Sunday, 21 October 2012


Completed the circumnavigation at 1 p.m. today.

Had to break it up again due to unfavourable winds, exactly the same as that on our ill fated night paddle, basically force 4 headwind down to the Menai Straights so chipped 7.5 miles off it yesterday, then got up at 6 a.m. to finish the other 25 miles. Was a pretty epic day, strayed over the sandbanks so had to face side on breaking waves and the Swellies in between the bridges was a totally new experience for me!

There are a few stills here lifted from the raw video:

My hands have paddled a marathon today. There is still time to donate either using the link below or at the side of the page. Thanks to everyone who has already done so :)


Monday, 15 October 2012

Looking good for the end of this week.

Still a bit windy but manageable due to the slower tides.

Thursday gusts up to the top end of 6 but by that time we'll probably be off the water. Steady force 3-4 throughout the day.. Saturday nice and slow.

Friday looks to be the most interesting with force 4-6 winds throughout the day and gusts of 7.

Friday 12p.m.

There's about 28 miles left to do using approximate lines as the crow flies.

Nautical chart showing previous GPS traces - blue, purple & green (night paddle) 

It should be possible to paddle this in one day over 7 hours. I've got Thursday / Friday & Saturday to do it, this is both to add a little flexibility in picking the best day to ensure it is completed, and also to allow some time to go back to the fun/dangerous bits to get some more footage... Also I haven't fallen in yet so i want to tempt fate.

Once again thanks to Andy B for being around to help me with this.


Wednesday, 3 October 2012

New dates / Langstone Harbour.

Looking at 19-20th October for Anglesey now, the tides will be a week off from springs so it should give a greater range between 'go' / 'no go'. So even if the wind is blowing a gale the water will be a bit slower giving a bit more scope.

Was feeling a bit low from not being able to make Anglesey anyway over the weekend. But on the Sunday there was a 'break' in the weather (force 4-5 winds still) near Portsmouth so and went down to Langstone Harbour.

The original plan was to circuit Hayling Island but as you can see from the GPS trace that didn't quite happen.

We thought it would be a bit of a slog getting out of the harbour as the tide was coming in just as we planned to be on the water, but once we got out we would be ok to travel east for 1.6 nautical miles and then tuck back in the other side...

It was a slog... we didn't get out. Turns out after reviewing the charts the tidal diamond in the channel said the water would be running in at 7km/h, bearing in mind we paddle at 6km/h average and there was a southerly wind blowing against us it's not difficult to see why we didn't get anywhere! We decided to turn around and explore the harbour.

First stop was this sunken concrete structure, the GPS trace shows me practising breaking in and out of the flow (we weren't lost!). The tidal flow was running diagonally up from left to right, behind the structure the water was sheltered and still, just off the bottom corner it was fast. You also get an eddy effect where the water circles around and pushes you back towards the obstruction.

After that we paddled up the side of Langstone Channel, navigated to a few buoys and then headed north to land on long island for lunch (right of the above picture). We then went west to the marshes and then headed south back to the car.

Was an good paddle, and another 3h30m / 10 miles of experience on the water.


Friday, 28 September 2012

Weather conspiring against me.

Sunday is forecast force 7 with gusts of force 8. Unfortunately I'll have to postpone. The guy who's meant to have my back has got a bad back too!

I'll get some new dates for completion up ASAP.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Needles training paddle July 2012

Quick post to show a GPS trace from a training paddle back in July (thanks to Jay for providing it).

Lepe country park to the Needles, back to Fort Victoria (camp), Paddle to Newtown river then back across the Solent.

33km day 1 (5 hours on water)
18km day 2, including a 6km crossing in the middle yachtey dodging (about 4 hours on water).

There will be a video for this one some time too. Chances are I'll get the Anglesey video done first!

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Completion date.

I should be able to complete the navigation (Menai Straight / swellies + a bit) on Saturday the 29th of September. I'll stay on Anglesey for a bit so I can revisit the dangerous bits for a bit of added "mild peril"

It's another spring tide so conditions should be strong & fast.


Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Still here... promise

Been so busy at work & OU! I'll get some updates here soon.

Still on track to finish on the 28th - 29th.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Finally have the internet back after moving. More soon.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Off to Studland...

Will shortly be heading down to Studland for 3* Sea Kayak training. Wrong way around perhaps, I think I had the training in Anglesey! Still this will be a good chance to practice rescues and there is always more to learn. I've not used Studland Sea School before so they might even have a few neat little tips & tricks of their own to teach - each place tends to have their own little take on how things are done.

