Archive for the 'Trip Reports' Category
 

The Lightpainting Job – Part III

Friday, May 12th, 2017

For the third and probably the last time I was asked by the Cervo Go photographers team to join in on a so called light painting session. We made arrangements with instructor Fanny, for a meeting with her team at Nieuwpoort harbour. Light painting is photographing a moving light with a longer shutter time; the effect is a long, bright line in one picture. The camera has to be positioned on a tripod because it may not move, not even a bit. This year the challenge was to get the kayaker also in the picture, the use of the camera flash makes this possible. Several try outs were made just before dark, just to get thing perfectly right. Trajectory, distance and communication were key to allow the photographers to make their perfect photo. There was a light strip attached to the paddle, which makes those graceful and colourful lines in the photos. The video shows the setup and how it is done, at the end there are a few pictures included, just to show the result of the hard work. Again, it was a true pleasure to work with passionate people. It is really great to see the result of the cooperation between photographer and sea kayaker.

 

 

Lifeboat Rescue

Monday, April 24th, 2017

One of the worst things that can happen to a sea kayaker is the loss of his of her kayak at open sea. Mostly we paddle as a group, if paddling alone some of us are tethered to their kayak. But you never know, if that moment comes when due to circumstances you lose your craft. In our team we always carry a good quality PFD, good clothing (dry suit or wetsuit) and a means to call for help. I have always been a big fan of good quality VHF radios combined with the knowledge to make use of it in a good, responsible way. It has the benefit of two way communication, you can reach a large number of receivers, and if your message is received you get direct response. You know if and when help is coming. Make sure to load the batteries every single time you go out on a trip.
You should carry a minimum of items on your person. A VHF radio or a cell phone at least. A flare, maybe two if you got the place, the mandatory whistle, a knife, a PLB, a water reserve (camel back type). The more you carry, the more options you got when the need arises. Today we got lucky, we were able to train with the crew of the R6 ORKA lifeboat. Conditions were great, no wind, no waves, sunny but a water temperature around 11°C. Even in these conditions it was difficult to spot a single person in such a big body of water. Therefor it’s always better if you can stay near your kayak…. But in this case, the kayak was gone! A good VHF should float and should be waterproof by itself (not by carrying it in a waterproof bag). Most rescue services make use of a so called homing device, they can reach your location faster that way if you broadcast that is. If you got the chance to train together with rescue services, grab that chance with both hands! It’s always a good to learn and share experience. I want to thank the R6 ORKA Lifeboat crew for their contribution to this exercise!

 

The Sea Wanderers III

Monday, March 13th, 2017

I have a question. Why do you go paddling?  I asked myself that very same question years ago.  Years ago my answer was because of the sports, the adventure, the close contact with nature…  Now my answer has slightly changed.  I kept telling myself that I’m addicted to sea kayaking, that I needed the workout and the companionship of my teammates.  That is maybe not the whole truth.  Those reasons are merely a cover up for what is maybe the real reason.  I’m addicted to the sea…  Do you think that a fisherman sails the seas his whole life just to catch fish…?  It’s that attraction I think….  That counts for us also.  We are sea wanderers!  We love to be in the salt water, for so called rescue drills!  Yeah right!  While sea kayaking we spend perhaps more time in the water than in our craft.  And the smiles, that’s an extra!

Oh Sea

Saturday, December 31st, 2016

We are in the first place real sea admirers, and in the second place sea kayakers. This is the last video of the year 2016. It contains footage of the last sessions we did with the team. After ten years of wandering our piece of the North Sea, we are more enthusiast than ever! We wanted to start the video with a fitting poem, as a tribute to this wonderful water mass that provides us with intriguing, challenging and beautiful conditions to paddle in. We want to thank all our team members for their friendship, our sympathizers for their support and al others who made our team grow during those last years. Come with us on our last journey of 2016, we’ll see each other next year on the water!

