off Costa Head, west coast orkney

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Epic paddle

I haven't been paddling this weekend, So I thought I would speak about a sponsored KKC paddle that four of us more experienced members did back in 2008.

Lovely day for it

1998 was a poor year weather wise, and for this this trip the tides had to be right. We were planning to paddle from Stromness to Kirkwall, via the western coast which as any local will know is very exposed. Any westerly motion can make this trip VERY bouncy and pretty much a suicide mission on the wrong day! In saying this it is also a very spectacular stretch of water and a trip we all really wanted to do.

Having a deserved cup o' tea at the Broch

After a pretty poor summer we had to cancel the trip on a couple of occasions. We needed to leave Stromness with the Ebb tide in the morning and catch the Flood through the Eynhallow sound. This however was not to be as the weekends were fast running out and evening light was getting poorer. So we set off on a calm October morning against the tide in the Hoy sound. Fortunately they were Neap tides and we hugged the coast until we reached the skerries and navigated through the breaking surf.

Me in the faithful Nordkapp

It was evident that the South Westerly wind from the previous few days had kicked up quite a swell. After we came out of the Hoy sound we headed out and paddled half a Mile of the craigs as the confused back swell was a little less prominent out there. This for me was the hardest part of the day. But as we rounded the coast towards Yesnaby stack the 2-3 meter swell became more manageable. Our first tea break was on Skaill Beach and by this time the large swell had all bu subsided. Roughly 3 hours since we left Stromness it felt good to stretch legs and spend a penny!

John in the Westerly swell

The next leg was around marwick head and to the Broch o' Birsay Largly uneventful but the last 2-3 Nautical miles was a following sea and great fun for a but of surf.

When we were finishing our cups of tea I spotted my fathers Yacht on in the distance so jumped in the boat and paddled out to meet them. They had planned to accompany us till at least Eynhallow sound. It was easy to see how hard kayakers are to spot on the sea as they couldn't see us for a while even though they were looking for us.

John in the Hoy Sound

Through the Eynhallow in Ebb tide can often be a crazy ride of standing waves and overfalls! But today was perfect, hugging the coast took us out of the main stream and we were soon rounding the Broch of Gurness and into sheltered waters. here the support vessel left for home as the sun went down. We donned head torches and paddled for the bright lights of Kirkwall.

Such a peaceful end to our journey. Night paddling in silence, heading towards lights reflecting on glassy waters made me realise why I love Kayaking and all its diversities.

All in all a great journey. Although probably one I wont be doing again in one go.. Plans are already afoot to paddle it in 2010 breaking it up into sections so to explore the caves and stacks and doing a bit of camping on the way

Thursday, 28 January 2010

The last week.

Its been a busy old week with Canoe Polo training last Friday.. We have a lot of interest in the game which is brilliant, we might even be able to enter an Orkney B team into next years div 3 if this keeps up! We now have folk willing to train against us and they are all improving on a weekly basis.!
Peter on 'river mode'

On Saturday morning Myself, peter Woodward, Ansgar and Mary(The later two are from the 'Far side', Orkney Sea Kayaking Assoiciation, Orkneys other canoe club) on the pentelina accross the pentland firth.

We motored straight down to the get in for river Findhorn where there was 8 inch of snow at the bell tower. this meant carrying boats for 500 meter doon hill. I didnt think it was a day fo a dip but obviously the 'Farsiders' did and I had to chase one half of them down some of the rapids!

As we got of the snow started and dark came down. we hastened back to our youth hostel in aviemore and quickly got fed and watered with some Curry and Guinness!

Next Morning we fired down the A9 and jumped on the Stanley section of the Tay. mary was feeling a little warm so went for a wee' boatless drift down the river for a short while..! we bounced merrily down the rest of the stretch quickly with our napier freinds Ric and Shorty.

We had no time to spare as me and Peter were meeting the rest of the orkney polo team in glenrothes. Peter, Torquil, Graham, Me and Colin

This started really well ,beating the team on top of the league and Stirling Uni. unfortunatly we lost our way and lost the next game with a sending off and both teams conceeding a penalty. hard faught but not good enough. next game was FifeCAG who have played togethr for years and grown in size and strength although still only teenagers. They played extremley defensive game scoring all there goals on the break. turning out eventuall winners.

More practice needed. this is the first time that the team has played together since Scottish championships last May so all in all not a disgracefull performance.

Back in Orkney and normal pool training continued on tuesday evening. This was CRAZIEST attendance ever! 40 people were counted. pretty much half Junior half adults.. breaking it up into 15 each in boats I hope that they all feel they got something out of the session. Malcom scott did his first handroll after 30 seconds tuition! We also got some more juniors on the padle power scheme..

reminder to self.. tak more photos!

padddling so far...briefly..

Me and KKC!

hello there cheers for looking at my blog.. i am a blog virgin so bare with me!!
I live up in orkney just now and have been paddling off and on since I was 13..

Kirkwall kayak club introduced me to sea kayaking around orkney, teaching me the basics in the nice warm climate of the swimming pool. Pretty sure it was my brother that got me into it, he certainly got me rolling with and without a paddle

Me brother Leon With LeaAnne and Jodie,
he always was a layed back paddler!

Some of the dafter members of the early 1990's (including brother Leon, johnny Johnston and noel Thomson) would chuck us 'kids' in an old perception dancer and send us out in the cold surf with nothing much more than an old rain coat on! How the hell I didn't jack it in right then I don't ken!! This was a contrast to the sheltered paddles in Scapa Flow and Inganess
Me peedie boat the 'Pickie-Terno'

My teens came and went in the same fashion... I feel i really started to paddle when I moved to Edinburgh and pretended to be a student ( I was working as a Bricklayer which is how make my bread!) joining Napier kayak Club on river trips to the Scottish Highlands. Quickly getting thrown down rivers like the Etive, Roy and The Spean
Me paddling 'the Crack of Doom' on the River etive

Orkney Polo team 2001

before I went to Edinburgh I had a brief fling with Canoe Polo when Orkney entered a team into the Scottish Open Championships. We won the bowl!!

After a few years of Edinburgh we did a bit of traveling and ended up back in Orkney. I think only now do I fully appreciate these islands. i rejoined Kirkwall kayak club and started myself on the coaching ladder. I had been coaching and leading for a number of years so this seemed to be the natural thing to do.

Last year I became chaiman of KKC and now thoroughly enjoy the organising and arranging of trips, coaching the adults and kids. We have members between 10-65 years old and I love watching them progress thier skills and confidence on the water.

We also have regular sea trip in the summer, a polo team in Scottish Division 2, river trips and the occasional surf trip.

That is about as brief as I can make my paddling story.. I will try and be disciplined enough to update regularly...