Wednesday, January 14, 2015

stormy weather, lost paddles and kayak building

While playing in rough water a couple of weeks ago I lost my storm paddle from the front deck of my kayak. At the time I didn`t notice it had gotten free  and only when landing on the beach saw that it was not on my kayak anymore. A short walk along the beach and a good look at the water convinced me that it was gone for good. Maybe with a bit of luck someone will find it and return it  to me, but thats a long shot.
It was a fine paddle with  maple tips and I`m sorry to see it go, and now I have to make a new one. This time it will have my name and number carved into the blade, just in case.
This is the first time that  my spare has been torn loose, maybe I need to rethink how to secure it to the deck. It needs to be tight enough to resist rough water but easily retrieved while underwater and upside down if I loose my paddle while playing in the surf. I have seen many paddlers loose their paddles, being pulled from their grip while tumbling in a large wave, and one Greenland paddle actually broke  in half from  a particularly strong wave..



Heres a picture of Zohar with my storm paddle, for me its a storm paddle but for Zohar its just the right length.
The new paddle in the making, it will have a cedar core and paulonia laminated  blade, it is also a bit shorter  than the old one , so a sliding stroke will be used when paddling with it.



Almost finished, just a few more coats of boat soup and then for a test paddle.

Also  have begun making a new kayak, this time its a stitch and glue Petrel Play, reputed to be great in rough water and surfing.
You can either buy a whole kit or just go for the plans when building kayaks, Getting the kit is probably a bit more expensive, especially with postage , and for international shipping the price is in the sky. But there are advantages, the wood is cut very accurately and all the bits and pieces you need come ready packed and easy to   use. On the other hand if you buy just the plans then you have to go about finding all the supplies, buying them and bringing them home and then transferring the paper plans to the wood, cutting out the pieces , drilling the stitch holes etc etc. It makes the whole process a bit more time consuming.
This is not really a problem  as kayak building is not  something to be done in a hurry, especially if you have another kayak to use while the new one is being built. Sometimes it takes a bit of detective work to find all the right ingredients, sometimes they have to be bought on the internet, and sometimes you can get them from friends too.
First the plans are transferred to the  wood

and they are cut out
Then they undergo quality control


Starting with the stitching

It looks like a kayak right from the start


So as I have a great Petrel for playing in the surf there is no hurry and the new kayak will take as long as it needs




Saturday, December 13, 2014

good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from bad judjement

The sea was too rough for a club outing today but anyone with  their own kayak could go out on their own responsibility. So we all got together at 7 for some fun in the waves.
Out at the rock, the surf was pretty big and messy, there were no surfers nor any SUPS out there today and this should have been a warning to us. Some  stayed in the bay and practiced in the soup,   others went out to sea for a trip and the rest of us stayed and played in the big waves .
Soon we began to see kayakers swimming  after being dumped by the big surf and we all had to help each other with rescues.
I had 3 interesting  rescues, first was retrieving a lost kayak and towing it back to the owner waiting patiently in the water, then a regular T rescue made interesting by being in the surf zone and finally while on my way out I saw a kayak on the beach but no kayaker in site. After looking around I spotted a swimmer in the water, I thought he would use the surf to get back to shore but after about 5 minutes I noticed he was not making any progress so I paddled over to see if he needed help.
When I asked him if he was ok he replied NO,  He was struggling to swim back to shore but was caught in a rip  and was not making any headway. I had my GO PRO mounted on my rear deck and so could not get him to climb aboard, so thought the best thing would be to try and tow him in with my towrope. This turned out quite difficult as we were in the surf zone with waves breaking over us and progress was slow, then he hung onto my bow and I tried to paddle in reverse back to the shore, also dangerous as the waves were breaking over us  and I feared he would be smashed into the bow of my boat. We did manage to get closer to shore but at some stage we separated and he was still on the rope. Communication was not possible  because of the noise of the waves  and at some stage the rope got tangled round his leg but he thought he would get to shore and then release it.
I was being pounded by the surf  at this stage and didnt know that he was tangled. I tried to call for assistance to 2 paddlers on the shore and eventually they saw us and came to help.
Once on the beach we saw that the rope had gotten tangled round his leg and when the waves pulled  the rope tight it caused a  burn round his foot. Back at the club we treated him with aloevera and lots of  support.
Lessons learned ,
Its very difficult to tow a swimmer with a rope, easier if you can get him on your rear deck, but for that you need a clear deck, once I had assembled my Go Pro on the back deck with a kayalu  tripod, there was no way to get him up on the deck. I could have transferred him to a  fellow kayaker but didnt think of it at the time.
Its important to be aware of whats going on around you all the time and watch out for each other all the time. Never assume that everything is good,but go and check up on those who seem to be in trouble.
I had my Go Pro on all the time and heres a video of todays adventure. the Kayalu monopod got pushed by the surf and some of the angles are a bit off but you can get a pretty good feeling of what went on.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

