Sunday, 31 January 2010

Paint and a pool session

The weather here is still cold NW winds and snow, so the afternoon was spent continuing to decorate the front bedroom.  I was even restrained from my slapdash ways and made to do things properly.  Nearly finished now though, only a small section of skirting left to gloss.Image013 Is this a kayaker who can do DIY?????Image007Nearly done!

Anyway, after all that excitement, it was time for the OSKA pool session.  I wanted to think about handrolling again after last week so had a brief chat to Mackayak about it.  Another coach was also there and he gave me some excellent tips and got me handrolling first with a float and then with half a paddle. kyepool 013 (Medium)  kyepool 015 (Medium)kyepool 014 (Medium)Up she goes, half paddle rolling

The coach is very, very chilled and makes rolling look both easy and beautiful.  His hand roll method was equally chilled and I was pleased when I managed one.  As with all rolling, after that it came and went but I was pleased none the less.

My rolling has been not so great lately either, but again a few tips and it felt much smoother again.  I thought about the start and the finish positions and got my left side roll back to something I was happy with.  Strangely my right side felt smoother – maybe my right side was my wrong side after all?!

I left the pool feeling fairly positive and felt like I achieved quite a lot today.  :-)

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Gone Soft

Another spell of cold northerly weather has hit Orkney this week.  Today it has been windy and cold and we’ve had snow, sleet and hail.  I must have gone soft cos I don’t much fancy going out in Brrrrrr…..

The poor weather has given me a chance to do some things that aren’t kayaking, there is of course the small matter of the house that I bought in June….  This week I have managed to start redecorating the spare bedroom and make a few soft furnishings for my own.before Beforepaint And after….bed Runner and scatter cushions to match curtains.

Back in the world of indoor kayaking, my roll continues to deteriorate. Shouts of ‘I know it makes you feel dirty, but I really think you should lean back’ helped make good a very sorry situation so I wasn’t too disheartened by the end of Tuesday’s session. I also got Graham to try and teach me handrolling for polo, but I didn’t succeed, much to my frustration.

Polo training on Friday was great fun, we trained properly this week, doing drills on all the skills that we’d need in the games.  My shooting practice was pathetic, I don’t want to throw like a girl!  At the end of the session we had a game.  At the very end I was unceremoniously shoved in – dangerous play I say!!!

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

They’re all essential – honest

Being in Aviemore at the weekend meant that we could visit Highland Canoes on Monday morning before we went up for the boat.   This was a bad thing as of course I found a number of essential items that I just had to buy…….

IMGP0774 I need them all, honest.

The justification goes as follows:

1) Helmet – well I don’t want to get mashed when I go surfing or down a river again

2) Spraydeck- I simply just don’t have a completely neoprene deck and keep getting wet when paddling, especially in surf

3) Buoyancy aid- The one I have is two big and has obtrusive pockets that catch on things when doing self rescues.  Mackayak kindly pointed out that I now have three BAs, so I am going to sell one!

IMGP0776 Saggy breasted buoyancy aid

Monday, 25 January 2010

Division Two Polo League

The purpose of our weekend trip to sooth was for the Orkney team to play in the Scottish Division Two canoe polo league at Glenrothes.IMGP0766_edit Orkney Canoe Polo Team – Peter, Torquil, Graham, Kristian and Colin

Two of the team were coming down by plane so myself and Ansgar were reserve players in case of bad weather.  As it was, we were not needed but did make a reasonable camera girl and water boy.

The Orkney team made a good start in the first game of the evening against Scarlet Ladies B, winning by a convincing 4 goals to 2, with  Graham Summers scoring all 4 goals for Orkney.IMGP0754_edit Kristian in the thick of it against Scarlet Ladies

The next match was against Stirling University.  Orkney showed far more aggression in this game and it was a hard fought match, with Orkney the eventual winners with 5 goals to nil, thanks in the main to Graham and Torquil’s fine shooting.  Graham again scored 4 goals and must be a contender for top scorer in the the league.IMGP0764 004_0001 Good defending by keeper Peter

The next team to play were Heriot Watt and this was a really tough match with lots of good hard play.  Orkney had one yellow card issued for language but then won a penalty after a dangerous play on Colin, which was successfully taken by Graham Summers.

Unfortunately, Graham then conceded a penalty at the other end of the field which put Heriot Watt back in the lead.  The final score was 3, 2 to Heriot Watt, with Orkney’s other goal coming from Kristian Cooper.IMGP0769 020_0002 Orkney win a penalty from this tackle on ColinIMGP0769 023_0001 Graeme converts the penalty into a point for Orkney

The final game of the match was against F.C.A.G coached by Coldwetwater.  It was a really good, hard match and Orkney had loads of shots on target which were expertly saved by F.C.A.G.  By this point in the evening, Graham had been identified as an excellent long range shooter so he was marked heavily. The opposition played very defensively and it was difficult for Orkney to convert any chances to goals.  The final score was 4 – 1 to F.C.A.G with Orkney’s goal again scored by Graham Summers.IMGP0770 013_0001 Orkney (in blue) defend against FCAG

All in all, the Orkney team played very well and thoroughly deserve their place in Division 2.

