Monday, 30 July 2007
posted by •≈ Sgian Dubh at 14:22:00 | 0 Retorts
Sunday, 29 July 2007
The new NSRS - NATO Submarine Rescue System is away out to sea for initial tests & trials, installed for a dip on the Norwegian Coast Guard Vessel, Harstad. This should be a total doozy if succesful & lead to a multi-national, fully functioning & operational project aimed at developing & sustaining a European rescue system capable of world-wide deployment.
Being able to load into an
Airbus A400M will solve speed deployment issues & the TUP resource alongside should be a riot. My right to contest the limitations of Boyles will never be the same again.
Clyde based, it will be free swimming imminently in an ocean near you...
posted by •≈ Sgian Dubh at 13:39:00 | 0 Retorts
•≈ Føroyar
Wednesday, 25 July 2007

If anyone is up for a 2008 jolly around 62°00'N, 06°47'W, drop me an email or use the mobile on the left. An obligatory bivy at the Fugloy Egyptian face is traditional, & as is the customary procedure, much frenzied ensuing circumnavigation. Since I'm no longer going loaded for hard climbing & soloing either, -locums orders- anyone who turns up, will be spared any bonus exposure in the form of soaring vertical frighteners, although it's unlikely they will escape tales of past exploits, that embed themselves deep inside fire places & crackling logs.
I've missed the Eysturoy
Straits, Risin & his pal Kellingin, the Vagar cliffs as well...the new 3 piece will resolve these issues once again - it's decided.
I've missed parking the black knife under huge cascading seaward bound waterfalls, screaming through tidal races, & warming my toes later at the fireside with Lars, in Gásadalur, for too long
. If you've never explored out here, amongst the vast micro-climate of cordite charged walls of stone, water & ice, if you've never survived quietly & alone, in a fight against unfettered weather & soaring brilliant horizon, you should. It's really that simple.

Jan Egil
Kristiansen who lives, works & kayaks around Føroyar, had concerns about my solo around the Fugloy edge, the need for week tides & subdued or favourable wind. Those concerns are there for good reason & anyone planning a repeat of that should listen in well, bring common sense & a strong intent, but still try it, & not back down until the end. The open water of Fugloy is a vastly different experience to that of the Hebridean coastlines, but again, with the right knowledge & preparation it need not be feared. Like Jan says, he doesn't have to be so tough since he can just wait for goood conditions. My trip was more a roller coaster with a time slot. Feasable but brrrr... Next trip, Jan & myself will journey somewhere together & I will enjoy life, rather than cling to its very threads.


Righty, I'm away to sit on the floor & watch storm fronts build along the Western Atlantic edge of Harris; while more importantly, saving
my otherwise nice new black Lendal carbon Kinetic from all those copiously applied advertising stickers, by peeling them off with an onion knife. It vexes me somewhat. Save a tree or sommat fellas, some tinsel maybe...I know who made the thing.

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posted by •≈ Sgian Dubh at 13:11:00 | 0 Retorts
Wednesday, 18 July 2007
posted by •≈ Sgian Dubh at 16:39:00 | 0 Retorts
Tuesday, 17 July 2007
Well the brand new replacement •≈Anas Acuta≈• is on the way. The only major decision with this boat, is wether to get it made up into three travel friendly bulkheads, or to leave it as a standard 17ft one piece. I've given myself a week to decide, or at least to justify the practicality of finding an extra £600 to gain the additional practicality of a split kayak. There's also a probable extra 2kg of weight to consider in the overal construction & reinforced bulkheads. Well 2kg is unnoticable in the water really, it won't effect the handling & it's not as if I'm going to walk around with the thing on my heid all day. Given that I'm shying further & further away from road travel & metal clad tarmac madness every passing year, preferring the wooded path - it makes sense, even if in monetary terms right now, it doesn't. If I ultimately live the rest of my days never driving, a 3 peice Acuta will become a highly versatile aquisition, easily accomodated on Greenlandic or Norwegian flights North, ferries going South & panel-vans just going wherever. A sea kayak is like a well loved shoe, a precision tool in a toolbox, that can see you through decades, & it should fit you perfectly, as much as it should cut with finesse. It should become moulded to your style, your physics, your approach. It should compliment your lifestyle, in & out of the water & as much as it aids you in conquering seas, it should inspire you travel across land, not once hindering or burdening that call toward vivid exploration. You don't buy size 11 shoes when you're size 9 - nor do you buy wellies for practising ballet, ergo, you cchoose your kayak to suit the size of your soul more often than your wallet, & eat cold beans with a smile, & say, tomorrow we will have a new tide, & it will be fine.
I'd phoned Mike for another extensive blether to soundboard him on 3 peice composites since I have no experience of their stress patterns & reliability over time & constant distortion through rolling, edging, wave bridging etc:

