develop suitable callouses... Pat from Macc CC said I'm not paddling enough.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Conwy Ascent - 27th June 2009

This event is a tour and race that uses the incoming tide to go "upstream" on the river Conwy. The race starts at the car park on the "beacons" and goes 15km upstream to finish at the bridge at Dolgarrog. I entered the single kayak race and this included racing K1s, sea kayaks, white water racers and a surf ski.

The le mans start makes it a bit of a scramble to get going, and then you are straight into a busy fast flowing channel. So you are dodging bouys and moored boats while contending with the wash from boats motoring in the channel. This makes for quite bumpy conditions better suited the sea kayaks and WWR boats rather than the K1s. I was 4th going under the bridge leaving the main marine/port area - by this time Ian Tordoff had already established a big lead that he was not going to lose.

The river then flattens out with only small boils and eddies to keep an eye out for plus the occassional wash from a jet ski or waterskier. The fastest flow is not always obvious and it didn't pay to cut corners.

Once under the bridge at Tal-y-cafn the river changes character again, narrower with reed beds on the banks and a couple of islands before the finish. I took the RH channel at the islands and this seemed the best choice.

In the end I finished 4th. (Time of 1:06:41 see full results) Depending on definition of sea kayak, I was first in that class. Ian Tordoff was paddling a "sea vanquish" but this is practically a racing K1 with a couple of deck lines... but then again my Epic is generally faster than the more traditional sea kayaks.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Macclesfield Canal - 24th June 2009

Training paddle, Clarke Lane <-> Higher Poynton Marina.
53.5 minutes out (new record), just under 55 return. That includes a bit of boat traffic too.
Sunny, warm and no spraydeck.

Coquet Island Race - 21st June 2009

5 mile kayak race from Amble (the Braid) out of the harbour then around Coquet Island clockwise and back to start.

Paddled the Epic with the wing paddles. Was around 8th leaving the harbour, with the leader way out ahead already. Gradually moved up through field to finish an exciting second, though still well behind the winner (a good half mile or more!). He was paddling a Rapier 20... another 2ft longer than the Epic! My time was 48.30, 4 minutes behind the winner... full results are here.

Time was just under 50 minutes, conditions were a slight swell with small surf around the island.

Think I need to get closer to footrest/pedals as I didn't feel totally comfortable as I'm slightly stretching. Got cramp in my calf muscles pointing toes to use the rudder. Not convinced rudder is that effective in the swell. More practice needed, but at least I won a prize!

Farne Islands - 20th June 2009

North West Sea Kayakers trip to Northumberland, camping on the Farne Diving Services field in Beadnell.

12 paddlers launched just N of Bamburgh Castle (car park at NU179353) and paddled out to the NW side of Megstone. Tidal stream was flowing SE down the coast and was about 1-2 knots as we crossed, so we paddled on a more northerly bearing to keep on track.

After round Megstone the group split - the group of 6 I was with headed for the NW tip of North Wamses (small race on W side) then across calmer water to land on Longstone (small quay and inlet on NE side of lighthouse). Short stop as 3 of us then decided to head further out to see what was going on at the Knivestones. Tide was moving pretty fast as we headed out, fast smooth water then turbulent downstream of the rock features that were just below surface. At some points you could see the rocks below and realise that although paddling very hard, you were hardly moving. Flow must have been around 4kn. Small whirlpools and waves were traversed on the way back. This was just about 1hour before high tide.

After lunch we headed back on the SE side of the outer isles admiring the bird life and dodging the tourist boats. This was the first time I'd ever seen Puffins in the flesh, so was quite exciting. The various bird colonies consisted of Puffins, Razorbills, Guillemots, Cormorants, Shags, Terns plus other gulls...

We stopped on the NT owned island of Inner Farne (£5.80 landing fee!) and could witness the Puffins and other birds close up. The terns are very aggressive and peck your head - hat/umbrella/crash hat needed next time!

Finally paddled back to launch spot, small surf on beach. Very interesting paddle.

Wind was variable 3 or less, sea state was slightly choppy on way out with tidal features of small races. It was high tide just after setting off back, and sea was much calmer on the return.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Macclesfield Canal - 15th June 2009

Clarke Lane <-> Higher Poynton Marina.
Paddled in a thunderstorm with a heavy downpour. Sheltered under canal bridges a couple of times in the worst rain. Couldn't do normal timed runs because of the weather on the way out, and stopping for a chat with the Macc CC paddlers on the way back. Still trying different strokes - definitely the quieter the stroke the faster the boat goes. Also longer strokes seemed more efficient, gaining a higher speed. Paddled a short distance with Mark Finch and he said it looks as though I could do with more trunk rotation. He also thought the boat was sitting up at the front, though this could be by design. Might be an idea to play with the trim and move the seat further forward.

