Scottish Symposium

Well the Scottish Symposium has been and gone, all that remains is the extended paddling programme.  Two things set this event from the others, firstly it is the last one in its present format and secondly the unbelievable weather.
I travelled north in the expectation that I would be delivering a range of talks, including such diverse topics as Expedition Planning, Baja and Thirds, Twelfths and 50/90’s.  As it turned out the weather was superb and in reality who would want to sit in a classroom listening to somebody ramble on about sea kayaking when they could be out on the water experiencing, first hand the impact of a Scottish heat wave.
Nearly 200 people attended the final Scottish Symposium, in its current form.  The programme was the usual diverse mix of workshops, talks and paddles, delivered by some of Britain’s most experienced coaches.  Fortunately common sense broke out among the participants and pretty much everybody went on the water with virtually every classroom session cancelled.
The key note lecture on Saturday evening, delivered by Gordon Brown and was very much in the form of a tribute to our friend Duncan Winning, who sadly passed away earlier this year.  He was one of the most influential sea kayakers of the 20th Century as well being a vital cog in the machinery of the Scottish Sea Kayak Symposium.  His presence at the event was sorely missed.
As the Symposium drew to a close, after a weekend of perfect weather and the extended paddling programme started you couldn’t help but think that Duncan would have been with pleased with the way the weekend had evolved.

Scottish Symposium
Nicky outside the Gaelic College, wearing her Moderate Becoming Good Later T shirt. Our nephew was starting his journey around the Shipping Forecast areas that day.
Scottish Symposium
A really unusual picture. Nicky and Gordon tucking into ice creams at Armadale. Almost unheard of at any of the previous symposiums.
Scottish Symposium
A group on a day trip around the Point of Sleat heading south in front of the College. Just a stunning backdrop.
Scottish Symposium
A busy Greenland Rolling session at Armadale. With the weather rolling was a pretty popular option.

Atlantic Coastal Kayaker

The June 2018 issue of Atlantic Coastal Kayaker, a magazine published 8 times a year in Massachusetts, contains an article written by yours truly on sea kayaking in the waters around Jersey.
Each issue contains a range of articles, many not surprisingly with a focus on the sea kayaking opportunities of the north east United States but with others, which will clearly appeal to a wider audience.  This issue contains a report on an event arranged by the Chesapeake Paddlers Association, the hazards of cold water, places to launch in Massachusetts and an article on fishing, amongst others.
Subscriptions cost $24 for a year in the US or $44, for international subscriptions.  The online version is $15 a year and, in my opinion, well worth subscribing too.

Atlantic Coastal Kayaker
Front cover of the issue which contains the article on kayaking in Jersey.

Scottish Sea Kayak Symposium

Over 6 weeks has passed since my incident in Gozo, which resulted in a ruptured achilles, I still have my leg in plaster and at times feel frustrated by my inability to get out on the water.
This weekend I had arranged an Advanced Sea Kayak Leader training course with paddlers visiting the Island from both the UK and France to take part.  I was really looking forward to working with Olly Sanders, but it was not to be last weekend.  I was fortunate enough to be able to arrange for Calum McKerral to fly down from Scotland and cover me at the last minute.
I was able to spend some of the evening preparing for the Scottish Se Kayak Symposium, which starts this Friday evening on the Isle of Skye.  Having attended them all since 1995 it is an event, which holds great memories for me.  Some fantastic paddles, inspirational talks and great social evenings over the last 20 plus years.
As this is due to be the last one it was an event I was particularly looking forward to attending and to do some more paddling in Scottish waters.  In fact the plan was to remain in Scotland for a further week and to paddle around the Small Isles, with some of the other members of the Jersey Canoe Club.
With my leg still in plaster flying isn’t an option so Nicky and myself leave this evening on the ferry, to start the long journey north, taking slightly longer than normal as we are stopping off in Bristol to see Joan Baez in concert, on her farewell tour.
Instead of being out on the water this weekend with the Advanced Sea Kayak Leader Training, it has largely been spent inside the house preparing my talks for next weekend.  I might not be able to paddle but at least I will be able to contribute to the lecture programme.
So it has been time spent re-acquainting myself with PowerPoint and searching through external hard drives for that one photo, which I feel might make all the difference but in reality won’t have an impact at all.
So talks on Expedition Planning, the weather, tidal planning, 12ths,3rds and 50/90, Baja and sea kayaking in the Mediterranean have gradually taken shape.  Although there is still plenty of work to do before I am satisfied with the finished product.
Fingers crossed that I don’t have to deliver all of the talks.  If there is good weather on Skye next weekend people attending the Symposium should be out on the water, experiencing all that the island has to offer.  Far more enjoyable than hearing me ramble on about Proxigean Tides or the Coriolis Force, with the occasional pretty picture of kayaking thrown in for good measure.  That said if the wind blows, the rain falls and people feel the need to shelter from the worst of the Scottish weather I will be ready to go.
Whatever happens next I know that next weekend on Skye there is going to be a great sea kayaking event with plenty of paddlers having a great time.  I hope to see some of you there.

