Friday 26 December 2008

Boxing Day Roll

I found myself going to Bedford over Christmas, so I took my old plastic C1 with me:
The idea was to turn up for the traditional Boxing Day roll. I first took part in this event over twenty years ago, as a member of Viking Kayak Club.

It's a simple matter of meeting up with a load of other paddlers and simultaneously performing an Eskimo roll at the appointed time.

It was good to see some old faces. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to go along to the clubhouse afterwards since one of my kids was feeling unwell.

Saturday 18 October 2008

Surfing across the Solway

Our return paddle from Southerness to Silloth was direct but entertaining:
Before we could paddle, Jim had to find the energy to overcome feeling ill and pack his kit into his boat:There was a long trek over the sands:We were lucky enough to find a creek that allowed us to float the boats for some of the way:The first part of the paddle was OK but we started to go over the sandbanks after a few km:There were some gaps between the sandbanks but these seemed to just make the seas more confused:
Photos weren't really an option in the confused seas. There was a big tide coming in over relatively shallow waters - we might have been better off waiting until there was a bit more water over the sand banks - and it kicked up some fairly substantial waves.

The combination of tide, wind and waves gave us quite an impetus. The GPS hit a maximum speed of just over 20kph as I surfed one of the more helpful waves.

We were relieved to make it to the beach to the south-west of the harbour at Silloth:The waves breaking were on the concrete along the Silloth sea front where we launched for the outward trip. This would not have made a good spot to land:We were pleased to see that a tug working on the new windfarm also managed to make the conditions look quite challenging:I would like to go back and visit this area again. Another time we would make sure that there was a bit more daylight and would take a more direct route:
I am now confident that my boat will handle adequately when loaded for a week; I still had food for about four days when we unpacked to drive home.

A final note of thanks is owed to Mark Rainsley of UKRGB for his notes about the tides in the Solway Firth and to Douglas Wilcox for his inspiring account of paddling around Hestan Island, which we will reach next time. Weather and illness made us achieve far less on this trip than we had hoped but it was still a rewarding paddle and a good introduction to this area.

Friday 17 October 2008

Chips and Chop

We had a little paddle from Silloth in the NW of England to Southerness in the SW of Scotland, fueled by some excellent local food:We packed our boats with an unfeasible amount of gear. A couple sitting in their car couldn't believe that it all fitted. We couldn't believe the weight of our boats when we tried to carry them to the slipway.We launched in front of the lifeboat station, after a little chat with the volunteers in the RNLI shop. In retrospect, the newer slipway (or the West Beach) would probably have been a better option. Our launch from the old slipway amused the tourists but left some gelcoat behind on the rough concrete:
We set off into sunshine, with fine views all around:There was something of a headwind and a bit of chop but nothing to worry about:It took us a couple of hours to reach the sands on the other side of the firth:Our landing point was just down the beach from the lighthouse and the village:The camping spot that we found wasn't the most appealing but it served its purpose. We were right by the golf course but the night passed without any disturbance other than the noise of the waves at high tide.

There was plenty of driftwood for a fire, although we still used the trangia for cooking our meal. There was space for us to play with a new tarp as well as pitch our tents:

Sunday 12 October 2008

Mersey Descent

Lojska and I took part in the open canoe event of the Mersey Descent race with Richard and Isobel:It was a fun event. The organisation was good and the weather was pleasant but the turnout was very poor. I hope that more people hear about it for next year.

The highlight was the weir in Northenden. We took on a fair bit of water and had to stop and empty the boat shortly afterwards:

We won the event but at the cost of a big dint in the bow of the boat, courtesy of a rock just after the broken weir at Sale Water Park:

Saturday 10 May 2008

North Barrule

Since Jim was in a weakened state through lack of pork pies following our little bit of a paddle, I went off on my own for a stroll.
The slopes of North Barrule are open country, by permission of the land owner and their tennants. The views would be great on a clear day and weren't bad even with the poor visibility that we were experiencing.

St Bees to the Isle of Man

Months of training (a quick paddle along the Bridgewater canal) and exhaustive preparation (an email to the ferry company) resulted in a successful crossing from St Bees to the Isle of Man in Jim's double kayak:Kirstine kindly drove Jim and me to the campsite at St. Bees on Friday evening. We packed some of our gear into the boat before getting a few hours of sleep. The tents and the rest of the gear were packed at 2:30am on Saturday morning, in preparation to catch the high tide.

We paddled away three minutes behind schedule, leaving the slipway at St. Bees at 3:33am:
[Photo: JimK]
It started to get light about an hour after we set off and the sun was well up by half past five:
The Liverpool Coastguard were very helpful and supportive via the VHF. There wasn't much going on - we only saw a few other craft on the water. We did get an offer of a bacon barm from the helmsman of the Night Cat though:
[Photo: JimK]
Visibility was quite poor - we could only see about a mile through the mist. We were almost at Maughold Head before the white buildings of the lighthouse became vaguely perceptible.
We landed on the Isle of Man about 6hrs 15mins after leaving St. Bees. By 10:00 we had phoned home to let our other halves know that we were safe:

Thursday 8 May 2008

Charts by cycle

Jim and I decided that the forecast was looking good for a little jaunt in the Irish Sea by double sea kayak. Since neither of us had any charts, I took the afternoon off work and nipped across to Warrington on my bicycle. I got back home with the necessary items a few hours, 50km and two punctures later.

Saturday 12 April 2008

Ravenglass Seaquest

This was a great day out. It's good to have events where there are plenty of alternative activities for the non-paddlers. My wife and sons had fun on the steam train while Lojska and I went off in the boat to do this orienteering event on water.

It was a bit gloomy when we first arrived and there wasn't much water to be seen but things improved on both fronts during the afternoon.
We just managed all the checkpoints in our big yellow barge of a double kayak in just over the allotted three hours. The last checkpoint was a mistake - we gained 30 points for getting to there but it cost us 35 penalty points (for being 15 minutes late back to the start).
Lojska enjoyed herself. She got a bit upset at the end - cold feet on sharp pebbles - but wants to do the event again next year. Hopefully, she'll be able to do her share of the paddling by then!

Thanks to Phil and Annette for organising the race and to all the other entrants for making this such a friendly event. I hope to see such a good turnout at the Fleetwood SeaQuest later in the year.
The course: