Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Isle of Man Fund Raising at Victoria International Airport


We're over the top! Yesterday thanks to the generosity of the public and workers at the Victoria International Airport the Round Isle of Man project has raised just over $5,100 in donations and pledges. A total of $404.60 was raised at the airport!

To date an amazing $4,700 has already been collected for the Canadian Cancer Society.
I am going to press on see how great a total I can reach. I certainly want to clear the $5,000 ceiling in actual donations. So the hard work will continue, along with my treatments which are half over.

Logistical planning for the Isle of Man trip is also continuing, supplies, and equipment are being double checked however, I have given up on trying to get under the airline maximum weight limit - I'll pay the over weight penalty just to ensure I have the proper safety equipment and a change of socks. Training has also lagged behind schedule, but it'll get done or I'll suffer

A big thank you goes out to the Victoria Airport Authority who not only chipped in a whopping $1,000 but also granted access so that I could set up inside the airport and make the appeal for funds. Thanks to all who are making this project such a great success!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Wrong, wrong, wrong!

I recently picked up the June copy of Sea Kayaker Magazine. Sea Kayker is always an interesting magazine. I rate it just behind Ocean Paddler, and Adventure Kayak on my lists of favourite kayaking magazines.

While flipping through the issue I notice something odd in one of the photos of the Eskimo 16 CRX 3G DX. One of the lines that controls the rudder extends across the starboard side of the cock pit and appears to be cleated down just to the right of the forward section of the cock pit. I immediately thought entanglement.

But not one word was mentioned about it in the entire article. Very strange. At the very least the line is going to interfere with putting on a spray deck. Even stranger was the reference to being able to store a split, or two piece paddle inside the hatches. Wow!

What's that about. If you break or lose your primary paddle, you're going to wet exit, pull off a hatch cover and pull out your paddle. No coach I know would endorse such a foolish practise. That's just nuts.

Even if the paddler is part of a group pulling off forward and aft hatches at sea is a risky operation. Never put your spare paddle inside a hatch.

The only time anyone would want to do such a silly thing would be if they did not want to carry the paddle in the car on the way to and from the launch.

Finally to the third Wrong. Recently I was up to Comox Valley Kayak and had a quick look (too quick it seems) at the new plastic Romany S from Sea Kayaking UK, formally known as NDK. I erroneously reported that the forward and aft bulk heads appeared to be welded into place. They are not. I got it wrong. If you want to publicly flail me you can do so the next time you see me on the water. But, you can only do so if you can pull a spare paddle out of your hatch without leaving your boat.

MEC Paddlefest Odds and Ends

Hats off to the organizers of the 2nd annual MEC Paddlefest in Victoira over the weekend. Alex Matthews, Andrew Woodford and Nigel Brown where some of the people who put the show together. It was great to see so many kayaks on the beach and lots of people out on the water trying new boats.

Victoria has needed such an event for years. It's good to see it happen.

Walking across the crowded parking lot I come across this very large van backing out of a very tight spot. I stop and give the driver a hand, waving him back them waving at him to stop and pull ahead. Only when I look through the window do I see it's one of my oldest and dearest friends behind the wheel: David Pinel. Later in the day I spend a pleasant hour catching up with David who had his young son Morgan tucked into his child carrying back pack (that brought back memories) while Mom Caroline was trying out some new boats to add the the fleet of kayaks. David has a fleet of kayaks as he is now a part owner of West Coast Expeditions. David has been associated West Coast for over 12 years going way back to when Ruppert Wong's family operated the base camp on Spring Island. Here's the link for more information;


Sunday, June 8, 2008

Isle of Man Update

If your are a regular reader of this blog you will see that I have made a change to the running total to the right.

I've dropped all names except those of donors who specifically have told me they don't mind their names being published. I have also retained the names of corporations who have made a donation.

I have struggled with this over the past week. I was so elated at how this campaign has taken off that I simply wanted to shout out how generous people have been. Once I came down off that high I thought maybe I should back off a little, so I went to initials.

Still not feeling comfortable with this I've adopted this much more conservative policy.

Three companies whose names are not listed there, but without their support this endeavour would never have gotten off the beach, are. Body Boat Blade, Sea Kayaking UK and Werner Paddles. Shawna Franklin and Leon Sommé of BBB have been my coaches for the past three or four years. Without their training and logistical support I would be sunk. Sea Kayaking UK is really Nigel Denis, who is building the kayak I will paddle. Without the boat I'd have to walk. Finally Werner Paddles has graciously provided a four piece take apart Ikelos that I can pack over with me. Of course I don't have to tell you where I'd be without a paddle.

Over the weekend two pledges came in that now bring the total raised to $3,700.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Newbie Coaching

Coached a newbie into trying to float in a sculling position last night. I
gently pulled him over onto his back while he kept his death grip on his
paddle. Man all evening long he just would not loosen up that grip.

So I lower him into the water, slowly twist his trunk, so his back is on the surface, cradle his head, reach up with my left hand and pry his fingers off the shaft. He immediately grabs for the aft hatch. While he's messing around and distracted I pry the paddle out of his other hand, then pull his left arm and hand off the boat and leave it to float.

I whisper soothing words into his ear, tell him to relax, breathe slow and steady in through the nose out through the mouth, straighten out the forward arm, tell him to let his head float and I quietly let my supporting hands sink away until he is totally suspended on his own in the water.

I stand up and silently think, X"*&%#@# I've been trying to do that for eight years. I looked down at him and shoved his head under the water. Just kidding. We ended the lesson after I aided him to snap roll back up.

