Thursday, 30 December 2010

Portland Harbour - 28th December 2010

Launched at Castle Cove beach and paddled out through the N entrance to the harbour. Followed the breakwaters S to re-enter the harbour via the S entrance and straight back across the harbour back to Castle Cove.

On the water for 90 minutes, 10.1km paddled. Wind S3-4, about 4ft swell outside the breakwaters.

Weymouth Harbour - 25th December 2010

Quick paddle on Christmas day morning to meet an old friend while providing support to the loonies that swim across Weymouth harbour in aid of charity.

It was nice to see Will Lawrence after nearly 30 years since we used to paddle together in the 70s!

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Puffin Island - 14th November 2010

Second day of the NWSK end of season meet. Although the wind had died down a fair bit, there was still plenty of swell on the W side of Anglesey, so most opted for the sheltered paddle around Puffin Island.

We launched from a beach just short of the toll collection point on the road to Trwyn Penmon and paddled out to the wreck that lies just off shore on a sandbank. At low tides you can actually paddle inside it, but the tide was not low enough today.

We headed out around Puffin anti-clockwise and on the SE side there were many seals and cormorants. The seals were in playful mood and following the boats pulling on toggles and showing a lot of interest in us.
As we rounded the NE end of the island the conditions were a lot rougher with waves of a couple of feet. The Xplore handled the conditions nicely and it was good to have a boat that felt responsive and that is a snug fit for me. The skies at this point were very dramatic with double rainbows and dark clouds.
We landed on the pebble beach just to the W of the lighthouse for a quick snack and then made our way back to the cars and stopped off in the excellent "Big Red Boat" coffee/ice cream shop for a cake and coffee.
Just over 8km paddled.

Moelfre to Point Lynas - 13th November 2010

First day of the North West Sea Kayakers end of season meet, and also first day on salt water for the new boat!

The weather had been pretty wild the day before, but was calming down on the Saturday. We still opted to paddle on the more sheltered NE coast of Anglesey as the forecast was still up to F5 from the W. High tide was 3pm Liverpool, which meant the tide was flooding as we paddled north. In theory this should be against the tide, but the tide eddies around Point Lynas to create a N'erly flow.

The sun was shining and the conditions were quite pleasant in the shelter of the small cliffs on the outward leg.

In the more exposed bays the sidewind was noticeable and the Xplore had a tendency to luff towards the wind if the skeg was not deployed. This is normal handling characteristics for most boats, but it still seemed strange having to use correcting strokes or a bit of lean compared to using the rudder on the Epic.

We had a lunchtime stop a couple of kilometers short of Point Lynas, shuffling around on the rocks to keep in the sun as it moved behind the slope behind the beach.

Heading off again we made quick progress to Point Lynas and once around the tip we were exposed to rougher conditions with some confused swell of a couple of feet.

On the return paddle we rounded the small island of Ynys Dulas with it's tower and seal colony. By this time it had clouded over slightly giving dramatic cloud/light. The return paddle was against the tide and at times we were only making 2-3kph as a group.

Paddled as a group of 8 singles and one double. About 20km.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Macclesfield Canal - 7th November 2010

Clarke Lane <-> Higher Poynton Marina.

I've been thinking about re-organising my "fleet" of boats, and when I noticed Knoydart were having a sale I jumped at the chance to buy a boat at a (slightly) discounted price!... so I'm now the proud owner of a Tiderace Xplore S. Just so happens that the colour is my usual - white hull and deck.

So I paddled the Xplore on the canal instead of the Epic and made the outward trip in 57:54... slower than the Epic as would be expected, but seems to be faster than the Capella. I hope that is the case, since that's one of the reasons I bought it. I've tried a number of boats in this class, but to me it seemed to have the best cockpit ergonomics for my short legs with a very positive feel as my knees fit comfortably under the thigh grips. Just need to see how it handles in rougher water at Anglesey next weekend.

The Capella is now for sale on a number of forums...

