Thursday, 31 March 2011

Plastic yak, plastic sail

After going out the other day with friends, one of whom was testing his new kayak sail, I was inspired to make myself one. I've known about various types for years but they're all pretty expensive and I'd never seen one used.

Having seen it's potential I was keen to make one myself and save £300. Here's my proto-type based on some ideas from his, but also this New Zealand self designed one

Deck arrangement. The shrouds will be shortened now I know the lengths I need and just unclip from the deck. The forestay also raises and lowers the mast and the mast step is jointed to allow it all to fold down along the side out the way. It can even be reefed by tying up the sprit to the mast.

I'm just waiting for some ripstop non-porous material to arrive, along with some webbing and bits and I can make a sail to be proud of.

Beren likes it!

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Adventures sans camera

My first nights sleep in over a fortnight was disturbed by some faint ringing sound. In a daze of where am I, when is it and what's going on I stumbled down stairs to the phone. To my fuggled amazement it was light, very light. I've not slept due to a really annoying sore throat and accompanying loss of voice for a week, so I grabbed the phone and tried to speak into it. Poor Martin at the other end must have though he'd got some deranged donkey-cross-wildebeast on the other end.

'Do I won't to come out kayaking?' - is the Pope Catholic?
'Can you get here for 9.30?' - cough splutter, try to speak - erm what time is it anyway
'8.10' - Wow, result I've slept a night! I don't mind been woken up to go kayaking at all.

So hurredly I let out and fed the hens and dog, chucked my stuff in the car, loaded the kayak. I suddenly remembered I might need a feed too and a drink! And then I was off, apparently passing other very jealous friends who were on their way to work and didn't miss the bright yellow kayak on my car as I whizzed north.

A friend of his has got a new fandangled sail for his kayak and very sensibly wants to try it out in company some were reasonably sheltered. So we meet at Vidlin and paddle out around 4km into the wind to Lunna Kirk. As we got further out it there was a reasonable swell on with a few bits just starting to creast occasionally. When we got to Lunna Kirk I got out to stretch my legs and have second breakfastses, while they bobbed about not wanting to scratch their very nice boats on the rocky shore.

Soon it's time for the return trip down wind. Him under sail and us under arm power behind him. It took him a while to get used to it, but once the sail was reasonably set he was off at about 5 or 6 knotts according to my GPS as we paddled on behind to keep up. His anenometer said it was about force 4 wind; it also said it was a balmy 3c, -0.5c with wind chill. Just to emphasise this we got a brief hail shower, refreshing!

His sail was a well made product costing over £300 similar to the above, but I found a pattern for one on the web and I've now made one for about £10 with odd bits and polytarp, though I've got an old spinnaker that i'm going to sew up to make a proper job. The poly tarp will do for now though!

Oh, forgot to mention we went up past the salmon farms and had a quick chat to the workers. There was a random cricket/grasshopper sound which was pretty odd. They told us it's a seal scarer and that they reckon it does work. Apparently it puts out frequencies into the water that seals don't like, a bit like the controversial mosquito devices that some shops were using the other year to keep adolescents from hanging around outside!

Later that evening my friend who'd passed me on his way to work suggested a walk with his new mad dog 'Fluffy Wuffy' (really!) AKA Fluffy Ted, AKA Ted, AKA that £!£"%!!! dog. So we went off towards Tresta and an old track that leads up to a communications tower. It was a lovely, if not chilly evening. After the track to the tower all went boggy woggy as we squelched and jumped, but luckily didn't sink our way across the peat tops to the next ridge where there was a test tower for the proposed and controversial Viking Energy Windfarm. We put the world to rights as we splodged about before descending back to the main road in the near dark with out any injuries, just an aching knee for me. By the time we were back at the car it was dark, but we'd had a good bracing walk and some fine views. Views that make you realise how narrow and small Shetland is when you're up 'high'. OK I did wish I'd taken my camera, but it was 'brally fine' to go for a walk unhindered.

