Saturday, 22 December 2007

Through little eyes

That's me, paddling at sunset as drawn by my daughter, Morwenna (5).

As seen by Rhydian (3). "Have you been in your kayak?" he often asks.

I get the faint impression he can't wait to get out on the water!

By Llewelyn (8)

and Taliesin (10), who started to surf kayak this year.

It's always nice to make it back home.
Happy Paddling for 2008!

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Best Kit

I had to think a while when asked what is the best bit of kit for Sea Kayaking. To my mind there isn't a right answer to this. Not one piece could I single out, as it all could be needed, and when in deed it is needed it will be the best bit of kit at the time! It's about having the kit available to deal with what arises.

At the end of the day I concluded that the best thing in Seakayaking was the ability to make the right decisions. To gain this, learning through experience was high on the list but this wasn't really kit. Learning through others experience would also be valid and to this extent the kit must come down to books and blogs.

So there is my answer.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Paper Anniversary

It's year to the day since I started seakayaking!

I've met up and paddled with some great people during this time and discovered the diverse world wide community of paddlers through their various blogs, books and DVDs.
Without exception, everyone who I've paddled with or talked to regarding all aspects of seakayking, have been enthusiastic, encouraging and helpful.

I am now seriously hooked on this tremendous sport. With the exception of the last two frustrating months of post-operative waiting, it's been a fantastic year, and I can't wait to get back into my boat in January!

The little fella above in the paper kayak was a bit of fun to make, if you fancy having a go, then download the pdf file from here. It only takes a few minutes to put together. Go on you know you want to.

Sunday, 25 November 2007

XXS is good

Following on in my failed to roll when solo in rough water capsize scenario. I have so far managed to get back into my kayak with re-entry and roll with my paddle float assistance. I can now support myself while I start the process of pumping out the water from my cockpit. I don’t have a foot or electric pump. My spray deck is tucked under the twin seal waist of the paddling top, so I can’t push the pump down the front and have the spray deck back in place. I think it is going to be difficult to keep the big waves from refilling the cockpit.

Unless I have spent extra cash on a Reed spray deck with a bale hole.
Which I haven’t.

But seeing this spray deck gave me an idea to adapt my existing deck to have it’s own retrofitted hole.

I came up with the idea of using the smallest dry bag I could find (an ExPed XXS which cost less than a pint of beer), as a ready made sealing hatch device. So now all I have to do is cut the bottom out of the bag, make an appropriate incision in the spray deck and sew/seal the bag in. The bag is small enough I think, that when rolled right up, will not allow water to pool.


When it’s done, a picture will surely follow.

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Please Sir, Blow in the Bag!

I’m on my own. First line of defense is to roll. If that fails then it is a re-entry and roll.
Ok so I’m back in my boat, upright and the cockpit is full of water. That is why I’ve got a pump. It is a hand pump. To pump the volume of water that remains in the cockpit is to say the least tiring, it is really hard work.

So considering that conditions must be pretty difficult for me to have capsized in the first place, I can see a spiral of events here. Pumping out, getting tired, trying to stay upright. It is not unreasonable to say that during this operation a capsize is again likely to happen, the re-entry and roll may or may not happen depending on how tired/cold I am etc.
To increase my chances of staying upright while I perform the vertical stroking of my bilge pump, I have considered a paddle float.

The philosophy here is that it should make the re-entry and roll easier, but more importantly act as an out rigger providing stability while pumping out the cockpit. I am assuming a hunch forward position over the paddle shaft and leaning into the float, while using the pump.

Down side of using a float is the delay of getting out of the water while inflating the bag. Considering the advantages of stability the float will offer during pumping, I think it is a trade off I am happy to make.

Other uses for this kit include a pillow while camping and as a splint device for leg or arm. This requires cutting the bottom of the float between the seams of the two floatation chambers. An arm or leg can then be put through and both chambers inflated to provide quite a good splint, (blow really hard!). This could also be used to provide pressure to an open wound. This sort of effect is used to a greater effect in MAST pants (military anti shock trousers), but that is a different story.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

GlowStick alternative

Glow sticks (chemical light sticks) are relatively inexpensive, last for 6-8hrs and then you throw them away. These Lazer Stik devices are LED powered, waterproof (100m), float upright and can be turned on/off when required. The 6inch wand gives off a nice broad beam so I've got hold of a red one to use as a deck light to look at my chart and general night time use. You can also make them flash if you want. In a group night time paddle they would be useful to put front and back of PFD so that everyone knows where everyone else is. I found glow sticks very bright at night and put them in a net bag to reduce their intensity. I don't know yet how bright these LED's are in comparison.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Compass Light

This was my attempt at creating a deck light to illuminate the forward mounted compass.
It has the additional use of being able to secure some plastic/drybag as an emergency hatch cover if needed.
I used a red "Guardian" LED light threaded onto a short length of webbing, then stitched a double length of bungee to go around the hatch cover rim.

It sits nice and securely inside the rim of the cover so wont easily get washed off. (A small piece of string attached to the tab on the hatch acts as a safety just in case).
The red light was chosen to give illumination but not to reduce the effect on loss of night vision,

There is very little light spill from outside of the compass well. The image below is from the front right looking back, from the cockpit there is no glare at all from the light.

Friday, 2 November 2007


To make the most of my kayaking down time, I've been getting stuff together to enhance my night time paddling experience. The SOLAS self adhesive tape has now arrived. Now if I am in the beam of anyones light, glow like a glowing thing I shall. Love the way that stuff reflects light.

