CackleTV images

Recent Posts

New Cackle TV blog & website

January rolling practice

"This is canoeing" cover done!!

Esquif & Kokatat sponsor "This is Canoeing"

Skiing...... in Wales!!

Original art

Snowy Snowdon horseshoe

Sunny Snowy Wales

Fifth Award for "South island circumnavigation"

Festive paddle

On The Web

Body Boat Blade

Keirron's Blog

Derrick's Blog

December 2004

May 2005

June 2005

July 2005

August 2005

September 2005

October 2005

November 2005

December 2005

February 2006

March 2006

April 2006

May 2006

June 2006

July 2006

August 2006

September 2006

October 2006

November 2006

December 2006

January 2007

February 2007

March 2007

April 2007

May 2007

June 2007

July 2007

August 2007

September 2007

October 2007

November 2007

December 2007

January 2008

February 2008

March 2008

April 2008

May 2008

June 2008

July 2008

August 2008

September 2008

October 2008

November 2008

December 2008

January 2009

February 2009

March 2009

April 2009

May 2009

June 2009

July 2009

August 2009

September 2009

October 2009

November 2009

December 2009

January 2010

February 2010

Current Posts

 Justine's Journal

CackleTV Productions


Sunday, May 31, 2009

We've been enjoying the warm, clear, sunny weather in Wales for the last few days, getting outside for walks and paddles. Today, Barry and I went to Penrhyn Mawr with Jim, Wayne, Paul & Pete. The tidal race was slow to build up but great fun. After lunch, the flow was faster with bigger waves. Great to be out on the water!

Top 20 great British Adventurer?
Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Last Saturday, one of Britain's national newspapers called me one of "Britain's top 20 Adventurers"!
While I'm not sure I'd agree with the Telegraph, I was very pleased to read that I was even considered for a place alongside well-known adventurers like Chris Bonnington, Leo Houlding, Benedict Allen & Ranulph Fiennes!

I also found out by doing a websearch that 'South island Circumnavigation' from "This is the Sea 4 won the best adventure film at PaddleCanada's Waterwalker film festival
AND 2 other films from the DVD won honorable mentions in the action category - "the Queen Charlotte islands" & "Lake Superior".

I also had a request today from the World Oceans Day Film Festival in San Francisco to show the "Rockhopping in Baja" film at their event on June 8th and 10th. That now makes 6 films from "This is the Sea 4' which have been finalists at international film festivals - the other 2 are "Dubside" & "The Ottawa River". That's pretty good value for money, I reckon!! But then I am walking particularly tall today!! I'll have my feet back on the ground tomorrow!!

Scottish seakayaking Symposium in Skye
Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I finally made it up to Skye for the seakayaking symposium organised by Gordon & Morag Brown which happens every other May. It was unfortunately a flying visit as Barry and I travelled there and back with Nick, who had to be back at work on Monday morning. We did get there a day early and enjoyed a beautiful paddle from Ord, under sunny skies on Friday. During the symposium, the rain and wind returned ( but at least it kept the midges away!). It was fun despite the weather, and good to catch up with a lot of coaches and participants who I haven't seen for ages.

I helped out on a few paddling sessions, was a student on a fantastic skinny stick rolling class with Cheri Perry and Turner Wilson, and gave presentations about my trips around the South island of New Zealand, and around the Queen Charlotte islands. I met the mysterious "Wenley" who never puts a photo of himself on his regular kayak blog, and twice I failed to get up for 7am yoga with Cheri and Turner! I caught up with Simon Willis, who is making an instructional DVD with Gordon Brown, and chatted to Patrick Winterton and Mick Berwick about their ambitious plans to kayak 200 miles from Scotland to the Faroe islands this summer.

Now I'm back in Wales looking forward to my next chance to revisit Skye and do some more paddling on the beautiful island.

Across the Irish sea in 11hours 30 mins!
Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Last week - freshly back from Sardinia - I was looking forward to settling down at my desk and getting on with some work. I hadn't even looked at the weather forecast! Then we saw Nick Cunliffe - he had some days off work and a cunning plan! The forecast was for strong easterly winds and he fancied kayaking from Holyhead to Dublin in Ireland in a following sea. I should work I thought - do I really want to put myself through paddling over 50 nautical miles in a day again!!?? Any sane person would say NO!

