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Fifth Award for "South island circumnavigation"

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 Justine's Journal

CackleTV Productions


Filming with Becky Mason
Thursday, October 29, 2009

Becky Mason is known for paddling a heritage red cedar & canvas canoe using traditional strokes and for making the canoe dance on the water. I had the pleasure to film her on the beautiful ‘Lac Vert’, or Green Lake in Quebec, along with her husband Reid. The clear water and white cliffs on the lake made it easy to get some pretty shots, while Becky talked about her love of canoeing, how she has been influenced by her dad Bill Mason and how nature inspires her artwork. The next day she did some painting for me and we went to see her exhibition on ‘portages’, which shows her interpretation of different treescapes that she’s seen while portaging her canoe on trips.

Canadian Flag ship!
Wednesday, October 28, 2009

It was the first time Kevin Callan had been paddling since a man dressed as a bear jumped on him and fractured his ribs! The accident happened while Kevin was filming a programme about bear safety and put the affable canoeist out of action for a month. When I came over to film with him, he was back less than subtly with his red canoe covered in white maple leaves, like a gigantic amalgamation of Canadian flags! The best selling author is a lovely funny chap who likes the canoe as a means to get into wilderness. He believes strongly that people should use it or lose it. We spent almost as much time driving as we did filming, and of course stopped for breakfast at that Canadian institution, Tim Hortons! it was cold enough at 9am to get some moody misty paddling shots on the Matawaska river before driving on to the famous Barons canyon in Algonquin park. We even paddled through some ice!

Kevin was kind enough to give me a copy of his latest book, 'Wilderness Pleasures' which I enjoyed reading on the plane ride home. He'll be featured in my canoeing DVD, out in 2010. Thanks to Kevin for the photo!

Grade 5 rapids with no spray deck!
Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Imagine running a grade 5 rapid without a spraydeck! That’s what the whitewater canoeists that I just filmed effectively do. I spent the last 3 days kayaking down the Independence and Moose rivers in New York state to film a bunch of talented whitewater paddlers with a single blade! I portaged around most of the grade 4 and all of the grade 5 rapids while they executed perfect lines in highly turbulent and fast flowing water. Former world champion Mark Scriver was voluntarily the probe on most of the hardest rapids and the only open boater to run a 45foot slide with a man-eating hole at the bottom. Martin Talbot also showed nerves of steel, picking a line through ‘Sureform’, a shallow grade 5 rapid described by fellow canoeist Andrew Westwood as a cheese grater! My favourite rapid was Crystal on the Moose river, it’s so beautiful and imposing with a series of ledges forming white wedding cake layers. Mark and Martin were the only ones to run the meaty line on that and I was more than happy filming from the safety of a rock!

I did gain in confidence in my own whitewater skills over the 3 days and on the last day I ran a 13 foot waterfall, and ‘double drop’, which is just as it sounds. I would have liked to have a go in one of the small whitewater canoes, but not on that river!! After the 3 days I have lots of great footage, and some exciting carnage and I’m looking forward to putting it together.

I had loads of help - thanks a lot to Eric for helping me get into position on the river and for carrying my camera in his kayak. Also to Mark Scriver for lending me a liquid logic kayak and a brand new Werner paddle ( sorry about all the scratches!). Thanks to Paul Mason for inviting me along to the weekend, for organising things and forgiving me for not watching his canoe and paddle when he went into rescue mode (he got them both back, fortunately!). Thanks also to Martine Amyot for helping with the filming and to all the other paddlers. Thanks also to Andy and Vanessa for putting me up in Chelsea.


South island circumnavigation wins another major award!

I just heard that the South island circumnavigation film won another major prize at an international film festival. It won the Thalassa adventure prize at the 8th Montreal Festival of Travel and Adventure.

Here are the comments of the jury;

"On behalf of the entire festival team, we wish to congratulate you for this remarkable film, the jury (and we) found there was a true authenticity to your film and a positive and enthusiastic spirit althrough the film and that we were able to share the emotion with you throughout the adventure".

I was relatively close to the event, being based in Chelsea, Quebec filming for my canoeing DVD, but I was too busy filming at the weekend to attend the event. What a shame, but I'm very happy to have won the prize. That's the 4th first prize that the New Zealand film has won at international film festivals. The other first place prizes are,

Best Adventure Film, Kendal Mountain Film Festival, UK
Best Adventure Film, Reel paddling Film Festival
Best Adventure Film, Waterwalker Film Festival

'South island circumnavigation' is also a finalist at the Graz Mountain Film Festival in Austria from 11-14th November, and was a finalist at the 18th Dijon International Adventure Film Festival in France last week.
If you missed it at the festivals then you can always see this film (and many other good stories!) on 'This is the Sea 4' DVD!

I'll write a blog about my filming in Canada in the next few days, once I get home.

