Saturday, 26 December 2009
Saturday, 21 November 2009
Friday, 23 October 2009
We wear a light stick on our BA’s and I have another on my compass, we each have a headtorch but keep it switch off most of the time. The first two check points are quickly found one on Torrinch and one on Creinch followed by an open crossing on a compass bearing, 2km to Inchmoan. On the south side of inchmoan is a large bay, the check point is on the western headland enclosing the bay. We’d deliberately headed for the other side of the bay, so that if we’d strayed off bearing a few degrees either way the check point would still be on our left. Paddling along the shore line was an eerie experience as a misty layer was hiding the beach and making judging distance difficult. Eventually we hit – quite literarily – the other side of the bay. We can’t see the check point; it’s amazingly hard to see a light stick floating in water until your right on top of it. We search both side of the headland, no sign of it, we backtrack, it’s hidden behind a rock. Now we have a fix of out position. The next checkpoint is by the castle on Inchgalbraith, little more than an overgrown crannog less than 50m wide. We take our bearing and head off in line abreast. The headlights of cars on the A82 give away its position; we quickly find the light stick - the Rolling Stones.
Head north until we hit Inchavannach then follow its east side up into the narrows. Here we have a choice; there are check points on the west, east and north sides of Inchconnachan and another on the north side of Inchmoan. The points on Inchmoan and the east of Inchconnachan only have a low score so we decided to skip them. Entering the narrows is like a scene from “Apocalypse now” there are four huge fires; at first I thought it was a forest fire. Each fire is big enough to burn a whole coven of witches. There are many very K-lyed people around, one with a very powerful spotlight. We sprint through and away, back into the darkness.
Different coloured dots of light coming towards us as three groups collide at the check point on the north end of Inchconnachan.
“Is that you Owen?”
“Have you found it yet?”
“It’s over here”.
“What’s it say?”
“Who? Spell it”
“Bugger off Ian”.
“Wasn’t he in Deep Purple?”
“Now that would be different”.
“It’s the Pixies”.
“Oh, who are they then?”
Bucinch, our next check point, over a kilometre away is clearly silhouetted. We paddle across, flat out. How can three people starting off from the same point and heading for the same place end so far apart in such a short time? Eventually we re-group and collect that point and the final one on Inchcruin. All we had to do now was get back to Inchcailloch. Inchfad with its off-layer island Ellanderroch was clear on the horizon. As we paddled past I said “don’t go through the inside channel it’s very shallow” so we went around and promptly all ran aground. We made it back to the campsite with only a small time penalty and came third; the best I ever done.
Saturday, 10 October 2009
Ray and daughter Jacqueline on the Balvaig.
Monday, 7 September 2009
The swimmer at the start on Hawes peir.
Wednesday, 2 September 2009
"Eck I thought only lesbians wore dungarees".
Monday, 17 August 2009
It had pored down all night but by the time we started it had stopped and it turned into a fine sunny day. With all the rain the river was high and fast, so we really whizzed along. This section is mostly flat water with just a few little rapids, nothing over grade 1. We stopped for a picnic by a Roman Fort not far from Caputh a really nice spot in the sun.
Nicky, Tony and Eck had to return home but Steve and I camped at Grandtully. Ray came up on sunday. The three of us put in at Kenmore on the banks of Loch Tay. This time I teamed up with Ray in his "Charles River" and Steve paddled solo. The first rapid is under "chinese bridge" by Taymouth castle, a grade 2. The river bends sharply right just after the bridge and we had to be careful to avoid being sweeped into the left bank. Between here and Aberfeldy there were a few easier smaller rapids. We past a whole family of Red-breasted Mergansers but by the time I'd got my camera out we'd spee'd past them; we also saw some Goosanders.
At Aberfeldy there was a nice grade 1 rapid and then for the last mile or so into Gradtully was a string of grade 2's all bouncy and splashy and fun, but never too frighting. We got off the river just above the grade 3 slalom course, in the high water that looked really meaty.
Sunday, 9 August 2009
I haven't been out paddling for a few weeks but I have been out hill walking. As I've been walking I've been collecting anything I find that may act as tinder for starting a fire with a firesteel; Ray Mears style. I've been coming back with pockets full of dry bracken, birch bark, grass, twiggs anything that looks like it will burn easily. So far I've only found three things that catch fire with any degree of reliability. I videod the result, the first one is down from a large thistle head. The second is cotton grass seed heads which was very easy to light but you can't always find cotton grass when you've run out of matches. The third works a treat.