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Macclesfield Canal - 31st October 2010

Clarke Lane <-> Higher Poynton Marina.
Back on the canal after a bit of a break (still not quite finished the hall decorating!). Out in 57:14, back in 58:12. Longish boat delay on the way out and a fishing tournament at Adlington marina.
Will be nice to do something more exciting - should have gone to Northumberland for the Storm Gathering.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

FSRT Course - 2nd October 2010

Day long course called "Foundation Safety and Rescue Course" that is a pre-requisite for starting any BCU coaching qualifications. The course was run by Mark Finch from the MADCC and held at Brereton Lake.

The course covered a range of topics from equipment, use of throw bags, towing techniques and finally rescues of different boat types. I've performed rescues a number of times from sea kayaks and earlier in my canoeing career from the older style "slalom kayaks", but it was interesting to handle open canadians and small plastic play boats. The latter were particularly troublesome to re-enter once emptied due to the lack of buoyancy in the rear - a tactic of climbing in over the rescuer's boat seemed to work better than the "heel hook" style of re-entry.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Macclesfield Canal - 25th September 2010

Clarke Lane <=> Higher Poynton Marina.
Out in 54:34, didn't feel that energetic, so had a couple of rests on the way back to take photos and admire the scenery... very nice autumnal sunshine, but pretty cool.

Chester 2 Marathon - 19th September 2010

Took part in my first BCU marathon at Chester. As a new starter in the discipline I had to race in Division 9 over the shorter distance of 4 miles (hardly a marathon!). I paddled the Epic sea kayak, which being 18ft long is not strictly legal, though I doubt it is faster than the 17ft K1 racing kayaks.

I won my race fairly easily, so hopefully I'll get ranked in a higher division for next time. I'll also need to paddle a proper K1, so I'll need to borrow one off of the Macc CC.

Update 3/10/10 - Time was 37:29, and I've been promoted to Div 7. Same time would have placed me 2nd in Div 8, and 3rd in Div 7.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Fleetwood Seaquest - 11th September 2010

With the highest tide of the year and the forecast being a bit windy, the organisers were forced to shorten the event from its normal 22km down to 15km and keep the race within the confines of the Wyre estuary. This missed out the mass beach start and the entertaining crossing of the harbour mouth which was a bit of a shame. Hopefully this isn't a permanent change, although the new base at the River Wyre Country Park was an excellent venue.

Event base at River Wyre Country Park
The revised course involved visiting eight orienteering type controls and punching the supplied map/scorecard. The controls had to be visited in a set order which limits any real route choice.

The new event base precluded a "Le Mans" type start, so the boats were massed in a side channel and set off with a horn blast. Heading N up the W bank against the incoming tide, John Willacy quickly established a small lead that, as we expected, he extended throughout the race. Glen Parry settled into 2nd place on his racing surf ski (the more tippy one of the two he owns). I was paddling with Ned Price and Kate Duffus for a while but by the first check point had managed to pull slightly ahead of these two.

Preparing to Launch
The second checkpoint involved crossing the estuary which meant a large ferry glide across the incoming current. Not sure if I took the best line as John W and Glen seemed to get further away - they crossed over to the other side more directly before working up the E bank to the checkpoint. I took a more direct line, but this may have involved staying in the incoming current for longer.

The 3rd checkpoint was quite a way down the E bank now, and this proved a bit of a slog. We didn't swing far out into the estuary and stayed down the E side. This meant we most likely didn't benefit much from the incoming tide, but it would have involved quite a wide track to pick up what was left of the incoming flood.

Continuing on through the next checkpoints Ned was never far behind me which gave me the incentive to keep working hard. By the S end of the race and the turning point at the bridge, Ned was about 50m behind me. I managed to maintain the difference through the remaining checkpoints and finished in a time of 1:42, 12 minutes behind John W. and a few minutes behind Glen. Reasonably pleased with the result, but it's still more down to the boat rather than me.

Lady winner - Pascale Eichenmuller

2nd Lady - Kate Duffus running to hand in control card
After the race had a quick paddle in a P&H Cetus MV which seemed quite fast, though the seat/thigh grip location didn't seem that comfortable.

