off Costa Head, west coast orkney

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Sunday on dry land

Last weekend I found myself in some of the biggest surf I have experienced yet, some sets were 10 foot plus, but unfortunately you will have to take my word for it as I have no photographic evidence!!

Skaill Bay Right on a rather 'flatter' day..

Skaill beach has a variety of different surf spots as it is a bowl shaped bay, giving a reef break on both points a beach break and a bigger reef out the back of the left hand side.

I opted for my favourite spot on the Right where the reef isn't too shallow.

This week Fiona had a weekend 'off work' which is rare, so i stuck to dry land for a few days to keep her company!!

On Sunday we took an invigorating walk along a familiar coast line, although I visit this place several times in a year its unusual that I see it from above.

This is a collapsed cave on the East side of Deerness called 'The gloup', the entrance is a large arch and is a great place to paddle into. Under where Fiona is standing in the photo is a small burn which falls 100 foot bellow over an entrance to a deep cave, With a head torch this is aways a great experience.

The Gloup is only a 10 minute paddle from a large sandy beach making it great paddle for the less experienced paddler as well.

On the way home the winter sky was spectacular as it often is this time of year. This is a view from east side of Holm (pronounced 'ham') Looking towards Churchill Barrier no 1.

I will still get my kayak fix tonight at OSCA pool training where I help out with coaching.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Blades and guns!!

I returned from my weekend away with my new Mitchell Blades touring paddles and planned a short trip to try them out on Tuesday afternoon. Never expecting it to end with me in the back of a Police car and the C.I.D department coming to my egress!!

New cranked paddles

All was quiet and I was on my own when I set off from the beach bellow Craigiefield in St Ola with a Force 2-3 Northerly wind. A short but refreshing paddle around Theives holm with a nice 2-3 knots Flood tide flowing and a little lift in the tide race to the NE of the Holm. During Flood tide a nice big Eddie appears at the East side of Theives Holm allowing a safe, familiar place to play around on a freindly but well defined eddie line.

This gave my new paddles a good work out and certainly felt secure when bracing, with a great grip on the water and a powerfull catch. They felt really good and thankfully as It is almost the most expensive piece of kit I own!!

The real excitement was yet to come though and as I returned to the beach where the van was parked my mobile was ringing, being a man I couldnt multi task (paddling and answering the phone!) I returned the call when I landed and as I was talking on the phone I noticed what looked like a toy hand gun on amongst the rocks.

After the call I took a closer look, sitting just above the water line and 10 foot or so bellow high tide mark. It was heavy and made of metal and clearly a REAL Pistol! My first thoughts were it looked like an old handgun, perhaps war time.

I decided to do the right thing and phone the local police as it could well contain live ammo. The PC's that arrived first couldnt identify the weapon so just took a statement from me in there car until C.I.D arrived. They immediatly recognised it as a 'Luger' apparently a standard issue revolver in the german navy!

The 'Luger' what it would have looked like when new

The police are now getting it tested to see if it is live and try and understand how it got there.

A different kind of ending to a paddle in a very familiar setting, one of the reasons I never get tired of just getting out in the sea!

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

600 mile drive for a game of Polo!!!???

Trips away to compete in Scottish Canoe polo division 1 can be quite an epic journey. It is possible to leave on the early ferry Sunday morning and do the 300 mile trip arriving for the 4.30 start. This is asuming there is no delay on the way!

Personaly Iam not a fan of tight scheduals so we tend to leave a day or two early and use the time for some more fun!!

Me and Adam left Saturday morning in Bananavan with 5 Polo boats on the roof and two play boats (and a drum kit) in the back destined to arrive in Stirling at night with running a river on the way.

Steve Mackinnon was meeting us in the small town of Alness just of the A9 with a couple of his friends, when I pulled up and saw that these 3 experianced river runners all had creek boats I felt the butterflies flutter a wee bit!