Symposium
Taken in the 1990’s these are just a selection of the kayaks lined up on the beach on Cumbrae.
Symposium
A helicopter demonstration in 2005. It was great fun being blown around by the down draught from the rotor blades.
Symposium
The extended programme in the week after the Symposium has always been enjoyable and at times experienced some great weather. Looking towards the Cuillins, on a day trip from Elgol. Always a favourite.
Symposium
Another day trip from Elgol, when the weather wasn’t so kind. Howard Jeffs on Soay, close to the basking shark factory.

Magazines Part 2

The ongoing inability to go going sea kayaking is allowing more time to peruse my canoe and kayaking magazines.  They are literally taking over the whole floor of a room in the house.  I think that over the years I have managed to collect a few, what I consider gems, although probably many would disagree.
So here is the latest selection.

Magazines
Ocean Paddler, which is still going strong. Issue No.1 appeared in May 2007 at the Scottish Sea Kayak Symposium.

This was a great and welcome addition to the sea kayaking scene in the UK.  The first edition contained articles on incident management by Jeff Allen, photography by Douglas Wilcox, Tasmania by Justine Curgenven and Expedition Planning by me ( I had actually forgotten about that until I opened the magazine).  Over the years it has contained a huge range of excellent articles and should be considered essential reading by anybody interested in sea kayaking.  It is published 6 times a year and subscriptions are available.

Magazines
A report of the Symposium held in December 1979.

This report on the Third National Sea Kayaking Symposium is looking a bit battered because the family rabbits attacked it a few years ago.  The rabbits had to go after that, they had crossed a line when they attacked my kayaking literature!
Held just outside Sheffield in December 1979, it was one of my first excursions into mainstream sea kayaking.  Organised by John Ramwell, who ran the Advanced Sea Kayak Club for many years, it had some great speakers.  Nigel Foster spoke about his circumnavigation of Newfoundland with Tim Franklin, Derek Hutchinson spoke about expeditions and the Aleutians.  Plus lots of other inspirational stuff.  It would almost be true to say that attendance at this event and seeing what people were achieving, kick started my desire to get away on sea kayaking expeditions.

Magazines
Another first edition. Canoeist evolved from White Water Magazine and was a valuable source of info in the 1980’s and 90’s.

Stuart Fisher launched Canoeist in January 1983, a change from White Water Magazine, which had been printed for years.  In the first issue Paul Caffyn was half way around Australia and 30 companies who wanted to exhibit at the International Canoe Exhibition at Crystal Palace couldn’t get space as it was sold out!  Major articles included how to complete fibre glass repairs, a review of the Mirage kayak, which paddlers of a certain age will remember with affection and guides to the Basingstoke and the Coruh River in Turkey.  In later editions there were plenty of sea kayaking articles.

