Saturday, 27 March 2010

The view from above

imageScapa weather

This afternoon was not an afternoon for paddling, instead I went to Mull Head in Deerness for a walk.  The path around the top of the cliffs follows a well kent kayak route but everything looks different from above. IMGP1255The Gloup

The path first makes its way to above the Gloup where there is a viewing bridge allowing you to look down over the waterfall.  From above it looks vast and impressive.   IMGP1262 The seas beyond the Brough of Deerness

Next passed is the Brough of Deerness.  This was once an important early medieval settlement and is covered by the foundations of houses and workshops.  The church was excavated a while ago and this has been restored partially.  To reach the brough, there is a steep path from the mainland down to the sea and up the other side.  Earlier in the year some friends of mine worked on the most recent excavations here, carrying tools and equipment up and down wasn’t fun and I only had to do it twice!  I didn’t visit the brough today but instead looked wistfully at the seas beyond.

From the top of the cliff, I got a better view of some of the local residents.IMGP1263 Gulls on the cliffs

I carried on my walk and soon rounded Mull Head itself. After a few hundred metres further, I found myself looking down into a familiar lunch spot.  The tide was clearly out today and the tunnel access to the beach was high and dry.IMGP1273 Lunch spot

I could have carried on my walk to the Covenanters Memorial but instead took the shorter route back towards the car.  I’ll save a trip to the memorial for another day.IMGP1275Covenanters Memorial 

I did see anyone apart from a farmer in his tractor during my walk but I did happen across a pair of ‘paddlers’……IMGP1276Winter visitors

Monday, 22 March 2010

The Lonely Lomo Boot

For some time I have had only one Lomo boot which really wasn’t very useful.  I searched high and low but its friend was never discovered and I had given up all hope of finding it again.  Eventually I gave in and bought a new pair.  However after our paddle yesterday, a lomo boot was spotted inside a lobster pot by the side of the road.  It was the missing boot!  Discovered at least 7 months since it was lost!  The boots are now reunited and very happy they are too.IMGP1243 Happy boots!

Yesterday we paddled around Deerness in the east mainland from the fantastic slip at Newark to the beach at Halley.  Although on Friday we had a huge westerly storm, there was still a bit of sea on the east side.  Rather than a slow easy swell, there was a fair amount of clapotis around coming off the cliffs.  I did a little bit of rock hopping, getting right into the soup on one occasion (brace, brace, brace……).  We carried on up the coast and made our way to The Gloup.IMGP1217 Under the waterfall at the back of the Gloup

We then carried on northwards towards Mull Head, pausing beneath the Brough of Deerness for a quick snack.  Once we rounded Mull Head the swell and clapotis lessened considerably.IMGP1234Ansgar and Jackie rounding Mull HeadIMGP1233Cathy off Mull Head

We rounded the head and then made our way to a beach in one of the geos reached by a tunnel.  Often the end of this is difficult to get through but the high tide made it easy for us to pass all the way through.  IMGP1238 Tunnel

After a warming cup of tea, we had a good run back to Halley where we spotted the famous missing boot.210310

Last night was another sea boat session in the pool.  I was rolling OK but I still don’t feel bombproof.  I suppose all I can do is keep practicing……IMGP1249 Malcolm tries out Mackayak’s Isel

Saturday, 20 March 2010

More indoors

Last night was another rock and roll Friday night with us having another sea boat session in the swimming pool.  My roll started off badly when I tried to use an extended paddle but failed miserably.  After being instructed that I needed to give things a bit more oomph I duly did so and the roll improved greatly.  I practiced with extended paddle, hand by the blade and normal screw roll position and was happy with my progress.  Until Sunday……IMGP1211 NK in the pool

Conditions in the pool were a whole lot better than conditions outside yesterday, Scapa Pier looked a little different from last weekend.  Strangely, we were neither out in kayak or canoe in those conditions!imageA few waves at Scapa Pier – Photo PJF from OSKA galleryIMGP1162A much calmer sea

Friday, 19 March 2010

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Alien Craft

This weekend saw us take to a different craft than our usual sea boats when we undertook an open canoe course with Biscuit from Beyond Adventure who literally came for a flying visit to Orkney.IMGP1149                    The view from my boat

The new coaching and star awards now require an open boat element so it was essential for me as a level 2 trainee to get more practice.  4 others are about to do their level 2 training so we had a good bunch all ready to get more canoe experience, together with one novice canoeist who jumped at the chance to try something different.   