The Heriot Watt game can be seen below:

Sunday, 24 January 2010

I also swam the Tay….

Being the hardy northerners we are, we thought we’d squeeze in another river on Sunday morning before the polo league, which was the real purpose of the trip.IMGP0737Ready, steady…..

Kristian decided upon the Tay at Stanley.  Two of his mates from sooth also joined us, all the more experienced people to scoop up the swimming novices!

Having now an experience of what river paddling was like, the two river novices rated their confidence at about 10% of Saturday’s level and there was much nervous paddling to begin the day.  Ansgar got in his swim early to loosen himself up for the interesting bit, while I waited until slightly further downstream to do a stupid thing and ended up sideways to the wave, which promptly threw me in.  I tried a couple of failed rolls which annoyed me greatly.
IMGP0739Hanging around in an eddy while the experts show off  IMGP0741 Kristian looking coolIMGP0743”Look where I paddled!" IMGP0744 Ansgar sets off down the TayIMGP0745 Kristian plays at the weirIMGP0747 Ansgar and Peter watching from a safe eddy

After that, I was quite warmed up too and really enjoyed the next section down to Thistlebrig.  Because the water was quite high, we had loads of really fun bouncy waves to go over and I wished I had my sea boat (well, I wished I had someone else’s plastic sea boat) with me.  The final big wave at the take out was excellent and I was happy when I found myself leaning downstream!

I could have happily gone back to the start to run the whole thing again but we had a canoe polo league to get to….IMGP0752 Chinwagging down stream

The river novices ended the day tired but happy and I think would both like to get more river experience.  A big thank you has to go to Kristian for taking us out and being happy to scoop us up when we swam.  A special mention has also to go to the 4th member of the party, Peter,  who appears to be made of teflon and remained bone dry throughout!

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Swimming the Findhorn

The month of January has been full of new experiences for Northern Kayaker; surfing, canoe polo and joining the dark side, to name but a few.  This weekend was destined to be no different with me experiencing my first two ever river trips.

Saturday saw us tackle a short section of the Findhorn which the book reliably informs me is grade 3 (whatever that means!).  Needless to say, I swam twice but rolled once.IMGP0713
Our beloved borrowed van (and Peter’s pyjamas)IMGP0714 Kristian post ice assisted seal launchIMGP0715_editAt least someone knows what they’re doing…. IMGP0716_editWarming up  IMGP0721PADDLE LIKE F………” IMGP0729Peter- smiling!IMGP0723_edit Kristian plays
As you can see, the water was pretty cold and I was glad of my drysuit, surf hood and helmet.  Getting the boats to the put in also involved sliding them down the icy road like sleds which was rather an amusing sight.

When I finally got it into my head that I had to lean down stream, things became easier, but I was a bit disappointed that I only managed one roll in anger.  Swimming twice was a bit tiring but I was warm enough in my drysuit and it was really only my hands that were cold. 

The parts of the river where I was upright were fun though and I don’t think it put me off river paddling too much……

Going Over to the Dark Side

Tuesday saw me join The Dark Side more formally known as KKC and attend their pool session. The kiss of death to the evening came when one of their senior members asked if I could roll OK.  Well I could; on Sunday. 

Despite loosing my right side mojo, the wrong side was still pretty good, especially when it was suggested I might like to try a back deck roll (now that really was the dark side). 

I also spent a bit of time trying to learn the beginnings of hand rolling with Peter.  I managed once or twice with a float but will have to practice as it’s a useful skill for polo games.

Tonight was polo practice number two.  It was as good as last week, perhaps even better and I had a great time, getting stuck into the play and even managing to score a pretty good goal (probably my only goal of the season).

Last week’s game (and the back of my head) featured in our local newspaper this week.  I’m the inconspicuous character in blue.IMGP0712

The papers also carried more on the rescue I alluded to in my last post.  The guy tried to land when conditions got too tough but was swept back out to sea from a rock, loosing his boat in the  process.  Carrying his VHF and mobile phone about his person allowed him to call for help and he was plucked from the water (quite literally) by the coastguard helicopter after about an hour and a half in the water.  Needless to say, he expressed his sincere gratitude to the rescue team in both local papers this week, he is lucky to be alive.IMGP0711

Sunday, 17 January 2010

7 out of 10 ain’t so bad – post surf pool sesh

Tonight I had a few aims for the pool session

1) Roll that pesky red boat a few times and ensure it knows who’s boss

2) Roll pool boat on good side (left) competently and confidently

3) Practice ‘wrong’ (right) side rolling

I managed several OK rolls in said red boat and a few failures too.  Getting into the pool boat after that was a doddle.  My right side (left) felt comfortable and smooth but sometimes I just lost it.

