Paddles with an Anas acuta...... unashamedly biased toward the sea kayak of that name (actually the voyages of two boats, one 'traffic over gold', one 'quill')

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

A final weather window for 2013

 Could you believe it? After what seems weeks of gales and rain, my mountain biking becoming axle deep wallows and the fast downhills a succession of stops and carries around or over fallen trees and the paddling a mush of chocolate surf. The sun shone for our Club trip on Sunday. Lunch on a sunny sandbank a mile off Ryde.
 Surfing the wavelets back across the Solent.
 Back at Eastney,
 a last roll for 2013.
Looking forward to paddling into 2014. All the best everyone.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Back to the sea: Chichester Entrance

 A typical bunch of sea kayakers preparing to do battle with the December seas?
 The backwards float off the beach, the best launching technique into a choppy sea.
 Enjoying the others' discomfiture of getting on dry.
 A spot of pumping out for anyone unlucky enough to take a wave onboard.
The West Pole, a mile off Chichester entrance, little surf today.
I love these watery winter skies, but the sun finally broke through.
We had to time our departure from the lunch spot to avoid the youth fleets training in the harbour.
 Relaxed launching in calm water...... floating out before slipping in.
Liz too was enjoying the sun and sand.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Cycling in the Lakes

 Pushing up hill when it became too steep and loose to pedal, a feature of the Lakeland Fells
 on our ride last weekend. Perfect weather for the time of year.
 Navigational challenges as the light was failing.
 Next day a puncture in sight of the valley gave us a chance to relax in the sun. I'm on the left if you don't recognise me without a spraydeck.
 Crossing a beck, instability on the slippery stones led to
 the odd spill.  We were too busy on the fast descents to take pictures but no serious falls all weekend.
This one only needed a bit of encouragement to get going again. It is not that I am as uncaring as I might look still standing astride my steed.
A line of cyclists across the fells and later
back on the tarmac. Thanks to Howie for some of the photos.

Monday, 18 November 2013

An ideal Xmas present

A review from Canoeist Magazine November 2013, page 63

Whilst this is what Kevin Mansell said:
If you are considering a kayaking trip to Brittany then this recently published guide is a must have book.  Written by two Breton paddlers it has been translated into English by Peter Bisset, a member of the Portsmouth Canoe Club.
Jammed full of useful information there are hours of reading, not only about the 60 recommended paddles but also about the wider issues of paddling in France.
If you are considering a visit to this delightful region of France, where there is huge sea kayaking potential for paddlers of all ability levels, then this book is a must have item.

The cooler water makes me hesitate a second before my end-of-trip practice roll or two at this time of year. The sudden shock of cold water must be good for you??!! Now is the time to think ahead to the warmer water and what better destination for the European sea paddler than Brittany.

Brittany is also one of the better destinations for non-kayaking family members. Putting a copy of this guide under the Xmas tree might head off a trip to somewhere less family friendly.

It should be easy to find a copy at your local canoe shop, bookshop or on-line seller, but if you have any problems drop me a line.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Local paddling

 Last weekend we stayed in Swanage -I can recommend the auberge- on the Saturday we were caught in the F9 in Poole Harbour, it blew up a couple of hours earlier than expected. A good learning experience with various incidents, swims, people loosing control of their boats, tow lines tangled around the mooring buoys that litter the harbour. Luckily the trusty Anas always turns into the wind and rocks happily in the wind blown chop awaiting further instructions from the paddler who only has to relax.

Sunday it was a strong offshore wind and we had a lazy paddle around Studland Bay taking care not to be carried through the gaps at Old Harry.
Eastney pier, the third Portsmouth pier? The old outfall behind produces sport the last couple of hours of the flood, the Bitches in miniature!?  Dangerous obstructions lurk to seaward, avoid this playspot on the ebb.
Yesterday it was a trip across the Solent; Eastney to Bembridge. The forecast had been anything from F8 to F3 and from north to south. The NW 4 didn't feel very threatening and we had a nice crossing in a lively sea keeping on a steady 210 magnetic which took us well out to sea, crossing the channel near Dean Elbow and making best use of the tide. A tanker was coming in to anchor off St. Helen's travelling little faster than ourselves. However it was great to hear the anchor clang and rattle out. The wall of metal which was its bow had been sneaking up ominously as I kept glancing over my shoulder.

On the way back we crossed near the Werner, making good time with little tidal help and a cross-wind making the 6 or 7 miles in under 2 hours.

Shetland: Muckle Flugga and Out Stack

 An optimistic start from Burrafirth. Despite the exposed nature of the top of the UK, the long slack between the violent easterly and westerly flows makes it a simple paddle.
 Wheeling gannets, and the aerial combat with the bonxies,
the winners take the spoils leaving some scraps for the mallies (fulmars). It was like being inside a wildlife documentary, you could almost hear the Attenborough voice-over.
 Lashing rain failed to spoil our enjoyment, although it did leave some smudges on the camera lens.
 On the way around Out Stack, rain on a calm sea.
 Some bright periods,
 a promise of better weather to come?
Sure enough, next morning we were enjoying the sunshine, launching at Norwick and making use of the tide to carry us there and back. We saw several minke close to, but they were busy feeding and paid us no attention at all.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Shetland: Sunny again on Yell

 A few days later we were back on Yell, camping at Cullivoe,
 between Gutcher and Gloup.
 It was the usual sunny start as we criss-crossed Bluemull Sound looking at the Unst coast as well as Yell.
 The forecast was for rapid deterioration as a sou-wester came in, but the north coast was sheltered.
 The Quidin is an interesting rock with a singular geology.
 The corner to the west coast is a collection of arches and stacks. Liz had a 'moment' in the arch as a wave tried to surf her up the wall against her hanging draw, and one look at the sea to the south convinced us it was time to turn back.

The islet of Gloup Holm and the coast looked more and more austere as the wind got up. We were pleased to have left a car at Gloup against the possibility of an 'early bath'. That rugby phrase may be only too appropriate for a kayaking trip.

The Gloup memorial gave us food for thought. 58 fishermen lost to a sudden summer storm on the far haaf in 1881, miles out to sea in their small rowing boats.  Where might we have been without the Met. Office inshore forecast....

Shetland: The sun shines on Yell

The last time I was on Shetland, Yell and Unst were only served by the thrice weekly Earl of Zetland passenger boat from Lerwick. How times have changed, and I'm not that old! Frequent car ferries now link the islands and visitors can go south to north, and maybe back, in a single day.
 The White Wife is a ships figurehead raised on the shore where the ship foundered on the east coast.
 Clear water and sunshine,
 relaxing paddling on a windless sea.
The usual arches; this one is one of the legs of the Horse of Burravoe, it doesn't look much like a horse from the sea. Unusually it is named from its look from the land.
Spectacularly coloured cliffs with the only kittiwake colony we came across. The White  Lady is near here, a light coloured patch of rock said to exactly resemble a Shetland lady in traditional dress, lacking fashion expertise we couldn't pick it out, but the bay below, Ladies Hole, is an anchorage.
Cooling caves and tunnels.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Canoe Club AGM

 Sunday was almost too warm, in fact those in drysuits were forced to roll from time to time. We had 50 members at the AGM and 36 took to the water afterwards.
 What a great final day of summer for 2013
(photo Mat)