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.