Saturday, 17 December 2011

Macclesfield Canal - 17th December 2011

First time back on the canal after a bit of a rest due to a cold, and what a shock! Loaded the boat up and drove down to the Clarke Lane bridge in heavy snow. Got on the water and within 50 metres hit a cloudy patch that then got more solid and crunchy and finally my paddle was skidding off the ice rather than breaking through it. Turning around didn't seem a good idea, so I managed to get to the side and walked back to the bridge. Looked like the trip was going to be a waste of time, but I tried the other direction and luckily the ice was never too thick to plough through. Ended up paddling for 70 minutes. Only got cold putting the boat on and off the car - "pogie" mitts were working well.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Bollington Pool - 2nd December 2011

30 minute pool session. Slightly better success rate on the hand rolls. Left side roll not brilliant.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Bollington Pool - 25th November 2011

Half hour pool session. Practicising rolling etc. Managed one hand roll, need get some consistency!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Macclesfield Canal - 20th November 2011

Clarke Lane <> Higher Poynton Marina.
Out in 53:00, back in 56:13. Feeling a bit more energetic on the way out, but still lacking overall fitness.

Bollington Pool - 18th November 2011

Half hour pool session. Hand rolls not working this week ;(

Monday, 14 November 2011

Macclesfield Canal - 13th November 2011

Launched from Clarke Lane and paddled south for a change. Reached 8km on the GPS and then turned around. Out in 54:10, back in 55:30. Bit windy in places.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Bollington pool session - 11th November 2011

30 minute pool session. Right side roll fine, left side roll still borderline and lacking technique. Managed to do 3 hand rolls though! - first for about 30 years!... also did a reverse screw... stop sniggering at the back!

Monday, 7 November 2011

Penrhyn Mawr - 6th November 2011

Setting out from Porth Dafarch the autumn sun was warm and welcome. Three groups of kayakers had already departed from the bay while we were getting ready and throughout the day we bumped into them and other groups making use of the glorious sunshine and calm conditions. It was nice to be on the sea again, after a few weeks of just paddling on the canal.

Will Herman rock hopping
We paddled out along the coast, doing a bit of rock hopping and exploring inlets and made our way around to Penrhyn Mawr. The NE flow was only just starting and there wasn't much turbulence or waves to play on so we carried on around the coast and had a lunch stop on a rocky/pebble beach in "Abraham's Bosom".

Mary Erasmus @ Penrhyn Mawr
After a pleasant lunch in the sun we paddled back round to Penrhyn Mawr where the flow had increased sufficiently to kick up some waves and fast current to play about in. A couple of the groups we had met earlier were also playing in the race, though conditions were fairly friendly due to the lack of any significant swell and the moderate tide.

Aled Williams
We bumped into Aled Williams in his new boat - an 18ft racing style kayak called the "Pace 18" that he has just put into production with Tiderace. It looks a fast machine, so hopefully they'll be even more racing kayaks at the sea races next year. We played on the tide race for at least an hour, then headed back to Porth Dafarch to land just after 4pm. More photos on flickr.

Heading Home

Packing Up

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Macclesfield Canal - 30th October 2011

Clarke Lane <> Adlington Marina.
Out in 39:30, then toured back in a leisurely 50 minutes. Bored with the canal!

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Macclesfield Canal - 22nd October 2011

Clarke lane - Higher Poynton Marina.
Out in about 55:00 (GPS turned off by itself), back in 58:50. Boat delays and a headwind on the return slowed me down somewhat.

Macclesfield Canal - 19th October 2011

Night training paddle, Clarke Lane - Adlington Marina. Out in 39:28, back in 39:45.
Scariest moment was meeting another paddler coming towards me with no lights either.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Macclesfield Canal - 9th October 2011

Usual training paddle, Clarke Lane <-> Higher Poynton Marina.
Out in 54:50, back in 54:15 including some boat delays.
Must sync up better with the Macc CC and use one of the K1s. Left wrist has been feeling a bit sore, so need to keep an eye on it.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Puffin Island - 2nd October 2011

Relatively short paddle from Benllech to Trwyn Y Penrhyn. 18k paddled, SW wind F3-4, slight sea. Went around Puffin Island around high tide, so no real tidal action. Stopped to watch the seals on the N end of Puffin. Approx 3.5 hours on the water.

