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')

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Seasonal Greetings

The nights before Christmas, cold on the beach and cold on the water.

The nights are already growing shorter, but still dark enough.

Where will the boats take us in the coming year?

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Wintry Paddling

Snowy, frosty, weather at Eastney; warm enough on the water,

but cold sorting out the boats. At least the salty water draining from the boats helped de-ice the carpark.

(a longer account here)

Monday, 6 December 2010

Winter Paddling, Fog and a Hovercraft

A window in the bad weather allowed us to paddle across the Solent from Eastney to Ryde on Sunday. Winds were light, temperatures below freezing in the fog, but pleasant when the sun poked through. Perfect tide, launching near HW and catching the powerful flow westbound and setting off back with the gathering eastbound flow, having lunched over slack water, HW +2.

Leaving Eastney.

Banks of fog were rolling slowly ESE around the Solent, with Southampton and Portsmouth on intermittent 'fog routine'. Such a bank enveloped us near Horse Sand Fort, once the fort was found we waited in its eddy; the tide runs strongly over the shallow water and the wake of unseen ships sometimes gave surfable standing waves. We were waiting for an invisible outbound ship to pass before crossing the main channel, moving at minimum operating speed, it regularly updated its position to Southampton VTS on Ch.12, and seemed to take forever to clear our course. From time to time we had glimpses of what appeared to be the ship, but it didn't move; not surprising, since it turned out to be No Man's Land Fort on the Isle of Wight side of the channel!  Eventually the ship reported itself east of the forts and we could set off, as we crossed the main channel, the sun came out and we saw the ship, showing us it's stern and making about 6kt away from us.

Near Ryde we had to wait for the hovercraft from Southsea to go ahead. This is the Solent Express, GH2142, the larger of the two hovercraft operating the only scheduled hovercraft service in the world. In service since 2007, carrying up to 130 passengers and weighing 75 t., it can operate at 65kt but does not exceed 45kt in the Solent. Once you hear it start up, and it can easily be heard across the Solent in calm weather, you have about 7 minutes if you are on the far side or 3 minutes if you are in the middle, to consider your position. Unlike other shipping it doesn't necessarily stick to the deep water channels, but it keeps a sharp watch and, at night, if it knows we are paddling nearby, will ask for an update on our position. The service has an incredibly good safety record, with no incidents except one in 1972 when force 9 winds coupled with wind against the ebb tide in the Swashway,  caused a craft to capsize with a loss of 5 lives. Despite this, we have often wondered if the best option when faced with collision would be to capsize and wait as long as possible before rolling up. You might not even notice it flying overhead, or rather 'overhull', as the pressure it exerts is very low.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Snow in Petersfield at Last

Petersfield was the last place in the country to get it, but it snowed heavily last night. Liz, Steve and myself made the now traditional trek to Butser Hill. Swopping the A. acuta for a playboat, no BA or spraydeck required, but hard work on the way up. 

We joined the sledges and snowboards at the top,

had fun on the way down, 

snowy landings; 

and then the long walk home as light faded.

Monday, 29 November 2010

The Selkie

Someone has been selling off old school Palm Selkies on fleabay, an investment that proved its worth on Sunday in -3C a light dusting of snow and sharp wind. More pictures of the fashion icon in question and the day's paddle can be found here. Thats me in a fetching shade of red, third in the line-up of snowy Anas acutas. Does my 65kg become 130kg in this? At any rate it is as warm as toast.

Thanks to Simon D for the pictures.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Ships that pass in the night

A black black night last night, luckily the wind at 4kt wasn't inducing much wind chill, or it would have been very cold. One of the joys of paddling a busy place like Portsmouth Harbour is the interest of passing shipping and being only a few yards away from large ships whilst keeping things safe for everyone, crossing deep water channels responsibly and letting QHM know your intentions.

Here is the Bretagne, 24,500 tonnes, 2000 plus passengers (but only 400 tonight), 130 man crew, creeping up behind 7 kayaks, 0.5 tonnes and 7 passengers and crew. It has engines generating 18,000 kW, how many kW can we manage between us? Its 26m beam almost exactly measures 50 Anas acutas side by side, but it is only 20 times longer; how sleekly the kayak slides through the water.

Watching each other, it passes as we head outbound to No.4 buoy

and continues into the night for France, whilst we cross astern, back towards the shore and a well deserved drink at The Wellington.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Getting in and out

A couple of posts ago I talked about getting in and out of the water.  

Here are a couple of messing about videos taken today at Langstone Bridge in calm conditions, water 5C, air 8C, wind NE 2-3.  However,  what you can do in the Tahe Marine Greenlander on the flat is easy enough in the super stable Anas acuta in pretty choppy conditions.

Getting in, and getting in and out!

Incidentally, there was a magic light over the sea for an Anas acuta leading the Greenlander; just to prove that we did go for a paddle as well.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Autumn in Lakeland

Mist rising over Buttermere soon after dawn on Saturday.

Rough tracks....

Rougher tracks....climbing over to Ennerdale

The top of Black Sail pass.

Well deserved rest on the climb out of Wasdale to Styhead.

 My nice new Orange 5 in orange, what else?, and it matches the Ground Effect merino top. 

Onward and upward in the shaddow of Scafell.

The inevitable puncture on the way down.

We reached the valley at dusk and took the road back over Honister in darkness.

Sunday at the Whinlatter trail centre involved much more cycling and less walking and carrying. Fun for a couple of hours, but less satisfying than a day out on the fells.

Tricky Landings in the Isles of Scilly

The lovely sandy beach,

and yet another; however, rocky shores are more common than white sand. 

Practising getting out of the cockpit on the water

is a more useful skill than the eskimo roll,

allowing landings,

getting the lunch out,

and launching from the rock shore.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

How does the A. acuta take to freshwater?

Gale force winds last week diverted us away from the Solway to try our hand at fresh water paddling.  The picture shows our colour co-ordinated knee bump aids to edging and rolling very clearly. Easy launching; the tide is never out. 

Ullswater, and the Autumn colours of Lakeland. Hard work into the wind, but what joy surfing back.

Rocky islets 

Perfect luncheon spot 

Fun paddling, the boats enjoyed the choppy water, but all of us missed the tide and that sense you always get on the sea of maybe, just maybe, being able to paddle beyond the end of the World. The land imprisons a lake, there is always a shore.

Monday, 4 October 2010

The places the boat takes us...

This weekend we were out on the Thames, a quick call on Ch 14 and the Port of London Authority switches on the lights to show us which gate to use outbound.

On the way back to Putney, the volume of river water,  following the recent heavy rain, was holding back the flood tide making it a slow 15nm, luckily we had our lights with us.

Only a week or so before, how different the view over the foredeck as we were paddling around Mull.

London to Mull, all paddling, all great in different ways.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Return to the Lakes

A trip up to see my parents gave us a chance for a walk.

Visitors have become more concentrated in both location and time over the 40 years I have known the Lakes. Leave the car before 07.30 and you are on the tops before 09.00, the first person you see will be as you are coming off your 3rd or 4th peak around 11.30. In the old days there was always some other early birds who had maybe bivouaced nearby. Many areas slightly distant from a car park are quieter than in the 1970s, with what were well worn paths barely visible in the bracken. However, Helvellyn is always busy in the afternoon, just as well we had an early start.