Monday, February 23, 2009

Goats Galore!

Launching with the falling tide from Laxey Beach, there was little evidence of the strong Westerlie wind lifting the sea on other stretches of coast. A Cormorant dived and surfaced briefly before diving again, and a Grey Seal copied its antics nearby. Another group of complete beginners enjoyed their first trip on the 'Discover Sea Kayaking' course, heading South round the rocky protrusions, past the waterfall and occasional pairs of Oyster Catchers observing from the boulders at the waters edge. After a break and some dry land practice, we used the shallow bay with excellent water clarity to continue practice, and were joined by the 'Novice' group before all heading back towards the layers of shingle beach, now exposed down to the sandy platform at its base.

A treat was in store for the 'Intermediate' paddle, heading north beneath the towering cliffs, looking out for the sometimes illusive Wild Goats. Just round from the harbour we spied a young 'kid' bleating apparently stuck in a steep gully, watched by the parent goats from the sheer rocky step above. As another ridiculous rescue plan formulated in my mind (or at least the basic concept of assistance with no actual plan) we waited to see if it was in any trouble. The youngster slowly made its zig zag way upwards, constantly looking up - seeking assurance from its folks, and looking back with distain at the colourful array of kayaks. The difference between these wild looking, sure footed mountain goats and the dim witted half-grown sheep we have removed from difficulty on occasions on the West coast are vast. So the group continued paddling, and we made a mental note to check it on our return journey.

A challenging paddle ensued to Port Moor, with the distinctive lighthouse on Maughold Head visible and getting larger as we rounded each headland. Then a favourite part to Adventure Club paddles as the cake, hot drinks and other home-made delights were unearthed from kayak hatches and the 'happy tent' was on standby in case anyone was cold :)
We enjoyed the tail wind on the way back, and as evening drew on, pairs and small groups of goats were seen right along the coast, as the season for 'kids' to arrive is here and the goat community splits up to give birth and rear their young.
Spring is demonstrating her positive influence on the natural environment, and I leave the skylight open in the evenings to wake up to the excited twitter of small birds. Snowdrops and Bluebells in the glens precede the vast array of daffodills and primroses lining the roadsides. On and off the water, folk are 'waking up' to spring and getting active. Its going to be a very busy and constructive 2009!

Check our Schedule for adventures we are running this week.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Rock Climbing on the Isle of Man

A few shots from the Chasms today! We trotted down to 'Tower Slabs' to introduce a few very keen beginners to their first ascents, in this well known Eastern Section of the Chasms - beneath the eye catching 'Tower Butress'. As we began setting up anchors and learning a few knots, looking across we spied Dougie flashing up 'Pushing Daisies' - E5, with Beef belaying below. Phenomenal!!

Full sequence on my Picassa gallery by Monday :)

After the students gained confidence on some less demanding routes, we scurried quickly past 'Pushing Daisies' and did some bouldering problems on a sheltered section of rock above Torque Test wall. With this going well, we then put up a top rope a more challenging route to finish the session on a pump!

And lastly an image from Thursday's Youth Scholarship hill navigation, finishing in the plantation after a route up over the hills and through a little bit of fog!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Relaxed Night Paddle

Superb conditions last night gave an exceptionally relaxed feel to the night paddle, and with the breeze dropping completely we were able to put in at Port Erin Beach and paddle the stretch of coast to the Calf Sound! As predicted, a warm and starry evening...
Top image - returning to the beach at Port Erin.

"Setting out from Port Erin at night seemed very natural and was unbelievably peaceful. Under the cover of darkness it would seem easy to become disorientated or unnerved. But with constant support from Keirron, we all soon settled down for a truely epic experience!"

Bioluminescence crept in as we left the bright lights of the bay behind, initially subtle flickering luminous lines from the bow, followed by the question " my glow stick leaking?" from one of the group :)

"Kayaking at night was a completely different experience in which the absence of full vision heightens all other senses which is needed to take training to a new level. The darkness makes you appreciate the unknown smaller scale beauty of the Island, such as the bioluminescence and the placidity movements of the sea. It truly was a surreal and relaxing paddle."

