Both my paddling chum and I were both very keen to do this paddle. The wildlife, cliffs, and caves make this an excellent trip. The forecast was for sun, sun , sun, with winds f3-f4 SE, strengthening later with 1-2ft of swell.
Setting off from South Landing we were soon rounding Flamborough head in the sunshine. I have to say though it was a bit lumpy around the head. I was also using my new Celtic Paddles for the first time, so although they felt a little strange at first, there were no dramas. If anything the shaft was a little slippy. I think I will need to put some sex-wax on my shaft to prevent this.
Why new paddles? Well, my Werner Corryvrecken's had developed a fairly serious fault. The centre joint on the Werner's have developed about 1mm of movement. And this seems to be getting worse each time I use them! They are only just over three years old, so I took them back to Desperate Measure where I had originally purchased them. DM's were shocked at how bad they were and contacted the UK distributor (BTW great service from DM's as always). The paddles have been sent back to Werner's in the US so they can examine them. I await to see the outcome of all this, as I consider this a design/manufacturing fault...
As I knew I was going to be without my main paddles for a while, I needed a replacement fast. Ideally on a cranked shaft as per the Werner's. So I started looking at the various options.
As I paddle with Stu Morris from VE paddles every now and then, I seriously thought about his excellent well-made paddles. But having tried various VE blades, I knew I just didn't feel right with them. Probably as they were just a little bit further removed from the feel of the Werner's. After all the Corryvrecken's are big blades, with an area of 721 cm2. But then I am a big strong bloke!
I then started looking at Nigel Dennis's Celtic Paddles and also found an excellent article on forward paddling written by Nigel. Having an old set of Lendal paddles as my spares and also having tried a set of straight Celtic paddles, it was a fairly easy decision. A short phone call to James at Celtic and the deal was done. The paddles arrived a few days later. I went for a Pro 700 cranked four piece, mostly for flexibility when travelling, but also as it means I can try different blades if I wish to in the future. The Pro 700's have a very similar area to the Werner's. So again it is about keeping things as close as what I am use to. The centre joint of the Pro 700's is fitted with a lever lock centre joint as per Stu's VE paddles. The Lever lock means I can adjust not only the offset of the paddle to any degree I wish, but also adjust the length of the paddle. In my case from 214-224cm! I must say James at Celtic Paddles was very helpful and very knowledgeable.
On receiving the new paddles, the first thing I noticed with the cranked Celtic blades is that the blades are forward of the centre of gravity of the shaft. The Werner's are neutral. What I mean by this is if you hold the paddles with the right blade vertical and relax you grip, the Werner's paddles do not roll forwards. Whereas, the Celtic Paddles do! I wasn't sure about this at all until I started using them. Then I realised, with the Celtic paddle, when forward paddling, as you place the paddle in the water, you gain a few extra centimetres more catch. There is no flutter at all. Nice!
So back to rounding Flamborough. Before setting off I set the paddle angle to 30 degrees, the same as I use on the Werner's and my play boating paddles. For the length, I again went for the same as the Werner's 220cm. So yes they did feel a little different, but not for long. In fact the slippy shaft soon improved, presumably as any residual polish or release agent wore off in the sea.
As the pictures show (click to see full screen), it was a glorious day. From North Landing all the way to the Bempton Arch, Guillemots and Razorbills for were constantly buzzing us for over 3Nm, a truly amazing spectacle. We only spotted three puffins though, so perhaps these come in later to breed?
At the Arch, there were Gannets, Kittiwakes as well as the constant flow of Guillemots and Razorbills.
What the pictures don’t show is the hard paddle back to North Landing we had. It was bit of a grunt into the strengthening SE wind.
Back at North Landing we bumped into Simon Beasley, Mick Hargreaves and Ron Walker. We sat and chatted over lunch. Rutland CC were also there, in a large group of paddlers.
A truly memorable paddle. We may not have got to explore some of the caves due to the state of the tide, but the wildlife, or should I say shear scale of the wildlife was truly exceptional. It was great to meet up with Simon Beasley too, as we had not met before and I had heard so much about him!
Definitely, the best days paddling ever!