Today. Jobs to do. There's new hinges to go on the hen enclosure door, a swing to put up in the tree for Beren, washing and a few people to meet for boat related things.

Clare and beren are currently on their way up to Aberdeen by train; then the overnight ferry to Lerwick and I'll meet them at 7am tomorrow. Really missed them this last week, but I know they've had a good time away.

Monday, 28 March 2011

A early morning potter round Fugla Ness, Burra

This alleged cave near Fugla Ness on Burra is still escaping me. This morning I decided to go round there for an early morning potter to look for it,  having got a bit more information about it's likely location.

So I parked at the public toilets near the path down to Meal beach and set off.

Lu Ness, Biagar and Pundsar were my destinations.

A couple of pairs of eiders were just along from Meal beach

And the view south towards Bridge End and the Hill of Sandwick held a little surprise. See the white mark in the end  of the headland?

It's an arch, not very unusual up here, but there are ropes hanging off it. Mmm... needs some investigation.

Biargar didn't reveal any likely exit from a cave

But Pundsar did, along with the ever mysterious looking Foula in the distance.

Try as I might I couldn't get in from the sea end. It was surging through and I didn't fancy a soaking or swim today. But it did have potential. Low tide and a wetsuit I think...

Now to find the landward entrance. I had been assured that there was one. I scoured the banks and brows around and behind here for a good while - don't my legs know it - but found no sign what so ever. Defeated yet again I wandered back towards Hamnavoe, the road back to the car and then home for some breakfast.

A wild sail from Hamnavoe to Whiteness

After getting Tom's yacht launched and rigged yesterday (a perfect day) we woke to a overcast, cold and windy day, but never mind, there was sailing to do. A trip that took us around 3 hours in force 4-5 winds, gusting to 6, with the wind less than helpfully deciding to turn north-west, i.e head on for the direction we needed to go. 

Luckily once we'd managed to tack back and forth to get out of Hamnavoe for what seemed like an eternity with the swell funneling in there we were able to make better lee way towards our goal.

Here's a rough idea of our route. I think the straight route is about 7 miles, as you can see ours was considerably less than straight...

I tried to video most of the passage; you've got the abridged version here and you don't have the biting wind and salt filled ears that went with it!

We had some wonderful views, but little time to eat our provisions we'd taken. We we're both totally worn out by the time we arrived at her new mooring, but it was fantastic fun. Luckily for me Tom had the hardest job at the helm practically all the way.

Arnold, the Dad of the lass Tom bought Shayla from followed us out so far, reporting on conditions ahead. It was good to see a smiling face, or was it laughing?

It was pretty wild a times

But the slamming down on waves did stop occasionally. Here's a view of Green Holm with Scalloway just visible in the distance.

Eventually we approached Jackville. A grand house over looking the narrows and entrance to Stromness. The channel is pretty narrow and is marked by two traffic cones on top of posts.

Looking back to Jackville and the narrows.

Tacking up the voe was just impractical with it's narrow width and a gusting head on wind; we'd be at it for hours, so the final push to her new berth was under the trusty two stoke.

In possibly less a month she'll be on the move again to her permanent home on Bressay. We reckon on a good two day trip for that one and hopefully more helpful winds.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Tom's got himself a peerie boat

It was a busy day today of my week of rest. I've been full of cold and unable talk or to sleep, but Friday night it wasn't just the cold waking me early. I was excited, more than like a kid before Christmas.

First on the agenda was a bit more work on the sailing dinghy I share. I'm so desperate to get her back in the water, so what if it's still pretty nippy up here even when it's sunny, that's what clothes are for.

But the big excitement was helping my friend Tom get his boat transported and rigged up ready for a sail to her new mooring today. It's not such a grand day today but it will be just perfect!

Here's a little video of our venture yesterday...

For all we were busy it was still rest for me for if I wasn't helping Tom on such a still and sunny day I'd have been off some where in the kayak wearing myself out!

Friday, 25 March 2011

Shetlan; a brief encounter...