Hilbre Island Race - 1st October 2011

This was the first time Liverpool Canoe Club had organised this race, so it was not widely advertised to keep numbers under control and to see how it goes.

The race started and finished at the public slipway at the south end of the marine lake at West Kirby. There were two options on race length, either a shorter 4km race around Little Eye and back, and a long race of 8km going around all the islands and back to the start.

Conditions were somewhere between slightly choppy and calm, with a southerly breeze. I was averaging over 10kph on the outward leg and more like 8-9kph on the return upwind leg.

There were 21 starters in the main single kayak class of the longer race, and I came in first in a time of 51:48.

The 3rd boat back was a canadian canoe paddled by a team of two. They looked pretty impressive and I later found out they are world marathon "masters" champions!

Preparing for the start

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Macclesfield Canal - 28th September 2011

Clarke Lane <-> Bridge 18 (Adlington Marina)
40 minutes each way, paddling about 9kph. Still struggling to get the speed I had just after Eddystone.

Return leg was pretty much in the dark by time I had finished and it will take a bit of getting used to. Not too bad in areas of the canal with some nearby lights, but in the more remote areas with overhanging trees it's pretty difficult to see. Don't want to use lights though, since this mucks up night vision.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Macclesfield Canal - 24th September 2011

Normal training route, Clarke Lane <-> Higher Poynton Marina.
Out in 56:57, back in 56:15.
Tried to concentrate more on style than speed, so a bit slower than normal.
Trying to ensure good rotation, strong deep catch, straight arm action uncoiling the trunk rotation, then an early paddle exit. Not sure if I was doing all that though!....

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Chester Hasler Races - 18th September 2011

Raced in Div 7 over 4 miles. Came 4th out of 5, bit disappointing, but looks like I'm in the right division because I would have won the Div 8 race.

Paddled the Kirton Tor K1. Not sure if I really got the boat moving well which I suppose is not surprising since it was only my second time in a K1. Need to work on technique as I'm sure I'm not paddling efficiently.

Macclesfield Canal - 16th September 2011

About one hour on the canal paddling a racing K1 (Kirton Tor) in preparation for racing at Chester on Sunday. First time ever in a proper K1!.... bit tippy at first but not feeling too unstable once going.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Macclesfield Canal - 7th September 2011

Training session on the canal, Clarke Lane <=> Bridge 18 (Adlington Marina).
Shorter training route now the nights are closing in. Will attempt to keep doing this through the winter - need to rig up some light system to enable paddling in the dark.
Out and back in 40 minutes each leg.

Oban Sea Kayak Race - 3rd September 2011

Before the start
This was the second running of this event that entails a 20km circuit of the island of Kerrera starting and finishing in Oban bay. It was nice to see a good turnout of competitive/fast kayaks - Inuks, Epics, Rapiers, Tarans, Nelos were all represented along with one surf ski.

The rest of the fleet
The weather was looking a bit touch and go and plans were in place to fall back to the rough weather route, but luckily conditions improved just enough to enable the call to be made to go all the way around the island - Gus (the organiser) asked me if we should go, and I gave him the thumbs up.

The race started at 1pm with us all lined up in the bay in front of the lifeboat which demanded a prominent position as the event beneficiary (but slightly in the way!). The first leg down the strait was into a gusty headwind and increasing waves. A lot of paddlers tried to keep tucked into the shores to get shelter, but not sure if this made much difference.

