Crossing to Scillies

I am organised, very organised. I have been working in a school for eleven years now, so my year starts every September and finishes every July. My holiday dates have been pre-planned for me for years in advance.  On the rare occasion, when I may not know, when they are, all I need to do, is to check the airline ticket prices, their double or triple hike is a clear give-away. To cope I learnt to plan and book early, in the end, it would be irresponsible to waste twelve weeks of holidays.
This has been true until the seventh of April of this year. The following two weeks were my Easter holidays, yet somehow I haven’t made plans, or only vague ones of skiing, or going to spa or something. Various reason made them to fall through, and I almost started to think that I have indeed allowed for two weeks of holidays to go to waste.
High pressure that settled over Britain in the first two weeks of April this year, proved me wrong. And I was reminded that sometimes not having firm plans and go with the flow and weather is the best. We took it on board and made the most of it. I broke another of my rules and routines of only doing long crossings as part of a multi day journey, when one is fit and mentally prepared.
But really, we could not not do it. As we woke up at home on Saturday morning post my last day of work, and checked the weather, it appeared: the thought. On Sunday, while continuing with checking the  weather, the thought slowly changed into a firm idea. On Monday midday it started to become a reality, we were packing, and leaving London towards South West.
On arrival to Cornwall we had two important tasks to do: have dinner and plot the crossing. The plan was simple. The starting hour friendly. The weather pleasant.
We left Sennen Cove at eight in the morning, passed the Longship Lighthouse rather quickly, and settled down into the  rhythm of stroke after stroke, which would eventually bring us to our target, the Isles of Scilly. DSCF2296DSCF2300
The day was clear and sunny, the swell was playful and we made it to St Mary’s one hour faster than we thought. And even if that meant that we were slightly more south than we could have been, it was fine. Landing at Bryher in the afternoon felt good, and the smell of wild garlick quickly cleared our lungs of any city smog. We made it, and felt happy and content.

In this mode we spent the rest of the five days on the islands. Deciding that we will only cross St Marry’s Road if we have to go back on the Scillonian we spent most days paddling on the west or  north side of the islands exploring Bryher, Tean, Tresco and only paddling as south as Samson. The lazy mood stayed and we spent a considerable amount of time on the land exploring the islands rather than just paddle and paddle from one to the next. DSCF2323
And although to go back, we had to take the Scillonian, sometimes changing ones believes is good.

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London has it all!

We’ve lived in London for many years now. When we moved here, we knew we were moving into the capital city and a very busy town with people, roads, tube, buildings, pavements and all. We also knew that London was on the river Thames, however, at that time, it didn’t have any significant meaning to us, because after all most capital cities we knew had a river, Paris with Seine, Prague has Vltava, no big deal at all.

It was only later, when the river became our almost second home, we understood its the importance in the past and nowadays. Then, one day, we realised something even more significant. London isn’t just an ordinary capital city of a country; London could be viewed as a Mecca for outdoor sport, or at least where water is considered.

For a sea kayaker the tidal river Thames is a great place to paddle, we wrote about this many times. The changing landscape due to tide, standing waves under bridges, surf behind boats, powerful workout against tide, and smooth rides with it, we have spent countless hours going up and down through London. It is always different and we can’t have enough. With the conditions varying from mirror flat to wild fast flowing and confused water with waves exceeding meter in high it is an amazing place to learn and improve. Learning is an interesting and complex process. There and now it is important to change ones’ approach and try something new, something different. In the end what could be better than trying and applying the existing skills through different concepts of paddling to explore new levels and then bring this back to the original discipline.

So what role does London play in all this? It is the choice of opportunities. The possibility to do white water canoeing, flatwater freestyle, tiderace paddling or playboating within few days and in close proximity to London.

P6260037P6260042White water OC in Lee Valley. 

13558787_10209965853292395_1197877465244621623_oP6280084 (1)Free style boaters at Shadwell Basin.

13603400_10209998273702885_6307197631366317922_o13528227_10209998275502930_5332193559667065624_oSelsey Bill tide race (2 hours from London)

_DSC0037_DSC0078Olympic course in Lee Valley. 

Last week, there could have been hardly a be better place to work on your paddling.

Wave Machines

There are many things London has to offer to a visitor: architecture, scenery, history, just to name a few. Through all this the river weaves its path and attracts attention with its amazing views into the naval history, the beaches or water splashing over the railings, and of course the strong tides. Large numbers of boats pass up and down through the city at any time of the day. For me, however, the ones that create the beautiful wake to surf are the most interesting.  We call them Wave machines.

