Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Petrel Build #1 - Idea in the Making

I have decided to start a new project, building a cedar strip kayak.  I toyed with the idea of building a kayak at first but as I have learned more about the building process I have become more enthused to build one.  I know it not everyone's cup of tea, it wasn't really mine at first, but after seeing some great builds such as Auld Blug's Sedna to name just one, which has the look of a modern composite boat but made with beautiful cedar wood, I decided to give it a go.  The idea of turning a pile of wood and glue into a beautiful boat and imagining the places it will take me is quite exciting. 

This is the Petrel designed by Nick Schade founder of Guillimot Kayaks in the USA.   It was designed as a responsive, light weight boat suitable for day trips in rough water but also at home in sheltered coves and estuaries.  It is a 17ft boat which does suite the smaller paddler (ideal).  It is a lively boat which accelerates quickly, carves down wave faces and maneuvers easily.
It does mention that it does not have the capacity for extended trips yet it is bigger than my boat and lets face it how many multi day trips have I done.  I'm sure it will be fine for the long weekends.  I am going to build mine with all the modern bits and pieces such as rubber hatches, skeg, foam seats carbon fiber rims etc.. unlike the purist wooden form seen in these pictures.  It should resemble something like Aluns Sedna although different design. 
I am in no rush, I will buy the parts along the way an hopefully have it in the water by the time I go up to Skye in September.  I am currently in the process of drawing out the forms (backbone to which the strips are laid).  Only one major set back so far, I don't have a place to build it.  Most garages I've been able to acquire are roughly 15ft long! I'm making some enquires but if anyone local knows of anywhere please let me know.  I will add a new tab at the top of my blog if anyone is interested in following my 'slow' progress.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Cardiff Bay By Night

Elan from Up-&-Under invited me to meet up with a few others for a paddle down Cardiff Bay Monday evening, I've been meaning to join them for a while.  We paddled out from the shop, down the River Ely and out into the bay.  I struggled to keep pace alongside the P&H Capella and Elan's finely tuned paddle stroke.  Out in the Bay it was stunning, lights shinning brightly in the darkness, bats flying overhead.  We did a lap of the bay before making our way back up the Ely.  Here are the best of the photo's I took, not much good.  They either came out almost completely black or with the increased exposure blurred, some good effects with the lights though.  Cheers guys really enjoyable night.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

A Short Trip Home

After last weekends eventful misfortune I thought it would be best to keep a low profile this weekend.  Also it was a big spring tide with low water smack bang in the middle of the day and didn't really fancy the long carry or same old trip to Porthcawl and back.  Pity because it's been a glorious weekend.
We took the boys down to the beach late afternoon an hour before high tide.  I took my boat along so I could take the short paddle home, hopefully catch a good sunset or maybe a shot of the "supper moon" (moon is supposed to be much closer to earth this weekend, hence the big tides).
The Jurassic Limestone cliffs of the Glamorgan coast were highlighted by the low afternoon sun.
I traced the yellow cliffs bleeding off into the distance leading me home.  There was a slight swell but the sea was lovely and calm.
This looks like a fairly fresh fall, the sediments of limestone still stacked in place.  It won't be long before the sea breaks them up.
The horizontal sediments slope off drasticly then settle flat again.  There's not much beach left now.
Looking back the sun is dipping down behind a low band of cloud above the horizon, no chance of a sun set then!
Light is fading fast by the time I reach Aberthaw Power Station.
The end of a nice short gentle trip to feed my appetite this weekend.  I phone the wife to pick me up and tell her I'm in another life boat..he-he. 

