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 Justine's Journal

CackleTV Productions


Skiing on the way to Sardinia
Tuesday, March 31, 2009

It was unplanned and unexpected, but we somehow ended up skiing in the Swiss Alps today!!! We decided at the last minute to make a slight detour on our drive to Sardinia and called in on my father who is staying near Sion in Switzerland.

We put on our kayaking thermals and begged, borrowed and stole (temporarily) some skiing equipment, and by 10am we were on the slopes at Montana resort. The sky was blue and it was really hot today so we could really appreciate the beauty of the mountains. Barry was nervous about taking to skies again - he mumbled something about not wanting to break his leg just before our kayaking trip! But after his first few turns he was grinning and making jokes so I knew he was enjoying it!! We had a great day skiing between towering rock buttresses. with Alpine Chuffs flying in formation above us. We stopped at a great restaurant in the sun and enjoyed soup and raclette. I was really pleasantly surprised at the amount of powder snow there was right besides the pistes. I had endless runs making fresh tracks, within 50 metres of the piste! Tomorrow we have about a 5 hour drive to Genoa where we will catch the overnight ferry to Sardinia. We hope to be paddling by Thursday afternoon!!

On the road to Sardinia
Sunday, March 29, 2009


We're driving south - still in the UK right now and heading towards Dover for a 2pm ferry. We've decided to stop for a night or 2 in Sion, Switzerland because my dad is there, and I just realised how close it is to our planned route through France & Switzerland. The ferry to Porto Torres in Sardinia only goes every other day anyway, so instead of rushing for the Monday night sailing, we'll get the Wednesday night sailing, arriving Thursday morning.

On advice from Rene Seindal, we will drive 40km to the small town of Fertilia where there is a secure carpark where we can leave the van for 1 Euro a day. It's also a pretty place to start, and means we have a section of coast with quite a few landing options to start with. The coastline anti-clockwise from Porto Torres is more cliffy with an often rough headland to paddle around and few landing options. That will be a nice end to our trip for us, instead!!

In the meantime, I've been featured on a website called 'Go! Girls Outdoors', a website for anyone (including men) interested in the issues facing women in outdoor education and recreation. Click here to see my profile, or HERE to go to the site homepage

Irish Sea crossing track
Thursday, March 26, 2009

I finally ( with help from Sanoodi) uploaded the track of mine and Barry's paddle to Ireland on New Years Day. Well, it was actually 1.30am on 2nd January by the time we left, but we hadn't been to sleep so it felt like it was still New Years Day!

We followed a bearing of 280 degrees the whole way across but the tide took us north, then south and then north again. It was really strong as we approached Wicklow but turned as we arrived so we had to fight a tidal race off Wicklow Head before we could land! If you missed it, you can read about the crossing on an earlier blog here.

If the track doesn't display properly then you can see it on the Sanoodi website here. The stats given on the website show a distance of 59 miles in 11 hours 53 minutes, an average of 5mph. This is statute miles - it was about 52 nautical miles I think.

We plan to get a ferry to France on Sunday and drive down to Italy as tourists ( i.e slowly!). We should be in Sardinia and paddling by early April. First, we have to pack!!

"Eastern Horizons" DVD here, and new art for "This is the Sea"
Wednesday, March 25, 2009

It was Christmas here yesterday and a batch of 'Eastern Horizons' DVDs arrived at my door, ready to go to eager viewers in the UK, Europe and Australasia. It's now for sale in the CackleTV shop!

I also took delivery or another batch of "This is the Sea" DVDs as the classic DVD is still popular and I've nearly run out. At the time when I first made 'This is the Sea' it cost about £25 per colour for the artwork on the DVD. Money was tight and I chose a very simple design with just 2 colours. Or so I thought..... I actually got charged for 4 colours anyway, as the blue and yellow that I chose weren't the blue and yellow that they had in their palette so they had to mix different colours to make them! So much for money saving!


In May it will be 5 years since 'This is the Sea' first came out so when it came time to get some more made a month ago, Derrick from Kayak Quixotica suggested making a special anniversary cover! Well, we left the cover that Jim Westcott designed as it was, but Derrick designed some new disc art using a photo of Hadas Feldman and I from Kamchatka. I'm really pleased with it and think it looks great! So if you order "This is the Sea" from the UK, Europe & Australasia store from now on, then you might get the new look DVD! Some of the DVDs are headed to a shop in Sweden today aswell!

Mediterranean sun, here we come!
Tuesday, March 24, 2009


This weekend, Barry Shaw and I are packing up the van and driving south in search of the Sardinian sun!
Barry kayaked around the next door island of Corsica a few years ago and enjoyed himself so much that he wanted to return to paddle around the bigger neighbor. At around 900km of coastline, we expect it to take us around 4-6weeks. We expect the surf to be less than in New Zealand! but it is a very windy place so that will be our biggest challenge. You can read more about the trip here.

