Wednesday, December 30, 2009

and so 2009 comes to an end and 2010 begins

Today was the last paddle of 2009, the wind was blowing and the seas were high.

It was a day for surf kayaks but the surf was not so great. Confused seas, not a day for group outings. Mickey and I went out in seakayaks, Hadas and Israel took out surf boats.

This kind of sea makes for good photos, of course you have to have a fully charged battery in your camera. I forgot to charge mine last night and so the annoying red flashing signal appeared in the screen all the time. Nevertheless I snapped away but unfortunately most of the pictures disappeared, only a couple taken by Hadas remained.

Tomorrow I have to go to work, but then there is a party in the evening, so that`s a good way to ring in the new year.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

lost comment

The fact is that I dont get too many comments and so everyone that I do get is very much appreciated. Today I lost a comment , I decided to moderate because of unsolicitated adverts, and every comment gets previewed before appearing on the blog. Today I saw a comment by bathmate, but after clicking publish it went missing. If Bathmate sees this, please resubmit your comment and I will be more careful when publishing it again.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

the last paddle day..............................of 2009

Today I held the last paddle day of the year, 7, no make that 6 and a half new Greenland paddles went out into the world today. Seven kayakers made new friends today and we all had a great time working together and making new paddles.
Thanks to all who attended today and worked hard to make their paddles. It takes a lot of effort and concentration to spend a whole day carving a paddle especially when you have almost no experience working with wood, sharp tools and in a foreign language.
Now you all need to get out on the water and start using the sticks, remember it takes a bit of time and dedication before it feels natural, but once you get there the Greenland paddle is great. don`t give up and hang it on your wall as a decoration.
Heres the photos from today

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

kayak surfing

No doubt, surfing a kayak is one of the high points of sea kayaking. The thrill of catching that mass of water, staying on course and then gracefully exiting the wave before it tumbles you is fantastic and addictive.Of course it all depends on the anatomy of the waves, how big, how long they ride before they break and do they dump at the end. All the science of waves can be found in the many kayaking books on sale, I`m sure everyone knows their local surf beaches or reefs and has their favourite spot. Just as important as good surf is the type of kayak you choose. You can surf a sea kayak, we do it all the time and it is a lot of fun, but there is a limit to what you can do with a 5 plus meter kayak in the surf.There are the smaller play boats and the small sit on top surf kayaks too.

And then there are the long surf skis, these are long narrow kayaks, rounded bottoms, sit on top with rudders built for speed and able to catch the swell long before anything else At first glance they seem unwieldy, but they come in different widths making them user friendly for beginners
And today I got to try one out.
Eyal Abro

an ex South African from Michmoret invited me to go for a trial with him We met after my usual Wed morning with the Optimists[ and today the sea was great for surfing] and headed out from the Michmoret sailing school.

The waves were pounding the harbour entrance and I admit there were a few moments when I thought that this is madness, but we managed to time our exit well and in a few moments we were past the breakers and out at sea. We headed south to Bet Yannai beach and played in the surf for about an hour. This is a different experience for me, firstly you are on a sit on top kayak with only your feet on the pedals held in by a Velcro strap, there is a rudder too , new for me, and the whole thing is a bit tippy as well. I had no problem with balance but when I caught a great wave all the way in I tried to exit too late, broached and got thrown from the boat, managed to hold onto my paddle and had to swim all the way to the beach to retrieve my kayak. In my sea kayak this would never happen as when broaching all you need to do is brace and then you can side surf all the way.

I don't know if this is possible with a surf ski, maybe someone with more experience can tell me. All in all it was a great day and the waves were perfect.
By the way girls, Eyal is still single...........

kayaks for christmas

To all those who celebrate Christmas I would like to wish you all a very happy holiday and may your stockings be filled with kayaking paraphenalia.

Hope its not too cold and that you can get some paddle time during the holidays.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

anything you can do ...................................

