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.