Rainy Day on the Solway

Sea kayaking in the rain might not be thrilling to watch most of the time, but it can be a relaxing and interesting experience. The rain bouncing off the water, the rain on ones face, dripping in the eyes, also it can wash the salt off ones clothes. The wind can create interesting wave patterns and sea states.

Such was the scene kayaking near to the harbour wall at Port Carlisle.

Kayak (Day 1)

Monday 19.09.16

When woke up on Monday morning there was no wind, I knew there would be a little more by the coast but not enough to sail. I was facing another week of failed sailing plans, a quick decision was needed. I hurriedly checked the inflatable kayak to see if all was there, retrieved my 3-way split paddle from under the stairs and I packed it all on my bike trolley. I had a little food already in my bike pannier… I was off.

It took me about 2 hours to cycle to the coast, but the weather was fine and there was no head wind! And when I got to the boat the tide was still an hour away.
I got my wet suit (I always “dress for the sea” i.e. in it) and sorted out what I needed for the kayaking and took my things to the shore. The tide came in fast (as it was a high tide of 8 meters; when it is so high it races over the sands like a river in flood with a force to match).

The inflation of the kayak took longer than what I expected, due to me being “unfit”, huffing and puffing using the hand-pump; I was dripping with sweat by the end of it. I added the 2 skegs to the hull (it is supplied with 1 skeg when new, but I added another skeg fin to the front-end for added directional stability).

The beauty about the inflatable is that it is light weight and I could easily pick it up and carry it to the water’s edge, which had now reach the bank. As I walked to the bank’s edge I slipped on the sodden ground, down I went into the sea and I grazed some skin off my thumb in the process (making it painful when mixed with salty water). By the time I had packed my things into the rear cockpit the tide was deep and I had to “fall” into the kayak, not very gracefully!! When strapped in and secure, I was off.

It had been about 2 years since I had used the kayak, and I had forgotten a lot of things!! With each stroke I was “missing the water” (slicing through the water with the flat of the blade). I had the split paddle connected for a right handed paddler (as I am left handed I had to re-arrange the blade direction) once I got that sorted I had forward motion! Also the inflatable is “tippy” and I had to relearn my balance. But it comes back very quickly. I headed for the boat, and “Sadaf” looked different from the water, than the shore. A few times around the boat taking photos as I went, then off to follow the current/s out into the main channel.

I paddled with the tide towards Carlisle, there was no wind at all, and the sea was flat calm. About 15 minutes I saw a ‘black line’ floating on the water in the distance, a stick perhaps? I went to see what it was. Then it sank with a curved back… it was a porpoise.

It re-emerged a few moments later and I could hear its “snort” as it blew from its air-hole. The sea was calm; the surroundings quiet only this little creature was making a noise. Again it dived. I took several more photos but I was never fast enough to catch it as I saw it. My camera is a simple “point and shoot” and by the time it was ready the little creature had disappeared.

Then came a moment that I will remember, the blowing came from behind me, I turned and saw the porpoise coming straight for me, it dived once, twice and on the 3rd time it went underneath my kayak. While it was happening I was thinking about the film “Jaws” (how that film is in my teenage memory) but this was beautiful, and moments like that only happen once in a blue-moon. It came straight for me, curious perhaps? I do not know. I managed to take a short video of it diving for the last time, but it did not capture the moment as I saw it.

I waited around a little longer, but it did not surface again. I noticed I had drifted backwards with the current (towards the boat) so I retraced my paddle strokes and enjoyed the memory of the porpoise, and the stillness of the water. The light gave the water a silvery sheen, like I was floating on liquid silver.

I had ‘touched bottom’ while coming up-channel but I knew it was not the actual sea-bed as the tide was still deep. I paddled against the tide for about an hour and reached a creek just below the village of Drumbrugh. Only at high tide can one paddle up these creeks. They cut the land in two, and a few people have been caught out and had to be rescued, as they have not noticed the tide coming behind them via these creeks. I paddled up this one and then videoed my return journey.

I stopped to have a rest and take a few photos, when a man came to have a chat. He was a kayaker too and he was going to kayak but had left it too late. We swapped stories of the Solway and paddling in this area. There are so few of us on this estuary that it is always encouraging to meet a like minded person.