A paddle around Cardiff Bay Monday night then probably another local trip next weekend.  I'm Hoping to get out west the following week, get in a trip around Skomer Island for the arrival of the first migratory birds.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

"Mayday Mayday Mayday" A Bad Day at Sea

Yes that's me standing next to the HMS Exploit. (looking rather short)
And yes that's my boat tied off to the HMS Exploit.
I hold my head in utter shame.  How many of you read about a kayaker having to be rescued and think to yourself....probably another inexperienced idiot! I know I have, but today it was me.
It all started off fine.  The sun was high in the sky, a westerly force 3, neap tides.  A trip that I have performed many times.
There was a hefty swell as I got further out into the channel and a bit of wind at my back pushing me along, but it was a nice day, all was good.  I did think to myself this could get choppy on the way back, wind against tide.
I came through the usual race off the south east corner of Flat Holm, gulls signaling my arrival.
I landed had a chat with the warden who was conducting a bird survey, gulls were back in force!  His splattered coat showed evidence of that.
Tide was still in flood so I had a couple of cups of tea and sat on the slipway in the warmth of the sun, which made a change.  The sea still look lovely and flat.  I was in no rush.
I made my way around the island to the light house, the tide was now ebbing nicely.
At the south east point wind gust up, the race just off shore looked nasty.  I know it can sometimes get a bit rough on the south of the island so paddled back around to the slipway.
A resident goat made an appearance.
Back through the gap between Castle Rock and the other side didn't look to inviting either.
I sat in the eddy behind Castle Rock and took this last shot.  I've been through this tide race plenty of times before on leaving the island so it wasn't a problem.  Tide on wind and swell made for a hair raising ride.  Some of the bigger waves had me scrambling for my kit as it got washed from my deck.  It soon became evident it wasn't just a race, the waves stretched on and on.  I was confident and I felt at ease, my boat was stable.  I had been in much worse sea states, however much closer to shore, and usually heading in the right direction.  I wasn't making much speed, 2-3kts battling in to the wind and waves.  I could only paddle head on into the waves but I needed to make a ferry glide off to the right.  I was way off course.  I battled on, my own pride preventing me from calling for help.  I finally made the decision I wasn't going to make it to shore and grabbed the radio for assistance before it got any worse.  
I heard my own call for help repeated over the radio.  "mayday..mayday..mayday a 15ft red kayak under the call sign kayak 1 is in need of urgent assistance, any vessels in the vicinity please respond to location....."   I could here the engine of a boat, I looked to my stern expecting to see the orange bow of an RNLI lifeboat.  Instead I was greeted with the image of a grey Royal Navy ship plowing into the swell.
They threw me a line which I tied off to the boat and scrambled on board.  The Exploit was swaying heavily in the swell, the bow of my boat getting push under by the downward fall of theirs.  They sat me down in the cabin and made me a lovely brew.  The captain said one minute they were sailing about in nice clam sea then like the flick of a switch it all turned nasty. 
I just couldn't keep on course it was as simple as that.  In the end I thought this could get out of hand then it would get serious, so better to be safe than sorry.  I keep thinking back and sometimes wish I had just carried on, maybe making my way steadily across, possibly landing nearer Barry.  I sat back in shame aboard the Exploit and admired the skill of the crew as they navigated up the channel into Penarth Marina, the wind playing havoc with their reverse parking skills in the narrow docks.  My thanks go out to all the crew of the HMS Exploit and the Coastguard for their quick response.  A special thanks as well the Richie for getting me back to Sully to my van.  Feel free to take the mick, everyone else has.  My mates have already changed my name on a stag night t-shirt to 'Lost at Sea'.

There are a couple of other thank yous that I must add, the Nells Point National Coastwatch played an important part in my rescue (see comments bellow) and the Penarth Life Boat was also launched.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Welsh Canoe & Kayak Show 2011

The Welsh Canoe & Kayak Show will be held at Cardiff Marine Village on 21st May 2011.  More information can be found here.
I will be there again testing more boats I can't afford.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Tyla Images Expedition - Circumnavigation Wales

My good friend and kayaking buddy Taran is planning a solo navigation around Wales for charity.  Armed with a new boat and 4 star training he hopes to set off on his voyage end of April early May.  Unfortunately due to work commitments etc I wont be joining him but will try and give him some company and support along the way when I can. 

If you would like to support Tarans challenge please make a donation here or contact Taran via his blog.  All proceeds go to Make a Wish Foundation.  The charity supports young children with serious, life threatening illnesses, granting them a wish of their dreams.  This charity is personally close to me as my younger sister has received support from this charity.  So please join me in supporting Taran and wishing him a safe journey.