Llandudno - 14th June 2009

Launched from west Llandudno beach with the intention of performing "sea trials" of the Epic and the wing paddles.

Because of the rudder arrangement of the Epic I wanted to try launching from a beach in a few inches of water so the rudder was not weighted. With the long cockpit this proved fairly easy since I could step into the boat and sit down with one leg still on the ground. Finally I swung the other leg in. Getting out was the reverse - it's possible to raise a leg out of the cockpit and put it on the ground, then get out.

I also tried some rolls and self rescue. The wing paddles were fine on a right hand roll, but I failed on the left. My left side has always been the weaker and I need to work at it to get it more instinctive and correct technique. I managed a couple of self rescues by clambering on to the back deck then sitting astride the boat I could inch forward then drop into the seat. I could then swing my legs in. Wouldn't like to do it in any swell though!

I paddled over to the mouth of the Conwy to have a look at the start of the Conwy Ascent race that I may have a go at in a couple of weeks time. There was a small swell and the boat seemed to track fairly well in the swell and using the rudder I could maintain course without breaking from normal forward paddle strokes. Didn't feel as secure as in the Capella though.

On the water for a couple of hours.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Macclesfield Canal - 11th June 2009

Clarke Lane <-> Higher Poynton Marina
55 minutes out, just under 55 minutes return.
Seems better to ensure that power is put in early in the stroke, i.e. straight after the catch. Still not sure if the paddles are the correct length for me...

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Macclesfield Canal - 9th June 2009

Clarke Lane <-> Higher Poynton Marina
56 minutes out, stopped on way back to chat to Macc CC members.
Using GPS max speed still around 6mph, more consitently around 5.5mph. No idea how some people can get these boats to go around 9-11 mph! I think I'd need bigger paddles (larger surface area) to get a high top speed, but these wouldn't be comfortable over a long distance.

Macclesfield Canal - 7th June 2009

Clarke lane <-> Higher Poynton Marina.
Lot of boat traffic, maybe 56 minutes out and same back. Using the Epic and the wing paddles. Don't have a comfortable/consistent stroke with the wings yet...

Maillaig to Port Ban - 3rd June 2009

Launched in Mallaig harbour and paddled S down the coast to Port Ban (near Back of Keppoch). Fairly strong NE wind, maybe F5 or stronger when concentrated by land features. Slight swell with odd breaking wave/white cap (pictures make it look a lot calmer than it actually was!)

Paddled round skerries, up to the top of the estuary of the River Morar. Paddled out around Eilean Da Chuain about 1 km of the mainland. Paddled into beach by Traigh golf course and around skerries in the bay.

Saw eider ducks, cormorants, oyster catchers, terns etc.

On the water for about 2.5 hours. Timed the landing at Port Ban better this time - much better at high tide - short carry up beach!

Arisaig Skerries - 1st June 2009

Launched from Port Ban near Back of Keppoch then paddled round Eilean Ighe and circumnavigated all the skerries at the mouth of Loch Nan Ceall (the village of Arisaig itself sits at the E end of this loch).

Pretty calm conditions, mirror like water around the non exposed part of the skerries. Main wildlife encounter was the seal colony on the S most skerries (didn't think I was going to see any till I encountered two groups of around 20 seals).

On the water for about 2.5 hours. Great views across to Eigg, Rhum and Skye.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Macclesfield Canal - 22nd May 2009

Clarke Lane to High Poynton Marina and back.

Finally got the new boat (Epic 18X) on the water. Noticeably fast than the Capella. Using the GPS it was cruising at 5.2-5.5mph and could get it up to over 6mph. This is compared to the Capella that cruised at under 5 and felt disproportionately hard work to get it to go much faster. On the way out I stopped to chat to Neil from the Macc CC which must have been for a few minutes, but still broke the hour. On the way back on a timed run I was just under 56 minutes. So although on shorter sections I was over 10% faster than the Capella, this wasn't reflected in a longer run.

Handling of the boat was interesting. Although it has a rudder I didn't really need it because the boat responds well to leaning. I need to tune the seat/footrest position as they are slightly far apart. I'm not used to having both adjustable. I also need to tweak the rudder cables - bit slack.

I'm using the new wing paddles and still getting used to them. I think my speed varies a lot depending how efficiently I'm paddling. A smoother stroke that makes less splash seems to make the boat go faster. I'm also trying to get a smooth "catch" - the initial placement of the blade in the water - again it seems to respond to a slightly deeper stab than I normally do. Trouble is keeping up good style over a long period. I need some coaching from the Macc CC marathon paddlers...