So they're quiet robustly built then Mike eh?
Aye, like lego with clamps in a way, but don't worry about the kayak coming undone halfway to Kilda Si - it's not going to happen.
OK, so they don't just shove 3 bulkheads at you, a tube of wood glue, a G-clamp & say on yee go then?...
Hahaha, things have moved on a bit from those days bud - maybe not for NDK, but...

Having had a good old blether with Freya, back home after her Iceland circumnavigation, she explained how her Rockpool male/female -lego system- coupling with outer-clips was absolutely bomb proof & how the NDK bolt together system was shoogly, allowing movement & section shift under load, leaks & awkward assembly, close to impossible alone. She has never tested Valley triple bulkheads, but felt NDK needed to radically change their system, telling me in her no-nonsense German lilt -which feels like an order rather than a concern- Don't do it! If Valley has use zis similar system to NDK, it's not good, things go wrong... This is what I needed, Freya's opinion - her collective experience based on nothing more than hurling abuse at both styles of triple bulkhead coupling in the ocean, where performance & reliability matter. So if Valley use the lego system, all is good. She then went on to say that when I fly to Greenland with the new 3 piece Acuta bagged up, don't tell them it's a kayak. It only confuses the customs control.
Just say it is a surf board & you get straight through easy
. Don't say kayak OK?...
OK. Thanks fae that Frey, enjoy the NZ trip, I'll go away now.
Good, I am trying to cook dinner.


So, July & I'm looking forward to autumn on Skye this year. Not least becuase I can kick leaves through the woods everytime I return home from the shore or the mountains, but becuase autumn will call me into wooden shed clearance by the brisk lochside. It will call me to disturb tired spiders from deep beams & mice from unquiet sleep, sweep dust storms & motes & curls of shavings into the light of clattery weathered doors thrown wide open. This year, it will task me with mending that dirty cracked window with more than just tape & newspaper, so the snow does not whistle in & stick to my ear through winter - & I'll be careful not to disturb old Domhnaills pipe, layered in dust from the 40s, still tinged & tobacco scented. This autumn, as the Cuillin shadows creep further across the reeks, stiffened brush paint pots will shoogle to one side, & awakened movement will dilute these odours of oil blocks & creel tools & stains with sharp air, as work starts on the new skin on frame. The flask will steam on a log seated break, cut with salt air & the Black Pearl will slowly find form, based on Björns excellent design - This year autumn & I will create another black knife of natural elements, working side by side, into the snows & dark evenings.


The Black Pearl is based on the East Greenland qajaqs from the late 20th century - narrower, lower, with more overhang & a straighter sheers, less deadrise & more flare than western types. The Greenlandic designs are overall faster, particularly against the wind, & better storm maneuvered than anything else on the water. With less initial stability they are demanding craft at first. In Eastern Greenland seal were hunted from the qajaq until a couple of decades ago & those traditions in todays design of qajaq that made them a design of ancestory, remain unbroken.
Björns take on this tradition with the Black Pearl, has resulted in a qajaq that is neither stable nor unstable, not directionally stable nor maneuverable, not fast nor slow - but a qajaq subtly following the padders intentions. Like a good collie, it doesn't presume to read ahead of your wishes, with it's own plan. There is no qajaq feel between the paddler & the sea, no built in safety margin that saves the erring paddler & little mass to compromise fast maneuvering - it's a very reliable responsive qajaq.