Its not the type of sea for a long kayak but I had to get in there anyway. This morning I just couldn`t stay away. I got to the beach at about 8 am, Israel and Ohad had already been in the water for an hour. The sea was like a washing machine , waves breaking in all directions, and a strong southerly wind. After hesitating for a while I dived in. I have just finished putting a hatch and bulkhead in my new Petrel and wanted to try it out.
No surfing for me, just getting out there and dancing on the waves, its a lot of fun, and now that my kayak is much more seaworthy I don`t have to worry about bailing out anymore.
There were a lot of spectators and photographers as well as a few sit on tops, but they quickly gave up as the surf was a bit too rough for them. Small kayaks rule.
I managed to get some medium quality video with my small Olympus and Vered gave me a few of her photos too for the blog.
There`s nothing like the sea, how I love it.

Friday, December 18, 2009

green with envy

Meet my friend and fellow kayaker Rami Gill. He is based in Tel Aviv and runs the kayak club at Beit Daniel rowing club on the Yarkon river as it flows out to the sea.
Rami has been kayaking for more than 10 years, is a great all rounder but LOVES playing in the waves. Whenever there is a storm warning he`s out there at the Hilton Beach in the thick of it. This enthusiasm is contagious and now a large part of his group are also wave freaks. This is not for long kayaks, for this type of surfing you need one of those tiny short surf kayaks which unfortunately I cannot get into for anatomical reasons. But I enjoy watching them play and am considering a short sit on top surfer like the Chaos. Here`s Rami`s video of a bunch of newbies learning the ropes after buying their first surf kayaks.
Makes me green with envy.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

have a doughnut for hannuka

So it`s that time of year again, HAPPY HANNUKA to all,

doughnuts are all the rage right now but how many can one poor guy eat at a time.

Not too many or else you wont be able to fit into your Greenland kayak again.

I say this because today I paddled in Iris`s Tahe Marine Greenland style kayak.

It was a tight fit and I could not use the footpegs as they are too low for me. Nevertheless I enjoyed the ride.Its a fine sleek kayak, and on the flat water was very easy to handle. Even with a strongish offshore wind I didn`t have any trouble keeping on course. I couldn`t try rolling as my sprayskirt was much too large for the cockpit and couldn`t close it at all.Thank you Iris.
We also learnt the rules of right of way, as you can see in this photo of the tugboat versus the kayak, guess who has right of way?

Avigail presented Yossele with a Greenland paddle that she made for him for his birthday, so Happy birthday to you Yos, what a great gift.

Ok, once again happy Hannuka to all and have a great holiday season.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

in an octopus`s garden

Next time you see an octopus looking at you as you kayak towards him or swim towards it, think twice about who you are dealing with.
As this article from the BBC shows , they can think , plan and execute an action using tools.You have been warned
Also congrats to Freya for completing her circumnavigation of Australia, what a great feat.

Friday, December 11, 2009

its expedition time

Seems like everyone is on some kind of expedition these days , challenging the forces of nature, braving the elements, striving for the ultimate experience.
Well the Optimists of Sdot Yam are no different, give us a challenge and were up and ready in the wink of an eye.
Mention of the Mighty Yarkon river, sends shivers down the spine of those in the know. Many have perished in these dangerous waters, some have been rescued and a few have lived to tell the tale.
That makes it an obvious choice for our expedition.
We started at the Beit Daniel boating Center, home of the famous Rami Gill and his band of kayakers, headed upstream past the natural scenery of the park, filled with cyclists, joggers olympic kayakers and rowers going backwards and then entered the concrete jungle of the Ayalon. Paddling along the waters among the skyscrapers of urban Tel Aviv we were careful not to capsise into the dangerous waters, until we reached the point of Seven Mills for a long awaited breakfast. The culinary skills of the Optimists are well known and today was no exception. After a leisurly meal among the swans, geese and pigeons we made our way back to civilisatiion.
Give me the sea anytime.

Friday, December 4, 2009

wind and waves and sharks

There have been some sightings of sharks on our beach near the warm water of the power station. We have gone looking for them a few times this last week and some have seen them.Unluckily I have not and thus there are no photos to prove their existance, but the word is that they are about 3 m long. Will keep a lookout just in case.

Today there was supposed to be 2m seas and strong winds, well it never happened, the sea was only about 1.5m and there was no wind so we had a leisurly paddle out, played slalom through the huge pylons and ran back with the swells and then went to play in the waves.