Jim Wallis
Post race refreshments consisted of Lancashire Hot Pot with mushy peas followed by chocolate cake! Very tasty. My 3rd place won a £10 Brookbank gift voucher. Not quite as lucrative as last week, but nice to be in the prizes. All in all another excellent event.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Oban Sea Kayak Race - 4th September 2010

This was the first running of this race, a circumnavigation of the island of Kerrera. I've never paddled in this area before, so it was a good excuse to visit Oban and enter the race.

Fine weather prerace 
His and Hers Rockpool Tarans (the pinkish one is his!)
The event was based from the Kilbowie outdoor centre, just outside Oban. The centre provided parking, launching and toilets for the race and a number camped for one or two nights in the centre's grounds (including me). Registration and boat/kit checks took place from 11am till noon in pleasant sunshine, then the fleet launched and made its way en-masse down to the Oban harbour a couple of kilometers away. Once on the town beach we had an hour to kill before the race started, the reason for this being that we had to wait for a ferry to dock and subsequently depart but it also gave an opportunity for some publicity of the event with loads of kayaks sitting on the beach with a pipe band to entertain the tourists. The organisers had only decided to put on the race a couple of months beforehand and in the end 54 paddlers lined up for the start which made a spectacular site in the harbour.

Fleet makes it way to the start
Landing on Oban town beach
Waiting for the ferry to depart
The race started at 2:15 and we headed off down the Sound of Kerrara. John Willacy soon hit the front and stayed there for the whole race, gradually getting completely out of site. I managed to keep the boat moving fairly well as we battled some squalls and may be a little wind against tide effects that caused some bouncy conditions down the Sound. I rounded the SE tip in second place and managed to surf a bit as I made my way across to the Bach Island channel. GPS reading seemed to peak around 12kph.

Once round on the W side of the island conditions eased up a bit and it was possible to get more into a rythym. I maintained second position through till the fish farm just short of the N end of the island, but I was starting to tire and I was overtaken by local lad, Jon Warwick. I couldn't catch him back up but he provided some motivation to keep working hard and making sure I didn't lose any more places. I eventually finished in a time of 2:13 in third place, but importantly first over 50!...which meant I won the senior prize. One advantage of turning 50 this summer...

Glen Parry running to hand his number in
Putting it in perspective, John Willacy had finished in a time of 1:55... so still out in a different league. His partner, Pascal finished first lady, so their trip up from Anglesey proved well worth while and meant they were busy in the prize giving.

After the event we congregated back at the Kilbowie centre. The weather had deteriorated a bit by this time, so the centre very kindly opened up a lounge and area where we could eat our burgers and have the prize giving. The prizes were superb - main category winners could choose between cags, bouyancy aid, or boots then there were cash, books, dvds for other categories/lower positions. John Willacy gets his name as the first winner on the silver cup that will be presented as a perpetual trophy.
So thanks to the organisers - Gus and Mark - plus all the helpers. Thanks to the Kilbowie centre for use of its facilities and finally thanks to the sponsors for the generous prizes!... hope to be back again if they run it next year.

Annette Morris (2nd Open Lady)

Phil Cheek sprinting for the finish

Monday, 30 August 2010

Portland Harbour and the Fleet - 29th August 2010

Quick jaunt from Castle Cove across to the fleet and up to the bridging camp. On the water for an hour, GPS measured 7.8km. Strange paddling up the fleet against a strong wind - progress felt slow, but GPS was reading 10-11kph - showing the strength of the incoming tide. Once turned around it was necessary to stick to the sides to miss the main flow.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Macclesfield Canal - 20th August 2010

Back to the usual training paddle - Clark Lane <-> Higher Poynton Marina.
Out in 52.18, back in 57. Fast paddle out, but a bit of wind assistance that combined with being a bit tired from the Eddystone slowed the return.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Eddystone Challenge - August 14th 2010

Back again to try and complete this in better style than last time! I paddled through out with Glen Parry my "buddy" from last year.

Weather forecast wasn't ideal (N F4-5) but conditions were fairly calm and the organisers went for it. (The bad weather alternative is a 10 mile race up the Tamar and around the harbour).