Alness is only paddleable in spate conditions and as Steve put it 'we must have sacrafised somone in Orkney to the apese the Snow melt god!!' she was running at a good level and was a lovely fast bouncy grade 2-3+ with a few river wide stoppers and pour overs..

Despite this only being Adams second river he nailed it with only one little mishap.. Not his fault though...

That was done and dusted in 45 minutes and we hit the road again not even 2 hours after we had pulled over.

sexy new blades!

The next day saw a trip to Brookbank so I could 'Look at' a sea paddle that I had been eyeing up on the Mitchell Blades website for a wee while now. After a painfull half hour of wanting it badly but knowing that the money would be bettter spent on boring things like bills ....I ended up buying it!

Polo was another hard graft and a couple of big defeats by two far stronger and better teams, followed by what was probably a fair 4-4 draw against the Scarlet ladys.

We then drove for 90 minutes to Pitlochry arriving just in time to catch the chipshop.
A loaded Bananavan

Monday morning and there was talks of surfing at Thurso before the ferry at night but we had 200 miles and boats to pick up from Glenmore lodge. By the time we had put 5 Polo boats, 3 river boats, 2 Open boats (one belonging to Mary S ) and a sea kayak on the the van roof we had run out of time for paddling! All in all we had a full weekend as it was.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

A cold but productive weekend

The winter weather continues to bite and although I had a weekend with no other plans I still didn't manage to get out and paddle.

Instead I worked on the old Polo boats that kirkwall Kayak Club bought earlier in the year. This one is Carbon/ Fiber Glass and extremely light, but also this makes it a bit more vunerable to cracks.

I had to build a makeshift tent out of insulation and old bed sheets to contain the heat. Fiberglass needs warmth to set and it is currently -5 in the evenings!!

All set now for next weekends division 1 games!

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Getting soft in my auld age!

I haven't been out paddling now for a while, mainly due to lack of time. I opted last Sunday to go for a walk along the cliff tops at Yesnaby. I came across some friends bellow!!

A little bit envious, We amused ourselves at the top!

After a really nice break in the weather last weekend Scotland seems to have been hit by a big freeze!! I will need more motivation now to get outside and get that valuable coaching hours in that I need for my level 2 assessment.

As I was writing this I nipped out and took twa photos!

Precious bananvan!

Although I have not been outdoors too much paddling I do 3 nights per week in the pool. Sundays is helping out with OSCA's training night whilst Tuesdays is Kirkwall Kayak Clubs sessions and friday nights are for Canoe Polo.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

For the past couple of months Kirkwall Kayak Club have been preparing a team to play in scottish division 1.

Mostly I have been running the coaching sessions for these which is not an easy task as I dont really know the game very well!

Orkney' A' line up for the start of the game.

We traveled away for the first 4 games last weekend, Some flew down in Torquil's private plane but I took the van down with boats on the roof and did some sea paddling whilst I could.

Giving a 'team talk'!

We quickly realsied that the jump from div' 2 to div' 1 is a massive leap in standards, losing our first 4 games.

Some of the teams have played together for almost 20 years and were very willing to give coaching and tactical advise to us after the games.

My home made polo gaols, made from 50mm drainage pipe!

Orkney 'A' play the next group of fixtures on 12th december. I am looking forward to picking up more training tips and hopefully winning our first games in div 1!

Monday, 3 May 2010

Thursday Evenining paddling restarts

Kirkwall Kayak Club resumed our Bi weekly summer paddling last Thursday.

A nice easy trip around the famous Churchill Barriers was a pleasant starter. Peter and Neil took a closer look aboard one of the block ships.

The ships were sunk during the First World War to block the channels between the Islands of Scapa Flow to protect the Navel base from German U boats.
This proved to be unsuccessful when in 1939 A German sub found a channel between the ships and hit the HMS Royal Oak with the loss of 833 men and boys. After this Winston Churchill commissioned the building of the barriers.
The barriers provided us with shelter from the cool West wind.