making Greenland paddles and then having fun with them

I have changed the way of doing workshops for making Greenland paddles, now if anyone wants to make a paddle they can get in touch with me and if there are at least 2 people I will do a mini workshop. Usually there are at least one or two more people interested and so I get  a small group of keen workers who want to make a new paddle.
 Most of them have no experience in paddle making, I guess its a rare hobby and there are not a lot of us out there.
We start with a short discussion on the sizing of the paddle and then get down to work.
Inside every piece of cedar there is a paddle waiting to be released

Keren bought new tools to this class, they are really beautiful and a pleasure to hold in your hand

Efrat and Einat had a great time working together , it was difficult to take good photos  because all that hair kept getting in my way




I have simplified the process quite a bit and now use thick markings in order to reduce the number of lines we have to make , this helps shorten the working time.


Usually people are amazed at the end of the day when they hold a beautiful new Greenland paddle in their hands



On the following Saturday we had a Greenland kayak fun day at our beach,the invitation went out to all kakayers in Israel who have Greenland paddles and want to play with us. Turnout was impressive and we had a lot of fun, races and rolling competitions all in good spirits.







Heres a video showing some of the fun we had, lots of noise and laughing.
http://youtu.be/xNHFtVSp3cc?list=UUM84U56i2AMwkHN48t9atKQ
 The numbers of paddlers using Greenland paddles is growing here too.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

when the east wind blows

When we have strong easterly winds we have to stay close to shore to prevent being blown out to sea

Its a good excuse to hug the shore and play around the rocks and reefs

And it allows us to rediscover the interesting shoreline of ancient Cesearea

Better to avoid the fishing lines , but sometimes we can help them out of a jam

the old Roman aquaduct still stands, it brought water to Cesearea

it makes a nice backdrop to the kayaks on the water

there is a remaining sea wall protecting the shore still standing

the wind blows the sand from the dunes down to the waters edge

meanwhile back at the beach there was a SUP competition for Breast Cancer Awareness

and here I found Hadas and Omer 

And then Pupick came to say hello too, Too bad the weekend is over and its back to work tomorrow

Saturday, November 1, 2014

A busy couple of weeks



next we had our annual symposium, Helen spent 4 days standing in the water teaching Greenland rolling techniques
Ali on the other hand stayed dry the whole time, [mostly]


The next week the weather changed and we got our first taste of winter,  rain and a wonderful rainbow

there`s nothing like paddling in the rain, the sparkles of drops hitting the water and the damping effect of the rain make this a special experience

Where is Helen now that we need her? Trying to practice lessons learned in the rolling classes. In fact if you  dont practice what you learned  it will evade you.
 Looks like it`s going to be a great winter.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

how many muscles did you say?