 

The Trip – Cap Griz Nez, Northern France

Thursday, November 17th, 2016

It’s been a while since we’ve been out for a paddle along the Northern French coastline. We chose to meet with other team paddlers at the pebble beach near Audresselles early in the morning. We planned our trip around Cap Griz Nez so that we had two times the tidal stream in our favour. Ideal to paddle as close as possible to the rocky beaches with the least effort. There wasn’t much wind but the swell was good and provided small waves for us to play on. We are used to paddle along Belgium’s sandy coasts, so this was a welcome change. Although you may not see it in the video, the British coastline was clearly visible that day, both on the water as from an elevated position. We’re not sure, but I think the Dover cliffs were calling us….  Enjoy the video, and when in the neighbourhood with a kayak on the roof of the car, make sure to stop for a paddle along this beautiful coast.

 

The Oostdyck Radar Tower

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

Two years have passed since my last visit to the Oostdyck Radar Tower. Today, conditions were good and so we set of from the Oostduinkerke beach. It is a very good navigation exercise because, although the tower is 36 metres high, you mostly cannot see it until half way. The tower is located not less than 22 kilometres offshore. It’s operational since 2003 and its purpose is to provide guidance for the bigger ocean ships. The international shipping lane is nearby and also the Westhinder anchorage (where ships have to wait for the pilot to come on board). On some days, with extreme good visibility, you can spot the tower from the coast when standing on an elevated position. We have been nine hours on the water to reach the radar tower and get back to shore. Again, it was worth the effort, reaching it and not being able to see the coast! Three hundred and sixty degrees of pure, open water, absolute peace and quiet……  The tower itself is unmanned.

My teammate Harry and I are using a P&H Cetus MV.

The Delphin MKII 155 CoreLite X at Penrhyn Mawr and the Stacks

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

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29 July  Porthdafarch – South Stack, via Penrhyn Mawr, with Ed Loffill

2 August  Soldiers Point – South Stack, via North Stack with Ed Loffill and Justine Curgenven

Sea Kayak Sailing/Surfing at Penrhyn Mawr

 

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Sea Kayak Sailing/Surfing at South Stack

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The sail was taken down for surfing steeper waves at South Stack

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The sail back up to surf closely past South Stack’s headland

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Beam reach sailing back to Porthdafarch

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South Stack with Ed and Justine 

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South Stack Surf

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The Delphin MKII CoreLite X

The biggest improvement I found in the Delphin MKII CoreLite X is the extra speed and responsiveness it has in surf. This is thanks largely to the greater stiffness in the plastic construction. The cockpit has also been improved to provide better comfort and connectivity.  The day hatch is a welcome addition, as are the sailing fittings.  In summary, the Delphin MKII CoreLite X has all of the great features of the original Delphin but with some very useful additions/refinements and stiffer plastic for even more fun surfing.

Sea Kayak Sailing in Tideraces

It is a bit of a balance whether/or not to deploy the sail in a tiderace. When the waves are not particularly steep the addition of a sail makes catching waves far easier, increasing the number of surfable waves and the length of the runs. At some point the balance between fun and fear will probably tip towards fear, or at the very least uncomfortableness. It is now time to take the sail down as the surf has steepened up and you probably don’t need any more help catching the waves.

www.seakayakingwales.com

Cap Gris Nez – France

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

It has been a while since we have been on the water together. So today, we planned a little daytrip to Northern France, more specific Cap Gris Nez. It is located along the Dover Strait (Pas de Calais) on the French side of course and is known for its strong tidal current and fast changing weather. We planned on paddling near the rocks and cliffs around high water. While it was very sunny the first part of the trip, weather began to change very fast (within 30 minutes) and a sea fog set out all over the area. When in the neighbourhood with a kayak on the roof of your car, make sure to stop by and enjoy the scenery (and meet the grey seals that live there)!



Anglesey’s Stacks and Skerries in the Pyranha Octane

Sunday, July 24th, 2016

After paddling the Octane on Llyn Padarn I wanted to try it out at sea in wind, waves and moving water. My kayaking buddies for this trip were Ed and Abi Loffil.