Saturday saw us have to use the very strong wind as we tracked the boats up the beach to a slightly more sheltered spot at Inganess.  We managed to do some tandem and solo work and got a lot more done than the forecast suggested it was going to allow.  The wind was pretty strong and we had to work hard to go against it but had fun being blown back towards the cars at the end of the afternoon.P3131190 (Medium)Coaching point discussions (and a rest for weary ankles) -MackayakP3131189 (Medium)Receiving a masterclass - Mackayak

Today the wind was slightly less and coming from the north so we went to the other side of the pier at Scapa a warm up and skills practice in the morning . IMGP1169 Mackayak shows off her J-strokesIMGP1166 Neil trims his way up wind while a tug tows fenders into Scapa Flow

All morning rumours circulated that we might undertake a canoe journey in the afternoon and sure enough after lunch, it was suggested that we might paddle from Scapa to Holm Village.  Having organised the shuttle, we set off in earnest, several of the sea kayakers not sure about undertaking such a familiar trip in such a different kind of boat.  After the first mile or so, with the wind behind us, we had a go at rafted sailing using some tarp, paddles and odd rope.mary4 (Medium)Setting off in earnest for HolmIMGP1176 Rafting upIMGP1182Underwayraft (Medium) The mighty craft- Mackayak

We sailed most of the way to Holm, breaking the raft when we neared St Mary’s and turned up wind for the final part of the trip.IMGP1201 Happy canoeists arrive in HolmIMGP1195 Canoe at Holm

140310 Our afternoon trip

Everyone seemed to enjoy their canoeing experience and I think the weekend was a success, despite the Orkney wind!

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Bring on those following seas!

FINALLY!  I have managed to fix my skeg.  A trauma it was, an epic even, but eventually after having the end of the wire angle grinded off again I succeeded in mending it.  Thank heavens for that! IMGP1145 It works!!!

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

It’s warmer indoors….

Last night was another session in the swimming pool.  I split my time between my own skills practice in a boat and coaching the youngsters for the Paddlepower Passport.IMGP1136                                  Studying the Paddlepower booklet

Coaching the youngsters is rewarding when they execute tasks well, I wish I had learnt to paddle when I was their age.  I was most impressed at their commitment to their low brace support strokes.  They asked if they should try to capsize then bring themselves up just before they did.  Goggles were duly put on and one girl even fell in!  IMGP1137 Bank based coaching

My own time in a boat was spent practicing rolls on both sides and trying to hand roll.  My in boat rolling was fine and I tried to concentrate on a good finish position and tried to keep my head where it was meant to be!IMGP1138 “I will be finishing this roll in the high brace position”

My hand rolling was less successful but I did manage a few rolls.  I was most pleased at the end of the session when I managed to hand roll on the off side first time.IMGP1139 Hand rolling (or trying to)

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Mystery kayakers spotted!

Do you drive a small red car?  Are you in Orkney?  Are you paddlers?  Mysteriously, while battling with the continuing saga of My Broken Skeg and Other Kayak Tales, I spotted a small car with two sea kayaks on the roof down the street.  Now, normally this wouldn’t be odd at all, a whole manner of vehicles with kayaks on/in/behind them regularly appear in my street but I didn’t know who these people were.  I ask you!  A paddler, in Orkney, who I don’t know?  Whatever next?!