The result of a slightly manic and silly lunch time at work. No Shetlanders or Sooth Moothers were hurt in the making of this. Hopefully it won't offend!

Totally unprepared as I'm sure you'll see. It had us rolling with laughter as we tried to do it. Sadly it has spurred us on to do something actually prepared, with talk of locations, props, a tripod and more! 

OH Dear....!

In other news, 

I'm anti-fouling a small yacht with a friend tonight, painting my dinghy tomorrow and hopefully helping sail the yacht from Hamnavoe to Weisdale on Sunday. Watch this space...

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Why is no one listening?

The plight of indigenous peoples is something that has always been close to my heart and my interest in first the didgeridoo, then yirdaki and mago and the culture from which they come has increased over the years. There are truely horrific events that have and still affect the Aboriginal Peoples of Australia. The 'Why is no one listening project' is a testament to the issues affecting some of the Yolngu groups in Arnhemland in the Northern Territories and a call out for support.

To see a video about the issues and learn more about the project go here...

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Kettla Ness, Burra

A friend and I had planned a bike ride from North Roe to Uyea today, but with a strong cold south-westerly wind kicking up over night a walk was on the cards instead.

So, after a trip to Hamnavoe on Burra for a thorough look at a small yacht he's thinking of buying we headed further south on Burra and parked up at Papil. A short walk past Banna Min beach and we were on the wild western coast of Kettla Ness.

Looking across the bay to Bannaminn

There were some pretty spectacular views as we headed south on the precipitous wave battered coast.

Looking north again...

Spot the sea lion?

The Heugg (headland) in the distance. Fugla stack in the mid ground

Looking north past Fugla Stack

Lunching out on The Heugg on a day like this was pretty awesome

The view north was pretty cool too...

Inland, the trig point on the highest point (49m) is a great place to take it all in with Sumburgh in the distance and a slight glance of Fair Isle in the haze (but not here).

I took some video of the waves and cliffs on the west side, wonderful. But as ever the terrific boomers would appear before I had the camera out and even though I sat and waited a while they'd not return until I'd turned my back!

Oh... I meant to say it seems like the birds are on the return. We saw great black backs, black guilliemots, oyster catchers, shags, cormorants, eiders, but none of the puffins that have been seen near Unst recently and still no terns. Some big spider crab remains too...

Friday, 18 March 2011

Doodles Bear and and a trip to the beach

We've got a visitor for the weekend; Doodles Bear from Scalloway playgroup. As it's always sunny in Scalloway (honest) we thought we'd take him for trip down to Meal Beach on Burra before tea.

It wasn't the best choice of beach for a strengthening westerly. Soon we were standing backs to the wind sheltering Beren and Doodles from the hailstones.

What returned from the hail shower was a lovely moody scene, but by was it nippy...

The surf was pretty big at times and I felt a bit sorry for a lonely seal in it, no reason too though, after all they live there!

Up on a high strand line was the remains of some structure washed in and covered with a sheet of what looked like chain mail from a distance. On closer inspection is was festooned with goose barnacles; wierd looking things...

Thinking we'd pushed our luck far enough between the showers we headed back to the car and home for tea, stopping briefly to take a panorama out over the sea north of Hamnavoe.

I wonder what other adventures Doodles will get up to this weekend. One thing I know is he's not coming to the gym with me tonight!

5p a litre off, just travel 156 miles to get it!

Some times people forget that things are a bit different (some may say lacking in Shetland, NOT ME). The Shetland Times today reports as below. Makes me laugh as I got a 5p a litre coupon handed me at the check out a while back; I laughed and got a blank look when I asked where I could spend it here!

Tesco has had to make amends in Shetland after a marketing blunder annoyed its customers.

With fuel prices sky high (Yeh £1.49.9 here)  in the islands the supermarket added insult to injury by sending personalised coupons to its Clubcard members offering 5p off each litre of fuel for six weeks as a thank you for “travelling the extra mile to get to us”.