The rounding of the southern tip of the island was the roughest part of the race followed by a paddle across the bay to "Back Island" with waves coming on the port side. Once through the channel between Back Island and the Kerrera main island it was possible to pick up waves to get short surfing rides. These waves gradually faded out as we progressed along the west coast. Finally we rounded the northern tip and crossed to the mainland side to finish back in Oban harbour.

I was much further down the field this time due to the higher quality turnout and finished in 14th place in a time of 2:18. I was loosing places on the first leg down the straits, but once round the southern tip I managed to make up a few places and had my sights on trying to catch George Oliver who had just beaten me on the Coquet race. I didn't quite catch him and I ended up 5th in the over 50's senior race.

Bit disappointed that my time was nearly 5 minutes slower than the previous year - other people seemed to improve on their times. Main reason could be that I lost about 4 weeks paddling at the end of July and August due to US trips. Just need to be fitter next year!

Macclesfield Canal - 31st August 2011

Not the normal training session this time, instead I took Gavin for a short paddle for about an hour on the canal in two boats I have just bought. Gavin has been going to the monday night sessions with the Macc canoe club and I decided to get a couple of secondhand boats that we could use to paddle at other times, so I bought an InaZone 230 and an Acrobat 270. Gavin loves the InaZone since it also matches the colour of his cag and bouyancy aid. Also being a Pyranha boat, it has the fish logo too!

Monday, 29 August 2011

Menai Straits - 28th August 2011

Met up with Arnaud, Andrea and Jim from the NWSK for a paddle up/down the Menai Straits. Had originally planned to go from Moelfre, but it was perhaps a bit too windy for Andrea (NW F4-5 maybe 6 at times was the forecast) so along with quite a few other groups we opted for the more sheltered location.

Launched from Gallows Point near high tide and set off SW down the straits towards Menai. We took it fairly leisurely hugging the Anglesey side, admiring some of the fantastic houses and guessing which of the many small beaches would make good bivvy spots.

Once near the first bridge, the Menai Bridge, we picked up the main flow of the ebbing tide and started to play the various eddies and spouts under the arches of the bridge and the rocks. This trip is much more like paddling a big river than my normal sea outings with a lot of opportunity to practice river skills rather than those required on the open sea.

We had lunch on the island of Ynys Gored Goch. This is a little island in the middle of the straits with a couple of cottages on it and surrounded by fish traps (or the remains thereof). Initially we thought no-one was "in", but while sitting down to our packed lunches a long haired labrador appeared, shortly followed by a couple and some kids. A quick check that they didn't mind us landing meant that we continued to eat and admire the situation, surrounded by fast flowing water and a good view of the second bridge, the Britannia. Jim told how the bridge was converted from its original box girder design into a two tiered metal arch version.

After lunch we paddled around the middle pier of the Britannia and by this time the flow was decreasing. We chatted with some of the other groups that were in the vicinity and headed back towards Beaumaris with a gentle flow to assist us now and the wind on our backs.

It didn't take too long to get back, but to our dismay when we reached Gallows Point the tide was very low (it was near springs) and the small shingle beach we had launched from was now 200-300 metres away, protected by a muddy beach covered in shellfish. We tried to take a direct approach of walking up the beach, but it was very gloopy and frequently you were going up to your shins or more. So we retreated to a spot with much less mud to cross before terra firma could be reached. Andrea, Arnaud and I made it across, but poor Jim had a nasty experience of sinking up to his thighs and getting stuck, so he extracted himself back into his boat and made his way back to the Gazelle hotel where we picked him up later and where we had a quick pint followed by excellent fish and chips in Beaumaris.

17.9km paddled.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Macclesfield Canal - 26th August 2011

Clarke Lane <> Higher Poynton Marina Out in 52:27, back in 52:07. Back to some reasonable form after two trips to the US. Oban race next weekend, so now time to rest.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Macclesfield Canal - 22nd August 2011

Another 1 hour session while Gavin was with the Macc CC. Took it fairly easy, doing approx 4 miles.