All work and no play...
Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What's the point of working for yourself if you can't take an afternoon off when it's warm and sunny!? Yesterday was clear and bright with a slight wind and a small swell. Barry and I haven't been 'to the races' together for ages and decided to spend a few hours playing in an old favourite, Penrhyn Mawr. It was definitely play and not work, but i did grab a bit of video using my waterproof sanyo xacti camera. Conditions were lovely - it could have been a little bit bigger, but we're not complaining!

Cackle TV on Facebook
Monday, October 12, 2009

Despite my better judgement (!), I've finally been persuaded to join Facebook! I've always said that I already spend enough time on my computer and don't want another reason to sit in front of it.... BUT - I recognise that a lot of people use Facebook to communicate and are more likely to keep up-to-date with the happenings at CackleTV if I put the latest news on Facebook. So today I created an account for CackleTV in my name. I intend to use this to let people know about updates to my website & blog, and to give notification about special events, upcoming adventures etc. So if you'd like to follow along in this way then please send a friend request or become a CackleTV fan! ( if that doesn't sound too pretentious!)

The photos are of the Vulcano Seakayak symposium in Sicily and were sent to me by Giuseppe Di Mauro, who makes seakayaks in Italy - Seakayak Design, and Overline kayaks. We tried the SKD 526, and the Overline Aretusa. Thanks Guiseppe!

Fine food, fine wine and fine paddling in Sicily!
Sunday, October 11, 2009

I feel like I've just come back from a 10 day holiday, although Barry and I were officially "working" at the first international seakayaking symposium in Sicily, Italy.
The event was organised by Francesco Petralia who takes people seakayaking in Sicily through his company Maremotu. Francesco & GianFranco looked after us wonderfully, leaving us with a fantastic impression of the seakayaking culture in Italy. Get in touch with Francesco via his website if you fancy some warm water seakayaking ( and fine cuisine) this winter!!

During the symposium, eating and drinking well was as important as paddling. During the 3 days of teaching classes, there was officially 2 hours break for lunch ( and in practice perhaps a little more). All the participants could be seen sitting around tables filled with pasta, local cheeses, salamis, olives, sun dried tomatoes, huge pieces of fruit and a little red wine or beer. I would never usually drink alcohol at lunch while paddling but it somehow seemed the right thing to do in Italy! While in Rome...... Every lunch and dinner time, we either ate at restaurants or Francesco's family cooked some delicious traditional food for us.

The paddling itself was great with clear, warm, turquoise water and we mostly wore light shorts and a rash vest or light-weight shirt to kayak in. The location was the beautiful Aeolian islands to the north of Sicily - a group or 7 volcanic islands which spear the sea. The symposium was held on Vulcano, one of the 2 still active volcanoes. On our first day we were officially free to be tourists and we climbed up the volcano to see all the plumes of sulphuric gasses streaming out of the crater. In the afternoon, we kayaked 14 miles around Vulcano, exploring caves and impressive volcanic formations. We even found our own little cave with a hot spring in it. Our route can be seen here on Sanoodi.

On the 4th day there was a 3-mile race and we were encouraged to take part. It was Barry's first race, and my second ( I competed in a middle distance race in Jersey, Channel islands about 11 years ago, shortly after i started kayaking). There was quite a fun buzz around the race, and a force 4/5 wind made things a bit more exciting. We had to kayak around a few rocks, across to the neighboring island of Lipari, and back the same way. Although this is the Mediterranean, there was a small tidal race between the two islands with wind against tide forming a few breaking waves. This worked to my and Barry's advantage as the people in the faster racing kayaks were a bit slower in the rougher water. Barry overtook the leaders and was winning the race until the sea flattened out closer to the bay on the way back. He came in 3rd, close on the heels of 2 people in an Inuk, and another fast boat. I came in 5th, and 1st woman. I have avoided competing in seakayaking before, preferring to enjoy the sport, but I really enjoyed this race - it was great fun!

The next morning a 4-day tour of the islands started. By now we were familiar with "Italian time" which was more of a guide to when things would start than an actual rule. But from now on time-keeping was a bit more important as we had between 20-30km to paddle every day. It still wasn't close to 'swiss time' and the 9am start on the first day turned into more like 10.45am, but that still wasn't bad for some people packing their kayaks for a trip for the first time! We really enjoyed paddling around and between Vulcano, Lipari, Salina & Panarea.
The routes can be seen on Sanoodi - day 1 -
day 2 - day 3 - day 4 -

We saw a pod of dolphins jumping playfully out of the water and a turtle! The first turtle I've seen from a kayak!

Also a guest at the symposium was Helen Wilson, who is very good at Greenland style rolling ( and entered the Greenland kayak championships in 2008), and a good paddler and fun girl! We enjoyed hanging out with Helen and thanks to her for helping me with some of my rolls!

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