Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Bound for the Isle of man

Figuratively this journey I am on started almost five months ago in reality it starts tomorrow when my good friend Mike O'Connor picks me up at 11:00 and drops me at the Swartz Bay ferry terminal. I'll kick back on board for the hour and half ride to the mainland then take the bus to YVR (Vancouver). I'll spend the afternoon sorting out the details of how to import and pick up a 16 foot kayak so that I'll have no surprises when I return. I'll double and triple check with Zoom Air to ensure they will indeed transport the kayak home.

Zoom has assured me all I need do is show up in Manchester with the kayak in tow and they'll bring it back to Vancouver for only $120. I'm hopefully skeptical. When I arrive in Manchester I'm going through the details, producing my documents and essentially getting it in triplicate that the kayak will get aboard the plane with me.

Gareth who has become much more then just an in law arrives 20 minutes after I do we'll meet at the car rental agent and then head off to the cottage in Snowdonia. That's it above.

After two weeks of interrupted renos, there will be trips to the pub, one to Cardiff, one to London, one to Holyhead, maybe even Dublin we should have accomplished very little in the way of renos but put in the maximum of good times. Then on or about, one has to be flexible when dealing with the continentals, August the 16th I'm off to Liverpool and the ferry to the Isle of Man. I've promised to help out at the Isle of Man kayak symposium, I'll be the simulated drowning victim, so the actual circumnavigation will start a few days after I dry out.

As I write the Canadian Cancer Society has been enriched by $5,195 which will go to cancer research. I hope to top that up by a bit more while in Great Britain and will hopefully be able to add a wee bit more after my return.

With some luck I will be updating my blog if not daily at least before and after the start of the journey around the island. I'll keep you posted.

To all those wonderful people who donated to the Canadian Cancer Society you have my most heartfelt gratitude. It's been your contributions that kept this project moving forward. And here comes yet another shameless plug if you know of anyone who would like to make a contribution they can do so online by Following this link

Thanks and the next update will be from Wales.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Gear for Circumnavigating The Isle of Man

One week to go. I separated out all the gear I want to take with me to complete my circumnavigation of the Isle of Man. I need enough equipment for a five day paddle and it all has to weigh less then 44 pounds. Every pound over means I pay an overweight penalty to the airlines. Everything you see here weighs 45 pounds.

Here's the gear list.
Hats 3 - (BBB, Tiley, Welsh), Sunscreen, Mesh tote bags 2, sleeping pad, dry bags 4 small, PFD (Kokatat MsFit)
laser flare signal device
hand held compass
emergency 1st aid kit
emergency repair kit
China marker
dive knife
strobe light
flash light
deck compass, paddling shorts, one mil wet suit (Navaro), Kokatat rash guard, First aid kit, map chart case 2, stove Brunton, pots and pans knife fork spoon combo, Kokatat paddling jacket Kokatat rash guard shirt, Reed spray deck, mug, prescription sunglasses, paddling gloves, GPS,VHF, Ordinance map Isle of Man, Emergency Bivy bag, Small towel, water proof note book, Tow rope, Poncho, neoprene boots, Werner 4 piece Ikelos paddle, kayak wheels, paddle lease, sleeping bag, thermal tights top/bottom, wool socks 3 pair, sandals, fleece shirts 2, fast drying paddle pants

After reaching 45 pounds I started pulling items. The emergency repair kit that i normally carry was tossed. I'll rely on duc tape and a plastic dinner place mat for holed through repairs. The sleeping bag is gone, I'll borrow one along with a tent. The helmet came out but went back in. Currently the oversize hockey bag that I'm using to carry all the gear plus gear weighs 44 pounds. Only my shaving kit has to be packed.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Sea Change at the Weather Office

Environment Canada has launched a new Weather Office Web page. If like many local kayaker's you liked to get the ocean buoy reports for up to the minute indications of what was happening in local waters you will not find them in the usual locations. If like me you had those reports bookmarked, your bookmarks will no longer work. Here's 101 lesson on how to navigate the new site.

1. Go to the marine weather web site
2. Click either on Pacific South Coast or Pacific North Coast on the map of Canada to access that region's web page and the area you are interested in.
3. Now, click the region you're interested in on the map to access the forecast. Note that the Pacific Georgia Basin area is very small and could be easily missed. Drag your mouse over the red areas of the map and the names of the areas pop up. After you click on the Pacific Georgia Basin area you are taken to a second more detailed map of the region. For some reason the Haro Strait area that separates Juan da Fuca East Entrance and the Strait of Georgia south of Nanaimo areas does not appear in red. If that's the area you are interested in click it.
4. The observations from the buoys are available by clicking on the "Weather conditions" tab. You'll see it just to the right of the Forecast tab. You'll get all the ocean buoy reports from Campbell River south for both the inside and outside waters. Note that there is now an extended forecast up to 5 days ahead and you can look at the observations for the past 24 hours. This is a quick and easy way to tell if the winds are increasing or dropping. It's also worth while to review the barometric pressure report from those buoys that record it. If you see a continuous drop or a rapid increase you know it's going to blow. If it's steady it'll be smooth sailing eh I mean kayaking.

