Sunday, 6 May 2018

Back on the Water

   My folding kayak, which hadn't seen water since June 2017, finally got an outing yesterday.  Plans to get out kayaking early in the year were thwarted by fickle weather - but yesterday morning the stars aligned long enough (just long enough) for a successful trip to Embalse de Negratin.  For a sort of 'shakedown' paddle to get back into the swing of things.

   I didn't have anywhere in mind when I launched onto glassy calm water at Playa de Freila, just 'pootled' around an area I had been to before.  But it did all look different because winter rain had raised the water level in the reservoir, which altered the shoreline and changed the shape and size of inlets.

I didn't recognise this inlet at all.

Stopped here for lunch and a leg stretch.  The edges of the reservoir tend to be gooey, sticky stuff, so a stone and shingle 'beach' to step out onto is a good find.

This was the first outing with my experimental fore-deck - to keep a bit of spray, and more importantly the hot sun, off my lunch bag.

The view from my lunch bag.

Heading back to Playa de Freila.


The noise from the power boat and the jet-ski rather spoiled the tranquility as I got nearer to Playa de Freila.  Fortunately they weren't out for long before the owners sought refreshments in that bar overlooking the water.  They did go out again for another zoom around after I landed, but were soon back in that bar again.

   A thunder storm had been forecast for the afternoon and sure enough, as I started to dismantle my kayak, the sky darkened, a wind whipped up waves on the water and then the rain came - just as I put the last bits away in the back of the van.  Phew!  Don't think we've seen the end of fickle weather just yet.

   This was also my first quiet paddle with my Garmin GPS thingy - which informed me that I'd paddled 5.7 kilometres and when I was paddling at a nice steady pace I was achieving between 3.5 and 4.0 kilometres per hour.  Not that I really needed to know any of that.  My watch told me I'd been on the water for nearly three hours.

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

January Sunshine - The First Outing of 2018

   This morning's little paddle on the sea was a grabbed opportunity.  Susan had an appointment at a hairdressing salon on Mojácar sea front; right opposite ample parking and easy access to the beach - and there had been a run of very good weather.  So 'The Twist' was shoved into the back of the car just in case sea conditions proved O.K. for a bit of kayaking - and they were.

  Nothing special or particularly interesting about this trip - just and hour of relaxed paddling, under a bluer sky, on a calm sea.  A perfect first outing of 2018, especially as it was warm enough to be paddling in just shorts and a T-shirt!

Sunday, 22 October 2017

'The Twist' gets to the Costa Blanca

   I wouldn't normally have contemplated a journey up to the Costa Blanca just for a couple of hours of kayaking.  However, Susan needed to be at Alicante airport quite early yesterday morning for a flight to the U.K. - which put me in fairly easy reach of Jávea where there is a little bay I have always liked.  I've swum, snorkeled and dived there in the past, but never explored it by kayak.

   So, despite a forecast of winds which might have become unfavourable for kayaking by the time I reached there, I took a chance and drove that extra hour north to revisit Portixol.

 My first view of Portixol yesterday morning, with sea conditions looking favourable.  The big island is 'La Isla del Portixol' and the bay I was heading to is on the mainland, opposite the right hand end (south end) of the island.  Not that any of my immediate family need to be told where it is!
Portixol bay, from the sea.  At the far left hand side is a bar/restaurant called 'La Barraca', which is hidden from the main beach area by a rock outcrop.  The uninitiated could sit all day on that beach and not know there is a bar just round the corner!
This is the bar/restaurant 'La Barraca'.  It seems to have been run by the same Spanish family for years.  A basic, no frills place - you won't get much else other than seafood here.
On the shore, at the far left hand side of the previous photograph, there is this primitive looking little building.  That yellow shape outside is an upturned boat, and another little boat was pulled up on the beach nearby.  It didn't look inhabited - but I saw people come out later!
Just past that little building, rock cliffs tower above a narrow strip of beach.
Heading towards the gap between the mainland (on the left) and La Isla del Portixol.
It's quite shallow in places between the island and the mainland.   That white water ahead is waves breaking over a reef .
Heading towards the south end of La Isla del Portixol.  No doubt there is a name for that other much smaller island, but it's not shown on my map.  There is good diving in lovely clear water around here, dive boats were coming and going all the time I was on the water.

And for once I wasn't the only kayak on the water.  Several launched from the same beach.
Bar/restaurant 'La Barraca' again.  I was starting to regret bringing a packed lunch with me!
Heading back to the beach for that packed lunch.
The owners of these little places on the beach (presumably leftovers from the days when it was a fishermen's beach) must have a communal pot of paint for doors and window shutters!
End of an exceptionally nice morning of kayaking.  I didn't follow any particular route - just pootled around quite aimlessly.  Did get across to La Isla del Portixol but the wind was freshening out there, so I abandoned thoughts of paddling right round it.

That's not a seal in the water.  It's a spear fisherman, wearing a wet-suit, heading out to try his luck.  Spearfishing is quite popular in Spain.
One of the nicest, and so far quite unspoiled, little bays I know.  Just hope a halt is soon called to all the development on the hillside above.
Not bad for a morning in October!  In summer this beach is packed solid - seen it!
There must be a good reason for that odd shaped blue door!

Just round the corner of that little bit of cliff at the end of the beach is the bar/restaurant.
The way into that bar just round the corner - a photo taken in 2014 on a previous visit.
The last look down on Portixol.  A  morning like that was well worth the long haul home.