The Black Pearl is loooong, & following Greenlandic tradition, 3 times the height of the paddler. The waterline length is relatively short with sloping stems resulting in good maneuverablilty at low speed & good directional stability at higher speeds. The narrow waterline also means it's an excellent tippy qajaq, always a good sign to my mind, the total beam being hip width plus 4 fingers for a rolling qajaq or 8 fingers for at touring qajaq: approx 46-52 cm. Björns own Black Pearl is 555 cm x 48 cm & 22 cm highon the initial fore-deck. Björn is 185 cm tall, 80 kg & size 43 feet. Isn't that a Hobbit spec? Initial stability is therefore low & a novice or someone used to wide commercial kayaks will have a good few nervous & intimidating first trips, but stay with it & with an excellent secondary, it's easy to get used to the responsive movement. In wild surf or large swell a paddler who invests his confidence in the Pearl, will get a pleasant surprise, high seas often having less of an effect on initially tippy kayaks, than initially stable ones aye. When cross surfing, the Black Pearl settles in its own wave system quickly & becomes confidently stable & easy to handle. The almost flat bottom -5° deadrise-, the hard chines & the short waterline length means that the qajaq is a dream to turn, on a penny in fact, & reacts instantly to severe edging & weight shift. The low deck will take some getting used to for the un-intitiated, but after a while there are some excellent benefits. Most immediately obvious is the comfort of not needing to cram padding against the knees, hips & back etc. Working with the knees as a additional power source for strokes or fluid rolling momentum gives further enlightenment & testament to his blueprint.

The aft deck is very low & flat helping to fascilitate a wide range of layback rolls without interference. You will need to be a reasonably highly experienced paddler & interested in developing skills in rolling, qajaq acrobatics, day touring etc to get 100% out of this qajaq.

That said, a novice with ambition, patience & perseverence might be able to use the Black Pearl confidently enough under guidance, as an introductory crash course to advanced paddling. I will use the newly completed s.o.f qajaq as an integral tool for teaching traditional styles in 2008 & beyond. It's a form everyone should experience. Some convert & never look back. Soooo, when it rolls out of the shed in spring, we'll take a dawn stroll down through the test loch, sliding up on Ben Tianavaigs shadows, edging righthand into the rip & tracing down through the Narrows for a sharp u-turn inside a shroud of frozen early haar. At that point, it may well be the only skin on frame kayak with Greenland heritage in service on Skye. Maybe even the Hebrides. Hell I might just nip out Kyle way for breakfast & pirate some of those tourists with the gulls as back-up... Will that make me Cap'n Jack Sparrow? Yo ho ho...

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posted by •≈ Sgian Dubh at 11:31:00 | 0 Retorts
Sunday, 1 July 2007
The Greenland Kayaking Association are welcoming kayakers from all countries & of all skill levels to participate in the 2007 Greenland National Kayaking Championships. Try not to miss out on joining fellow Qajaq members in this educational & entertaining traditional kayaking contest. Remember that it is a family orientated meet as well as a show of prowess, so bring the tribe. When the GKA say all ages, they mean that they even accomodate short races & rolling competitions for 4 - 6 year old classes, right through to 70 years +. There is a competitive side to the event, but you often have to search hard for it through the laughter, excitement & communal spirit of the whole gathering.

Sometime this year, I'm going to try & train with the dog & teach him to log run my kayak while I perform the Pallortillugu Assakaaneq sequence [ 5 Storm Rolls in 10 seconds ], without him getting wet. Now that would be a neat trick although I doubt it would score any points in the traditional sense. Maybe a Circus Award 5 or something aye. Given he's a working Collie, once he's understood the job, I'll probably never get him to stop; since he'll arguably add it to his Do-list, & pursue with veracious single-mindedness, every island bound kayak, clear into the next decade...

Anyways, the event is taking place between July 9th & 14th, 2007 initially meeting at Qajaq House, Ilulissat, Greenland. Details of the full event program can be found by clicking the Qajaq Ilulissat symbol in the righthand column of this blog. The GKA can be further contacted at:

P.O. Box 1004,
3900 Nuuk,
Tel: 011 - 299 865022


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posted by •≈ Sgian Dubh at 07:33:00 | 0 Retorts