New Podcast - Jersey

This is Kevin Mansell, the man behind the online magazine SeaPaddler.co.uk and the organiser of the Jersey Sea Kayak Symposium.

In 2008, it'll take place 23-30 May and in this Podcast, Kevin describes the top three routes to kayak in Jersey.

Listen and subscribe free
or download from Podcast Library.

Thames Kayak Christmas Eve

It was a superb birthday and it came a day early. I’m writing about it two days later.


We spent much of Sunday with Harry Whelan on the River Thames. We met up at 9 in a fog so dense we couldn’t see from one side of the river to the next. Over-looked by penthouses costing £7.5m, Liz squeezed into an NDK Greenlander with an ocean cockpit.

Allegedly it was the first one out of the mould, but Harry has a touch of the blarney so I’m not sure whether it’s a story I believe. Did you know the London eye was powered by hamsters?

Going against the tide was not exactly hard work, but it was consistently tough for several hours. We snaked from one bank to the other making the most of the eddies and avoiding the industry. Normally such repeated river crossings would be a little dangerous as traffic moves swiftly up and down the Thames, but today the river was closed to navigation. Three sea kayaks and we had the river to ourselves.


I expect we’ll be on more than a few photos. Harry often finds himself on Flickr. Tourists stared and snapped us as we passed under bridge after bridge. Those on the London Eye had a particularly good view. Actually, we were the only view, since the fog was so dense there was nothing else they could take photos of.

We were called over to a pier just before Tower Bridge and told the harbour authorities were aware of us and, please, could we not go beyond Tower Bridge. As the tide was turning, and we could barely see the bridge from right underneath, this was good advice. Now with the tide in our favour we whizzed back. Passing Parliament, the bell of Big Ben rang out. “Come on”, called Harry, “we’re near the exclusion zone. You’ll get shot”. That’s how to motivate a kayaker.

Within an hour we were in a fantastic pub in Chelsea. God, how I miss decent English beer living in Scotland. Sorry and all that, but apart from a few small breweries (like Isle of Skye), most Scottish beer is awful. Harry and I made the most of it, while Liz smiled and suffered obligingly. Apparently I look like Richard Dreyfus and have to learn to say “however” rather than “but”, which is a preposition to an apology. Or was that the beer talking?

Liz drove me back to Maidenhead while Harry went in search of a pushbike he’d left chained-up somewhere near Canary Wharf two days previously.

I was 49 yesterday, Christmas Eve and that was a great way to spend it.

2008 Plans

This is the bridge over the River Thames at Marlow. We drove down to Liz's family yesterday avoiding the worst of the seasonal traffic. And I'm thinking about 2008.

"If you want to give God a laugh, tell him your plans". It's a line from a Mike Scott song and a rather popular way to start a Blog entry. It's a useful reminder of the fragility of dreams. So while we are making plans for 2008, I feel uncomfortable writing about them, as in doing so I might scupper them.


The end of 2007 feels, to me, very like the end of 2001. Back then, Liz and I had decided to walk away from our jobs and just keep on walking, 2658 miles from Mexico to Canada. For five months in 2002 we crossed deserts and mountain ranges as we followed the Pacific Crest Trail through the wild lands of the USA.

I started blogging. On a PocketMail device I kept a daily journal, updated several times a day, and then e-mailed it from regular pay-phones to Glen Van Peski who uploaded it to a website. The whole journal, corrected for typos but still with an immediacy of adventure, remains online.


We're not planning to hike another trail. But 2008 might hold adventure and change of a similar order of magnitude. Of course, in daring to write this, I can almost hear God chuckling.

An Obsessive Self-Publicist Writes....

The Red Consultancy are publicising a study for MSN Video. Do they mean us? Sorry, me...

Over 2 million Brits are obsessive online video self-publicists, posting their own footage onto video sharing websites to promote themselves or their work according to a new study from MSN Video.

Men have the biggest online egos, being twice as likely as women to use online videos for self-promotion (34% compared to 16%). Women are more likely to use uploading video as a way of sharing news and movies of events with family and friends (35% compared to 25%).

In a bid to become ‘DIY ad agencies’, older Brits are harnessing the power of online video to boost their business, with a fifth (19%) of uploaders over 45 years old using it to showcase catalogues of work and promote their company.

Regionally, over a third (38%) of Londoners upload content to video-sharing websites for self promotion, whilst the South of England is the most modest with only a fifth (21%) using online video for promotional purposes.


UGC O’clock
· 30% watch in the evening (6pm-9pm)
· 13% watch on the weekend
· 82% watch at home
UGC Man
People who view User Generated Content:

· Male (65%)
· 18-24 years old (87%)
· Lives in London (62%)
· Key reason = entertainment (38%)

People who upload User Generated Content:
· Male (26% )
· 18-24 years old (33%)
· Live in Wales (29%) and the Midlands (29%)
· Key reason = sharing with others (29%)

Wimps

It was hardly in the spirit of Shackleton.