I won't be filming in Studland - have enough to do with the 42GB (16 hours) of Anglesey footage! I will however take my stills camera.

The video of Anglesey might be a while as i've had to disassemble my main PC for the move to the new house. This laptop isn't powerful enough to edit video on. But here are two teaser images... the second from our fated night paddle where we were racing time to get to the bottom of the Menai Straight before the tide switched.

Anyway, Here's the 3* syllabus just to give you an idea of what i'll be doing...

BCU Three Star Sea Kayak Syllabus


To recognise the level of skill, understanding, and knowledge demonstrated (whilst
journeying in a moderate tidal environment as part of a led group with winds no more
than Force 4) is of the standard of an able improving sea paddler and beyond that of
the beginner.

A consistent BCU Two Star kayak standard of performance is appropriate for anyone
starting to work towards the BCU Three Star Sea Kayak award.

Provide evidence of at least 3 different journeys on the sea, of about 3 hours
duration (8nm) each. (Kererra / IOW / Anglesey).
Provide evidence of at least 1 session of about 3 hours duration, in an
alternative discipline

A closed cockpit kayak, or sit-on-top suitable for journeying on the sea.

Personal equipment carried by an able improving sea paddler and appropriate to the
conditions and the remit of the award is required.

Assessment Venue
The assessment will take place during a suitable sea journey, with wind up to and
including Force 4, Sea State 3.

Registered BCU 3 Star Sea Assessor
For details of staffing requirements and ratios, please refer to the latest version of
the BCU Staffing Requirements and Ratios document, available from the BCU or
Home Nation websites. Assessment may only be conducted by those qualified and
registered to do so.

The candidate is required to perform all skills on both sides.
If the kayak is fitted with a rudder, it must be disabled for the duration of the

Part A – Personal Paddling Skills
A.1 Lifting, carrying and launching/landing
A.2 Efficient forward paddling
A.3 Reverse paddling, stopping
A.4 Maintaining direction
A.5 Changing direction
A.6 Moving sideways
A.7 Supporting
A.8 Rolling
A.9 Securing

Part B – Rescue Skills
B.1 Deep-water rescue
B.2 Contact tows and use of towline
B.3 Eskimo rescue (self-rescue if using a sit-on-top)

Part C – Safety, Leadership & Group Skills
C.1 Personal risk management
C.2 Awareness of others
C.3 Paddle as part of a led group

Part D – Theory
D.1 Equipment
D.2 Sea safety
D.3 Weather
D.4 Hypothermia / first aid
D.5 Access
D.6 Environment
D.7 Planning
D.8 Group awareness
D.9 General Knowledge
D.10 Navigation, including; 
  • Basic recognition of main buoyage.
  • Basic knowledge of collision regulations and sound signals.
  • Ability to identify position by using a grid reference and a latitude and
  • Use a compass to paddle on a bearing.
  • Ability to calculate distance and paddling time.
Fun, fun!

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Didn't make it around.

Only did about 2/3rds. But did pull out all the stops! Including a night paddle. Full update soon. In the middle of moving at the moment, tidying old house, OU assignments & normal work! Also have 3* training next weekend!

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Early Attempt

Going for an early attempt this weekend at Anglesey, doing it now means I'm four months less prepared but I can suck it and see.

Tough first day beginning force 5 dying to force 4. Calm the days after, onshore most of the time:


Spring tides (big range):

Charging video and GPS batteries so I can show my route afterwards.

Due to the lower amount of training it's been broken into 3 legs. 1st leg is 40km, 2nd leg 50km and the 3rd is 30km. Campsite after the 1st leg, 'wild' camp after the second leg somewhere on the west of the island. This is the rough plan:

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Have my tent and sleeping bag stored in dry bags... hope they work!

Monday, 23 April 2012

Lymington - Hurst Point

Almost a month since my last update, I've been massively busy with open university work & the normal type! But all my due assignments for Structural Integrity are away now.

Here's a video of a new paddle from Saturday. It was a fantastic trip from Lymington to Hurst Point. Capricious weather, going from sun to rain and hail, then from calm to force 5/6. The forecast was for 3 max!

It might be better to open the video in YouTube, it is available in 720p HD:

Other than that I've achieved my BCU 2* using open canoes (that was about a month ago and I waiting for them to pull their finger out and send me the certificate). I've lost 4.5kgs since mid Feb and still going.

And there is 3* training in Studland and the Anglesey recce coming up at the beginning of May. I might try go for the attempt early if the situation allows.