The lighthouses reports and the Georgia Basin pressure slope forecast are only available on the Pacific region's web site:

When you reach this page ignore the connecting links to the North coast, South Coast and Georgia Basin Buoy reports they do not work (as of July 12th.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

007 Wears Kokatat For Round Isle of Man Project

Christmas came early yesterday morning with the arrival of the courier with a box of goodies from Kokatat. The gear fits perfect the Knappster jacket in grey matches the grey streaks around my temples. I think the jacket makes me look very distinguished, kind of like Sean Connery twenty years ago. Yeah right! But the InnerCore Short Sleeve rash guard is out of this world. Why haven't I been wearing this all along? I've fitted the Tributary Hydration System to my PFD and will try it out this weekend.

The other part of Christmas was my sons Grade 11 school report. Third on the Headmasters Honours List, 1st in French 1st in Japanese, Distinction in Physics, top 5% (in Canada) in the University of Waterloo's Avogadro Contest, top 25% in the Fermat Math contest. And here's the scary part, "I have advised Matthew to spread his net very wide ...including the PPE program at Oxford."

Good Lord! What's wrong with the University of Pacific Life Studies, get you PHd for $100, just send a cheque. It worked for me, well it would have if only the US Department of Interstate Commerce and Postal Fraud had not closed the school over some technical misunderstanding. The chancellor has promised to send me my PHd as soon as he gets out of jail. Which is where my son will send me if he ever reads this. I'm not suppose to be proud but ever so reserved and cool. Doesn't work for me.

Finally the 3rd part of Christmas came via the Canadian Cancer Society who sent me four very nice emails telling me that Craig, Charmaine, Rob and Rick had contributed a total of $350 to the Round the Isle of Man project.

This news came after my morning treatment. I was resting at home running a slight fever with a mind splitting headache (these have been the typical symptoms) when the computer chimed to tell me I had mail. I was feeling like a drowning sailor in sight of land and safety but still trapped by the storm on the wrong side of the surf and the rocks. When out of the fog comes this safety line with Craig and the gang on the other end. What a lift to my spirits. To be hauled that much closer to my goal just when I was starting to grow discouraged.

I want to be over the $5,000 goal in actual donations collected before I leave. So here comes the shameless plug. If you want to contribute to the Round Isle of Man Project, Follow This Link to visit my personal web page and help me in my efforts to support Canadian Cancer Society - BC and Yukon Division. Everyone or company that contributes gets their name added to the kayak I'll use to paddle around the Isle of Man. I do the work your name gets a free ride. Well OK! It's not really free but you'll feel good about being there with me if in name only.

If the link does not work cut and paste the address below into your browser and follow the instructions.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

KFAC - Victoria Aug 10

KFAC Victoria needs help. Don Lowther has been working flat out to make the first KFAC Victoria a success but he's caring the entire project on his back.

If you are a reader of this blog and are thinking of making a contribution to the Round Isle of Man cancer fund raiser, and if you can get to Victoria, why not make a contribution to Don's project instead.

Don's project needs paddlers more then the my Isle of Man project needs more donations. So if you live in the area and want to take part in a one day cancer fund raising project, and get in a paddle, send Don an email at

You can also register as a volunteer. Don needs people to make Kayak for a Cure™ Victoria happen. Volunteers won't be asked to raise funds, but you can if you want.

The days paddle will start from Verdier Park between the Brentwood Bay Lodge and Spa and Brentwood Bay Ferry terminal.The group will paddle from Brentwood Bay down Saanich Inlet to the Goldstream Boathouse area and back again, with stops along the way for lunch and leg stretches. There's a short course for those who don't want to paddle the full length.

KFAC is also looking for sponsors so that every registered paddler receives an official Kayak for a Cure™ T-shirt and water bottle as well as other goodies.The paddle will end with BBQ at the park!

100% of KFAC's net proceeds are donated to the Canadian Cancer Society, The Canadian Cancer Society provides leading financial support for cancer research and delivers community-based support programs and prevention information for all types of cancer. For more information visit

Each paddler is asked to try to raise funds for the Canadian Cancer Society. Don will show you how to set up an online page to make this easy.

Donations can be made Online through the Canadian Cancer Society's Official Kayak for a Cure Victoria page, by cheque payable to Canadian Cancer Society, or by cash. Donations are tax deductible?

Don is also looking for local business/ corporate sponsorship to help make his event the best it can be.

If you can't participate but would still like to make a donation to the Round Isle of Man fund raiser for cancer research cut and paste this link into your browser enter your donation and follow the instructions. You'll get a receipt in your in basket.