28 June 2011

Under the Sea - Sculling Brace Practice

Under the sea
Under the sea
Darling it's better
Down where it's wetter
Take it from me
Up on the shore they work all day
Out in the sun they slave away
While we devotin'
Full time to floatin'
Under the sea
Alan Menken & Howard Ashman
Upside down_1_c
I totally agree with Menken and Ashman - 'Darling its better, down where its wetter'.
Sculling brace; submerged meditation; devotin' time to floatin', no matter what you call it, planned time spent underwater in my kayak is rewarding. Following Warren Williamson's advice, I fall into the water, let myself sink and come up on the other side and slowly repeat it from side to side.
hitting the water_c
To improve I practice in all conditions.Of course the objective is to gain skills to use in challenging situations but I also find this activity very relaxing.

24 May 2011

Special Dolphin Sighting

surfing wind waves_4
Playing in rough water off Bribie Island in Moreton Bay, I noticed a strange looking dolphin jump out of the water and flip onto its back not far from me. I quickly paddled over to have a closer look, but it had disappeared. There are at least 8 dolphin species recorded in Moreton Bay so it is not uncommon to see them when paddling in the area. However since the Brisbane floods, visible marine activity has been minimal so I was quite excited by the close sighting.

used with permission_Ken Douglas
A short time later, as we continued to play, the same thing happened again. This time Gnarlydog also saw the dolphin and pointed out that it wasn't a dolphin, but a shark approx 4 - 5 ft long. It was quite dark on top with a white belly. The obvious difference was the blunt or stubby head.

Bull shark in 1m water_Alkok_used with permission
I did not feel overly concerned as the shark showed very little interest in us and while some rolling was going on, we were mostly above water in our kayaks. We continued playing for another hour or more, the shark splashing occasionally before disappearing altogether. I was keen to find out what type of shark it was as I had never seen one jump out of the water like that, especially so close to us. I contacted shark expert Valerie Taylor to ask her opinion:

Shark Conservationist and Underwater Film Maker Valerie Taylor AM
You have just described an average shark. Nearly all have white or pale stomachs and are darker on top. The blunt head sounds like a bull shark and they will jump out of the water. I have seen it several times. Do not ever get in the water when the vis is down. Predatory sharks hunt by sight and vibration. Lacking hands, if they cant see something splashing around in the water they can and often do investigate the unusual by biting. You were quite safe in your kayak specially if staying still like a log. Female Bull sharks at this time of the year are swimming into the harbours and rivers to pup. They do this so the males don't eat the new born sharks. The baby sharks will stay in the inland waters until they are big enough to hold their own in the ocean.
Regards Valerie Taylor ***

Bull Shark_Delusion Productions_used with permission
***Interview with Valerie and Ron Taylor

04 April 2011

Getting close to GnarlyDog

Wind forecasts above 15kn are a great time to head into the tidal flow where opposing forces create nice rough water to play in. tail surfing_1_c
Getting close to GDog, very close...

19 March 2011

Rainy Weekend Fun

"In my opinion, you can never practice the sculling brace enough. What I like to do is to get into a sculling brace position, looking up, hands under the paddle, let yourself sink and come up on the other side, to the sculling brace. Doing this back and forth very slowly is a good workout. It's good for learning orientation when you’re under water, teaches you to relax and be ok with being in the water". Warren Williamson
Tesie skull
Taking advantage of another rainy weekend when no one else was on the water, I played and had fun, rolling one day and surfing the next. As Warren says, the sculling brace is helpful in learning underwater orientation and relaxing underwater, both important for the kind of sea kayaking I enjoy.
tesie surf_3
Paddling out through the clear green water the sky was ominous and the falling rain stung my eyes. This small discomfort was quickly forgotten as each wave lifted the stern of my kayak for another ride.

17 February 2011

Happiness is a Stick

Dreamer Matt_Vanstix Aleut paddle
Queensland and my hometown Brisbane, is recovering from the unprecedented weather events of January 2011. Several local beaches and waterways remain closed to swimmers as a precaution. On some of the hottest days of Summer, the usually popular beaches are eerily deserted.
It’s no secret that playing around in my kayak with my stick makes me happy.
Kayaking is a chance for me to be fully present in the moment, not thinking about anything except my body, the paddle, the kayak and the water. Even when I muck it up, it’s still fun. I play to improve my skills and I like that I don’t have to be technically perfect to enjoy myself.
Gnarlydog sculling during a play session
As I play, get wet and focus in the now, I not only come to enjoy the sensation of being underwater in my kayak, I learn how the movements of my body affect the kayak in the water.
Greg Schwarz_Scarecrow roll recovery_copyright Tess Dodd
Greg Schwarz Scarecrow rolling during a play session
Playing with traditional paddles has fast tracked my learning and increased the FUN factor more than I could have imagined.
Greg Schwarz_Upside down or 'downunder' paddling_copyright Tess Dodd
Greg's 'Downunder' stroke
Sticks may not be for everyone, but my friends and I enjoy learning the subtleties of using them - and the benefits they bring!
Tess Rolling Happy_(c)_tess dodd

05 January 2011

Birthday Rolls #46

Starring: Greg Schwarz, Jim, Gnarlydog, Adventuretess
Guest Appearances: Moira, Bruce

12 months since the tradition of
‘birthday rolls’ began, it was time to do it all again. All rollers chose to use Greenland Paddles, including Jim who was using his homemade GP for the first time.
Birthday presents are not exchanged among group members; the act of getting together in this way is considered gift enough. I was therefore taken by surprise when Greg Schwarz handed me a small red fleece bag. What lay inside left me speechless: Greg had made me a Norsaq, a Greenland harpoon throwing tool similar to a Woomera. My Norsaq is a beautiful work of art meticulously made with the same timber used to make my GP. Greg substituted Ash on the tips and trim where traditionally bone would have been used.

I have no experience rolling with a Norsaq so was appreciative that Greg included lessons as part of the gift.
Bday roll46_3
Entering the water, the effect of the recent devastating floods was apparent by the unusually brown water and our discovery of a freshwater catfish eel flopping around on the tide line. This poor fellow must have been washed out of a nearby freshwater creek.
12 months ago aged 45, I had wondered at my ability to perform as many rolls. Today attempting 46, plus 1 for luck, I had no such concerns. The challenge for me on this birthday lay in doing different types of rolls. The groups abilities are at different levels but throughout the session, butterfly, Greenland, hand, offside, speed, forward ending and other types of rolls were successfully performed.
On top of these, Greg decided to do his as hand rolls, all 50 of them, one after the other!
After completing the required number of rolls, we played.
Bday roll46_4
Gnarlydog perfected his skirt-in-place re-enter and roll while Greg turned to his role as mentor, helping Jim achieve his first offside roll, using his new GP then guiding me in the use of the Norsaq.

I've found practicing and playing in my kayak improves both my skills and confidence and I’m fortunate to have many opportunities throughout the year to celebrate my kayaking friend’s birthdays in this way.
Bday roll46_1
Jim & Tess

How do you celebrate your birthday ?

01 January 2011

Going Out with a Bang

For most of this year I've nursed an injury which has impeded my adventure activities. Opportunities to kayak were precious and with a little help from a Gold Coast instructor, some good kayaking DVDs, books and the endless patience of my mentors, I've experienced some quality bum-in-boat moments.
I enjoy rough water paddling and am in the process of acquiring the skills of kayak surfing. I'm fortunate to have spent the final day of 2010 with my friends in gentle surf, in my Nordkapp LV.

Team Vanstix NYE_c
Team Vanstix_Vanilla, Adventuretess, Gnarlydog NYE 2010