Monday, 18 May 2009

Macclesfield Canal - 18th May 2009

Launched at Clarke Lane and paddled down to Adelphi Mill to say hello to the Macc canoe club. I was using the wings again paddling with my GPS. I managed to get up to a top speed of just under 6mph. No idea how accurate the GPS is though. Really feels as thought you are trying to push the boat uphill so it will be interesting to see what speed I can get to when I get the new boat on the water.

Stayed out for abour 90 minutes doing short prints and longer intervals trying to get used to the required more vertical stroke.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Macclesfield Canal - 16th May 2009

Clarke Lane to Higher Poynton Marina and back. About 68 out, 63 back...

Tried out some new paddles - Bracsa VIII wings. I think they are going to take a bit of getting used to! Wing paddles require a stroke that keeps the paddle more vertical, but also moves out away from the boat. This forces you to rotate your body/shoulders rather than using your arms. I have been practicing a stroke like this, but it is more obvious with the wings when you get it right or wrong.

I'm also not sure what feather angle to use... I tried 45% and 90%. One thing I found was that I had to grip the handle tightly in my left control hand. Reason being that the paddle blades are angled away from the line of the shaft, and hence if you hold them loosely the centre of gravity of the paddle blades wants to rotate the paddle such that they sit at their lowest point. I found this a bit uncomfortable and I hope I get used to it. The shaft is round, not oval, and this may make this more difficult. Time will tell...

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Macclesfield Canal - 11th May 2009

Launched at Clarke Lane with Allen in the Rotobat. Paddled down the canal to meet the Macclesfield Canoe Club at Adelphi Mill. Allen had a session with one of the coaches (Pauline) and did very well. It was a bit cold though, so not sure if he enjoyed it that much. Paddled back to Clarke Lane.

Ravenglass - 10th May 2009

Paddle up the Esk estuary for a few miles with Gavin. Quite a few other boats on the water paddling the seaquest course and collecting the controls in. We drifted down the estuary to start with as there was quite a flow. Gavin was a bit wary (thoughts of big fish that might attack him!) so after a mile I put him on the tow rope and he was much happier. Played on the sand dunes (big cliffs of sand to jump down) before returning to Ravenglass. Wasn't really paying attention to the time, must have been out for a couple of hours. Lovely weather, total contrast to the day before. Nice cup of tea and a plate of chips in the cafe in the sun afterwards. Great weekend.

Ravenglass Seaquest - 9th May 2009

This is a 3 hour "score" type orienteering event that takes place in the 3 estuaries that converge at Ravenglass. Format is to punch as many controls as possible in the 3 hours. You get points for each punch, but the controls farthest away score more. If you are late back, you get time penalties.

You are looking for these...

Either in the water or on the bank. Here's the event map...

And they're off...

I was hoping to paddle my new boat, but the rudder pedal assembly is missing a part that the supplier is trying to track down. So I had to use the Capella, which in the circumstances was most likely a good idea anyway. The weather was mixed to say the least, with sun, rain, hail, moderate winds but ocassional squalls and downpours. This created some interesting conditions in some parts of the estuaries with waves that required crossing or gave assistance surfing. Only at one point was the weather really against me, as a squall hit me at the end of the Irt.

I came second overall with a score of 320 out of a possible 360. I missed 2 controls, one intentionally, one from not quite getting my navigation right. Thanks to Annette Morris and Phil Cheek for organising the event. Thanks to Gavin for taking the photos.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Macclesfield Canal - 2nd May 2009

Training paddle on the canal, Clarke Lane <> Higher Poynton Marina.
63 minutes each way, a lot of canal boat traffic though, so more like 61 each way. Not too bad since I've not paddled much the last 6 weeks.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Macclesfield Canal - 24th April 2009

Bit inactive at the moment - car has been off the road, been on holiday to the US for two weeks, and I'm just getting over a cold... or is it 'flu?....

Anyway, met up with Macc Canoe Club last friday night for a session on the canal. Needed to borrow a boat because my car wasn't going. Did about 4 miles in a "strimmer" - essentially a K1 trainer. Still tipped it over when I first got in it! - seemed fine after that.

Watch this space for new boat/paddle developments...

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Macclesfield Canal - 28th March 2009

Training paddle Clarke Lane <> Higher Poynton.
61 minutes out, 59 back. Northerly wind...

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Great Orme - 21st March 2009

Launched at Rhos on Sea and paddled round Little Orme and Great Orme to lunch on the west beach at Llandudno. Returned following the outbound route.