The feeling of excitement if a wave machine appears travelling in the right direction. Then, all what’s needed, is to check all is safe and paddle closer. To get the most of the waves and prolong the ride, it is best to surf diagonaly in the same direction as the chased boat. It is very easy to turn to much towards  the boat or to be too, aggressive in correction, both result in loosing the wave. Sometimes the first wave is not the best one, and it pays to wait for the third.

Last weekend we went for short paddle and made a little clip.

Old friend Harry

Summer has been coming to an end and I was desperate to get paddling to my favourite location of all, The Old Harry. Unashamedly I often say that paddling around Old Harry is the best paddle on the British Coast. However to make the most of it, it has to be at high tide and the weather should be on the sunny side. This Saturday seemed to be doing just that. Yet, we took a while to get persuaded to pack and go, in the end to some it may seem to be a little bit too far for a day trip location.

But not to me, getting up in the morning, driving for three and half hours is a small sacrifice for what one gets. This time, as a bonus,  we got to go on a ferry.

old harry

After that it was quick unpacking and launching to make the most of the now dropping tide. old harry 8old harry 9

I wasn’t paddling alone. Toby and Michal were eager to make the most of the day and we headed towards Peveril Point on the other side of Swanage Bay to play in the tiderce.

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And yes, this time, it was me who got the camera. old harry 2 old harry 3 old harry 5

old harry 1

We practiced some rescues and rolling and overall were making the most of the conditions and good weather. old harry 4 old harry 10

Our return journey was less speedy, after all the playing in the waves for few hours took its toll on us.  old harry 7

Harry was now at low tide, but even then, he looked as handsome as ever. old harry 11

It’s as good as skiing

This year like every year the question of where to go on Christmas holidays arisen. I love winter. Snow, skiing, ice climbing was my fist choice, and preferably somewhere where such is guaranteed – like Norway.

However very often I think one and Michal something else, so we ended up in Jersey. I braced myself for the prospect of spending my only winter holidays on rainy wind swept island, and off we went.

How very fortunate we were, that I was proved wrong. We stayed in our friends’ house, with sofas and telly, which felt like home away  from home (minus the TV for us). The house was very close to Corbiere Lighthouse, for which reason going to see the sunset became one of our favourite pastimes.

corbiere 1

corbiere toby 1We paddled only 2 hours a day. It was rather cold. Besides we slipped into the holiday routine of lazy mornings, short paddles, late lunches, sunset watching, dinner cooking and film watching – like Big Wednesday or Legally Blond.

Yet, where the paddling sessions lacked in length, they were rich in intensity.

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The weather was very accommodating, and our friends confirmed that it was warmer here than in Istanbul and definitely sunnier. At some point it was so sunny, that we started the day with some rolling practice.

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Followed by cliff jumping.

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Jersey people are very friendly and welcoming. Some days we met them on the water, went paddling with them, or simply had lunch or drinks. DCIM100GOPRO

Some days we also had surf. It was then, when I stopped regretting not going skiing. The waves were such, that going down with them felt almost as good as doing downhill on red slope. Skiing and kayaking have something in common. There are times, when the equipment just gives in. Screen Shot 2015-01-02 at 16.55.36

If you want to see more of the surfing, just watch the video.

Written by Natalie

THCC Seakayaking trip to Cornwall May 2014

The first May Bank Holiday we organised a trip to Cornwall for our club members. In the end there were 13 people going with skills ranging from intromediate to advanced; some of us being sea kayakers and some only white water paddlers.

We booked one coach, Richard Uren from Paddlecrest and 7 kayaks. Not everyone in London has a car. We stayed in a campsite close to Praa sands.

The paddling was great. We managed to paddle at the most southerly point of Britain, just west of Lizzard, and around Land’s End. The advanced group had some incident management training, and the intromediate one an introduction to surfing in Sennen. On Monday we all paddled together in the Fal Estuary. It was a great weekend.

[vimeo https://vimeo.com/94703469]

XTRA Launch

I don’t know how those things happen. Or should I rather say that I don’t know how human mind, and more precisely, how my mind works.

There are moments when an idea appears in my head, almost like a picture. It stays there, and doesn’t want to leave. Sometimes if the idea is too stupid, I manage to force it out but most of the time the best way to deal with it, is to have a go.

Few weeks ago I could see this picture in my headxtra R

and I could not get it out…