Seems like we play a lot in the waves. Well yes, whenever we can.

How can I describe the excitement of surfing a kayak in large waves, you sit out there and wait for the right one to come along, then you paddle like mad to catch it before it breaks and then you fight to stay aligned and in control, all the while this mass of water is trying to separate you from your kayak.

Sometimes you win and sometimes the sea wins.Either you manage to roll up and try again or if you have come out of your boat you need a rescue.

Whatever happens it`s always a lot of fun.

The better you get in the waves the better you can cope with big seas, so far from just playing there is a lot of skill learned which is vital to your progress as a kayaker.
Kayak surfing is highly recommended.Best to start in small surf and then work your way up to bigger waves. Also it is vital to have a good roll.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

festival of paddles

The 2009 festival of paddles was a great success, thanks to all who took part and to Hadas who took all the pictures and kept us in laughter all day.

9 people took part and everyone went home with a Greenland paddle.

We started at 10am Israeli time and finished in the dark. During the day we played on the balance board,

ate good food and laughed all day as well as made paddles. Everyone had a great time as you can see from the pictures, a video will follow in the next few days .

Friday, November 27, 2009

the week that was

This week was characterised by strong easterly, [off shore] winds. For us kayakers this means the danger of being swept out to sea is a reality and so we tend to stick close to the shore. Rock hopping in these conditions is a lot of fun but because the reef is very shallow it is easy to get stuck on the rocks or at least to get a new scratch or two on the bottom of your boat. I find myself breathing in and trying to lift myself up when rocks attack me.
The weather is changing, mornings are colder and the water temp is dropping, nothing like our friends in the USA, so I guess we shouldn`t complain.
Tomorrow after the morning paddle I am holding another Greenland paddle carving day, if you are in the neighbourhood you are welcome to pop in for a visit.

Friday, November 20, 2009

did someone say sushi?

What a morning, about 70 kayak fishermen had a competition on our beach today.

They went out at 5am , so we didnt see them set off when we went out for our morning paddle, but the sea was littered with sit on tops with fishing rods sticking out at all angles. They all seem to have at least 3 rods trawling behind them, but the amount of fish they catch is not very impressive. I suspect the waters have been fished out over the years.

They did manage to get some Tunny which Ido and friends filleted and sprinkled with soy sauce and gave it to us to eat.

Wow, it tasted fantastic, fresh raw fish eaten with fingers on the beach, what a treat.The winning catch was only 3.5kg with almost no difference between the first 3.There were also some interesting kayaks around, all sit on tops,a couple of surfskis modified for fishing and one 3 piece kayak

which can be made into a one man kayak or a double by adding the insert. Ehud , the owner of our Optimist Kayak club,[ also sells fishing kayaks],
was the sponsor and gave away generous prizes to the winners.
Maybe I should take up fishing.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

beach rescue

So there we were, Zohar and myself in seakayaks and Israel in a short surf kayak, braving the stormy seas and strong winds.

As we played in the surf we were drifting southwards due to the strong northerly wind.
We ended up opposite the events hall at Nofshonit beach. I had already bailed out once, got tumbled by a strong wave, had my spray skirt ripped open and didn`t manage to keep myself in the kayak in the wave. I think my thigh braces are too slippery and dont have enough support to hold on to in these conditions. This is the second time that its happened, so I guess I will have to modify the braces and add some extra support and make the surface a little more abrasive for good grip.

Zohar managed to get a good ride or two in the waves but no photos as I was swimming to shore at the time. She also had to bail and swim to shore a couple of times . Luckily for her she managed to hitch a ride with Itay and Yochai back to the club

while I had to fight my way back against a 20kn wind. All in all a great day on the water.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

lessons learned

Today we were smarter than yesterday.
The sea was still rough and had large waves, the group was more selective and more disciplined too. Yesterdays events were on all of our minds as we headed into the surf. We had more towropes as well.
Going out was an adventure in itself with at least 3 capsizes.

The group stayed together and when it was time to return all behaved very well.

