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20 July 2005

See The World - at Greenwich

Residential cruise ship, The WorldEnjoyed a good paddle to Greenwich and back last night. Despite being a large group, we paddled fast and I was able to get into a really good rhythm.

I have been experimenting with different paddle blades and finding that a smaller blade with a faster stroke rate suits me well so I am looking forward to trying the Greenland paddle that I am currently carving.

The residential cruise ship, The World, was tied up at Greenwich. I think if I had paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for a luxury apartment on board I would demand a more exotic berth.

18 July 2005

Solent crossing

Lepe to Newton Bay (click to enlarge).
On Sunday we made a crossing to the Isle of Wight, setting off from the beach at Lepe and landing at Newton Bay. The conditions were even calmer than the previous day and I enjoyed overtaking yachts which were drifting with the current with all sail up hoping to catch a breath of wind!

On this trip we practiced using tidal stream vectors to navigate across the Solent taking into account the tidal stream of about 1.6 knots. To my surprise, paddling on the calculated bearing brought us to within ten metres of the buoy that we had selected as a destination.

After a leisurely lunch we paddled back across to our launch point, again using a bearing to offset the tidal stream and with similarly accurate results. We then spent some time getting wet practising rolls and rescues and enjoying the warm water before packing up to face the traffic back to London.

Total trip distance was 16 km.

Calshot to Buckler's Hard and back

Calshot to Buckler's Hard (click to enlarge).
It has been ages since I had a chance to get off the river and paddle at sea but at the weekend a group from our club made a trip to Calshot, near Southampton.

On Saturday we paddled from Calshot out into The Solent, past Lepe and on up the Beaulieu River, where we stopped for lunch at Buckler's Hard before heading back the way we had come.

Coffee break at Lepe (click to enlarge).
I normally think of sea kayaking as a way to get away from it all but this was certainly not the case in The Solent on a sunny Saturday in July! We kept clear of the shipping channel and most of the yachts but inevitably suffered from a bit of jet ski and power boat noise pollution.

The trip was mostly a very gentle paddle but we did enjoy catching some waves on the way back as the wind had increased to a Force 4.

Total distance was 28km.

13 July 2005

Bumpy river

The river was behaving strangely last night as we paddled from Shadwell Basin to Temple steps against the current. It was only an hour or so after high tide but there was a very strong flow and the water seemed to be quite confused with waves coming at us from all angles. It made for quite a challenging paddle, at least on the outward journey, and we were able to catch a few waves and surf now and then.

At Temple Steps the river police pulled over to say hello - one of them is a club member so knows us well - they then cut across the river at speed just as we were crossing in a futile attempt to tip us in!

As usual, under such conditions, the return journey was a breeze and we flew home with the tide.

8 July 2005

Nordkapp - first thoughts

While I was in New York I got a chance to try a Valley Nordkapp. I have been eager to get my hands on one of these boats since I began to take a serious interest in sea kayaking last year. When I first started thinking about buying a boat I picked up a Knoydart catalogue and there on page one was this beautiful slender craft. I fell in love at first sight. When I read a bit more about the boat I was intrigued by it's pedigree but wondered whether it's notoriously tippy nature might make it an impractical choice.


I normally paddle an NDK Explorer and I no longer think of that as being in the least bit tippy but it did not prepare me for the Nordkapp. The first few minutes were like learning to ride a bicycle. After that I quickly gained confidence as I found how solid the secondary stability was and after fifteen minutes it was beginning to feel normal and it was with some reluctance that I handed it back to it's owner.

I liked the snug fit of the cockpit and the very positive and finely tuned handling. The boat's owner had complained that he found it difficult to turn on edge but I think he was unused to such a long boat and I found no problem in this regard, in fact I found the secondary stability made edging a pleasure.

The Nordkapp has definitely moved up my shortlist now that I have paddled it but I would like to take one on a longer trip before I decide if it is the boat for me.

New York paddling

Chelsea Piers from the Hudson (click to enlarge).
I missed my regular Tuesday paddle on the Thames this week but made up for it by paddling on the Hudson river in New York City instead.

A few months ago I heard about the Manhattan Kayak Company in a podcast and made a mental note that if I ever found myself in New York on business with a spare evening I would look them up. That is what happened this week and I was delighted not to miss out on paddling, as I normally do, because of a business trip.

The paddle itself was a little slow paced and we did not get very far down river from MKC's HQ at Pier 63 as their trips are open to anyone and we had some novices along. I did not mind that too much though as it was such a novel experience to paddle in New York.

We were a bit unlucky with the water quality as there had been some thunderstorms on Tuesday night and another just before we got on the water. Eric Stiller, the owner, told me how the Manhattan drainage system has a limited capacity to handle rain water and in these circumstances drainage overflows into the Hudson bringing with it all manner of gunk, debris and foul smells. He reassured me that this was about as bad as it gets and that the river is normally very clean. It all sounded too familiar.

If I had more time in New York I would like to take one of their longer trips, perhaps out to the Statue of Liberty. Next time.