A gig makes ready

Glen ready to make his way to the start

John Willacy

We started at noon and with a light wind on our backs and a small swell generally in our favour we made good progress out to the lighthouse, reaching the light in 2:20 - compared to last year's time of 3:10. A much easier paddle than last time, with the GPS reading 10-11 kph.

Approaching the light

Glen (far right) rounding the light

Conditions were still pretty good as we approached the light but we encountered choppy waves immediately as we headed back due to tidal action around the rocks (small overfall/tide race). Another paddler took a wider route around the light and made up time on us.

Looking back towards the distant mainland the weather looked varied - sunshine in places but heavy rain was also visible. Conditions deteriorated with the wind getting up (maybe NW F4-5?) with choppy swell and small waves coming on to us from the left. Adding to that the occasional squall of heavy rain made the return paddle a real slog. GPS was reading around 5kph most of time, at times just over 6kph in the more friendly swell and down to about 2kph in the heavy squalls.

Once about 5k out from the harbour breakwater the land started to shield us from the worst of the weather and we managed to pick up speed slightly and maintain a decent rhythm and by the time we reached the inner harbour Glen and I were paddling at 9-10kph to try and ensure we made it back in under 6 hours. We finally crossed the line in a time of 5:55. Not too bad, but considering John Willacy went around in 4:39 (TBC) it's obvious we're not in the same league. GPS trip reckoned the route was 45km.


It was slightly easier to eat and drink this time, so I felt a bit better. Still should have eaten more beforehand - toast and special K for breakfast should have been complemented with something more substantial before the race - bacon butty from the race BBQ and/or banana perhaps. On the water I ate 2 chewy bars, several jelly babies and a chopped up double decker. As well as 1 litre in a bladder, I had 500ml of water with electrolyte added.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Bridgewater Canal - 7th August 2010

Back on the canals... but a different one this time. Jim from the NWSK needed to pick up a new boat from the P&H shop in Runcorn, so he wanted to paddle it back to Manchester via the Bridgewater Canal.

So after a good look around the shop and sitting in another boat (the prototype Delphin), at 10am we launched Jim's new Cetus MV and along with Sean we headed off towards Manchester.

Very civilised - ice cream stop just after 11am, sausage and chips in Lymm for lunch and a pint at the Barn Owl Inn mid afternoon.

Jim's brother Chris paddled out from Manchester and met us at Lymm just in time for lunch.

We arrived in Stretford around 4.30pm after 32km of paddling.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Rhoscolyn - 3rd August 2010

Family trip to the beach, but we took a couple of boats with us. Had a paddle round the bay with Gavin laying on my back deck and Allen paddling the Rotobat.

Back on the beach I got both boys to fall out of the Rotobat, and I took them through how I would rescue them.

Had a quick paddle around Rhoscolyn Beacon by myself a bit later.

Church Bay to Cemaes Bay - 1st August 2010

Met up with Will, Mary, Brian and Dave from the NWSK for a day trip from Church Bay round Carmel Head and on to the N coast of Anglesey.

Set off from Church Bay with Mary and Dave just after 11am and quickly joined the flood tide with bouncy conditions through the skerries off Ynys Y Fydlyn and on to Carmel Head. Peak GPS reading was 13kph. About 2-3 ft waves in places with the tide running against the NW 2-3 wind. The Skerries lighthouse looked very tempting, and the Skerries were in view pretty much throughout the trip.

Stopped for a snack and to wait for Will and Brian (who was delayed) at a beach just before Harry Furlough's Rocks/Trwyn Cemlyn. Once we were all together we carried on rock hopping our way round to Cemaes Bay and stopped for a late lunch and to wait for the tide to turn (HT 3.20pm).

Dave had hurt his back doing a support stroke, so he didn't want to go any further and we were planning to pick him up later, but luckily another paddler we knew entered the bay and we arranged for him to take Dave back to his car at Church Bay.

On the return trip we didn't really benefit from the ebb tide until Harry Furlough's Rocks where there was a small race and a few waves to play in. The sun had come out for a while and we stopped for a final rest at the lovely Hen Borth before making our way around quickly with the tide around Carmel Head back to Church Bay to land around 7pm.

Total distance around 31km.