And so I heard myself saying, "I'll come with you!", and rushing about the house to get food, clothes and safety equipment together. I emailed Des Keaney of Deep Blue Seakayaking in Dublin, who looked after Barry and I so well when we crossed over to Wicklow in January. I hoped Des and his partner Sonja wouldn't mind picking Nick & I up and taking us and our kayaks to the ferry when we arrived. I felt a bit rude asking for their kind hospitality again but the email I received back from Des made me realise I needn't worry. It started,

"Holy Jaysus, the first decent easterly since January and look what blows in! I should have known!"
I finally got to bed about 11am, and tried to sleep. The alarm went off at 2am, and we drove to Soldiers Point in Holyhead aiming for a 4am start. Although we knew the wind would be behind us, we weren't sure how long it would take us and we figured we should allow plenty of time to make sure we weren't landing in the dark. Shortly after 4am we launched on the boulder beach at Soldiers Point. Before I could even get my spraydeck on, the wind immediately caught the kayaks and started blowing them west. The sun wasn't up yet but the sky was getting a little more grey already and we could see well enough to paddle. As we turned left out of the bay, the ebb carried us towards North Stack tidal race.

"um, North stack in the dark, I thought. That would be a new experience".

We took a wide berth around the race and fortunately, the waves weren't very big. Then we turned on the headtorch to check the bearing and started paddling just north of due West. The wind was more-or-less behind us, the direction changed a bit through the day, but was mostly behind us and very slightly to our right. The wind strength varied from about Force 4- force 6 at times. It was strongest early on in the day and we made great progress surfing away from Anglesey. By the time a big red sun came up behind Holyhead mountain, we had covered 12 nautical miles in only 2 hours. We continued to take advantage of a chunky following sea for the rest of the journey.

We stopped every couple of hours for some food and water but not for long as it got cold when we hung about! Our average speed fell slowly through the day - partly because the wind dropped a bit, possibly partly because the tide was strongest near to Anglesey and gave us less of a sideways push later on, and probably because we got a bit tired after 11 hours paddling! At one point I found myself disappointed that we'd paddled the last nautical mile at ONLY 4.5knots - then I caught myself and smiled to think that I'd have been delighted by that if we hadn't been going even faster earlier!

We were carried surprisingly far south by the ebb tide and the flood wasn't quite so strong, so we ended up further south than we'd hoped and adjusted our bearing for the last couple of hours and headed NW. By the time we reached Dalkey island, we'd travelled almost 56 nautical miles and been paddling for 11 and a half hours - far quicker than we'd expected. Once alongside dry land we agreed that we wanted to find the first possible place to land! We soon came across a tiny harbour with a lively swell surging up onto the stony pier where we'd need to land. It was a bit of a sporty landing, but it was THERE! We landed after 11hours 45mins, having travelled 57 nautical miles - an average of 4.8knots!! Is this a record?

I recorded the track we took using free Sanoodi software on my blackberry and you can see it here.


Once on dry land, I called Des & Sonja and they came to meet us straight away ( they'd been looking at the live update of our track on the internet and knew that we were nearby!) They wouldn't let us carry the kayaks and ordered us into the warm car while they tied them on the roof! Back at their home, we were well fed and looked after - thank you so much again. Anyone wanting to go kayaking in the Dublin area should get in touch with Des - you'll be very well looked after!
We stayed overnight with Des and Sonja and travelled back on the Stenaline fast ferry the next day. Thank you very much to Stena and Eila for providing us with a free ferry ticket, and for taking the kayaks on the ferry as luggage. It was humbling to get back to Wales in warmth and comfort in under 2 hours, after our 11 and a half hours the previous day!!


There are a few more photos in my flickr account here.

Monday, May 18, 2009

After some weird blogger change made it impossible to publish directly to we switched back to Blogspot...for the moment. Sorry for the hassle.

Sardinia circumnavigation details
Friday, May 15, 2009

We kayaked 828km - 517 miles - around Sardinia in 29 days from 3rd April - 1st May 2009. We have 3 days off due to strong winds and quite a few very short paddling days due to winds. One of the nicest things about paddling here was the clear sea, which is every shade of blue and green imaginable. It’s so clear and you can usually see the sand, rocks or weed on the bottom as you paddle along. Where you have shallow white sand, the sea is an amazing turquoise colour.

Most Sards live inland and the coast is largely undeveloped, except for clusters of identical tourist villas and the occasional gigantic hotel. The tourist season doesn't start gearing up until the start of May so these complexes were often deserted and the restaurants shut, which felt a bit weird. The coastline is really rugged and beautiful – in places pockets of white sand nestle between craggy granite headlands, in others imposing limestone cliffs rise over 500 metres from the sea, towering above us & providing a nest site for circling elanoras falcons. Elsewhere long beaches stretch for several kilometres. In April they were mostly deserted but I’m sure they will be crammed with sun loungers and parasols in a months time.