Plan was to launch at mid tide (10am) as the tide was ebbing and then reach Great Orme around low tide (1pm). Then use the flood tide to come back. Not a big tidal range, so the tidal current was not that significant, but no point fighting it if you don't have to.

Approaching Great Orme
Didn't launch until 10:35 and I wasn't sure if I would make it all the way round Great Orme but I made good progress and the conditions weren't too bad so I went all the way round to the west beach.

Lunch at llandudno west beach
In fact the choppiest water was around Little Orme where the claptosis seemed to be having the greatest effect.

looking E towards Llandudno Pier
Outbound paddle took 2:20, return paddle 2:00. 18 mile round trip.

Loads of birds on both headlands - cormorants and razorbills (?) being the main attraction.

Paddled solo.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Macclesfield Canal - 15th March 2009

Training paddle on the canal, Clarke Lane <> Higher Poynton Marina.
65 minutes out, but stopped for a chat with a fell runner friend and also had a couple of boat delays at bridges. Must have been around 60 minutes paddling.
59 minutes on the return. Arms and shoulders acheing a bit as I type this...

I keep toying with the idea of buying something more "sporty" for the canal - maybe an Epic 18 ("racing" sea kayak). Would be a bit more competitive in any races too...

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Moelfre to Red Wharf Bay - 7th March 2009

Short paddle on Anglesey from Moelfre to Red Wharf Bay. Forecast was for a gale force 8 SW, so we paddled on the eastern side of the island. Still seemed to be a fair bit of "southerly" component to the wind which made it hard work on the outbound journey. Had lunch by the "tavern" and shop on the N end of Red Wharf bay. Return paddle was much quicker, but my skeg had jammed (small stone it turned out... most likely from the initial launch of the day from Moelfre beach) so it was a bit of a struggle keeping on the desired track since the boat wanted to head up into the wind. Perhaps there is something to be said about launching backwards...

Paddled with a large group of NWSK'ers.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Macclesfield Canal - 1st March 2009

Training paddle on the Macclesfield canal. Clarke Lane <> Higher Poynton Marina.
60 minutes out, 62 return. No wind or fishermen!

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Macclesfield Canal - 22nd February 2009

Training paddle on the Macclesfield canal. Clarke Lane <> Higher Poynton Marina.
61 minutes out, on schedule for 63 return, but stopped for a chat at the Macc CC base.
Nice that there wasn't much wind and my boat didn't ice up!

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Macclesfield Canal - 1st February 2009

Clarke Lane to Higher Poynton marina and back. 63 minutes out, 63 minutes return.
Variable, gusty, cold wind coming mainly from the E. I thought it was pretty cold, and this was confirmed when I took the boat out the water - the rear deck had a coating of ice on it!

Paddled with the GPS and my speed seemed to vary between 4.0 and 5.3 mph.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Trwyn Penmon - 25th January 2009

Second day of NWSK meet to celebrate Burns night.

Paddled out from Trwyn Penmon (the headland by Puffin Island) round the coast to the NW to keep out of the very strong SW wind (had been F9 overnight, maybe 5-7 when we set off).

Sea very calm considering the conditions elsewhere. When we got ready to launch it was raining heavily but by time we set off the sun had come out and stayed out for the duration.

We lunched on a steep shingle beach and I had a major scare as while we were finishing our lunch, first Kev's, then my kayak slipped down the beach and into the water. Kev managed to retrieve his from the beach, but mine was being blown out away from the beach. I tried to swim to it, but couldn't catch it up, so Kev had to jump into his kayak to tow it back to me on the beach.

Covered around 8 miles. Paddled with Kev Robinson and Terry from the NWSK.

Menai Strait - 24th January 2009

First day of a Burns weekend with the NWSK staying at the Bangor YHA.

Launched from the slipway on the Menai side, just NE of the Menai Bridge. Played for a little while in the waves/flow of the "swellies" before carrying on down the strait to have lunch at Fort Belan. Assisted by the ebbing tide all the way.

Set off back again, still paddling slightly against the ebbing tide, but this subsided and by time we got back to Menai, they was quite a flow under the two bridges.

Launched about 10am, got off the water at 4.30pm. Weather mainly sunny. Great views of the snow capped hills of Snowdonia. Saw many herons on the shore of the straits - about one every 200 metres it seemed!

Total distance: 21 miles (used my GPS on the return leg to help monitor effect of the tide). Paddled with 6 other NWSKers.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Macclesfield Canal - 17th January 2009

Training paddle on the canal. Clarke Lane <-> Higher Poynton.
60 minutes out, 70 minutes back.
Cold headwind on return!