Whenever we have a phone signal we will be recording the route we paddle on our blackberry, using free SMap software from Sanoodi. You can follow along by 'following' CackleTV on Twitter, or by checking the twitter feed on this blog, at the top of the page. You'll see a message saying, 'CackleTV' is kayaking in Sardinia with a link. click on the link to go to the map of where we are. If the twitter feed doesn't work, then you can also go to the Sanoodi website and search for routes in Sardinia.

Not long now, I'm busy preparing for the trip... lots to sort out!


Bardsey lambs & track
Monday, March 23, 2009

Axel and I went to Bardsey on Sunday, in a brisk breeze. Axel hasn't been there since about 2002 so we took the scenic tour, including using the eddy close to the mainland, and then going around the island. I also thought Axel would appreciate a slightly longer and more challenging route so we chose to go to the island with the strong tidal streams giving us more hindrance than help. ( If we'd left from "Whistling Sands' on the West coast of the Llyn, we'd have been able to drop onto the island using the ebb, and make the most of the afternoon flood to take us back later).

You can see the resulting 'tracks' that we made on our journey, as recorded by our Blackberry and the free Sanoodi software. The tide is strongest nearest to land and you can see that we were swept downstream as we approached our destinations on the way there, and back. On the way back we were aiming about ENE, even though the tide tide took us much further West than this!

Once on Bardsey, the Porter family were very busy in the middle of the lambing season. After a cup of tea, Axel and I were happy to help move some young lambs from the stable where they were being looked after to the field outside. Steve took the mum while we got to carry the cute cuddly lambs. Later we went on 'patrol' with Steve and Jo looking for any new-born lambs, or any mothers who needed some help with a difficult birth. We saw 3 new lambs come into the world - 1 set of twins and 1 single lamb. Despite the goo, there is something magical about new life!

The technology I used to track our progress to and from Bardsey will be used on my next trip. In theory, an update from 'twitter' should alert people to the start of a new paddle, and you can follow along live, or check the progress once we're reached our destination. For some reason, the twitter update part didn't work on the paddle to Bardsey - perhaps because the phone signal was very week? I'm trying to find out if that can be fixed.

Click HERE to see the outward route to Bardsey and HERE to see the return route on the Sanoodi website, from where you can navigate around and look at other things.

You can read Axel's account of the trip here.

CackleTV Twittering!
Tuesday, March 17, 2009

You may have noticed that a strange box has appeared on the top of the blog, which says 'Twitter' in it. A week ago, I didn't know what "Twitter" was and I didn't really care ( I'm getting old already!)! But then I got told that 'twitter' could automatically let people know if I was about to go on a kayaking trip, and provide a link to a 'live map' of the kayaking route. I signed up and have spent the last week or so working with "Sanoodi" and Derrick to work out the nitty gritty of it.

Today is a beautiful warm sunny day in Wales and when I got a phone call from a friend, I didn't need much persuading to get out on the water - just to test the system out, of course!

The upshot is that as I'm kayaking somewhere, my position is uploaded live onto a website, superimposed on a map or an aerial photograph. Check out the map of the test paddle today - it's amazingly detailed. You can even see where Jeff and I stopped for a play in the moving water. For those people who have better things to do than check up on my progress (!), you can look at the map at the end of the day and see where we kayaked, the total distance covered and the average speed. And, by the way, we were against the tide today - in both directions!!

How this works is quite simple - thanks to some very clever software - and the good news is that if you want to do the same thing, you can download the software you need for free from Sanoodi. You need a phone with a GPS in it - either a blackberry, an I-phone, a Nokia S-60, or a windows mobile phone. Then you can download a free copy of the SMap software from the Sanoodi website and upload your own tracks live to their website. Or go to from your phone. We have a blackberry because it has the best battery life.

Barry and I are planning a trip in the next few weeks which I'll write more about soon - and we'll be using the blackberry to give live updates of our position. To follow along, you don't have to join twitter. Just check the blog and whenever we set off, you'll see a link to the map of our route. If you want to join twitter, or you are already a member, then 'follow' CackleTV and you'll automatically get the update everytime I go on a trip.

Sunny Surfing
Monday, March 16, 2009

It actually felt like Spring this weekend. On Sunday, the surf on the Hells Mouth webcam was looking good and the sun was shining. Eve and I drove down the Llyn Peninsula with our surf kayaks in the van and had a great couple of hours getting wet and thrown around by the waves. Eve was rolling like a demon, recovering from front loops, back loops & washing machine rides! A great day to get excited about warmer weather and fun adventures to come!