Macclesfield Canal - 21st August 2011

Clarke Lane <=> Higher Poynton Marina Out in 56:18, back in 59:30. Lots of boat delays as the canal was very busy. Feeling a bit more lively, but after coming back from LA, I was out in Orlando 3 days later on business and returned yesterday.

Macclesfield Canal - 15th August 2011

Just over an hour long session while Gavin had a paddle with the Macc CC. Didn't feel very energetic since I'd only come back from Los Angelese the day before.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Penrhyn Mawr and the Stacks - 24th July 2011

A last minute pass out from Nancy allowed me to "bag" another personal first - going round the South and North Stack lighthouses on Anglesey.

We launched from Porth Dafarch with the intention of using the flood tide to take us north and then use the ebb to return. The idea was to play in the tide races on the way out and to take our time exploring, since a number of us had not been along this section of the coast before (I'd not been much further past Penrhyn Mawr).

Porth Dafarch
A lovely sunny day meant we left in high spirits and we were soon approaching Penrhyn Mawr. This tide race has a notorious reputation, but with it only being a neap tide it wasn't showing it's nasty side. We split up and played in various parts of the race - the bigger waves were to be found on the "outside" of the islands/reefs and the easier water was in the inner channels. A number of us did rolls and some planned/unplanned rescue practice! The waves on the outer race were perhaps 2-3 feet at times but fairly gentle.

Penrhyn Mawr inner channel
Barry and Kate surfing the outer race
After a reasonable play we grouped up and headed north rock hopping around Abraham's Bosom (the bay between Penrhyn Mawr and South Stack) and we had lunch on the first boulder beach.

Rock hopping
lunch stop
Continuing on our way with interesting rock hopping and caves throughout we approached South Stack with it's impressive rock architecture. We passed under the bridge and through the small channel that separates the lighthouse island from the mainland and entered Gogarth Bay.

Approaching South Stack
Typical Cave - must bring headtorch next time!
The high cliffs with their in-situ climbers provided an awesome backdrop to our paddle. In my climbing days I'd never quite got around to doing the classic route, "Dream of White Horses" but it was great to finally see it, if only from below. We had a quick nose into Parliament House Cave but didn't stop and we continued around North Stack.

Looking into Parliament House Cave

By this time the tide had started to turn, and the North Stack race was just starting to kick up some playful waves - enhanced significantly with the swell from the SeaCat when it passed. Barry Shaw told me to just look out for the sea level rising on the horizon to get a warning of the incoming swell, and sure enough you could see the sea rise as the large set of waves came in.

North Stack race starting up
We played around in the race for a while then retired back to Parliament House Cave for an afternoon snack. The cave is a real sun trap and it's easy to just lay back and relax in such wonderful surroundings.

By this time another group of paddlers from the NWSK appeared from their circumnavigation of Holy Island, so we all joined up for the return paddle to Porth Dafarch.

This paddle has a reputation for the powerful tide races, but for me I haven't seen much better cliff and cave scenery, so to do this paddle on a calm day on neap tides is a magical experience.

About 18km paddled. Launched around 10:30am, off the water around 5:30pm.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Macclesfield Canal - 21st July 2011

Clarke Lane <> Higher Poynton Marina
Out in 52:14, back in 52:58.
Nice to get under 53 minutes on both legs.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Macclesfield Canal - 14th July 2011

Out in 54:30, though I had to wait for a barge to clear the final bridge that cost me about 45 seconds.
Back in 52:28. Quite a few paddlers (novices?) out on the canal in Bollington on my return, apologies for not stopping to chat!

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Macclesfield Canal - 7th July 2011

Clarke Lane <> Higher Poynton Marina.
Out in 50:26! Toured back in 1:06.
GPS had average speed as 9.9kph.
Must be quite fit after over 5 hours of training from the Eddystone.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Eddystone Challenge - 2nd July 2011

Second race in successive weekends!...