Friday, 23 March 2012

Video from IOW

Uploaded the video from the IOW. Just noticed it's full of spelling mistakes! But I can't be assed to re-render it or upload another gig using talktalks slow network!

720p HD. Now, If only I could mount the camera on my head straight rather than at the water.

3rd time lucky, not sure what I'm filming next. Maybe 2 star canoe assessment this weekend.

The trip details are lower on the page.


Wednesday, 21 March 2012

IOW Needles Paddle

Here's the data from my paddle round the Needles yesterday (21/03/2012), the trip was organised by Andy and we were also joined by Leonie (a freelance sea kayak coach). For now I'll just do a short write up. I will follow with a video at some stage, but I have 6 hours of footage to try and condense into 5 minutes of something remotely watchable. I'm not looking forward to it!

Unfortunately I don't have any normal photos as I left my other waterproof camera at home! But I'm hoping I can lift some from the HD videos.

Anyway, here's a trace of the journey taken from my GPS (yellow is way out, red back home):

Map overview (yellow, out / red, return)
Distance: 18.17 miles / 29.24km
Time: just over 5 hours on the water.
Top speed: 7.9mph,
Average speed:  3.7mph

We followed Plan A from the Solent post below pretty much, getting on the water at 12:45. The weather conditions were pretty calm with a westerly wind at 7mph (So top end of force 2). Swell was only at 1 foot every 3 seconds (also westerly).

We left Keyhaven watching out for larger boats and then got out into the Solent past Hurst Castle to paddle into the Force 2. Wind at that speed isn't difficult to paddle into anyway, but as we were with the tide (5mph ebb) it was hardly noticeable at all, giving us a nice gentle warm up.

Shortly after getting out past Hurst Castle we nipped quickly across the shipping lane then made straight for the needles. We reached them after about an hour and fifteen (GPS Speed plot below).

GPS speed - way out
We then headed east keeping close to the cliffs (Too close in Andy's case where a rock dislodged by a bird bounced off his rear hatch), did a spot of rock hopping (the gentle swell not posing too many risks) and then proceeded to Freshwater Bay on the south side of the IOW.

Southern cliffs (yellow, out / red, return)

A quick half an hour lunch and a (unsuccessful) look for a coach local to the IOW then back on the water for the return journey. This time we were paddling into wind and tide so it was sapping our speed down to 2mph for about and hour and fifteen minutes (visible at the beginning of the graph below - like running on a treadmill).

GPS speed - return journey.
The quick spike you see is where we nipped through some small overfalls through the Needles (increased speed tends to mean increased stability). Our speed then picks up further as we begin to benefit from the tide rather than fighting it.

Needles (yellow, out / red, return)

Unfortunately due to time constraints we had to miss out the Shingles, but there were still several areas of confused water on the way back towards Hurst Castle. I almost fell in right at the end but my video camera had ran out by that point, a shame as I had done one or two good braces before the water almost got the better of me!

We finally landed back in Keyhaven around half 6 against a stunning sunset. Packed up the boats with achy and tired muscles and then set off for home.

A great paddle. Despite the calm conditions using MAGs this trip still worked out as a grade 3-4 (out of a maximum of 6). The danger being added from cold water temperatures, no get outs on the south side and the way the tidal streams push you into shipping lanes were you too fall in on the north side.

Not aching at all today (other than some mild tenosynovitis in my left hand), a little surprising judging by how I felt yesterday, but I bet it's one of those sneaky aches that let you off the day after only to cripple you the next.

Video to follow... sometime!


Wednesday, 14 March 2012

HCC 11/03/2012

Short video of some Canoe practice at Herts Canoe Club, just getting used to the GoPro camera and my video editing software. Should be able to get some more exciting stuff whilst Sea Kayaking off the Needles on the Isle of Wight next week!


Saturday, 10 March 2012


I have a training opportunity coming up the Solent / Isle of Wight. Very kindly organised by my friend Andy.

He's devised two plans. A. Running from Keyhaven, and B from Lepe Country Park, both crossing the Solent. Plan A is more exposed but same route there and back. There is also a chance of playing on the Shingles, just north of the Needles (can get pretty big). Plan B is more protected,  Hurst castle being the most exposed point. Good opportunity to practice vectors.