So I spent two days with Ben Lawry helping during our Optimist annual Symposium, and when I got home my wife asked me if I learnt anything new.
I`ve been paddling for over 14years now and think that Im ok on the water, I can handle my kayak under most conditions and paddle pretty fast if I have to.
So why was it difficult to answer her question?
Well there was just so much information it was hard to latch onto one thing .
Bens lesson on forward paddling begins with the basics of posture, grip, knee position  all while on the shore or lawn,
and there is a lot to learn  before getting to the actual paddling part
With willing volunteers he gets the point across clearly and we all managed to improve our basic understanding of the 4 stages of the forward stroke.
On the water we all began to paddle with much more style and corrected technique. One thing that did catch my attention was the  power phase and the sequence of muscle use, beginning from the lower hand pulling then the lat then the upper hand and then the obliques and then the leg thrust  last.This has the effect of using the smaller muscles first and ending with the larger ones thus getting more power out of every stroke, not to mention correct torso rotation and catch  and of course exit
So then I wondered which muscles do we use when paddling and this is what I found  Now whenever anybody says oh you kayak, thats upper body  exercise, I have a much more complete answer for them.
And yes I did learn a lot from Ben`s lesson, its just that the answer is too long  for a quick reply.
Thanks Ben, it was great working with you again.

Monday, October 20, 2014

3 days at sea, again

Our annual trip from Rosh Hanikra down to Sdot Yam got off to a good start with a rainbow as a good omen

once the kayaks were loaded we set off

28 kayakers to look after, luckily the sea was calm and the weather good for paddling, Did you ever try to count all your paddlers, when the group is so big it gets difficult to keep track of everybody. We have one guide  leading one in the middle and one guide at the back, sometimes two of us at the back helping keep the group together , but from time to time the group stretches for about one kilometer. This would not be good in rough water but here its ok and we manage to keep tabs on everyone. Sometimes you have to count the group a few times just to get the right numbers.


Rain clouds in the distance but not on us

First stop for a coffee break 

Happiness is a wet paddle

Acco is an interesting town to pass from the sea

should I take a break now?

the wall round Acco

and then the crossing of Haifa bay, about two and a half hours across

as you get closer to the port you have to watch out for larger vessels, they don`t see kayaks. We landed after a hard days paddling and about 30km all in all

Camping here is a luxury experience, the manager of the beach lets us in after the official closing time, he leaves the showers and toilets open for us, brings us firewood for a fire and chairs and tables for our comfort. He gets a gold star from us.

Noam makes us coffee whenever we stop

Next morning we pack up and leave before the beach opens to swimmers again, and we leave no trace of ever having been there

Packing a kayak is an art and it takes a while to remember where everything goes , so one of our paddlers has a map to remind him

Leaving the beach

we pass fishermen 

always put on sunscreen

We stop for breakfast  after about one and a half hours and get ready for the next leg

We pass a navy base and have to go 3 miles out to sea to avoid the firing zone, they send out a patrol boat to check on us

It takes about 4 to 5 hours and we need to stop for frequent breaks, the water is still nice and warm so its easy to jump in for a pee when you need to and no dry-suites to worry about


there is some boat traffic out there too

Food is an important part of the trip.We make all our meals into one big picnic. This time Avigail delegated everybody a specific meal and asked them to bring the necessary  ingredients.Good planning made meals easy and fun and very tasty

The forecast for Saturday was worrying, strong Southerly winds were predicted and the sea was going to get rough, so we decided to push on as far as we could on Friday evening

We found a great beach just north of Nachsholim

and spent the night here, another 30km day, well done to all

Saturday morning the wind was up and against us, and the sea was more active

We left the beach and began to paddle 

But then Yiftach decided that it was too dangerous to take such a large and mixed group out in such conditions and we aborted , landing on Nachsholim beach and called for transport home.

A few brave souls decided to paddle home anyway and left us 

The menu for Saturday breakfast called for pancakes, and as we didn`t have time before leaving the beach we decided to have a late meal when we got back to the club.All in all it was a great trip, not easy to do such distances when the usual trip is only about 2 hours. It puts a great strain on the body and takes a lot of determination and will power to paddle for a whole day so I think its a good achievement to all who did it. See you again next year and thank you all for being such a great group