I have a love hate relationship with this event. 28 miles is a long way and normally one of the legs is a real slog (if not both!). However it gives a real sense of achievement to finish it and is something to aim for when doing all those sessions on the canal.

This year for once the weather forecast did not make holding the event touch and go. If the forecast is more than a F4, the organisers normally abandon the Eddystone route and opt for a bad weather alternate race in Plymouth harbour and its estuaries. So with a forecast of variable 3 or less and smooth or slight seas the pre-race atmosphere was a lot more relaxed than the normal tense situation of not knowing whether we are doing the Eddystone or not.

With the sunny conditions I drank plenty of fluids beforehand - a cup of tea, a bottle of sports drink and a bottle of water. I also put on plenty of sun cream. Last year I felt as though I hadn't eaten enough, so I also had a bacon butty and a cheese and tomato roll.

The race started at noon, and the field makes its way out of the harbour by the western channel around the breakwater. In side the harbour the large number of boats create wash that causes some confused waves, but once the first few km are under your belt the harbour is left behind and you are left squinting into the distance trying to make out the smallest glimpse of the lighthouse on the horizon. Hopefully then you can settle into a rhythm clocking of the kilometres and keeping an eye on the navigation.

In theory you are meant to pass close by to marshall yachts that are stationed on the route. However the field gets spread widely and hardly anyone seems to take the direct route. This year the tidal flow and slight wind pushed the field west, so I was continually aiming off to the left of the lighthouse to try and keep on the general line, but I still don't remember passing any of the marshall yachts.

I rounded the light after 2:40 hours of paddling and didn't feel too bad. I had a quick chat with a gig that rounded with me and stayed with them and a single scull skiff for a while, but again they seemed to be going off what I thought was the best line, so I ended up by myself on a route to the west of them.

I was managing to keep up a pace of between 7-10kph, mainly dependent on the waves - sometime there would be some swell coming in from the SE, other times it would be smooth and then sometimes wash from passing boats would cause some mixed chop that needed some concentration to not be caught out.

By this time the effect of the pre-race drinks were catching up with me and I was dying for a pee!... however I knew I'd have to wait another couple of hours. On balance I think it was a good decision to take on the liquids before hand, but I could have done without the uncomfortable feeling for the return leg.

My GPS was set with the finish line as a destination waypoint and it was continually estimating the time to finish. I gave a cheer when it said 2 hours, then you keep looking down disappointed each time to see it show longer than you think it should be.

Gradually you make out more and more of the features on the land and the city and harbour of Plymouth. The return leg enters the harbour through the eastern channel by the breakwater and you are searching for the structures on the breakwater that show where the ends of the breakwater lie. My view was obstructed by a rather large ship - HMS Illustrius had just anchored up outside the breakwater and in the end I passed by quite close. If I was further up the field, I'd have had to deal with it potentially crossing my path!... not something I'd like to consider.

The western end of the breakwater has a lighthouse, then in the middle of the breakwater there is a round fortification and then the eastern end has a conical light tower. Once you can make out that tower, you know you don't have far to go.

Nearing the harbour I was getting pretty tired and my right buttock was feeling a bit numb/sore. However I was still maintaining a steady speed and gradually the GPS was showing minutes and seconds rather than hours, and then finally you enter the harbour. Even now though you still have 3km to go, and this seems to go on for ages. Boats pass you and their wash causes you to break rhythm as you correct your course. The finish line gradually gets closer and realising it's nearly all over a final push sees me over the line in a time of 5:21.

Once over the finish line there is another mile long paddle back to the event centre and I did this very slowly being extremely tired. I landed on the slipway to be met by John Willacy who helped me hobble out of my boat and a few other folks carried my boat up the slip out of the way. I stretched my legs and then headed for the loo!