The wrong side was clunky and I had to exit a few times when I failed to roll.  However, by the end of the night I was feeling smooth on the right too, but just not as smooth as on the left.  Sometimes I just lost both sides completely and for no apparent reason.  When I got out, I made sure I got back in again and ended the evening with a roll on both sides so I went home feeling positive.

I might join The Dark Side and go to their pool sessions too.  I want to roll as many times as I can this winter!!!

Big Sunday

Today we thought we’d have a kayak surf session as a gale on Friday night had produced some lovely easterly swell.  Two of us had been keen to have a go for sometime, especially as the little club boats live with me.  We started off at the 4th Barrier and were not quite in the water when a very wise kayaking man turned up and said something along the lines of ‘yur gunnae get f***ing mashed in there’.  Nuff said.IMGP0669Big Sunday at the 4th Barrier

We reconvened up the road at the second barrier, where the waves were just right for a couple of hours of wet and wild fun and perfect for novice surfers.IMGP0676 Peter and KristianIMGP0677 Kristian, Johnny and AnsgarIMGP0678 PeterIMGP0680 KristianIMGP0679Peter  IMGP0682 It’s coming this way……IMGP0684 Peter, Kristian and Johnny heading out back

I caught a few good waves and seemed to do quite a lot of surfing backwards, not necessarily deliberately (although I am claiming it was…). I got a good dunking 3 times, but the second time managed a roll in anger which made me very happy indeed!  You can hear my whoops quite clearly in the background.

Fortunately, we were all dressed for the occasion so didn’t mind getting wet and it certainly didn’t dampen our spirits at all.  I am not sure that Dennis is going to get his dry suit back anytime soon though…

After a final dunking (with appropriate war cry as illustrated below) and a fine rescue practice from the boys, the proceedings were called to a halt and we made our way back to shore for a cup of hot juice and a fine choccy biccie. 

I got home this evening and heard the sound of the coastguard helicopter overhead.  A check of the internet told me that Stromness and Kirkwall lifeboats were also launched.  The Orkney kayak grapevine informs me that a kayaker had to be rescued by the helicopter off the north coast of the mainland, never good news for anyone.

I put together this video of the day, not very exciting but I like the accompanying tune!

Friday, 15 January 2010

Friday Night is Polo Night

The hard men of KKC (otherwise known as The Dark Side) invited us along to play canoe polo on Friday nights and to be part of the Orkney Canoe Polo Squad.

Tonight was the first session and first time I had ever played polo in anger.  Talk of face shields, helmets, body armour and gum protectors intrigued me, but I was more scared of the members of the Dark Side than the playing of the game itself.  (Well you are very scary!)polo 003 (Medium)Into battle (photo Mackayak)

After spending an hour and a half at yoga earlier, I was far too chilled out for competitive sport so I got into character by walking round the house shouting obscenities at the cat in a broad West Lothian accent.  Mainly ‘ho you jimmy, gannae nae touch they glesses?’ and ‘did you jist push us in, ya rage?  I’ll hae you fur that’

Upon arrival at the pool, we were popped into boats and given some brief instruction on the rules before doing some dribble practice. polo 011 (Medium)Dribble practice (photo – Mackayak)

We then played a few games, swapping players throughout so that everyone could get a shot.polo 015 (Medium)Trying to learn the game (photo – Mackayak)

I wasn’t very good at the game and I’m not sure how the men felt about having a ‘girl’ on their team.  Still, I have to remind myself, I had never played before….

But, I got stuck in with all the energy I could muster and had a whale of a time.  It was like being a girl boy scout playing British Bulldogs all over again. 

At the end I threw in a roll, just to check I could, unfortunately I then fell in the other way and got so confused I just had to get out the boat.  More work needed!

So, I have now taken my first baby steps into competitive kayaking, now, just point me in the direction of the opposition….. ‘see yous, am gannae take this paddle und am gannae……….’

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Little and Large

Johnny sent Mackayak and I some pics from Sunday.  Despite the sun, you can tell the time of year by the hats and gloves on show, not to mention the snow on the hills.

interesting shoreline Little Harry, big NK (note matching outfits!!!) (photo - Johnny)come oot 'o thereLittle NK, big cave (photo - Johnny)Peter & short sea ferry Little catamaran, big Peter (photo – Johnny)

With winds of 40+ knots forecast for the weekend, it’ll be a while before we have weather like this again…

Monday, 11 January 2010

The Yellow Thing

Can someone tell me what this is?  I first saw it a few months back and again yesterday.S.RonJan09 013 (Small)

S.RonJan09 014 (Small) S.RonJan09 015 (Small) All photos - Mackayak