Sunday, 28 February 2010

Snowy Sunday

Today there was a cold north wind blowing and my drysuit is currently at the menders.  My motivation to paddle was reasonable but the cool wind and potential wet feet put me off somewhat.  Instead, I had a long lie in before going for a walk in the afternoon.  We decided upon Ward Hill which offers fantastic views of Orkney.ward hillWard Hill

The walk up Ward Hill is not a particularly long one but was hard work in the snow.  In places it had drifted to 4 or 5 feet thick and I began to wish I had snow shoes!  In the end we picked our way through the heather where the snow had been blown thinnest.  We were also walking straight into the brisk northerly- chilly on the ears!IMGP1015 Looking towards HoyIMGP1022Stromness

As I stumbled through some of the drifts, I was glad that I had my gaiters on.  Never did I think I’d need them in Orkney!


The firing range flagpole – NK models her gaiters


Peter looks towards Hoy


Our footprints  coming down through the snow

On our way up we saw some old footprints in the snow but more interestingly, we could see that someone had been up onto the moor with cross country skis.

IMGP1057 Ski tracks

After our walk, we hot footed it to Stromness to a fine cafe.  The Hamnavoe has recently been in winter dry dock and the Hjaltland was sailing the Stromness to Scrabster route.  It was unusual to see both ships side by side.IMGP1058 Hjaltland and Hamnavoe

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Drysuit disaster (and other Sunday adventures)!!!

My drysuit has befallen a disaster, I pulled on my latex sock this morning and it split in half!  Copious amounts of tape made the situation reasonable but it leaked (wet foot-yuck!).

IMGP1011 A poor repair

Today the weather was lovely again so this morning a friend and I took the darkside open canoe for a little trip from Hatston Slip to Hatston pier.  We had lots of fun under the pier weaving in and out of the piles which support it.  Great practice for steering strokes.

IMGP0966 “I’m not sure about this funny boat”IMGP0968 NK and Ansgar set off in earnestIMGP0979 Under Hatston Pier

After investigating under the pier, positions were swapped and the boat piloted back to the slip.  We then had a few goes solo which was fine on the right but not so easy paddling on the left!

Once off the water, it was more or less straight to the rendez-vous for today’s sea trip.  We decided to go from Hoxa Head to Sandwick.  On our way out we saw the Pentalina coming in.IMGP0985 Pentalina

IMGP0991 Gun emplacement at Hoxa Head

Hoxa Head was an important place during the war as it marks one of the main entrances into Scapa Flow.  Today the remnants are littered about the landscape and many gun emplacements are visible from the sea.

Out on the water, there was a little bit of swell around, but the biggest waves came from the Pentalina.  At Hoxa Head we put our noses round the corner to check there was nothing especially good we had missed.IMGP0990 Nick amongst the rocks off Hoxa

Heading south, we came to my favourite cave in Orkney – the Altar.  This has three entrances and it’s position on the corner of the cliffs make it fun to pass through.IMGP0996 Johnny and Peter at the altarIMGP1004 Ansgar comes through the altarIMGP1005 Nick on calm seas heading into Sandwick

Reaching Sandwick we stopped for a bite to eat while one of the party called on a local paddler.  We were soon offered tea and cake and a lift back to the cars.  A fine end to a beautiful day.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Sea boat invasion

Last night was a chance to get our sea boats in the pool.  A chance to practice those rolls without layers of clothing and numb hands.  We got special dispensation to have 6 boats in the pool and all six made the most of their time practicing rolls, re-entry and rolls and self-rescues.IMGP0959Sea boat fest

My rolls were as unreliable as they always are in my sea boat, the warm water didn’t appear to help.  I think I was on a 50% success rate.  Some rolls were perfect, many were not.  I think I just have to keep practicing……

IMGP0960 Setting up

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Demoralised Roller

feb14scapa 004 (Medium)Playing in the wind chop at the end of the pier – photo Mackayak

Today we went for a bit of a pootle at Scapa with some of the newer paddlers and one lady who had never been out on the sea before.  We started by poking our noses around the end of the pier before a small group headed across the bay and the beam wind and waves.  Skegs were banned so it was an exercise in edging and sweeping – all ended up where they should but those in higher volume boats found it hard work. feb14scapa 001 (Medium) Arty shot by Mackayak!

Back at the pier, Kye took a small group for coaching on turning while 3 of us headed to the infamous Hemp Stack, punching into the wind and waves to get there.  Coming back wasn’t as much fun as it could have been, although I managed to catch a few small  waves.

Back at the pier it was time for the usual rolling practice, I managed on my right with extended paddle and then came up on the left with a lack of finesse and a lot of muscle.  My third attempt failed.  My friend rolled his much wider and more cumbersome boat without effort.  The more I practice, the worse I seem to get……  Maybe I should just give up…….

Saturday, 13 February 2010

A little bit of a lift

Today’s paddle was a short one from Skaill Bay on the west coast, round the corner.  Things looked promising as we launched from the bay with no breaking waves on the beach and some smallish waves breaking on the points.  As we left the bay and headed round the corner, the Atlantic swell showed its head and it was decided it was best for the group to turn back.  IMGP0939Ansgar in the swell

We spent a bit of time on the edge of the waves on the point on the south side of the bay.  I wanted to catch a few but it looked a bit too gnarly in there!

Back near the shore, I donned my goggles and did a few rolls, my right side still evading me.  Johnny came to the rescue suggesting a few rolls with an extended paddle – they lacked finesse but did the job.  Some others practised a few rescues and we tried out each others boats before adjourning to the cars.