For once I felt I did the event in reasonable style - maintaining an even pace throughout and having equal times pretty much for both legs. In the end I was the second single seat kayak (K1) to finish - rather depressing though because John Willacy had finished an hour ahead of me! Overall race winner was a two seater surf ski that did it in just under 4 hours. I ate a few jelly babies and three cereal bars during the race and checking my water bladder I had drank just under 2 litres of water.

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Coquet Island Race - 27th June 2011

Second day of the Northumberland trip.

Fine weather was a great bonus for this race - last year's had to be restricted to just the harbour due to high winds. It was very pleasant chatting and enjoying the sun before and after the race.

The race is about 5 miles in length, starting and finishing in Amble harbour with a loop around Coquet Island.

I didn't get off to the best of starts - I was trying to get away from a group of slalom boats that congregated near me when I heard "go" shouted with no other warning!

A white water racer (river boat) steamed off in front and was never caught, however the "sea kayaks" were much more tightly bunched and I got to the front of this pack and led them out to the island. Wily racer George Oliver wash hanged me and then as we rounded the island he moved past me as we were dispersed by breakers on the island's reefs.

I tried to get back past George, but any time I got close he managed to just keep ahead. I thought I might out surf him on the return to the harbour as we had a following swell and small waves with us, but if anything my surfing took me off the best line and I couldn't make up ground on him. In the end he finished about 15 seconds in front of me. The white water racer didn't qualify for the main prizes, so I got the 2nd sea kayak prize. Slightly disappointing, because last time I did this race I beat George!

Dave Brook was very pleased to win the "old man of the sea" prize for the 1st over 65.

Beadnell Beach and Seahouses - 25th June 2011

First day of a weekend trip up to Northumberland. Met up with Dave Brook and Jim Krawiecki from the NWSKers.

Ollie Jay from active4seasons arranged a kayak taster session at Beadnell beach with various boats from tiderace, valley, north shore, prijon and P&H. So a number of paddlers were trying out the different boats in the small surf on the beach. I initially had a surf in my XploreS but was tempted to have a go in the P&H Aries that Jim had brought up with him.

The Aries is designed as a sea play boat and seems to perform as designed. Main advantage surfing is that you can spin it around quickly to catch a wave. It spins in a couple of sweep strokes which is great. On the wave it was definitely a lot more manoeuverable than the Xplore, but you would expect that. Wasn't so sure about the cockpit fit initially, but once I shortened the foot pegs I seemed to be fairly well secure in the boat - good job because I capsized a couple of times in the shallow water and managed to roll/push up off the bottom OK without falling out of the boat.

After the surfing sessions I paddled along the short N to St. Aiden's beach just past Seahouses. Some swell and breakers on the reefs to watch out for, and nice 2-3ft surf on St. Aiden's itself. Main attraction though was the bird life - as you get nearer to the Farne Islands the number of birds just increases dramatically - Puffins being my favourite and they were frequently on the water just a few metres from me.

On the water for a couple of hours surfing, then a couple of hours for the round trip to Seahouses.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Macclesfield Canal - 21st June 2011

Clarke Lane <> Higher Poynton Marina
Out in 56:46, back in 59:16.
Paddling the Xplore this time.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Macclesfield Canal -19th June 2011

Clarke Lane <> Higher Poynton Marina
Out in 54:45, back in just over 57:00. a couple of boat delays on the way out, bit tired on the return. Paddling the Epic.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Menai Straits - 12th June 2011

Second day of coaching from Olly Sanders.

The weather deteriorated quickly on the sunday morning and as forecast the wind got up to strong easterly (F6+) with persistent rain, so we made for the shelter of the Menai Straits to continue practice in the vicinity of the two bridges and the Swellies.

We started off by doing general boat handling under the Menai Bridge, breaking in and out of the flow between the bridge pillars then we progressed down through the swellies to do some more tows.

After lunch we then started the "wet stuff" doing rolls, t rescues, self rescues, scoop rescue of injured/weak paddler, along with watching Mary do an excellent re-entry and roll.