I continued on my way, paddling with the tide this time, gently going with the flow, enjoying the lack of wind making the sea calm, but still feeling its force.

There is a ‘point’ that is like a corner that the current hits and rebounds against; I floated passed it and floated down to the bay. If there had been strong winds this point would have been white-water.

The “bay area” is an area of erosion, where the sea is making its intrusion on the saltings. There has been a lot of erosion of the saltings due to the winter tides and each year the tide takes more away from “England” (and some say “gives it to Scotland!!). I continued floating with the tide giving me time to video the calmness and the evening song of the birds.

I noticed the saltings emerging from the tide; this grassy top would be part of another creek with the water going around it. These grassy banks would have been the ‘bottom’ that I had touched on my way up channel, half an hour before.

The out-going tide had shown me the entrance to this bay creek

I floated with the tide, past “Grune Point” with its look-out point and man-made structures, histories that are not recorded. When there is a lot of wind this area can be high swells.

I wanted to linger to enjoy the peace so I stayed within the eddy to delay my return.

The sun was setting behind clouds giving the sea a silvery glow.

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Getting nearer to my destination I began to touch bottom.

Then I grounded not too far from Sadaf. I simply tie the wheels to the back of the kayak and pulled it over the sands to the boat.

The moon came out later that night and it gave a nice reflection on the channel.

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Moon reflected in water

In the evening I cooked, read my library book by lamp light “Testament of Youth” by Vera Brittain; and practiced my Pennie Whistle. I have been practicing the melodies from the Scottish Highland bagpipe repertoire entitled: “Teribus” and “Corrichoiles”. Here is a recording of the practice:

And so ended Day 1.

I am so pleased I brought the kayak as one can see different things by paddling, close up to the shore line, than when one is sailing, which can be ‘too far’ sometimes.

Sail on Sea Kayak

After making my new rig for my Capella Sea kayak, I set everything up in the garden to try it out in a light breeze.
The mast needed supported with bunji straps to take the strain fore and aft; also I noticed a block needed to be fixed in the center of the hull so the paddle will not hit the sheet.
The poly tarp sail is of a Bermudan style, and may need battens to help it have maximum efficiency.
In general, it worked well, probably not good to windward, but on a run, I think it will be enough to rest the arms and use the oar as a rudder. I will be using ‘sponsons’ either side of the cockpit for stability, and I may even fix a lee-board for upwind use.

Sail on Sea Kayak

I got round to fixing the existing sail onto the rig of the Capella sea kayak. I found the sail too small and I will make a bigger one, and use it with sponsons to give that extra stability, but I do not intend to use the sail in high winds, the sail is an aid to paddling only, not a substitute. I will be trying out out on the Solway quite soon and getting to channels and rivers that I can not get to by boat. The rigidity is good, the bindings are tight and I believe it is secured tightly.

Kayak Frame Completed

I am a firm believer in securing most things on a boat with rope instead of bolts and screws, rope gives a small amount of movement and is easily adjusted and replaced and is less wear on the hull.

 After choosing which frame to use I dispensed with the wood as much as possible to cut down on weight. I placed plastic tubing underneath the frame to give it a level foundation. I then secured the frame to the plastic tubing by way of drilling holes in the frame and tubing and tying it with a plastic line. I tied the tubing to the safety rope which runs along the kayak hull. The tubing is only to give the frame a steady base when heeling. I then secured the frame to the hull by tying it down firmly with bunji. When secured I pulled and tugged at the frame in different directions to assimilate heeling, the kayak moved and the frame stayed secure.

Later, I secured the frame firmly to the hull with a better and more tighter strapping system. Also I inserted the mast and ran a line from the spreaders through the mast head and down to the other spreader this stopped the mast from falling out in a capsize. I pulled at the mast and the kayak moved but the frame stayed rigid. I felt satisfied the frame is ready for the sail.