Magazines
First published in 1960, this is a 1978 issue.

Canoeing was well known as the magazine in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s which had pictures of scantily clad females on the front cover.  Mainly taken, I think, in the Ardeche, this cover is kayaks in the Ardeche.  There was a mention of 1977 British Sea Kayak Expedition to Spitsbergen.  Sam Cook who was on that trip is coming to Jersey in August this year to talk at our Nordkapp meet, so why not join us.  Other articles included canoeing in North America and a photo guide to the Struer Kayak factory in Denmark

Magazines
The magazine of the British Canoe Union from the 1950’s. It evolved into Canoe Focus.

A classic front cover photograph, from the Outer Hebrides.  Nigel Matthews and Frank Goodman, who paddled around Cape Horn in 1977 are in the picture.  Obviously Frank is well known through Valley Sea Kayaks.  Chris Hare took the photograph, was a very influential figure in sea kayaking in the 1960’s and 70’s, including being involved in the production of magazines.  The kayaks look like Anas Acuta’s, notice the lack of hatches and the paddles look like Mark Gee’s paddles.  A non stop circumnavigation of Anglesey is one of the main articles.

Magazines
A French magazine, which always seemed to be well produced, with high quality photographs.

Summer 2011 and the French paddling press was already pushing SUP.  This magazine contains some articles with stunning photographs of paddling in France plus a circumnavigation of Islay, in Scotland.  It helps if you can read a bit of French but if not you can’t failed to be impressed by the quality of the images.

Kayaking Magazines

Although out of action for several months with a ruptured achilles, it does allow me time to do some of those admin type tasks, which have been put on hold for several years as I have been to busy enjoying myself.  One simple task is to sort out my collection of kayaking magazines.
Most people at this point will switch off and think what is he talking about.  Over the years though I have built up a collection of canoeing and kayaking magazines, dating back to the 1930’s, which actually represent a significant body of knowledge about this sport we all love so much.
Even looking at the adverts gives you an insight into how the sport has evolved over the years.

Kayaking magazines
The quarterly magazine of the Canoe-Camping Club, this issue is from the spring of 1960. My understanding is that the magazine is still printed.

The Canoe-Camping Club still publishes its magazine but this one dates from the spring of 1960.  This issue contains some relevant advice on safety, a review of a 1957 Club trip to Sweden.  Noel McNaught, who wrote a couple of popular paddling books of the era, has an article on the River Blackwater in Ireland.  Again numerous short snippets illustrate what a well traveled and adventurous group members were in the Canoe Camping Club, 60 years ago.

Kayaking Magazine
The in house magazine of the British Canoe Union, this issue dates from July 1961.

The cover photograph of this issue of the BCU’s magazine is of trophy to commemorate Paul Farrant, the winner of the F1 class in the 1959 Canoe Slalom Championships.  Sadly he was killed in a motor cycle accident in 1960, when returning back to London after retiring from the Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race.  The first page announces the appointment of Oliver Cock as the National Coach from the 1st January 1962.  The fee for the services of the National Coach for the weekend was 12 guineas. £12.60 in todays money.  Another announcement was the introduction of Third Party Insurance liabilities up to £1000.  I think the current liability cover is £10 million.  How times have changed.  Most of the rest of the magazine was taken up with competition results, not the most fascinating reading.

Kayaking magazines
First published at the end of 1960 this was one of the first magazines devoted solely to canoeing.

I haven’t got the first issue of this magazine but managed to find the second one. John Disley was the Advertisement Manager and had an article on strength training.  He won the Bronze Medal in the 3000 metres steeplechase, at the Helsinki Olympics in 1952, and went onto to co-found the London Marathon.  Oliver Cock had an article on “Canoeing”, which was largely about the developments at the British Canoe Union and the possible appointment of the first National Coach for canoeing.  A position he was to get.  Another article considered the movement of water through the Swellies, in North Wales.  The research carried out under the supervision of instructors from Plas Y Brenin.  Plus numerous other short items.  A varied and actually quite interesting selection.