Of course, the discount only applies to Tesco petrol stations, the nearest one being 156 miles away by sea and road in Wick where this week diesel without the discount was already 16p a litre cheaper than Leask’s in Lerwick, standing at just £1.32.9.

Now the red-faced retail giant has rushed out another letter apologising for its gaffe and compensating customers by crediting them with 500 Clubcard points instead. The gesture is worth £5 whereas the benefit of cheaper fuel for customers down south is up to £5 each week if they fill up with the maximum amount after spending £50 on goods in a Tesco store.

UK marketing director Carolyn Bradley told customers that on this occasion Tesco “didn’t get it quite right for you, for which we are sorry”.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Against the tide...

I've just recieved a timely reminder on my habit of ever forging onwards due to  Rev Mugo's recent post over on Jade Mountains and also a fellow weight trainers post on a forum. Like salmon pushing on upstream to their ultimate demise I seem to have that same urge.

I still struggle with tiredness, both mental and physical after CFS/ME, but it's slowly improving as time goes on. I try to balance my activities, limit my weight training, limit my walking, limit my swimming etc. etc. But have failed to miss the fact that while I'm being sensible with the individual activities I'm missing the overall picture of my level of activity. And this doesn't even include work in the equation.

The nights are getting lighter, rowing season is imminent and I've just got the loan of a sea kayak, which should it prove comfortable, I'll be getting. So, the potential for over doing it by just getting on with things is fairly immense and it's only just hit me how I've been fooling myself. No wonder I've been so shattered of late and a bit dwaamy. May be the recent house move might play in to that too!

Clare and Beren go sooth for a week next week leaving me home alone. I've already caught myself planning a marathon of 'sensible' excursions! Now I'm endeavouring to plan a week of sensible R&R instead. Good boy.

I used to keep a daily activity diary so I could see these patterns but it's slipped. From NOW, I'll be doing it again and reviewing it.

As I said I'm fantastically improved from even 18 months ago, but unless I keep topping up my battery and keep it on top it soon runs down.

Time for a spring clean of my 'life' and to go with the flow instead of against the tide...

Sunday, 13 March 2011

A few scenes from a snowy saturday

Well I say snowy Saturday; it's still snowing on today too. There's not much depth to it, but enough for snowballing in the garden and may be for a snow man.

Fern and I went for a walk up Berry Lane... of the few chance she gets to sniff about off lead.

We said i'i to a pony...

...a hooded crow and a raven...

...and enjoyed the view back down the lane.

Back at home after washing and inspecting Rita's (the hen) bum due to concerns she might be egg bound (she isn't, she's pot bound), I went to do some more bits on the boat while Clare and Beren made a yummy chocolate cake; we had a lot of visitors today, much to Beren's (and our) delight.

Late on the night I was tempted to stray out with my camera after talk of the aurora borealis or mirrie dancers displaying. There was some thin cloud cover, but I thought I could see some action, so dashed off to a couple of light free spots only to realise that the flare stack from Sullom Voe had tricked me yet again, all the way down here too!

Today; a bit of gardening, a swim and may be a chinese at friends later. Life's not bad is it?

Oh, I nearly forgot, Beren did his chicken dance. Inspired by us trying to catch Rita I think!

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Ward of Scousburgh or Soup Plate Hill

I had occasion to be up The Ward of Scousburgh today or Soup Plate Hill as some know it. Some of us even call it Soup Dragon Hill on account of the mist and clangers when I was last up there. What a delight it was to be up there today. A lovely clear day, nippy, but brilliant views.

Looking out North-West is St Ninian's Isle with Foula in the murky distance

Looking North takes you out over Bigton, Ireland and Maywick up towards Burra and Scalloway with a miriad of islands in between.

South-West and the Loch of Spiggie and the Bay of Scousburgh with Colsay nestling in it.

The road down to Scousburgh...

There's plenty to see on the eastern side too, but with the snow and light it was pretty much impossible to get it to show in a photo. A great spot for a summer picnic or a bit of light free star gazing.