Saturday night we loaded the boats onto the car and packed the kit for a few hours kayaking. Sunday morning was dry but a forecast F6-7 was particularly chilly.

We made it as far as Loch Sunart before looking at each other, shivering, and heading back to the cottage.

Wimps.

Sea Kayak Blogs

This seems like a good idea. Rene Seindal has put lots of sea kayak related blogs in one place. When they're updated individually the updates also appear on the blog aggregator. It's called PaddlingPlanet.com.


There's a discussion on the Forum where Rene writes, "The idea is to collect all the sea kayaking related blogs in one shared news stream so you only have to look in one place. My hope is that it will make it easier for newcomers to the sea kayaking world to discover new kayaking blogs, and for old-timers to stay ajour with what is being written on the various blogs."

Hopefully, updates to this blog and the podcasts of SeaKayakRoutes.com will appear in time.

Winter

This blurred photo was taken on my phone through the car windscreen early this morning. There's snow south of Crianlarich lying beside the A82. It was a lovely drive.

I envied the team of three climbers kitting up in the dark in Glencoe, the sowy peaks behind them already touched by the first light of day shining in brilliant contrast to the valley.

The Blackmount is white. A photographer had his medium format camera mounted on a tripod near the road, in front of the lochans of Ranoch Moor, presumably waiting to catch a tinge of pink on the reflected mountains behind.

I drove on heading to Glasgow, leaving the highlands for another week.

Ocean Paddler Article

I was really chuffed to see my article, about our kayaking trip to Norway, published in Ocean Paddler magazine.
I hope it's not vanity. Or any desire to be 'famous'. I doubt it, because I've worked on television regularly since 1978, so any pathetic desire for fame has been satiated. And before you think, "Bloody hell, he's old", well I am, but I started broadcasting age 19.
I've also written travel articles for some bigger publications, notably The Sunday Times, and even won some awards. Yet seeing this gave me a thrill. Why?
I'm not sure. I think it's probably because sea-kayaking has got to me and Liz in a way few sports have managed. To share what we're learning is really special. Is this why some people coach? I share by writing and, if asked, would like to give more presentations. (I might do one on Norway and one on The Canoe Boys at CanoeExpo but this doesn't seem to be fixed yet as I'm not on the speaker list).
I only enjoy writing or public speaking when I believe I have something useful, interesting and entertaining to communicate. Advised by knowledgable and incredibly friendly Norwegians, we explored Helgeland. It's an area which would make an excellent introduction to longer, multi-day sea kayaking for most intermediates. I'm glad this was something I could share.

Flare Tube - My Mistake

I eventually decided to make two flare tubes to fit just under our decks.

I measured the flares and established they would fit inside 50mm waste tubes. I could not buy 50mm tube at B&Q, so I had to order all the fittings online. 3m of tubing, and four screw ends duly arrived (they didn’t have blank ends, so each end would have a screw cap).

Got everything together and realised there was no way to join the screw ends to the tubes. Back online and order four couplings, plus a hefty standard delivery charge. I even remembered the solvent cement.

I settle down to join it all together, only to discover a fundamental problem.

The flares fit inside the 50mm tubes. But the internal diameter of the screw ends, while listed as 50mm, is not 50mm. It’s a couple of millimeters less. As you can see from the photo, it makes all the difference. The flare won't side through.

Anyone doing any plumbing? I have some waste tube you can use.

That's a Sea Eagle That Is

The goals always come when you’ve nipped to the toilet, and the sea eagle shows up when you only have your compact camera. Typical.

It’s amazing what you can find on your doorstep. Especially when your doorstep looks like this. We’ve managed a day’s paddling on each of the last three weekends. Today we didn’t have much time. So we put into Loch Linnhe, somewhere we never normally paddle because we’ve always thought it a little.... dull.

Today we saw a white tailed sea eagle.

It was perched in the spindly upper branches of a leaf-bare tree, seeming far too massive for the twigs to hold it’s weight. Then it stretched forward, unfolded its huge wings, and hung in the sky. When I see an aircraft carrier I find it almost impossible to comprehend how it can float. That this animal could be borne aloft by the wind under its wings seemed equally improbable. To mis-quote Douglas Adams, it hung in the sky in the same way that a brick doesn’t.

Ben Nevis had a good blanket of snow as did the upper slopes of the Mamores, but it was warm-ish down at sea level. I’m wearing one glove in the new masthead photo, not because I’m imitating Michael Jackson, but because I burnt my hand the previous day as was trying not to rip off the blister.

Winter sea kayaking. Marvellous. And the sun-set was pretty good too.