Porthdafarch Skerries Map

 

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The Pyranha Octane with the Flat Earth Sail fitted

Ed and Abi had a head start on the outward leg so I followed them 20 minutes after their departure. This leg had up to 10 knots of southerly wind with a slightly post spring tidal current to propel us on the flooding tide to The Skerries. Time of leg – 1.5 hrs.

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Approaching Penrhyn Mawr

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Approaching the middle race of Penrhyn Mawr

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South Stack

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Rush Hour in Holyhead Bay

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The Skerries

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Departing The Skerries

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Surfing circuits at The Skerries

The return leg had 10-17 knots of southerly wind against the south flowing ebb tide. Time of leg – 3 hrs.

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The rough journey back south

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North Stack

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Taking a rest at South Stack

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Sailing home to Porth Dafarch

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The team returned at Porth Dafarch with our paddling friend Jan

 

Initial thoughts on the Octane

Previous to receiving the Octane I had never paddled a surfski. The closest speedy boat I had experienced to compare it to is the Rockpool Taran. The Octane, like the Taran, is great fun to paddle fast, especially in surf. At speed the surf ski is particularly stable, locking into its watery path. Its stability seemed further enhanced with the addition of the Flat Earth Sail, as this gave more propulsion. It is even better to sail than the equivalent P&H Scorpio or Delphin sailing kayaks as it is super quick and responsive to the rudder. With its open cockpit it felt a lot like a modern sailing dinghy, especially with the gurgling sound of the self-bailer.

Paddling downwind with swell was far, far better than the reverse into wind and waves. The former situation gave much greater speed than the accompanying sea kayaks, whereas into wind and swell the surfski was only marginally quicker, despite lots more effort from my core muscles. I probably need to improve my technique in these conditions.

The Octane is a very positive boat. It rewards good posture and technique with better performance. This feedback is proving really useful as I try to get better at paddling a surf ski.

Next time I want to try some more downwind runs!

Geth

www.seakayakingwales.com

Handa Island – New boat, custom colours and perfect light.

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

The Cetus MV was, yet again, my boat of choice to meet all my coaching and personal paddling needs for this year.; whether it is introducing aspiring sea kayakers on sheltered waters, running 5 Star courses in the Pentland Firth, away on expeditions around Scotland’s amazing coastline or playing out at the Grey Dogs, for me, it just does it all. It also gives me a real stable platform for on-the-water-photography when doing my books, articles and sponsors’ photos; with an expensive SLR digital camera in my hand, and the opportunity to capture that ‘perfect front cover picture’, that’s pretty important!
So, when my latest Cetus MV arrived the other week, as always I was excited to get it out on the water, but this boat was just that little ‘more’ special; PeakUK have updated the colours on their sea range of kit this year, and knowing this, it seemed rude not to have a boat to match! With some helpful collaboration between PeakUK and P&H, the colours were matched and that allowed P&H to do their ‘magic’ in customising the perfect boat for me! As you would expect, they really went to town on it and not only was the boat colour matched, but all the trimmings (decklines and bungees) as well – brilliant!!
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With the perfect boat from P&H and the awesome kit from PeakUK, a suitably spectacular venue was required for its first outing, along with some great light to get the photos to show it off; the North West Highlands of Scotland were the destination and the amazing Island of Handa was the prime spot to visit. If you’ve not been to Handa yet – go… It offers towering cliffs, caves and arches aplenty, along with the enormous ‘Great Stack’ of Handa. All this is guarded by thousands of sea birds, with the raw force of the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the relative shelter and beaches of the Sound of Handa on the other. It’s easily accessible to paddle around, yet once there you will feel on the edge of the world in a very exposed way!
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So, with some careful weather watching, some great evening light was found to paddle around Handa Island and ‘wet the hull’ of my rather unique boat – may she see many more such great trips in the months to come… thanks to all the P&H team for making her so brilliant!!
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