All in all a good weekend, and it was nice to use the tow lines including the deck mounted tow that I have just rigged on to the boat. It illustrated some tuning of my gear is needed - mainly to have a longer "short" tow length set up on my waist tow.

About 4km paddled, not including all the ups and downs in the eddies though!

The Skerries - 11th June 2011

First day of a weekend of coaching with Olly Sanders running through rescue scenarios.

Given the conditions - F3 W wind and a tide ebbing till about 13:30, it was decided to do a short trip along the north coast of Anglesey launching from Cemlyn Bay heading west.

In the eddies and small race around West Mouse we did some towing practice (single tows, towing a 2 man raft, 2 boats in line tow of a 2 man raft). We were going to head for Carmel Head, but since John had never been out to the Skerries, Olly decided we should change our plans and head out to them instead.

It was a beautiful day and once we were getting near the Skerries we started seeing the puffins and other birds that nest on the island. It was so much different from when I was there earlier in the spring with very few birds.

We landed in the small natural harbour and had a quick lunch outside the lighthouse.

The island is a nesting place of terns - arctic and common, and they are very protective of their ground nest sites and attack you when you approach. Wearing a hat is highly advisable... or follow a taller friend very close!

We bumped into a few other parties of kayakers at the lighthouse - Justine and Barry, plus the very tall Mark Pawley... who suffered a nasty attack and gained an impressive war wound!

After the ornithology interlude we got back on the water and by this time the flood had started and a reasonable size race was forming on a rock outcrop on the W side of the island giving us a good venue to practice more rescues, towing and general boat handling.

After about an hour of this we turned and headed back to Cemlyn. On the water for about 5 hours. About 16k paddled.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Rhoscolyn - 4th June 2011

With a decent weather forecast we had a family trip to the beach at Rhoscolyn. I was given permission to bring the boat along so I managed a couple of short sorties out around the Beacon on one paddle and out of the bay and up to Rhoscolyn Head and back on the other. The bay was very busy with kayaks of all shapes and sizes, including various members of the North West Sea Kayakers. I did a few rolls and gave Gavin a lift!

About 9km paddled.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Macclesfield Canal - 31st May 2011

Back on the canal hoping to clear out a few cobwebs from a day in the office, but didn't feel 100% with a bit of a headache. Paddled out from Clarke Lane in 56:02 at Higher Poynton Marina. Did not feel like pushing it on the way back so I enjoyed the evening sunshine at a more leisurely pace, returning in 1hr 5min.

Just as I was entering Bollington on the return I think a kingfisher flew over me. This would be great if so - I've not seen one on the canal since before the severe cold weather of Feb 2010. The canal has been frozen for weeks at a time over the last two winters and this has a devastating effect on the kingfishers, so I hope they are making a return.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Anglesey Sea Kayak Race - 22nd May 2011

This was the first running of this event organised by Open Adventure and Adventure Elements. The original plan was to race from either Trearddur Bay or Benllech in a loop, visiting electronic control points on bouys covering over 20km in distance. However the weather was not playing ball and strong SW winds put paid to any thought of using the exposed coastal locations and the "plan C" location of a race in the Menai Straits was used.

I'm sure a number of people were disappointed with the thought of racing in the Straits, but in the end it turned out to be an excellent location.

The start was by the Anglesey Sea Zoo and 4 surf skis, 21 solo kayaks and 4 doubles lined up for the mass start. After the traditional 3-2-1-Go there was a mad scramble to get boats into the water and spray decks on. John Willacy and Nigel Jones set the pace on the first section of the race heading down towards the two bridges. Initially the conditions were very windy with small surf pushing us downwind.

A little more shelter was had once the field passed Y Felinheli and it was on to the two bridges and the notorious "swellies" - the tidal rapids. To add interest to the race, the organisers had set up three electronic controls in swellies that had to be visited in a set order, forcing us to loop back on ourselves. The first was just "downstream" of the Menai Bridge, the second was by Church Island and the third was back up below Pont Brittania. You could opt to miss out the electronic controls, but this incurred a 45 minute penalty. This loop was very entertaining for spectators and the paddlers had to fight their way back up stream using eddies close in to the shore or just fighting their way back up the main flow.