If the weather forecast was right, then that sea got quite rough later in the day.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

'The Twist' returns to Villaricos

In August (blog post Fri. Aug. 4th.) I did a bit of pootling about in and around the small harbour at the southern end of Villaricos seafront.  This morning I returned to visit the other small harbour, at the northern end of the seafront - and, thanks to very calm conditions, paddle to a man-made 'island' way out from the promenade.  Because of cooler days now that we are into autumn, and the  darker mornings, this wasn't the usual sunrise start to a paddle on the sea - but I was on the water by about 9 o'clock.

The beach on Villaricos seafront is mainly stony and rocky, but there is a convenient little patch of sand (albeit dirty looking stuff) just outside the harbour entrance.  Getting on the water was easy there and I headed straight to the harbour for a nose around.
 Nearing the harbour entrance.

Inside the harbour ...........

.......... and heading out again.
Just clear of the harbour entrance.
Now heading to that 'island' (very black shape) near the horizon on the left.
Avoiding several obstacles along the way.
 A near submerged obstacle.
Getting close now.  It's actually a lot  further from the shore than it looks here.
Rounding the other side.  This 'island' is actually the remains of the outer end of a jetty where ships came and loaded iron ore when there was extensive mining in this part of Almeria.
Have rounded the 'island' and now heading back to my start point.

Back on my little sandy patch.

Ready to pack up and head for home after about 1½ hours of nice quiet paddling.

Friday, 22 September 2017

'The Twist' goes to Mojácar,again.

   At the extreme southern end of Mojácar beach, past the last of the hotels, bars, shops etc., and where the seafront road swings inland and starts to climb into the mountains, there is another little sheltered bay created behind a rock and concrete mole - much the same as the one I went to with The Twist a couple of weeks ago.  This was my kayak paddling destination early yesterday morning - to try a new spot and to try out a recent birthday present.

I reached there at about 0745h. and there was already quite a contingent of sea anglers fishing from the mole.  I was glad of the shelter provided by the mole for launching as there was a bit of swell coming from the north east  and a bit of a breeze from the same direction.

Clear of the mole the sea was quite choppy.

The birthday present was a kayak drogue - sea anchor, sea sock, drift anchor, parachute brake are also among many terms used for this bit of kit, but I'm sticking with 'drogue', as it's the shortest.  I'm familiar with drogues being used on yachts and motor boats in heavy weather at sea, but I'd never come across a kayak drogue and, for the sort of quiet paddling I do, I did wonder whether I would ever use it.  So I did a bit of research and discovered that drogues are used quite regularly by sea anglers fishing from sit-on-top kayaks - mainly to slow down their drift across fishing grounds when it gets a bit windy.  This was a bit of an eye opener and, although I'm not an angler, I could now visualize occasions when I might want to use a drogue in open water.

This is the kayak drogue and towline as received.  It was labelled as an 18 inch (457 mm) drogue which is the width of the large end when folded flat.  When opened out it is like a very large fabric funnel.  The loop at the smaller end is for the attachment of a trip & recovery line.

Update (several days later):  I've only just noticed that the loop of webbing at the smaller end isn't actually showing in the photograph!  It is there, as seen in the next one.
My internet research revealed that a kayak drogue, just used to slow down drift, doesn't necessarily need a very long towline.  So I rigged mine on the end of my 4 metre long bow line (the blue one) and used the line supplied with the drogue (the black one) as a trip & recovery line.  Drogues, when no longer needed, tow through the water easier pointy end first.

The first trial with the drogue wasn't a great success, as there wasn't enough wind to cause my kayak to pull hard enough to open out the 'funnel'.  Later, when the wind freshened considerably, it worked very well as rigged.  The Twist was almost stationery in the water with the bow pointing up into the wind.  It was a very comfortable feeling and I think that this drogue will become a standard bit of kit on both my kayaks.

Recovery of the drogue, pointy end first.  Apparently, among kayaking sea anglers, the jury is 'out' regarding whether a trip & recovery line is really necessary.  It should be possible to just paddle forward, pick up the float on the towline and just lift the drogue straight out of the water.  That would avoid the possibility of the trip & recovery line fouling the drogue and preventing it from opening - more experimentation is obviously needed in the way the drogue is rigged.

After about 1½ hours of pleasant paddling and messing about I was back on the beach.  The shelter from the mole was again welcome, as nearer to the car park the bigger surf would have made landing tricky.

From this point northwards, there is at least 5 kilometres of hotels, apartment blocks, bars, restaurants, clubs and all the various shops which make up Mojácar sea front.

The Twist is not a 'thing of beauty' but she is nimble, responsive and feels safe.  That odd looking bow lifts reassuringly over swells and waves.

The view to the south, from where I was parked.  This proved to be a nice place for kayaking.  Just a bit removed from the main tourist drag, a decent car park (if you get there fairly early) where it's possible to park close to the water and a nice stretch of coastline to paddle along if the conditions are right.  I did get as far as that biggest rock sticking out of the sea before the wind freshened too much.

The view to the north from where I was parked.  People are now starting to arrive on the beach.

As I was packing up, this sea angler, on a sit-on-top kayak, came paddling in.  We had passed each other within hailing/waving distance earlier on and had exchanged greetings.  I hadn't been the only kayak on the water that morning.