Anyway, whoever the mystery people were, it is certainly a lovely day for a paddle and I wish I’d got my wits about me earlier and arranged an early evening trip after work.IMGP1133 Evening sunshine over Kirkwall

Sunday night saw another pool session, this time without sea boats.  I was there to coach but as many of the attendees didn’t make it, I took the chance to jump in a boat myself.

Well, in a small pool boat my roll is fine, dare I say bombproof, and I happily rolled away on both sides in the little white boat.  I tried to slow things down and tried to make a point of bringing the head up last.  Then I tried a few hand rolls, inelegantly but effectively.

Maybe I’ll fair better on Friday with my sea boat in the pool again?

Monday, 8 March 2010

East facing strata

Yesterday we decided to visit Rerwick by leaving from Inganess Bay and continuing on to the Hall of Tankerness.  070310 The first part of the paddle to Yinstay Head was a rather dull open water crossing but at least there were a few caves to see at the head. IMGP1123Peter at Yinstay

We then crossed over towards Rerwick Head where we stopped for a break on a small  beach.  After our repast we carried on round the corner.  The east facing coast, despite being somewhat sheltered by Deerness, the most eastern part of mainland Orkney, still gets battered enough by the winter storms to boast some great caves and passageways.IMGP1122Dennis at Rerwick

One of the best tunnels is know as the Hole of Roe.  This is perhaps 50m long and is great fun.  IMGP1125Jackie passes through the Hole of Roe

The last section of the paddle gave me a chance to practice my forward paddling as we headed towards the pier at Hall of Tankerness.  I think this was probably built in the days of the herring fisheries but sees little activity these days.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Warm water rolling and cave exploration

Last night we had another sea boat session in the swimming pool.  I didn’t realise I was an attendee until about an hour before so had no time to stress.  I got in my boat and I rolled it but it was heavy and awkward and I felt I was muscling it up.  Then it failed.  Confidence drained and I thought I was never going to get a bomb proof roll.  Luckily, amongst the spectators was a fine coach and he had my number straight away.  “Go and roll with an extended paddle and get the feeling of sweeping round and your head coming up last”.  So I went away and took hold of my blade in one hand and swept, then I did it again… and again… and again… then I moved my hand to the other end of the blade and swept again… and again… and again…  The feeling of the head coming up last and the correct finish position clicked again so when I took the plunge and tried a roll with normal hand position it was effortless and smooth.  Now I’m itching to get back into the pool and to try again.IMGP1060Sea boats lurk in the undergrowth

Today we paddled from Dingieshowe to Howes Wick east of Holm.  It was a stretch of coastline that I hadn’t seen all of and had only visited occasionally.  It was a fine day for some cave exploration with only a little bit of swell around. The first problem was getting the boats to the water. Then there was the problem of getting to the key in order to lock the vanIMGP1063Where’s the key?

Soon, however, we had shuttled and organised and were on the water.   The caving opportunities did not disappoint.  We explored several tunnels and passages, a particularly fine example being Notster where a large cave leads to a passage through the headland.IMGP1072Exploration

Nearing the end of our trip, we reached the Roseness Gloup.  We debated whether we knew its proper name before deciding that since it was a gloup and was in Roseness, Roseness Gloup is as good a name as any.      IMGP1086 “It’s dark in here”IMGP1092Opening to the sky IMGP1096Light at the end of the tunnel 

There were several landmarks visible today.  We got splendid views over to Copinsay – another trip I must complete and the Roseness Beacon was as conspicuous as ever.  I asked my paddling companions if they knew what it commemorates but neither did.  A search of the internet suggests no one really knows but it is thought that it may mark a shipwreck and loss of several sailors and was erected at the turn of last century. 

Roseness was benign today, but not somewhere I’d want to be in a south easterly.IMGP1097CopinsayIMGP1106Roseness Beacon

The last 2 km back to the car were a killer – broken skeg and beam wind and waves.

A fine wee paddle, as they say.