Saturday, June 28, 2008

New tools (or rather, toys)

Within the last two weeks, lots of new gear for the trip has arrived from various kayak dealers and sponsors. Most significant are the new paddles from Werner and Lendal, and Jespers new kayak (more on that part later from Jesper).

The feel of paddling with the Lendal paddle (straight carbon shaft with carbon Kinetic Small blades on, 210 cm long) is quite different from the Werner camano (straight carbon shaft with fibreglass blades, 215 cm long). The powerface of the Lendal Kinetic blade is almost flat, where the Camano's blades have a pronounced rib along the centerline. My impression is that the Werner blade has more catch, and less tendency to flutter during the pull phase of the stroke. The blade tends to stick in the water when ending the stroke, thereby making the effort to begin the next stroke a little larger.

The Lendal, on the other side, feels much more smooth to paddle - both catch, pull and exit from the water requires less "grip" and effort on the paddle's shaft. During the pull phase, the Lendal blades have a tendency to flutter - with some hours of practice, i figured out much sliding away from the boat was required to avoid the flutter., that was only forward-paddling experiences. Next comes rudder strokes and rolling/bracing performance - but more on that later. be continued.

Monday, June 23, 2008

What about a bigger challenge?

What about a bigger challenge? Read more on Patrick Winterton's current project, which is not paddling around the Faroe Islands, but from Wales to the Faroe Islands.

"On the 1st of May 2008, Patrick Winterton will start his most challenging expedition to date, kayaking from Aberdovey on the Welsh coast, around Ireland, up through the Hebrides and onto the Faroe Islands. Following 'Scottish Extremities' and 'Stevensons' lights' Patrick will make a third and final film on solo sea kayaking. 'Celtic Tiderace' will focus on the little known islands off the coast of Ireland and will follow the story of St Brendan the navigator, a 6th century Irish saint. After reaching the Butt of Lewis, the northern point of the Hebrides Patrick will attempt to be the first paddler to kayak across 300km of open ocean to the Faroe Isles in a standard sea kayak."

Patrick: All the best wishes from us on your journey - We hope you reach Thorshavn safely.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Training status

A quick update on the training and preparations going on for my part (More to come from Jesper soon)

Several short trips (1-3 hours) on the water to try out gear. In these trips, i try to put in some interval training (sprint/relaxing intervals) but need to put more structure into that. In general, these trips are not "flat water conditions going for it when there is wind/waves, and trying the kayak in surf on the danish west coast.

Long trips on the water: Paddled a solo trip in the Valley Avocet, a 48km in good conditions in less than 24 hours (including biouvac on the beach, and a short portage of kayak and gear. It was warm, and i had to eat and drink plenty (more than anticipated), but kept the body running without problems.

Other training: Daily 1½ hours of cycling, occassional running and doing strength exercises at home.

We have an idea in the pipeline, to train some navigation in tide/wind-induced currents in Lillebælt to improve our experience with route-planning in these conditions.

Equipment upgrades

(See below for updates, added 10. june 2008)

For the past two weeks, new gear has been arriving. First of all, Jesper and I agreed to buy new kayaks for the trip. It makes good sense that both paddlers in the team use kayaks that are equally fast, so we avoid the situation of one paddler struggling to keep up with the other for all of the trip.

So - first new kayak is a (used) Rockpool Menai 18, which is now waiting to get the large seat exchanged for a smaller one. Apart from that, it is one mean load carrier, and from the experiences so far, it performs well on the water.

Next, we got a new GPS - Garmin GPSMap 76CSx. I'm using it this week for a round of geocaching to get familiar with it - next step is to get it in a waterproof bag (seems to be necessary even though it says "waterproof" in the manual), and take it for a spin on the water.

Update Tuesday 2008-06-10 on Kayak and GPS experiences:
Today, i recieved the seat for the Menai 18 - it fits perfectly and provides a much improved contact with the boat. This weekend, i had the chance to surf some waves on the danish west coast, which gave a good impression of the Menai's performance in rough water: Very forgiving and relaxing to paddle - the only thing i missed was some more edge control - the boat requires some effort to put on edge (compared to my Valley Avocet) - but i expect that this will improve with the new smaller seat.

Last week, i went geocaching for a couple of hours with the new GPS - it is a great tool (and toy) and after some hours of practice, using it becomes quite easy and natural. One of the neat features is that it can be configured to display information with really large digits, making it readable even when sitting in a dry bag in front of the kayak cockpit. One 'gotcha' that i needed an hour or two of paddling to figure out though, was that the built-in magnetic compass isn't useful (i ended up turning it off) when the GPS is not horizontal.

Happy paddling!