Kayak Rig: Work in Progress

The idea of drilling a hole in the deck to insert the mast is not an option for me. I prefer decks to be as water tight as possible. So the idea is to erect a frame on the hull so the mast can be set into it and left there while kayaking. Since the sail will be hoisted to the mast, it is the sail which will be taken down leaving the mast erect. I started by using the remnants of my previous attempts of a frame. This wooden construction I used for the inflatable kayak but found it too heavy, but it is sturdy enough for the plastic kayak. I screwed the longer panel onto the top of the frame thus creating a ‘box’ like construction with a hole cut for the mast to go into and a wooden base with a hole drilled to insert the bottom of the mast. The longer top section can be cut to size or left its length to use as ‘spreders’ if rope stays are to be added to keep the tension of the mast.
Now to choose where to fix the frame and in what position?

I positioned the frame at cross-section to the kayak. Resting above the compass well did give it a balanced secure position.

But with heeling I would have to make the base more secure than only bunji straps.

The next position I tried was to place the frame lengthwise to the kayak hull. This would give stability while Running with the wind, but it was not stable if the wind was beam on.

By placing strips of wood underneath the frame it gave a stronger and sturdier foundation the frame to rest upon the hull. The lengths could by cut to size later flush with the deck. Foam or rubber could be placed underneath these cross-sections to make it plush with the hull to stop the frame from moving.

The next position I tried was similar to the first with the frame at a cross-section to the hull but this time I added a ‘V’ shaped construction to strengthen the stability when on a Run. This position gave full contact with the hull and added to the strength of the frame.

This is the one I will probably use..but it is early days yet.

New Sea Kayak Wheels

As the previous wheels were too heavy and unstable I decided to make my own frame by turning wood and using the axle of the pram. I cut the joints at an angle so the boards, that the kayak hull will rest upon, sit even. I then fastened another piece of wood to strengthen the 2 legs. I up-turned the kayak positioned the frame and bunji strapped it onto the hull.

After some adjustment I tied it to the bike and positioned the frame in the centre of the kayak, it sat balanced without much weight on the bike frame. I gave it a test run for about 1 mile and it ran very well, it bounced less than before and felt sturdy.Turned easily and did not pull to much going up hill.

I will do a test run to the sea soon and if that is successful I will design another Crab-Claw rig for the kayak.

New Wheels for Kayak

It has been over 3 years since I got out the P&H Sea Kayak, the last time was my 4 day journey from Kippford to Gamelsby (Scotland to England). Then I bought my Hurley Felicity and I have been sailing and redesigning her rig (documented in this blog). But now I am turning my thoughts to sea kayaking once more. Partly to do with keeping fit and partly to do with transportation. I wish to see other shores that the Solway Coast and I am not getting out far enough with the Hurley due to our strong winds that we have had for the past few years. Also another factor is I added a sailing rig to my inflatable kayak and this worked fine so I am now thinking to add one to my Capella sea kayak and explore the coast line closer. In a few weeks I will be taking down the mast on the Hurley and mooring her for the winter so the Capella will be in use once more. Since I can transport the 16ft sea kayak by bike I have been making a new frame for her and I got hold of a good set of wheels which turn well due to ball bearings in the axle. This will make it alot easier to transport by bike to the coast. I got the whole frame today and I have been thinking what bits to cut off and what to keep. i think i will take most of it off and keep only the back axle and turn some wood so it can be slotted into the axle base. From this I can add bits to support the hull of the kayak.

The problem with the frame was the height and the weight, it was too high off the ground and able to tip over in high winds, also the whole weight was too much to store.

Testing my Kayaksailing Rig in a Force 4

The 2nd day was more lively. The wind had re-turned blowing about a Force 4, it was strong enough to test the rig and to make the incoming tide choppy. I desided to go in an anti-clockwise direction around the harbour walls so I would get an all point sailing direction, for the rig and wind; with a reach and a run, tacking and gybing. Some areas were calmer than others, by the mouth of the harbour it was quite a race. The rig gybed without any problems, it did not heel me too much and even in the thick of it I was not knocked off balance. On one tack it worked well but on the other it was less efficient, but this is true with all sailing rigs. I was still using the sail as an aid to paddling not a sailing rig in its own right. It gave me a feeling of an ‘added paddler’, and certainly made my paddling a lot easier and increased my speed, but I could now by how much. Very please with the results in such conditions. I could change the sheets with my new cleats and sheets, positioning them so I could get at them easily and even with the wind pushing me off course I could sheet in the sail or let it out with out fumbling for the cleat. Works best on a run.