Tuesday, 25 October 2011

The Fickle Finger of Fame

I have always been interested in the way that certain events or particular people become famous. It is all the more interesting when it appears that something rather more significant has happened elsewhere or concerns another individual.

At the beginning of the month a new record was set for crossing the channel by 'canoe' (Surf Ski Kayaks / V12) with paddler Paul Wycherley accompanied* by a support boat. The crossing made the national news. At about the same time, a new record was set for crossing the Irish sea, as John Willacy with no support boat paddled a Rockpool Taran from Holyhead to Howth in just over 11 hours. Nothing in the national news.

Looking somewhat further back, much was made of the achievements of Helen Skelton on the Amazon - lots of national news coverage, and talk of breaking world records. Without wanting to knock Helen's efforts in any way, I could not help but compare them to those of Freya Hoffmeister - maybe Australia is just much smaller than I thought.

I am rather too old to expect the world to be fair, or news reporting to be unbiased, but .........

*I am not commenting here on whether or not the support boat assisted the passage in any way.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Just a clearing up shower

The Storm Gathering is nearly upon us, and the weather has generally been
living up to the billing - currently hailing here. We have a collection of sticks - some demonstrators, some shiny new ones - and a couple of balance stools (wobblers), pins (Norsaqs), etc., ready for the weekend, so feel free to ask if you want to borrow something.

This month's Ocean Paddler has an 'Expedition Top Tips' section with plenty of good advice and some humour, not least from Marcus Demuth (and no, I don't use a deck bag). I particularly like a comment from Mark Rainsley "It's not an 'expedition' unless everyone is hungry, miserable and issuing recriminations as to whose bright idea this was ..." as it fits our own family saying "It's not a proper outing unless you come back tired, wet, cold and hungry".

Cold, wet, tired and hungry
Mind you, in our family all rain is traditionally 'just a clearing up shower'

Thursday, 13 October 2011

False Alarm With Good Intent

I am working on an article for the SeaKayakWales website that takes a close look at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency annual report on Canoe and Kayak Incidents

The report raises a number of issues, and the article will look closely at what seakayakers can learn from the incidents, but today, I am going to raise just one point - the level of false alarms with good intent:

MCA 2010 Canoe and Kayak Incident Annual Report

It would be possible to attribute many of the incidents to informant ignorance:

"Report of kayaker struggling to make way. Team attended and confirmed object was actually a buoy"

or a misunderstanding of what seakayaks can be used for:

"Call received reporting that 2 kayakers were seen heading towards The Skerries island. The informant was concerned as this is a dangerous stretch of fast flowing tidal race"

but the shear number or reports makes it worth examining our own responsibilities.

In the past, I have been fairly reluctant to inform the coastguard about any intended trip - it all feels a bit 'big brother' - we might easily change our venue or destination before or during the trip - what is the point when we are only going out to do some rescue practice - and we have to remember to let them know when we are off the water, but have a look at the following:

"Call from a member of the public with concern for a group of 5 kayakers off Rhoscolyn, 2 of which appeared to be being towed. Rhoscolyn CRT was tasked to investigate. Once the kayak party had come ashore it was confirmed that all persons were safe and were conducting a rescue drill"

"Report received that 2 people with a canoe appeared stranded on Perch Rock in the Menai strait. The current in this area is very fast flowing. Bangor CRT was tasked to investigate. It transpired that the couple were experienced and competent and were happy riding the tidal race, but had not informed the Coastguard of their intentions"

"Following a 999 call from a person, Tenby Inshore Lifeboat and Tenby Coastguards were tasked to search for 2 kayakers thought to be in difficulties off Pendine Beach. The Kayakers were both instructors from the nearby Pendine School Camp and were not in any difficulty"

"999 Call received from pier master reporting a kayak party of 5 persons were in difficulties in the Menai Strait due to adverse weather conditions. 1 of the party had capsized and was being towed ashore. Bangor CRT was tasked to investigate. The party were located and confirmed that they were advanced paddlers and were comfortable in the weather conditions, but had neglected to inform the Coastguard of their intentions"

I am pretty amazed that the pier master did not know better, but that only emphasizes the point.

While we should not need to let the coastguard know what we are doing, it seems that the only practical way of reducing the level of false alarms, is to do so, and where possible provide a means of contact such as VHF or mobile phone.

But, do you know how?

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Indy Sunshine

Visited the Indefatigable for the now traditional trade day during their symposium.

Anglesey Stick stuff on the balcony
Lots of interest in wobblers on the balcony, and sticks on the water

Interesting juxtaposition of ancient and modern
technology - an Anglesey Stick and a Rockpool Taran

and it was really quite busy for a while

Paddlers using Anglesey Sticks on the Menai Strait
rounded off by a visit from 22 squadron

22 Squadron - C Flight provide their version of catabatic wind
all in all, a pleasant low-key event. Many thanks to all at the Indefatigable