He babbled on and on about how he now understood that he didn't have to hold himself up with the paddle. I told him to get professional help and not to waste his time messing around with the likes of me.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Victoria Airport Authority Pledges $1,000

I met with Richard Paquette the CEO of the Victoria Airport Authority (VAA) on Thursday. Mr. Paquette took time out of a very busy day; he was launching the first United Airlines direct service to San Francisco today. Talk about a thousand details to take care of. It is amazing what goes on behind the scenes to get a new air service into an airport. A lot of hard work by a lot of hard working people.

In the midst of all that Mr. Paquette met with myself and over coffee promised $1,000 to the Canadian Cancer Society on behalf of the Round the Isle of Man project.

Later in the morning I had a meeting with Dr. Iain McAuley. It's been his steady hands that have been doing the carving and cutting.

As we discussed the next phase of my treatment I told him how his deft work with the microscopic knife has given me the time and motivation for this project. He then insisted on giving me a cheque for $200. This from the man who is giving me back my health.

It was raining when I left his office but, if you'd stopped and asked me, I'd have told you the sun was shinning. thank you gentlemen.

With the VAA pledge the total in cash, cheques and online donations is now over $3,400.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Good News Bad News

Good news arrived yesterday. First I was able to reach Nigel Denis in sunny, yes sunny Wales. He's building me a Romany Surf for the trip around the Isle of Man. He'd graciously offered to loan me a kayak, but since I want to bring the kayak back to Victoria, I thought I should turn the loan down. I wouldn't want it to become like my hockey gear that my Mom loaned out - never to be seen or smelled again.

So I'm buying the boat.

The other good news came in the form of an e mail from Heidi Erland of Werner Paddles. She's the Werner Sales Rep for Northwest, Midwest, and W. Canada. She wrote to tell me that Werner would be lending me a four piece take apart paddle for the trip. This was really great news as it means I'll be able to take the paddle stuffed inside my checked baggage.

Now all I have to do is figure out how to pack kayaking kit for a week long trip, renovation tools, and clothing for six weeks. Still more good news, the roofers for the cottage I'll be renovating, with my brother in-law, hope to have the job done before we arrive. That's a slate roof on a cottage without road access in the mountains of Snowdonia. Think about it and you'll see how this is great news. Gareth, the in-law, and I are already talking about additional down time - Dublin maybe. Buy Guinness shares now!

Early this afternoon I walked into the Canadian Cancer Society and turned over $635 in cheques and cash to a very happy Murray McAllindon. It's fun watching people break open in big smiles.

The bad news is things are hot in Yemen where Gareth and my wife's sister are living and working when not in Wales. Late last week they essentially flew back into a full on civil war. Here's an excerpt from his latest e mail:

...while I was away the local military was pounding at a village holding so-called rebels just 12 miles from the capital centre which closed the airport for a couple of days. helicopter gunships and other fun toys. then just yesterday some happy boy with an AK47 killed 8 after Friday prayers and wounded 20 others outside a mosque 2 hours up the road. it's getting pretty hot around here.

And I thought I had problems.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Marine Task Force Report

Saturday the North Saanich Municipal councils Marine Task Force held an open house and presented their initial findings and suggestions to the public.

Of interest to the kayak community was an inventory of launch sites along the north Saanich peninsula. Many of these sites are well known in the local kayak community there were a few new ones and a few others not listed.

One thing all the sites have in common is poor parking facilities. The Task Force has come up with some innovative solutions. Over night and multiple day parking is almost impossible in some areas.

One solution to the parking issue was to install bike racks at the launch sites. It was reasoned kayakers could bike to specific sites where dry land storage facilites for kayaks would be created. Here they'd pull out their boats and paddle away.

Simple but not very likely. Not many of us want to bike with a $500 carbon fiber paddle balanced on the handle bars. And unless the storage facilities were a lot more sophisticated then implied - where would you leave your kit.

I can't see too many people riding down the road in a wet suit or a dry suit. I suspect this suggestion reveals more about the misunderstanding of our sport.

The view that people can go out on the ocean in a t-shirt and shorts is still far to prevalent.

North Saanich owns a parcel of shore front on Tsehum bay and it was suggested one of these proposed kayak storage sites could be built inside the bay.

I pointed out the proximity of 11 marine harbours in the bay might lead to some conflicts between power boaters and the speed bump crowd. Many of you have heard me rail on about the dangers of crossing Tsehum Bay on a late sunny Saturday or Sunday. Power boaters returning from a day of gin swilling at Sidney Spit, with the setting sun glaring in their eyes, high speed, booze, and kayakers strung out across the entrance to the bay makes this a very dangerous place for kayakers.

Putting a kayak specific storage space in the bay would make a bad situation worse in my view.

However,the Task Force were also receptive to suggestions from the public.

Doug Linton from the Victoria Canoe and Kayak Club suggested having a fresh water supply at specific launch sites would be a boon as it would allow kayakers to wash kit and boats.

Washrooms and toilets were also sited as a needed improvement at the public launch locations. Residents are growing tired of watching kayakers releave themselves when launching and landing.

I don't see what the problem is here. Until the area gets true waste disposal facilities it's all going back into the ocean anyway I just wish more property owners would feel as strongly about picking up after their dogs. Island View beach is disgusting because of this.

Inventorying kayak launch sites is likely a good idea. Improving the sites has merit. But who pays for the improvements and who pays to maintain them is uncertain. It's not fair to ask the residents of North Saanich to bare these costs for the benefits of kayakers from across the region. User fees would be impossible to collect. Billing the Capital Regional District would fly like a cat.

Maybe the best thing to do is nothing.