Wednesday, 23 May 2012


A few weeks ago, a friend of mine asked me about paddling across the Pentland Firth and happened to mention he was also planning to paddle to Foula.  I hate open crossings but for some reason, the thought of going to Foula appealed to me.  However, it is a long way…..

I have decided that there is no way I can manage the trip unless I train and was advised by one who knows about these things to concentrate on my forward paddling technique and use good technique to obtain maximum efficiency with minimum effort.  She asked if I had ever tried a wing. I hadn’t.  In Mackayak’s cupboard is a wing, so I asked very nicely if I could borrow it.  She asked to borrow my crappy old buoyancy aid…..

There is a nice wee paddle from Holm to Scapa which makes a lovely solo evening trip and from where it is easy to be picked up.  I did this route the other week and moved much faster than I expected.  A new game formed in my mind.  Why not paddle from Holm to Scapa but try and get quicker every time?  But always try to do so with a comfortable cruising speed and good technique?

Today the weather was beautiful so I was determined to get out in my boat.  Holm to Scapa Timetrial, day one, was on!

IMGP0882 Ready for the off

My housemate took me to Holm and literally threw me out of the van (he wanted to go to the gym).  It was probably the fastest I’ve ever got on the water!  While I was paddling I was concentrating on my forward paddling technique as I went along so didn’t take many photos (that would have meant stopping) but I did get a few.

IMGP0886 View in Scapa Flow

IMGP0889 The interesting bit


Happy Northern Kayaker (I found the shades in Easter Island, hence why they are so unflattering!)

I carried on, thinking about my stoke, spending most of my time trying to get used to the wing.  It seemed to force me to paddle properly with a good active posture and a high angle stroke.  I felt though that I needed to move my footrests a bit closer to allow full connectivity and power transfer.  I think, however, that a 215 wing is too long for me and ideally I would want a 210 like my standard paddles.  Not that I can afford a wing anyway…. I tried to maintain a good comfortable cruising speed all the way, but the last kilometre to the pier seemed to go on for days.  Eventually I reached it and found Phyllis and my (impatient) housemate waiting at the slip.

The last time I paddled from Holm to Scapa, when I wasn’t really trying, I managed the route in 1 hour and 35 mins.  Tonight I managed 10.1km in 1 hour and 25 mins. With a max speed of 8.6km/h and an average speed of 7.2km/h.

With a bit more work on my technique, I’m sure I can better that, then I will have to find a 15km timetrial route……

IMGP0890The housemate was pleased to see NK at Scapa 

IMGP0892Sunset over Scapa


  1. Keep smiling and challenging yourself! Your posts always have a hint of happy; which is why I enjoy catching up on your adventures!

  2. Happy? I'm a grumpy bastard! Seriously though, I was happy out on my own with no one else to worry about. I was pretty zoned out for a change, very relaxing! Giving up on the wing until I can find a short one and also wondering how to get a Cetus LV for free. What does one have to do to get sponsored???

  3. Grumpy and solo...that sounds familiar! Sponsorship is a scary scary world of marketing. Maybe launch a expedition to bring attention the the problem of X...that seems to work!