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 Justine's Journal

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3 Peaks Yacht Race
Monday, June 25, 2007

I've just been out to sea for almost 48 hours without stepping on shore. Not in my kayak this time, but on board 'Lightning Reflex', one of the yachts in the 3 Peaks Yacht Race. We seemed to encounter every possible condition from flat calm to a full-on Force 9 storm sending sheets of water spraying all over us, inside my clothes, inside the boat, all over my sleeping bag... you get the picture. It was amazing to be on the sea in such an angry state and for once I was glad I wasn't in my kayak. Not that I was particularly happy to be on a small yacht either!! I've done very little sailing so to be perched on one side of a yacht looking down at the other side being buried in the heaving waves was a pretty scary experience. I couldn't believe the boat didn't capsize, but I guess that's why yachts have 3 tonnes of lead in their keel and kayaks don't!

I wasn't sailing, just filming the mayhem! The crew did amazingly - staying out in the storm all night and getting us safely to Whitehaven. I managed to get some sleep inbetween filming, although when the boat was keeled over with it's starboard side in the sea, I had to hold myself in my bunk on the port side so there was no sleep to be had at al l!!

Now while the 2 runners on each boat bike to Scarfell and then run up the moutain, I'm in a hotel room recovering with hot water, hot food and soon to be a good sleep! I'll be woken by one of the other camera crew in a few hours and taken to another yacht where I'll film the last leg up to Fort William. I'll post some photos when I can!

You can follow the race at their website here - ( sorry, I can't do links from my mac). They even have live tracking of all the boats.

Thanks to Arran Cartwright for the photo of Lightning Reflex & Vlad by Bardsey Sound.

Special Delivery to the Isle of Man
Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Sometimes things just come together in a mad last minute plan! Last week Barry mentioned to me that our friend Keirron needed a double seakayak delivered to the Isle of Man. Normally the Seakayaking UK Triton would be driven from Holyhead to Liverpool and put on a ferry, but that just seemed a bit of a shame when you look at all the options! I've long had an urge to paddle the 45 nautical miles to the Isle of Man from Anglesey, Barry's made the crossing 3 times already but never in a double, we both had some free time, the forecast promised Southerlies..... We were going for it!

Yesterday morning, the forecast had changed to Easterly ( a side wind instead of a following sea) but we decided to stick with the plan. Phil kindly dropped us off at Bull Bay on the North coast of Anglesey and at 8.30am we set off in pretty calm conditions. In the double, we found we could maintain a paddling speed of just over 5 knots, so we'd paddle for 5 miles ( just under an hour), rest for a few minutes to eat & drink, then do the same again. The wind gradually picked up but the skeg worked well to keep us on track. Then after about 20 miles, the wind picked up and swung slightly towards North-Easterly. Suddenly we were really struggling to make the boat go towards the Isle of Man. It wanted to head straight into the wind and we were fighting really hard to keep it going NW. In the end we paddled North for a bit then turned and paddled downwind to the West - anything inbetween was too hard. Barry was stern ruddering all the time and I was feeling the pressure on my shoulders when I had to power the boat as he turned us. We struggled on for 10 miles, our average speed dropping considerably.

Suddenly after a food break, Barry said coyly 'I've got a confession to make.... and it's a really bad one". I said nothing, waiting for his revelation. He was obviously nervous of telling me because he just said 'How's the boat going now?'. The kayak was in fact heading NW with no problems at all. Barry continued " I've had the skeg UP for the last 10 miles instead of DOWN, I got up and down confused on the sliding control". Now he'd put the skeg down, the boat was tracking perfectly. Having struggled and cursed for over 2 hours with the stuborn kayak, my reply is far too rude to print, but fortunately we were both soon laughing with relief that the kayak was easy to handle again! We picked up a bit of speed once more and enjoyed the last 15 miles of the journey. By this time the wind had picked up to a force 5 and continued to rise to a force 6. It was mostly side on, with a small element of head wind so it wasn't too bad, although it was a very wet ride in the front for me! It was my first trip of any length in a double and I was amazed how easy it felt to handle and I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would ( considering I usually like to be in control of my own kayak!)!

Finally after 46 nautical miles, and EXACTLY 10 hours ( to the minute!) we arrived at Castletown in a force 6 and pretty choppy seas. Neither of us had been worried about the conditions because we were going well and feeling good ( once the skeg was down anyway!), so we were surprised to find out that the coastguards in Holyhead, Liverpool & the Isle of Man had been alerted about our crossing and were looking for us. We phoned Keirron when we arrived and he came to meet us at the same time as the Isle Of Man coastguard turned up, looking for us. We're grateful for their concern and they were glad we had arrived safely. As they left the coastguard just said to Keirron, "The things some people do to avoid paying for the ferry"!


Haida Gwaii here we come!
Tuesday, June 12, 2007

In a little under 3 weeks I'll be heading West to the Orcas Islands to see my good friends Shawna Franklin & Leon Somme. I'm very much hoping that in another 6 weeks after that we'll be hugging each other having just completed a succesful circumnavigation of "Haida Gwaii", otherwise known as the Queen Charlotte Islands. This beautiful & remote archipelago in British Columbia is about 950km around, with a dramatic & mountainous west coast which plunges into the sea. The Pacific swells & changeable weather will add to the challenges. The islands are the traditional home of the Haida people, who used to travel far and wide in big open canoes and were feared by their neighbours on mainland Alaska & Canada. Hopefully we won't be scaring anyone, or doing any pillaging but I'm looking forward to exploring these beautiful & spiritual islands & visiting some of the Haida sacred sites where ancient totem poles still stand. We should also see lots of wildlife, including brown bears and grey whales. BRING IT ON!!

We're not sure quite how regularly we'll be able to update you yet but you'll be able to follow our progress on this blog. You can also read more about the place & the expedition ( and see a map) on
The photos are, of course, of the lovely Shawna & Leon of 'Body Boat Blade'! Shawna has designed a lovely t-shirt for the expedition and a limited number are on sale from Body Boat Blade. You can see the design on the webpage.

I'll be giving a talk on Orcas island on 1st July before we leave for the expedition and will probably arrange to give a few more talks on the West Coast once we get back in early August.

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