On the planned day Highwater Portsmouth is at 09:54 and 22:03

Plan A

12:30-13:30 Keyhaven to The Needles, 
HWP+3 Strong ebb tide (max 8km/h)

13:30-14:30 Paddle by the Needles on then onto Freshwater. (against ebb 1km/h).
HWP+4 Short rest/lunch/

15:00-16:00 Hope to be joined, tbc, by another 5* coach
HWP+5/6 Paddle back to the Needles, almost slack

16:00-16:30 Paddle Needles to Mid-Shingles Buoy
HWP+6 Use back eddy in Alum Bay and then flood tide (6km/h)

16:30-17:00 Use coaches local knowledge to paddle on The Shingles, else paddle back to Keyhaven.

17:00-17:30 Head back to Keyhaven.

Plan B 

12:30-14:30 On water at Lepe Country Park, warm up.
HWP+3/+4 Paddle down to the Hurst castle (18km) on ebb tide (avg 3km/h)

14:30-15:30 Pratice rough water handling by Hurst castle.
HWP+5 Short rest/lunch

15:30-17:30 Paddle on IoW side  from Fort Albert towards Gurnards Head (14km).
HWP+6/-5 flood tide assist 

16:30-17:00 Cross Solent back to Lepe Country Park

Sounds ace!

Practicing rescues in open canoes tomorrow at HCC, then more practice rolling at BCC in the evening. This time in a sea kayak, it will take up most of the pool!

I also have a GoPro camera now, so I can film myself drowning in 1080p HD. Looks like you can get some some quite interesting angles, if you are creative enough:

Friday, 2 March 2012

Thanks 2

Another note of thanks to everyone whos had the faith in me to donate early, we're upto £261.25 (inc. GiftAid) now.

Here's your reward, another video of somebody ELSE sea kayaking!

Recently I've been doing open canoes with the aim of getting my BCU 2* there's two training sessions left to go and I should be able to get it by the 26th March. Open boats are probably my weakest area, I'm better in kayaks so by passing the 2* in open boats I'm hoping it's a good indication of my kayak skills to take to 3* at Studland Sea School in May.

Lost 1kg of weight in the last half of Feb (not telling you what from!). But hoping to ramp it up over the coming months, to get in better shape for the challenge. I keep watching videos of the conditions off Anglesey and reading about Coastguard Rescues on UKRGB and I think bloody hell have I bitten off more than I can chew!

Still plenty of time! Need to get down to the Solent for a couple of days and work on some of the overfalls down there.


Tuesday, 21 February 2012

More Open Boating / General Fitness

Couple of photos of some Canoe sailing here from Sunday. Had limited success! It helps if there's some wind. Had to dash off immediately afterwards to Middlesborough to do a Radiation Safety Refresher so I've been there for the last two days. Pretty sure I've passed, there were only one or two questions I had to guess.

Should have taken the boats up there to the Tee's Barrage, was blowing a constant force 4 up there Monday & Tuesday!

Going to try taking the Sea Kayaks to the pool session next week to work on some more rescues. Also getting into the more detailed planning around Anglesey now. Will post after I've bounced it off my friendly level 5, in case I've made any massive oversights!

Monday, 13 February 2012

Keep Rolling, Rolling, Rolling...

Managed to crack it this week and I've got a consistent roll. Still, at the moment it's 90% effort and about 10% technique. In fact the first time I did it this week I almost cracked my head on the side of the pool when I came out of the water and almost capsized on the other side! Had to put a high brace in to stop the motion.

Quite pleased, It's Good foundation to build upon and hopefully now I can start dialling back the force I apply, as too many of those in the sea will wear me out.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Roll practice was ok yesterday, I learnt a lot and was clearly progressing but failed to execute a even a single roll successfully. The kayak may have had something to do with it as it was a "riverplay" (cross between a "river runner" and a "playboat") kayak with quite a high deck, meaning that it is a harder boat to roll than a sea kayak. Still a bad workman blames his tools and if my technique was good I should be able to roll anything. Going back next weekend for more, hopefully after my legs have recovered (limping around like a penguin today!)

Other stuff coming up (should be able to get some good material):

  • Planning to go to the Solent just off a spring tide to get some more experience in confused waters in March.
  • I will be attending some 3* training in May at Studland Sea School as although i'm only a 1* officially my skill are closer to 2* (haven't got round to assessments) so I should be able to benefit! (stars are basically the grading system used by the British Canoe Union goes from 1-5).
  • Isle of Wight Circumnavigation, also in May, it's a similar distance to Anglesey but we'll be doing it with a more relaxed pace over 4 days or so and also in better conditions. It will however give me an indication of how much more work there is to do.