Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Cruising the Royal


My mates from the Sutherland Shire Canoe Club invited me along last Saturday for their weekly sea paddle from Bundeena south to Little Marley Beach & back. All up it's a 20km return trip & one of the most scenic, although committing paddles, you could hope to fit into a winter morning.

On this particular day the weather was uncommonly kind, with no wind to speak of, and a minimal groundswell allowing us unfettered access to the fortress-like sandstone cliffs that line the route. The video below shows just how benign it was, and I was pleasantly surprised when I watched the raw footage to see the clarity of the water through the GoPro lens, just magic.

Rob was busy fitting out the Evoke & Pace 17 for an upcoming trip, and as usual he had all the fun boats, Nordkapp LV, Xtra & Xcite at his place, so I turned a little mournfully to the Pace 18, knowing it'd preclude me from manoeuvring in & out of the myriad rock pools & gauntlets that for once, would be open for exploration. 

After the first 2km of the paddle shot past with the GPS hovering around 10kmh, I was grateful for the speed of the Pace, and a quick look around the group should have reminded me of what I was in for. The double kayak had the better half of current mixed double National marathon champions, the back seat was occupied by the current cup holder in the mixed double ski class for the Hawkesbury. The better half of that champion ski combo was paddling a pretty slippery single, and the other two singles were occupied by Hawkesbury record holders. I was relieved when they told me they were saving themselves for a marathon the following day, otherwise I would probably have busted a boiler keeping up....

The paddle down to Little Marley was bathed in early morning light, and the hues of gold & brown in the cliffs were something to behold. Better still, we were able to paddle within touching distance of the cliffs for most of the journey, a rare treat along a stretch which generally varies between industrial & nuclear powered rebound.

As we turned into Little Marley Bob, Kate & Kristie were treated to a couple of whales playing in the morning sun, complementing the seals, dolphins & sea birds we'd already clocked up. We also had the pleasure of being chased by a school of pilchards; forget the cetaceans, you haven't lived until you've heard the mighty roar of breaching pilchards up close.

A stretch & some pics on the beach, & back in the boats for the paddle back, again treating ourselves to the spectacular cliffs, right in tight. You know it's calm when you can see the sea urchins...

Truly one of the nicest days on the sea you could imagine, a good workout, some amazing scenery, wildlife & a few laughs with a great bunch of people.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Valley, North Shore & Rockpool Kayaks Cut Off Date July 27

Our next shipment of Valley, North Shore & Rockpool Kayaks is due to leave the UK in late August, and we have a box full of custom boats, made for customers who've picked their colours, layups & features.

The cut off date for the next shipment is looming, a week from today on July 27.

The next shipment also features the brand new Nordkapp Forti, Valley's latest take on their most famous classic design. Reviews from the UK have pointed to it's impeccable lines, superb behaviour downwind, and many are hailing it as the best Nordkapp yet. Valley's press release with all details about the boat is HERE.
The Nordkapp Forti
Also available for the first time is the new Rockpool Tarantella, another fast tourer for the lighter paddler.

If you'd like to have a Valley, North Shore or Rockpool boat made the way you want it, with a clear carbon kevlar hull, or in colours to match your dream design, then please let us know.
Those of you who have been eagerly awaiting the return of the Valley Gemini SP RM, rest assured you'll have your boat prior to the coming warmer weather. We have all three colours coming & plenty of stock. Here's a reminder of just what this awesome little playboat is capable of.


Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Winter Safety - The rescueME EDF1 Electronic Flare & Delorme inReach Explorer


The water has gotten cold, daylight hours have shortened, and general safety margins on the sea are lower at this time of the year than they are at any other.


Now more than ever it's important to be diligent with your float plan, and carry the right kit to minimise your exposure in potentially cold water if something does go wrong.


Even a simple afternoon paddle of 16km around the Cape Bailey & Solander peninsula with a mate last week was something to be taken very seriously, and that was without any marginal weather. As a minimum, I considered it pertinent to let Rob know our launch spot, expected finish time & place, potential get-out points, and also committed to a call at the time I expected to be safely off the water.


I was also testing out a new addition to our range of safety gear, the Delorme inReach Explorer. This has a similar tracking functionality to the well regarded SPoT tracker, with the very big additional feature of two-way communication via satellite SMS. So unlike SPoT which allows a pre-set message to be sent with the press of a button, the Delorme inReach Explorer allows a 160 character text message to be sent with GPS co-ordinates to a mobile phone or email account, Facebook or Twitter, to which your receiver can reply. It also has the SOS feature that your PLB or SPoT carry, although it's not meant to replace an EPIRB or PLB for sea kayakers, as the emergency message is beamed to in international hub before being relayed to AMSA. 

Our Delorme inReach Explorer secured to Mark's Swordfish footwell.
The tracker drops a map pin every 10 minutes, which Rob could have referenced if he was concerned about us not making our call-in time (see below):

It's Waterproof and dustproof (IPX7 - withstands incidental water exposure of up to metre for 30 minutes), with a battery life (sending one track point every 10 minutes) of 100 hours via an internal lithium polymer battery. The unit costs $529 through our ONLINE STORE, and you can then log into the Delorme international site & subscribe to any one of a multitude of subscriptions depending on your requirements. We have ours hooked up to a $16.00/month plan which gives us more text & pin drop messages than we could hope to use other than on an extended expedition.

The other new addition to our safety electronics range, and one we've only been able to test to dazzling effect in our store with all the lights out, is the rescueME EDF1 Electronic Distress Flare.

Again, whilst not legally an alternative to a red night flare, this device has myriad advantages over the traditional beacon. Unlike single use pyrotechnic flares the rescueME EDF1 can be used repeatedly in any of its four modes, ensuring continued visibility is maintained over a longer period. 

The unit is both safe to store and operate while also eliminating any worries associated with disposal. It has a number of modes, including a setting that points the quite extraordinarily bright red light away from you, and another than pulses SOS. To a rescuer, it very accurately simulates the visual signature of a red night flare, so there can't be any confusion over what the bright light on the visual horizon means. All up a very impressive piece of kit, and at $189 it pays for itself over the course of a couple of years as flares inevitably pass their use-by-date. The rescueME EDF1 is available through our ONLINE STORE for $189 delivered.