Kayaking magazines
Beachbreak is a specialist surf kayaking magazine first published in February 1980.

This was the magazine of the British Canoe Union Surf Committee, clearly it had a very small and specialist market.  I think it last for 17 issues, that’s the number of issues that I have any way.  Articles included a review of surfing in Brittany in 1979, riding waves in Hawaii on a ski and a guide to Kimmeridge Bay, in Dorset.

Kayaking magazines
This North American magazine, from 1994, is the most recently published of those illustrated.

Atlantic Coastal Kayaker is published 8 times a year and is available in both print and online versions.  I remember buying this issue, which was my first one, from Maine Sport in August 1994 after a family canoeing holiday on the West Branch of the Penobscot.  Here are a few images of that first multi day trip with our children.  Surprisingly when I opened the magazine I found a short review of a lecture I had given at the Crystal Palace Canoe Show of the Jersey Canoe Club trip to Greenland in 1993.  The link with the magazine continues as in the next issue I have an article on sea kayaking in Jersey.

Weather Forecast Update

A couple of days ago I looked at the Jersey Weather forecast, for Jersey for today, 48 hours in advance.  The differences from a number of weather sites were pretty significant.  Ranging from conditions which would have been fairly manageable for intermediate level kayakers to ones where it would have been difficult to keep the kayak on the roof of the car.
As would be expected those forecasts, which were at the upper end of the scale are indicating a significant reduction in the wind speed, whereas the Jersey Met forecast, which I find is usually the most accurate is indicating an increase as the day progresses.
I suppose the main thing to take away from this is to check the forecasts regularly, be prepared to modify your plans as the day approaches and keep an eye on any changing weather during the course of the day.

Weather forecast
Two days ago Weather Online was forecasting SW Force 7 gusting 56 mph. Today SE F5 with gusts of 37 mph. A significant reduction in the gusts.
There is a significant difference with Magic Seaweed. In particular in relation to wave height. 2 days ago 5.1 metres was forecast for 09.00 today. Today’s forecast for the same time is 1.1 metres. A difference in 4 metres in wave height would have a significant impact on kayaking conditions.
Weather forecast
Two days ago XC Weather was forecasting winds up to 45 mph, whereas today the maximum day time wind speed is 29 mph.
Weather forecast
Jersey Met was giving Southerly F4 two days ago but the forecast from this morning certainly shows an increasing wind speed. Still a F4 to start with but F7, for a while, by early afternoon.

Weather Forecast Issues

When we are considering potential kayaking trips we always keep at least one eye on the weather forecast, wondering whether we are going to get that window in the weather to allow us to do that paddle we have been thinking about for quite some time.
We are fortunate in that we are able to access a variety of forecasts, how often have you heard people say “I didn’t like that forecast so I will look for a better one”, normally they are joking but looking at the forecast for the next 48 hours in Jersey there might be some truth in that statement.
Looking at the variety of forecasts available it seems like we can expect almost anything to hit the Island.  I have taken screen shots of a number of forecasts, which were published around 09.00 this morning.

Weather Forecast
Weather Online is giving SW Force 7 with gusts to 56 mph. Not ideal for any water based activity.
Weather forecast
Magic Seaweed is similar, forecasting winds up to 57 mph and just to make matters more interesting a wave height of 5.9 metres around lunch time.
Metcheck is a little less windy but the interesting thing is that the mean wind speed is above the gusts, not the other way around, as you would expect. 39 mph but gust 31 mph. This is 20 mph less than Magic Seaweed.
Weather forecast.
I normally find XC weather pretty accurate and the forecast for Friday is 45 mph. Pretty blowy but not as windy as some of the other forecasts.
Weather forecast
Windfinder is giving 39 gusting 47 but in contrast to the other forecasts this is in knots as opposed to mph. So this forecast is giving winds of up to 54 mph.
Weather Forecast
Weather.com is predicting winds of between 25 and 35 mph from the SSW. These are pretty much the most conservative wind speeds of any of the forecasts so far.
Wunderground is giving a maximum wind speed of 27 mph. Blowy but not disastrous.
Weather forecast
Meteox is giving SW Force 8, which translates into wind gusts of 40 mph.
Weather Forecast
The Jersey Met forecast, which I normally use is showing Force 4 from the south. Nothing to really worry about.