Most days the weather was warm and we kayaked in shorts and a thermal or rash vest – sometimes with a cag over the top. If it was particularly windy and overcast we'd wear warm trousers to kayak in. To start with the nights were cold and our thin sleeping bags were a bit inadequate but by the start of May we were warm enough. Sardinia had much more rain than usual for April and we must have had over 2 inches fall in a day on the south coast. So much rain that a stream broke it’s banks and flowed under our tent!

I was expecting a lot of onshore winds in the afternoons or late mornings as in theory the land warms up quicker than the sea and the warm air over the land rises. The colder air from the sea rushes in to take its place forming an onshore breeze. In reality, there wasn’t an obvious pattern to the winds and we had quite a few days with very little wind, or F3/4 winds that could be onshore or offshore. We also had lots of days where low pressure systems dominated the winds, blowing strongly from 1 direction all day. The strongest winds (that caused us to have days off) were from the north or west ( or NW) although we had 2 days of Force6/7 NE winds, which we took advantage of and surfed along the top of the island.

The channel between the north coast of Sardinia and the south coast of Corsica is renowned as a wind corridor and we certainly experienced that. Strong ENE winds gave us a push on the first day, then a day and a half of calm was followed by 4 days of really strong westerly winds which slowed us to a crawl and then held us poised at the NW tip of Sardinia waiting for a break. Finally we snuck around the corner at 6.30am on a glassy calm morning and kayaked a 50km cliffy section with few places to land

The swell was surprisingly large at times, considering there isn’t a huge fetch, and we experienced up to a metre and half of clean surf swell on the west coast. When it was stormy the wind waves also got up to a metre and a half. The swell on the east coast was up to about a metre at times, although both coasts were also flat calm on some days. Even when there was a large swell, we could usually find a protected bay to land in.

We used an MSR dragonfly stove and when our white gas ran out we bought unleaded petrol from a garage. In Italy you can buy gas canisters for stoves in a lot of supermarkets but we couldn’t find any other type of fuel so had to use petrol when we ran out ( we knew this in advance). Although most of the coastal development was (often deserted) tourist villas, we did manage to find small supermarkets in a lot of coastal villages/ resorts so we could restock our food. We were able to stop & camp near larger towns when we felt the urge to walk into civilization for a pizza and a beer ( which was increasingly often towards the end of the trip)! There aren't many streams for drinking water and most Italians only drink bottled water but we found the tap water to be fine! We started going to marinas when we needed drinking water and asking one of the boats to fill up our bags for us. Camping outside of campsites is not allowed in Sardinia and paddlers have been fined by the police when they’ve been caught camping so we mostly stopped for the night on deserted beaches away from towns, and finding these wasn’t usually a problem.

Neither Barry or I spoke any Italian before we went to Sardinia. Armed with an English/ Italiano dictionary and a few words of French and Spanish we mostly managed to communicate a bit with locals but I missed the easy conversations that I've had with people I've met on other trips. Italians - or certainly Sardinians - largely don't speak much English & we tried... but certainly weren't fluent!! We have a few favourite encounters with people.... We spent a great day with a local family on the south coast and enjoyed lunch and a traditional Sardinian dinner with them. We also spent a day in a B& B in Lozarai, which admitedly was run by a couple who are originally from the U.K. but it was great to chat to them and the other people staying there. We met up with a local kayak guide, Francesco, that evening which was also fun. When Anne dropped us off at our kayaks the next morning, a local man (who had allowed us to leave the kayaks under his yacht in the marina) thrust a bottle of Sardinian red wine in our hands as we left. Much later on in the trip, on the north coast we asked 3 people walking along the beach how far it was to the nearest pizzeria. The answer was that there might be one open about 2km away! We set off walking down the road, and after about 20 minutes, a car beeped and it was the people from the beach. They'd driven in the wrong direction to pick us up and take us to their local pizzeria! Finally, when we finished our trip, it was on May 1st, which is a public holiday in Italy, and no-one was at the campsite where we had left our van locked up. We phoned them up but there was no answer. After about 2 hours, we asked Mirko, the man who ran the small beachside hut/ shop if he know how to get hold of the owners. He made a few phonecalls, then produced a key for the side door to the campsite and helped us carry the kayaks in to the van. He left his key with us overnight so we could get in and out, before waving us good night and leaving!

Sardinia is a beautiful island with potential for warm water, warm weather, protected paddling, but it can also be very windy with swell and surf..... It would be a great place for a multi-day trip, or some day trips.

 Back To Index