Back in real life land, looking into the shed this evening, I found a parcel of a rug and these beautiful flowers.  I think kayaker has managed to find kayaker after all…….IMGP0942

Friday, 12 February 2010

Glorious Gairsay

Here in Orkney we often have strong winds, to the point that our personal measurement of wind scale differs from the rest of the world.  Today, it was not like that.  The sun was shining and the smoke curled out of chimneys and hung quietly in the air.  I even had to remove a layer under the dry suit……

I wanted to go in search of a peedie bit of swell and was hopefully of a trip to the west coast, however, Mackayak had yet to visit Gairsay because we always make sure we go when she isn’t there (no not really) and since Johnny went there on Wednesday, she asked if he would mind going again.  We were of course perfectly happy to oblige.IMGP3543Rousay in the background – photo Johnny

I once went to Gairsay when there was a stiff northerly going against a NW running tide at Springs.  It was an experience to say the least.  Today, there were no standing waves and although the flow was visible, it wasn’t strong enough to bother us.  What was interesting though, was to note how irregularly it flowed through the channel, there were boils and flows and eddies popping up all over the place.

Across and rounding the north of Gairsay, the water was so calm today that I was able to look down on a creel to see if anything was in it!Mary wanted rough seas...ha!IMGP3558It was too rough for me! – photo Johnny

We rounded Sweyn Holm in a stylish figure of eight movement and saw hundreds of seals before landing for a spot of luncheon.  Mackayak had some of that wonderful millionaires shortcake which was just the job.  Post lunch, we headed round the south end of the Hen of Gairsay, encountering another area of tide.  We skirted across the opening of Mill Bay and headed back towards the farm from where we launched.IMGP3576”Argghhh Harrrghh me harties!” Coming home with pirate spoils – photo Johnny

Before we landed, I had to have a roll.  Roll on left good, roll on right failed so finished with another roll on left.  I swear, I am going to have to do 4* in the swimming pool!!!   

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Glorious February

The weather today was warm and sunny and the wind had dropped to acceptable levels, so we decided that we would go for a trip.  It was the first time for one of the club members out on the sea so we chose a nice journey that would be sheltered from both the wind and any swell.

After some faffing from official group faffer, Peter, 5 of us launched from Holm, only to see a 6th person arrive.  We duly waited until he was waterborne before heading off.  IMGP0861 Waiting for Peter……IMGP0866 Looking dynamic on the water

As soon as we headed around the corner at Holm, we were fully sheltered from the SE wind.  There was real warmth in the sun and Jackie got so hot he decided that he would have a quick swim. I’m sure he was just demonstrating a rescue for Malc’s benefit…IMGP0871 Come in, the water is lovely!

We carried on winding our way up the coast weaving in and out of the rocks  IMGP0872 Four paddlers on a calm seaIMGP0874Malcolm clearly enjoying his first trip on the seaIMGP0888To infinity and beyond”

About half way through the trip, we reached Deepdale where we stopped for tea and cake.  Peter also produced a chocolate bell.  Yum yum!IMGP0892 Are they playing cards?

We explored the cliffs and rocks on the way back to Scapa.  There were loads of sea birds evident and it was remarked that they seemed a little early.  Although the coast from Deepdale to Scapa is formed of cliffs, there are very few caves to explore.IMGP0898 Jackie cavingIMGP0914Peter on glassy seas as the winter sun begins to set

Upon arrival at Scapa, I tried to practice rolling again.  Peter was on hand for eskimo rescues which was fortunate because I only managed one roll, much to my frustration.  Peter said it looked effortless but it didn’t feel effortless!  Later, in the pool, I managed at least 20 perfect rolls on both sides so maybe I should as ask to do my 4* assessment in the swimming pool?!IMGP0926Northern Kayaker tries the famous Anas Acuta as darkness falls

A lovely day for a nice, relaxed trip.070210

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Polo Friday

Canoe polo training was loads of fun last night.  The evening began with the boys from The Darkside putting up a proper goal to allow us to train properly and we were also given permission to have 10 boats in the pool, allowing us to play 5 a side.IMGP0852IMGP0853After some shooting practice, Graeme and Kristian then began drilling us in various skills, before finishing the evening with a game.  Thankfully, despite some shoving, I managed to stay upright this week, however, I still throw like a girl!       IMGP0855 IMGP0856

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

A continuing saga

Last night was the KKC pool session.  I was not too confident about my rolling after my 50/50 showing in the sea yesterday morning.  I tried a few rolls on both sides and they were all fine.  Strangely though, my confidence did not return with them.  After that, I tried a few hand rolls and managed at least a few.

My second turn in a boat was not so good and my roll failed again on the left. I calmed down and thought about it and got it back nicely again on both sides.

Buoyed up by this, I thought I would go out and practice in the sea again today, especially because the wind had dropped and the sun was shining.  The first roll was fine but after that, it was again a poor showing.  I did at least manage a good roll on both sides but I was disappointed that I lost it again.  IMGP0795 IMGP0796IMGP0797Roll on left

 IMGP0801 IMGP0804 IMGP0805Roll on right

My friend was on hand to take some video footage of a good right side roll and also a failed left side one.  I am trying to analyse what I am doing wrong!

Any tips for better screw rolling always appreciated…..

After my poor rolling attempts, my friend and I went to Stromness for cake and a walk.  There was a superb tidal race visible as the tide flowed out of Hoy Sound.

IMGP0816 Looking across Hoy Sound to Ward Hill

Although this stretch of water can be treacherous, it is one of the main entry points to Scapa Flow and was thus heavily defended during both wars.  The evidence of this is still visible today.IMGP0818 Gun emplacement

The settled weather meant the water at Stromness looked calm and inviting but at least I had been in my boat for a little while.IMGP0822 Stromness for Ness Point