Came across a few interesting tiny waterproof lights. The Guardian (above), which is really tiny (41 x 33 x 33mm 20g). It is described as "Rugged-designed to withstand being driven over by an average car". Why?

Useful design traits however are the fact that it is water proof (100m), is very very tiny, batteries last for ages, easy to use with cold hands. You can make it flash but this requires the batteries to be turned around, not recommended out on the boat. It comes in White, Red, Yellow, Green, Blue and Infrared. You can apparently see the light, so to speak, from up to 2km at the front and 0.5km from the side. All this for less than £8 and that includes batteries.

Sunday, 21 October 2007

A stitch in time . . .

At last my intestines bid for freedom has finally been stopped.
I have been handed a minimum 8 week sentence of kayak abstinence.
I shall not be grumpy. I shall not be grumpy. I shall not be grumpy. I shall eat chocolate, surf the internet and read kayaking books.

Sunday, 14 October 2007

Search for Adventure

Thirsty for some guided experience in rougher waters I traveled south to Maenporth in Cornwall for a weekend with Simon Osborne of Sea Kayaking Cornwal. Unfortunately my plan was scuppered as the south coast was flat as a pancake while the South Wales beaches I had left behind received the best swell yet this year, fantastic surf, I was told. Even England managed to get through to the final of the Rugby World Cup Rugby. You just can't win.

Still, I managed to see other things that I had not seen before. A rare sighting of a Palm Aluetion Dry Suit for one. Some very interesting things that you could do with a paddle to make you go where you wanted were passed on to me in addition to more practice of getting back into the kayak. This I know Simon is a master at but he has no intention of getting out of his kayak at certain points in his forth coming Madagascar trip. Good luck fella. I'm still jealous.

Sunday, 7 October 2007

Monkstone Rock & Flatholm

This is Monkstone Rock lighthouse. It is a few miles off Penarth and I never knew it was there.
After a look see we dropped down towards Flatholm for a spot of lunch on the beach. Landing fee here is £3.50 if you want to land and have a good look around, which I intend doing on another occasion.

Rounding the island past it's own lighthouse and various gun emplacements, we ferry glide back towards Lavernock Point which brings us back Penarth.

Trip length: 10.1Nm

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Flashing lights

Tusker Rock provided us with the reason to paddle out into the night at dusk. I had hoped to land and take some proper night pictures with suitable tripod, but with it being a neap tide, there wasn't much of it pocking out when we arrived, and with little remaining light I didn't fancy groping around in the dark and having to rush.

Glow sticks are really bright so we stuck them in mesh pockets, which worked really well to help maintain our night vision. No moon when we were out on the water. Clear night, and with our backs now to the light pollution from Porthcawl and Ogmore we headed back towards Southerndown. There are very few lights along this part of the coast and so we were treated to a fantastic array of stars as well as some phosphorescence in the water.

Neal had the brilliant idea of putting a flashing light in his car. This gave us something to aim at on our way back. This reminded me of the tales of the Wreckers of Dunraven.

The night time photography needs improving though.

Saturday, 15 September 2007

I can't hear you

Paddling out of St Donat's Bay around to Nash, we pass in front of Nash Lighthouse. Here is also situated a foghorn. It is one thing to hear this going off at home, but to be directly in front of it when it sounds is entirely a different matter.
The last 2 trips I've passed the horn, it has gone off. It feels as if I have nearly been blown out of my seat as the sound booms out and reflects back off the English coast. I am beginning to wonder what I've done to deserve this treatment, as each time there has been no sight of fog.
The tide had just turned as we launched, and we were paddling against it. It was slow work. Just about maintaining 2 knots. Long 2hr slog to get to Southerndown beach.

These afternoons the light is noticeably lower. Bringing with it that lovely light that shows all the contours in the rock faces.
After arriving at Southerndown we turn tail and get a roller coaster 45 minute ride back with the tide.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

First Night Paddle

I am now trying to build up experience of night time paddling. Tonight was my first attempt. Paddling out from Penarth Lifeboat station out around Sully Island and back. I fear that my night photography is lacking somewhat. I blame the fact that you can't see any of the buttons in the dark.

Monday, 27 August 2007

The Tusker Rock Café

We fancied something a little bit different for our lunchtime stop at Tusker. I had after all paddled from Llantwit Major and had felt some proper food would be in order to fuel my return trip. I had come prepared to produce the de facto greasy fry-up all day breakfast buttie. Eggs, burger, bacon, kebab and red sauce.

We shall have to come back to this caff again. (Some chairs would be nice)

Chris paddls around our private island before the flooding tide reclaims it.

Saturday, 11 August 2007

Eddystone Lighthouse Challenge

Although feeling chuffed after the successful completion of the Bristol Channel project I must confess to being more than slightly disappointed at not paddling back the next day. Two of us had decided to make the return trip. Sadly my paddling partner felt a bit under the weather in the morning. The Eddystone Lighthouse Challenge seemed an appropriate penance.

I managed to complete the challenge just before my shoulders and arms parted from my torso!

The organisation of the event was top class as was the provided buffet.

40km 6hrs 17mins

Thursday, 2 August 2007

Ynys Byr - Caldey to English folk

It wasn't as bright as this when we left at some ungodly hour in the morning. In fact it hadn't stopped chucking down with rain for nearly two solid hours. Luck was on our side as the rain stopped before we launched and we were left with a very overcast start from Lydstep.

It took a long time to get out to Caldey, not that it is very far, just that there are so many interesting nooks and caves to explore on the way out.

Crossing over the sound to the island proper is "interesting". We made a clockwise circumnavigation, with the company of grey seals.

Then the sun came out and the colours within the rocks jumped out.

Great day paddling.