This phenomena - the result of disturbing the living micro-organisms in the water, is entirely natural and a joyous part of night paddling! Every paddle stroke produces an explosion of tiny lights - a chemical reaction converting chemical energy to light energy. Tecnically it's the substance Adenosine Triphosphate which is involved in this.

"Ninety percent of deep-sea marine life is estimated to produce bioluminescence in one form or another. Most marine light-emission belongs in the blue and green light spectrum, the wavelengths that can transmit through the seawater most easily. However, certain loose-jawed fish emit red and infrared light and the genus Tomopteris emits yellow bioluminescence."

Beginners Sea Kayak Trip

This morning's trip from Peel shared the same conditions - but no glow sticks and head torches... A few seals cruised about and the residual swell from last week exposed and covered low rock shelved intermittently. We headed South to beneath Contrary Head, a relaxed pace and plenty of time to explore the inlets and sea caves. More Guillimots have arrived, and looking forward to seeing the first Puffins shortly!

Monday, February 16, 2009

'Discover Sea Kayaking'

It's always a special experience; leading students into sea kayaking for the first time. This 'first impression' of the sport is so important as it forms the basis of the decision to continue - on the road with so many avenues of enjoyment. An immediate beginning to a progressive positive change in lifestyle, perceptions, new shared experiences and fulfillment.
It's a flexible solution to 'down time', stress relief, escapism and work / life balence. Providing the flexibility to gauge individual needs and ability within a group, and to structure the time and content of the trip or session to suit, is what makes our staff so important to this process. Providing challenge and excitment where desired, and catering for different needs - from off the water breaks to advice and practice of new personal kit! (Including drysuits)

How to Learn
We run beginners Sea Kayak Trips regularly; see Schedule, and the next 'Discover Sea Kayaking' course with spaces begins 01st march.
Some students prefer to complete a indoor pool course prior to learning on the sea - the next 'Kayak Safety & Core Skills' indoor pool course with spaces begins 07th April.

Evening / Night Paddle
Tomorrow evening is looking excellent for a perfect night paddle, available to beginners and those who have paddled with us before. Flat calm sea and toastie warm in our comfortable paddle wear. A guaranteed Unforgettable Adventurous Experience!

We selected Port St Mary for Sunday's sessions; very sheltered for the absolute beginners and the more lively waters outside for excursions for the more experienced. The Calf was as ever; stunning and peaceful with seals and sea birds all about! Saw a few Guillimots near Sugarloaf Stack, so we may see the huge numbers of the comical migratory bird return for breeding on the sea cliffs early again this year; countless rows of teeming black and white. The constant flurry of activity and noise often revealing intermingling Razorbills sharing the same nesting sites.

Whilst on a lively note, a few images from the Youth Scholarship training session, as they put a few of their skills into practice whilst exploring the 'rock gardens' of the West Coast ...

Friday, February 06, 2009

Training for Norway!!

Recent snowfalls provided a varied and exciting training opportunity (and well earned break from studies and route planning) for the Youth Scholarship team.
Excellent preparation ahead of their three week, self-sufficient expedition in Norway this summer..

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

shared experiences...

With the diverse weather and social climate we've all been experiencing, its been a fresh and rewarding time providing training and team building activities for many different people. From our well known Coasteering sessions with their inherent positive impact on group dynamics to our on-site rope courses and team challenges, giving unparalleled shared experiences, very popular as the Birthday party for 'young adventurers' and those who like a challenge, and don't mind getting a little muddy!

I've been very impressed with the pace of learning in the Kayak Safety & Core Skills indoor pool courses, with excellent progression into the follow on - Kayak Rolling Clinic. With ratio's typically at 1:2 its a pleasure for both staff and students :)

Next pool course with spaces begins the evening of Tuesday 07th April - places limited to 6 students. For these and future beginners courses on the Sea, check the website schedule.

Due to the high demand for Rock Climbing this month, weekly Saturday sessions will soon commence - contact us to book on.

A few more pics for your perusal..