Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A sign of sense...

A mixture of people, places and personalities combined with a rich variety of weather have given the first weeks of January a positive feel - despite adversity, and a sign of sense to come!


Issue date: 14 January 2009


The Isle of Man Department of Tourism and Leisure has been given a boost by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), which this week threw out complaints about the Island’s advertising campaign.

Six viewers protested to the ASA about an advert in which Keirron Tastagh, of the company known as Adventurous Experiences, featured and claimed that the advert was dangerous, irresponsible and endorsed a recent craze for tombstoning. The advert showed Keirron taking part in various activities including canoeing, rock climbing and abseiling. At the end of the advert he is shown jumping from a cliff into the sea.

Clearcast, the specialist company which advises on and clears commercials on behalf of eight leading commercial broadcasters against the TV Advertising Standards Code before they are broadcast, said the purpose of the advert was to highlight, using one of the Isle of Man’s residents, some of the features and activities the Island offered. They said Keirron Tastagh was shown at work, performing activities such as kayaking, rock climbing and coasteering, and that the voiceover ‘This is where I work and this is what I do’ established the context that the activities he was shown doing were part of his work. They said Keirron was a qualified coasteering instructor who regularly took people coasteering as part of his adventure experience holiday business. Clearcast said Keirron was shown dressed in full safety equipment throughout the advert.

They went on to say that coasteering was different from ‘tombstoning’ in that it included preparation to survey the planned area to ensure it was safe and involved the use of safety equipment, as shown in the advert. They said Keirron’s qualifications in adventure tourism exceeded what was required by his insurance company and other regulatory bodies; that he always carried out risk assessments at all levels of tide and snorkelled the area to ensure there were no under water hazards; that instructors and students always wore wet suits, buoyancy aids and helmets, as Keirron was shown doing in the advert, and that his company had an impeccable safety record.

Tourism and Leisure Minister Hon Martyn Quayle MHK said:
‘I am very pleased that the Advertising Standards Authority have vindicated the Island’s advertising campaign by decisively rejecting the complaints from some people who viewed ‘The Life of Keirron’ as endorsing a recent craze for tombstoning, particularly as Keirron is an expert in the long-standing and legal activity of coasteering and is clearly depicted wearing protective clothing including a helmet in the advert.
‘Keirron is a highly trained and experienced practitioner of adventure sports including coasteering and ensures that safety is at the forefront of all his adventure activities. He is very passionate about running a top adventure business in the Isle of Man and, as well as organising the annual Isle of Man Adventure Week, he is keen to raise the Isle of Man’s profile as a quality destination for activity based holidays.’

The ASA noted that in the advert the various outdoor activities were very clearly shown to be taking place in the context of an organised, recreational activity with professional expertise and safety rather than in the context of daring, bravado or an absence of preparation of safety. They considered most viewers were likely to recognise the context of safety and professionalism in which the activities were shown to take place in the advert and that it was unlikely they would be interpreted as condoning or glamorizing the practice of ‘tombstoning’ and the absence of safety precautions that were associated with it. It was then announced that no further action was necessary.

Planning for 2009
The updates and new look to the website will go live in two weeks, and concentration on planning and implementing this and the new courses and structure for 2009 has meant taking less pics recently...

The January Kayak Safety - indoor pool course kicked off on Tuesday, low instructor to client ratio's and the learning environment suited the students well, and progression was fluid. Time passes so quickly when your enjoying yourself, and next thing it was time to get out... Looking forward to next week for session two!

For course infomation and how to learn to sea kayak in 2009 with Adventurous Experiences, or for Coasteering, Gorge Scrambling and other unforgettable adventures please contact me;

It seems that there are many inhabitants of our world who seek thrills, adventure and risk... It was extremely peaceful watching the tide turn and begin to run this morning at the Point of Ayre, gazing across to Scotland - reminding me of the day trip over to the Isle of Whithorn and back for some shortbread in the summertime... The most experienced members of the Adventure Club are preparing to undertake that journey again this spring, and another group are planning the trip to tie in with this years Isle of Man Adventure Week and Sea kayak Symposium - Festival Weekend!

A pair of swans interrupted my thoughts, flapping slowly across the expanse of shiny shingles, in close formation, passing the point and then making a tight turn back towards me, landing with the current flowing smoothly from the West. Their detailed shape and grace were clearly discernable at this range, and I wondered what their motivation was at this spot...

Staying in the main current, and heading North-East away from me, their distinct outlines fading slowly into white blotches on the sea, starting to rock gently now as the tide moved over sand bars and collided with the local eddie currents. They were dead on track for the larger wave trains and confused standing waves, and I realised that this must actually be the plan! The Swans had 'broken into' the current in the clean easy water upstream, and lined up accurately and timely for the exciting white water ride occuring at this location, made even more so by the huge spring tides at present. I watched until the turbulant conveyer belt took the white blotches rapidly into the angry chaos downstream and disappeared...

This is definitely a new one for me, being much used to observing and occasionally sharing the joy of the elements around me with the local wild and marine life -Grey Seals appearing beside you whilst surfing a wave, or young pups tugging gently on the kayak toggles or nuzzling along the smooth hull, Basking Sharks taking a curious meander through the group and beneith the boats, Peregrine Falcons active along the sea cliffs and stacks, pods of Porpoise and sometimes Dolphins leaping and diving en-masse, Raven's and Chough's soaring and swooping in the airstreams. Just a few of the unforgettable memories whilst paddling around the Isle of Man, but the usually graceful formation swans - freestyling through the confused white water of a tidal race, apparently letting the sea do as it will - this was new to me, and i'm delighted to have witnessed it!

Monday, January 05, 2009

New Year's resolutions 2009 - a day of Adventurous Experiences!

A crisp, clear start to 2009 - exceptional water clarity when peering down from the kayaks and visibility above the water extending to the Mourne Mountains in Northern Ireland and Mull of Galway in Scotland. We ran an exciting day activity day from Peel, on the West coast of the Isle of Man, using sea kayaking and coasteering as the medium through which to view the island from a different perspective and enjoy close encounters with the local wildlife! Caves, sea stacks, narrow openings and passages provide ideal learning opportunities. The whole sea bed was visible throughout, and curious seals, Eider ducks, Shags, Cormorants, Oyster Catchers to name but a few, added to the personalised experience. A few pics from the day, as well as a one from the guys on the Intermediate / Advanced paddle on the South East coast taking in the Sound and Llangness!