One by one we came home until one of us capsized, rescue was quick and effective and the capsizee was helped back into his boat and at the same time was towed into safer waters.
Once safely out of the danger zone he was released and allowed to paddle to shore . His kayak had a lot of water in it but he managed to maintain control very well and get ashore without mishap.
It can happen that you get swamped and do not have time or opportunity to empty your kayak immediately, then you have to paddle an unwieldly kayak until you beach or bail the water out. I remember one exercise we did with Jeff Allen, we all capsized, all had to do a self rescue, close sprayskirts and continue to paddle with swamped kayaks. It was a good eyeopener and learning experience. Yes you can continue to paddle a waterlogged kayak albeit with some difficulty and more skill. I guess you should practice this for when it will be needed
When we were all back on shore it was time to go and play in the waves

Friday, November 13, 2009

look what they did when I wasnt there

This morning I had to miss the 7am outing, but planned to go out a bit later. I arrived at the beach at around 8 and went to have a look at the sea.
Ehud told me that the group was coming back as the sea had risen and they decided to shorten the outing.

I went to watch and saw the kayaks coming in. In rough weather there is a safe passage through the reef where the waves don`t break and we usually come back through this gap. From my vantage point I saw Hadas signing the way and the group begin to land. Then I saw one kayak capsize, but didn`t take much notice because it happens to newcomers quite a bit, and if they are past the reef they usually get rescued or washed to shore.So I went back to the club and found Ehud on the phone to Rami. Now Rami lives on the frontline of the beach and has a great view of the sea. He was watching and told Ehud that there were a few in the water including Hadas.
It sounded out of the usual and so I got changed and ran down to the water with my kayak thinking that I may go our and help with the rescues if needed.

By the time I got there they had all beached and were discussing what had gone wrong.

One of the kayaks capsized and was rescued, but another in a homemadekayak also capsized and because his kayak doesn`t have bulkheads it flooded and was impossible to right. He was being swept into the rocks and 3 others tried to rescue him. Hadas had given her towrope someone else and none of the other rescuers had one. Not good. A huge wave then lifted them all up and threw them onto the reef causing various injuries to kayaks and kayakers. All are ok now and one kayak has minor damage to its prow.
Lessons have been learnt and advice given, and the next outing will be a lot safer.
We all went back to the clubhouse to celebrate Zohars birthday with cake and alcohol and then I went out to play in the surf.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

same movie, different producer

Heres my version of the surfing, but as I dont have any videos from Rami, I don`t appear in the show

perfect waves for surfing

Tuesday was a fantastic day for surfing, calm seas and well formed waves gave us a fantastic time in the surf. both Rami and I had our cameras with us but as you can see it takes a lot of skill to make a surf video from on the water. sometimes you just put your camera in your pocket and have fun in the waves, but then its hard to describe to your friends.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

greg`s rolling lesson through vered`s lens

Ok so i`m still going on about our symposium, forgive me but seeing that we dont have too many of them round here they make a big impression on me. There were lots of us with cameras and everyone has a different point of view. This shows up strongly in each ones pictures or videos.
So here`s a great video of Greg giving a rolling lesson and demo to a group of aspiring Greenland rollers.

Monday, November 2, 2009

eat .sleep .paddle........last day

I confess, I stole the headline from the back of Bens head.

But it does seem appropriate as thats what we have been doing for the last 3 days.

This last day was divided into BCU assesment by Jeff, Greenland rolls with Greg and fun and games with Ben in the wind.
[the right place for a short nap before the afternoon session]
It was a very windy day with gusts of 20plus Kn.
Perfect for a lesson of how to manage in the wind, direction control, using the wind to help turn you kayak and managing to stay on course without being blown into foreign waters by the winds.
For Jeff the sea conditions were way above 3 star levels, and everyone managed to do the recommended tasks, staying upright, towing with and against the wind and rescues.
Greg spent the day in the water again, teaching rolling, and it looked like everyone managed to learn something.

Ben managed to get his message across and at the end of the lesson we were all so good we managed to have an olympic race across the wind with a 360 degree loop going and coming , both forward, and believe it or not, backwards too.
I am sure that after this great symposium everyone who attended came away with a better understanding of the art of seakayaking and some improved skills in a number of areas.
Many thanks to the organisers, the coaches and especially to Ehud, Hadas and Yossele for a fantastic experience.
Remember Eat.Sleep.Paddle.