So we have a complete range of forecasts, with one we would still be able to run a kayaking session for relatively inexperienced paddlers whereas with some others we would be tying down the garden furniture and heading out to sea would be the last thing on our mind.
This shows the need to check forecasts on a regular basis as well as maintaining a close eye on conditions whilst on the water.
It will be interesting to see what eventually arrives on Friday morning.

 

Aerial Photos

The great thing about flying is the opportunity, even on commercial passenger flights, is the opportunity to get so interesting aerial photos of some classic sea kayaking areas.  Photographs which will either re-kindle memories of great days spent on the water or stimulate thoughts of future trips.
So next time you find yourself next to the window on a flight, keep your fingers crossed for clear skies and sit back and enjoy one of the best free shows available.

Aerial photos
Take off on a clear February afternoon gave these superb views of Jersey. So many great kayaking trips are contained within this photograph, particularly the north west corner of the island.
Aerial Photos
Passing over the east coast of Greenland en route to Copenhagen. Still haven’t managed to paddle on the east coast despite plenty of visits to the west coast.
Aerial Photos
Flying back from Greenland we were fortunate enough to have really clear views of most of Iceland.
Aerial photos
Hurst Castle Spit at the western end of the Solent. Some quality paddling to the Isle of Wight and the Needles
Aerial photos
On approach to Gatwick you normally get good views of the south coast of England, including Brighton. Its been quite a few years since I last paddled off the Sussex coast.
Aerial photos
Flying south from Belize City. A fascinating stretch of coast but the better sea kayaking in Belize is offshore.

Nordkapp Meet Update

As mentioned previously, the Jersey Canoe Club is running a Nordkapp sea kayaking weekend in August.  Starting the evening of Friday 24th August, followed by 3 days of paddles in the waters around Jersey.
There will be paddles at a variety of levels with hopefully the opportunity to visit some of the offshore reefs which surround Jersey, including the Ecrehous and the Paternosters.  Over the course of the weekend the tides increase in size, on the Monday evening we have a spring tide of 10.63 metres, meaning that a number of the tide races which develop around Jersey will be working, offering great entertainment for kayakers of all levels.
The weekend is free to members of the Jersey Canoe Club or £25 for non members of the Club.  This is the cost of 12 months overseas membership of the Club and it ensures that everybody has insurance cover over the weekend.  All in all an absolute bargain.
The Saturday evening talk is by the legendary Sam Cook, who was on the original sea kayaking expedition to Nordkapp in 1975.  This was a truly ground breaking expedition for British sea kayakers and was a route that was largely followed by a group of paddlers from the Jersey Canoe Club in 1986.
This is not going to be a huge event, we will be really pleased if we get 30 people on the water in a variety of different Nordkapps.  As well as people from Jersey we have had enquiries from the UK, Switzerland, France and Guernsey.

This picture was taken in 1979, just to the south of Gorey, when it seemed that you could have almost any colour of Nordkapp HM, as long as it was orange.  I think that the one red one is being held by Franco Ferrero from Pesda Press.

Nordkapp
The summer of 1986 and a young Mr and Mrs Mansell just about to go around Nordkapp in their Nordkapp HM’s.  This was on the Jersey Canoe Club trip of that summer.
If you would like, more information on what is going to be a relaxed but enjoyable weekend of kayaking, in all varieties of Nordkapp sea kayaks, please complete the form below.