Once around this loop is was a straight race down past Bangor Pier and finish at Gallows Point. This started off sheltered but soon became more exposed with more surf and wind on our backs.

Nigel Jones on a ski was first followed by John Willacy in his Taran. First lady back was Justine Curgenven.

As far as my own race went I wasn't comfortable in the downwind/surf sections. I was struggling to get any rhythm and only made up time/places on the more sheltered sections. Maybe this was down to lack of practice in surf, but also the small integral rudder of the Epic is not very effective in these conditions (it is out of the water frequently). I was overtaken by Justine in the Swellies and nearly retook her approaching Bangor Pier, but as the wind and surf picked up again I dropped back finishing 7th kayak in a time of 1:46:38 - 20 minutes behind the leaders.

The event is expected to take place again next year, and hopefully with better weather will attract a larger field.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Macclesfield Canal - 13th May 2011

Repeated the round trip to Marple, but this time paddling the Xplore. Did it in exactly the same time as last time. Paddled out slower (61 minutes to Higher Poynton), but much more steady on the return. Out and back in 3hr 55min, 30km paddled.

Brereton Lake - 12th May 2011

Practice rescue session in sea kayaks with the Macc Canoe Club.
Performed self rescue, 'all in' scenario, T rescue and landing on rock swimming in with boat.
On the water for just over an hour.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Macclesfield Canal - 8th May 2011

Fancied doing a few more miles than usual - just agreed to do the Eddystone again, so need to get used to working hard for 5+ hours.

Launched at Clarke Lane and took 54:55 to get to Higher Poynton, but instead of the usual turn I carried on through High Lane and on to the end of the canal at Marple. Turned right towards New Mills to get the outward distance to 15km.

Outward average moving speed was 9.0/9.1 kph.

I'd had a wind assisted outward trip, so the return became a real slog. Moving average dropped right down to below 8kph and the last 4 or 5 km I toured in because I was pretty tired. Total trip time 3:55.

Paddling the Epic.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Bowleaze Cove to Mupe Bay round trip - 29th April 2011

We parked up at Bowleaze Cove on the road after dropping the boat off on the beach via the car park. Nancy then set off to run the route while I was to paddle it.

After a bit of the usual faff sorting the kit out I set off about 10 minutes behind her. The weather was hazy cloud - thundery showers had been forecast, but they weren't to materialise until later that evening.

The wind was 3-4 from the NE according to the forecast, but it was more E as I paddled into a bit of a headwind (more pronounced on the headlands under the cliffs).

Approaching White Nothe

Below White Nothe

Once I passed Ringstead I spotted a runner up on the top of the cliffs approaching White Nothe - didn't think it was Nancy - they seemed to be running too fast! But as the runner descended down one of the dips in the Warren I confirmed it was her and we stayed roughly together to meet up at Lulworth.

Durdle Door in the distance through Bat Head

Nancy - going the hard way!

Durdle Door

Stair Hole


En route to Lulworth I had a little bit of tide against me plus the gusting headwind, but the sea was generally calm. I passed two groups of two kayaks on my way out.

Quick coffee stop with Nancy

After refreshment in Lulworth, I said goodbye to Nancy as she headed back. I reckoned I could go faster, so I carried on along the coast to Mupe Bay passing another couple of kayakers plus saying hello to a couple of climbers on the excellent looking Lulworth to Mupe Bay traverse. At a mile long, this must be the longest recognised climb in the UK.

Climbers on the Lulworth to Mupe Bay traverse

East most of the Mupe Rocks

I got back to Bowleaze just under 10 minutes ahead of Nancy. 30.9km travelled, on the water for 4hr 18min.