Monday, June 29, 2009

Kayak lessons

It has been a while sine I posted - sorry about that.

Sylvia and I attended a kayak class led by Derek Hutchison and Wayne Horodowich, called Beyond the Cockpit (there is also a video out on it, which we also own). Good fun, and interesting to expand kayak skills.

The goal of the class is to teach you that while a kayak at first feels a bit unsteady and you feel you need to keep your balance above the boat, there are ways to let you extend your balance to the side or (with the help of a friend) even stand up in your boat. The picture above are of Sylvia being assisted by Derek Hutchison as she stood up.

That skill didn't have a lot of practical value, but another similar skill does. It was formed by kayakers trying to find a way to fix a damaged boat while on the water. The traditional method would have the kayaker get into the water while the second kayaker would fix the boat, but that would often leave you with a hypothermic kayaker. Derek developed the method shown in this picture that has the kayaker sit on the front deck of the rescuer's boat. Once the second kayak is brought on board, their is amazing balance. When Sylvia and I did this, I was able to stand up without trouble and I don't think I could have flipped Sylvia even if I tried. This skill is useful should you need to fix a boat, get something out of one of the main hatches of a kayak, or just take a break and stretch your legs.

Many of the skills were not as photogenic, but still quite useful. Things like extended paddle brace turns and such. More skills to have in my bag of tricks when kayaking.


Monday, June 08, 2009

England / Ireland trip

Had a great trip to Ireland and London. Spent a few days in Dublin, then rented a car to drive to the south west (counties Kerry and Cork). Then to London for a few days before returning home.

Some things we learned:
- the weather in Ireland is awesome, even though everyone says that what we experienced was not normal. I think they are lying in the hopes that we don't all move there.
- weather in London sucks.
- best not to try to pronounce anything written in Gaelic. For example, something spelled as "Laoghaire" is pronounced "Leery"
- street signs must have been invented in America, as they aren't used in either Ireland or England.
- driving on the left isn't as hard as it looks, though shifting with the left hand felt weird. Only made a full lap around 1 roundabout when I couldn't get to the right exit.
- Irish dog owners are worse than Americans when it comes to cleaning up after their pets.
- Brits are much like the Japanese - public drunkenness on the subway in the evenings is normal.
- celebrities in Ireland can walk around with common folks without worries of being hassled. They may even plop down at the table next to you at a restaurant. Someone like, say, Bono. Without any entourage. Nor sunglasses or hat or anything to try to hide their identity.
- potatoes are served at ever meal in Ireland (except breakfast, which is all meat).
- Ireland would be a great country to kayak in.
- Irish roads are narrower than American driveways.
- the Irish like to take a 28 ounce steel ball and throw it down a road (yes, these same narrow roads, and one that still has traffic on it), then chase after it. 2 people throw the balls, 2 people place clumps of grass for the guy to aim at, and few dozen people bet on it. The betters stand down where the ball is going so they can better see how far it goes, along with test their dodging skills. They call this bowling.
- Heathrow has this way of trapping you there - not very efficient to get through. But it traps everyone, so increases the chances of bumping into someone you know while there.

Some pictures below.

There are stone circles all over Irelend.

This castle has marks from cannonballs

Good scenery

The Irish exercise their racehorses by dragging them behind powerboats

British fort

Sign to remind the tourists

More good scenery

What, no bowling alleys?

Jim Kennedy of Atlantic Sea Kayaking

House guest at a B&B in Skibberreen.

Rock of Cashell

View through an ancient island home for monks towards another island.

Puffins are cute

Short video clip of another cute puffin

Not the place to be driving an RV

Lots of these all over Ireland

Christine and Sylvia at a British Pub.