Swellies by night
Friday, March 13, 2009

Yesterday was a really big tidal range with a high tide of 9.7 metres in Liverpool. Perhaps more importantly for us, the low tide was REALLY LOW! Only 0.4metres... That meant that the standing waves at the Swellies in the Menai Straits should be really well formed and calling out to be surfed! The only problem was that action time, when the waves form was about 6.30pm -- about the time it gets dark! But we couldn't resist such a big tide. Barry also wanted to check out a different wave, a bit higher upstream from the ''Swellies wave', which he's only seen 'working' (i.e surfable) when the low tide is REALLY low. It was working well last night, with the tide tanking through there, making it hard to get onto the front wave. The traditional Swellies wave is still my favourite though, and on our way back, in near pitch dark, it was steep and powerful. It was a bit scary, to be honest, especially when we could only see each other if we were very close. After Barry capsized and rolled, which I didn't see, we decided to get off the water, and go for a well deserved Pizza-and-a-Pint!

"Eastern Horizons" DVD released this month
Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Cackle TV is going to sell and distribute the new seakayaking film "Eastern Horizons" in the UK. Europe & Australasia. Bryan Smith & his wife Lise-Anne Beyries from Reel Water Productions in Canada have been spent a lot of the last 18 months making this new entertaining seakayaking DVD, which is released this month.

The creators of "Pacific Horizons" (which is also available from CackleTV) moved over to North America's east coast from Georgia to Newfoundland to bring you another inspirational and breathtaking sea kayaking adventure film. Eastern Horizons blends the rich history and culture of the sea with world class sea kayakers, idyllic destinations, incredible wildlife and compelling stories of people who's lives are deeply connected to the Atlantic Ocean. From the rich marshes in North Carolina to the icebergs in Newfoundland and from the urban landscape of New York City to the remote fishing villages of the Magdalene Islands, this film is a must for everyone interested in the ocean.

You can read more about the film HERE, and you can now pre-order it from my website. The DVD should be available to ship on 25th March, or soon afterwards.

"Pacific Horizons", "Eastern Horizons" and the "This is the Sea" series can also be purchased at a reduced price if you buy more than 1 DVD at a time - click here to go to the UK/ Europe / Australisia store. For example you can buy any 2 DVDs for £35.99, or any 3 DVDs for £52.99, with free shipping anywhere in the world.

"This is the Sea 4" is still doing well at film festivals. The South island circumnavigation film won second place for 'best Adventure film' at the Sheffield Adventure Film Festival recently. First place was awarded to 'Solo', the film about Andrew McAuley crossing the Tasman Sea.

In the US, "Eastern Horizons" is being launched by Bryan this weekend at Canoecopia.

Another Place
Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Last weekend Barry and I visited 'Another Place', a series of 100 cast iron statues placed on the beach at Crosby by artist Antony Gormley. I remember hearing about the statues when they were first put there in 2004, and finally found myself close enough to Liverpool to enjoy a stroll along the beach with a difference. The statues are identical and are spaced along a 3km section of beach. They all stare out to sea - some of them almost completely buried by water at high tide. I found it really evocative to see all those mesmerized people fascinated by the magic of the sea.

Bardsey Adventure
Tuesday, March 03, 2009


Everyone I contacted to 'play out' this weekend was busy or away, but I decided not to let that stop me having a wee adventure. On Sunday morning, I packed the van and drove down to Aberdaron at the end of the Llyn Peninsula. The white water at the tiderace off Pen y Cil headland was very clearly visible from a mile and a half away. The conditions were sporty enough for me to phone the Porter family who live on the island to tell them I was on my way - they promised to look out for me and to get the kettle on as I drew close. I had a fun paddle in the end - a force 4 wind which was almost a headwind kicked up a few big waves, but I enjoyed the heightened awareness that comes from being solo.

I was met by Steve and his son Ben on their quad bike and escorted to their farmhouse for the promised cuppa. It was a beautiful day and I took a walk up to the top of the island and looked back at the whitecaps in the Sound. The sky was so clear that I could see Holyhead mountain and the hills of Ireland from up there. I was invited to stay overnight with the Porters and had a great evening. Ben took me out in his rowing boat to check his lobster pots. He had one big lobster, but it was a female which he had to put back, and a few other lobsters which were too small to keep. Oh well, no lobster for dinner this time!
After dinner, the stars were out and I had a look at the craters of the moon and Saturn's rings through Steve's telescope.

The next morning, before I headed back home, I "helped" the family to round up the year old ewes, so Steve could shear around their bottoms! I didn't offer to help with that task, and headed back across a roughening up sound about 9.30am. The current was strongly pushing me in the wrong direction this time, but I ferry-glided across the Sound and ended up about a mile downstream of the headland I wanted to go around to get back to Aberdaron. The eddy close to the land carried me back to Pen y Cil headland and I had to work hard to surf against the tide to get around the corner, then i was home and dry, with a following wind to push me back to the beach.

Bardsey island is one of those special places which relaxes me and makes me feel happy just to be there, and it's usually quite an exciting paddle to get there.... I'm sure it won't be long before I return!

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