Contact

Sea Kayaking Books

One of the things I have at the moment is time (ruptured achilles) so I am able to consider complete a few projects.  Something that I have been thinking about  is sea kayaking books.  Mainly, which ones have been influential over the years both in terms of coaching and the general evolution of the sport.

A substantial body of paddling literature has evolved over the last 170 years, with a wide range of books covering broad spectrum of topics. The last 40 years has seen a proliferation of sea kayaking books, offering both advice on skills and coaching, plus those describing journeys, many of which, provide inspiration.  I think that the selection of books below are all worth seeking out, giving an insight into how our sport has developed over the years.
Some of the key writers in the U.K. included Alan Byde and Derek Hutchinson. I remember seeing “Living Canoeing” by Alan Byde for the first time.  Published in 1969 there is the classic photograph of Mike Ramsay vertical at Hambledon Weir, I sat there staring at it as a 13 year old wondering how on earth the paddler got into that position. This is a book which provided inspiration to a generation of paddlers, both sea kayakers and white water paddlers.

Sea kayaking books

For me the next big development was the publication of Derek Hutchinson’s book “Sea Canoeing”. I had seen it advertised in Canoeing in Britain, the BCU magazine of the time and couldn’t wait for mine to arrive in the post. There was no way that the local bookshops were going to stock such a specialist title in 1976.  My copy was signed some years later by Derek and I feel fortunate that I got to know him.  For me one of the most significant aspects of the book were the photographs, they showed just where it was possible to take sea kayaks and they encouraged us to start to explore further afield.

Sea Canoeing

“The Book of Canoeing” by Alex Ellis, first published in 1935 has 7 pages devoted to sea kayaking.  He states:

“Paddle technique could be described in detail, but it is doubtful if a theoretical description would be of any great value.  It has to be acquired gradually by actual practice.”

Although this is 80 years old it remains very sensible advice. There are no real shortcuts to competence with a paddle and a kayak.  The author mentions two paddles, which he thinks are suitable for sea canoeing.
1.) Fort William to Largs
2.) South West Ireland
Paddles which 80 years on would still be seen as significant achievements.

Sea kayaking books

“Kayak to Cape Wrath” by J. Lewis Henderson.  I am not sure to the exact date of publication buy my copy has a dedication in the front, dated Christmas 1953.  A journey from Fort William to Cape Wrath along the west coast and then a crossing of northern Scotland, via a line of lochs, to finish on the east coast at Lairg.  A significant journey undertaken over several summers.  It is a journey, which, an self respecting sea kayaker would be pleased to complete today.  Joe Reid was clearly an accomplished paddler in several areas as he was in the K2 1000m event at the 1948 Olympics.

Sea kayaking books

“The Canoeing Manual” by Noel McNaught.  First published in 1956, includes a whole chapter on crossing the English Channel, something which some paddlers still aspire towards but is actually discouraged because of the shipping hazards.

Sea kayaking books

“Vikings, Scots and Scraelings” by Myrtle Simpson, published in 1977 was the first book I read about kayaking in Greenland and it fired my imagination, encouraging me to consider heading north in pursuit of sea kayaking heaven.

Sea kayaking books

“Paddling my Own Canoe” by Audrey Sutherland from 1978.  Her initial paddling was in a nine foot inflatable canoe but she started her explorations by swimming the coast of north east Molokai.  She went on to paddle in several areas of the world providing inspiration to, particularly, a more elderly generation of paddlers.

Sea kayaking books

“Scottish Sea Kayaking” by Doug Cooper and George Reid published in 2005. In many ways this was the first of a new generation of sea kayaking guides, in full colour and full of useful information about a whole range of topics. Pesda Press have gone on to publish a whole range of sea kayaking guides, covering most of the British Isles

Sea kayaking books

So that’s my personal selection of sea kayaking books, which are worth seeking out.  There is no doubt in my mind that if was to write this piece in a couple of weeks time some of the titles would have changed.