So, the conclusion of this little experiment is to always have plenty of fuel and keep your matches in a dry place when you head into the great outdoors. Because all this bush craft milarky just isn't gonna save you.
Sunday, 19 July 2009
On Friday I did a shift, the first days work for five months. I've also got myself another car. It's only an old banger but should keep me mobile for a bit. So if you see a red Astra with an orange Anas Acuta or a green Old Town Pack on top, give me a wave.
Kayak sorted, car sorted, hopefully work sorted so money coming in again, life's looking up after being down in the dumps for a while.
Saturday, 11 July 2009
Friday, 10 July 2009
The disc in place.
The back of the gap is filled with modeling clay.
Monday, 29 June 2009
Andrea, Ray and Tom paddling down the Loch.
Saturday, 20 June 2009
I've also made a new bulkhead to go in front of the footpegs.
The bulkhead ready to be glassed it.
Where the disc will be fitted.
This is the hatch rim being stuck to the disc ready for fitting.
Once I've done the bulkhead and attached the disc I'll fill the gap between the disc and the underside of the deck with some filler. This will be quite a fiddly job so it could take me quite some time to finish. I'll put up more photo's as I go along.
Monday, 15 June 2009
The misty Isle of Mull.
We decided that, as the day was so fantastic, we'd paddle out and visit the Lady's rock. We had to dodge, first a tour boat coming out of the Sound of Mull, then the fast ferry out of Oban before we got to the rock. As we reached it two porpoise crossed out path. Next we headed over to Duart Point just for the hell of it. After a quick leg stretch and a pee on the Duke's lawn we paddled back to Bernera Bay on Lismore.
Going through the gap between Bernera and Lismore the water was so clear and the kelp so thick looking down was just mesmerizing. All the way up the north-west side of Lismore was just beautiful. Blue skies, flat calm sea, fantastic vistas.
Setting off Shuna Sound.
We were almost past Port Appin and wondering where the boys were when a shout from behind came and they were paddling hard to catch up.
Monday, 8 June 2009
This is my brother Pete, below Huandoy Sar 6395m in the Crodillera Blanca in Peru.
Friday, 5 June 2009
This is going to make life a really pain. I went into Stirling, six miles away, on the bus, £4.20 return, our public transport has to be the most expensive in the world. Just how I'm going to be able to get out paddling now I'm not sure; only time will tell.
Monday, 18 May 2009
The weekend deteriorated into a comedy of errors, with people taking the wrong turn and ending up miles away from where they planned to be. In the end my friend Ray and I ended up on Loch Lomond enjoying a gentle paddle around the islands. At the get out ray did some rolling practiceing, i didn't that water was baltic. As an experiment I tried videoing him, I've had this camera four years and never used this function before. For another first I've put in on this blog.
Friday, 15 May 2009
Failing to set the self-timer on my camera.
Tea Break on the banks of Loch Chon.
At the put in already to go.
The Old Town Pack really is a light boat, even lighter than some river kayaks and quite a bit lighter than my sea kayak.
Ray also lent me some of his paddles to try, the one on the left is a Redtail the other three hand made. The two on the right were a bit short for me the other two were better my favourite was the one on the right.
It was quite gusty with winds upto force 3 or 4 at times, I found paddling into the wind quite a struggle. Because you only have one blade you have to use a J-stroke. Where the end of each stroke becomes a ruddering action to counter the tendency of the canoe to turn away from the paddle. This I found tended to slow you down just when you wanted to put the power on to push into the wind. Maybe its just because I not very good at the J-stroke; practice makes perfect I gust. Anyway I had a good half day out.
Tuesday, 5 May 2009
But I also needed the generic two star, which covers both kayaks and canoes. It would seem the BCU has this vision of people turning up at a club and being introduced to a wide variety of padlesports. This isn't how it really is, clubs tend to just do one type of paddling.
Now I haven’t been in an open canoe for at least fifteen years. I’ve nothing against open boats, I even had one once, but time and money is tight and sea kayaking is my thing. The old open canoe was hardly ever used so I sold it. Anyway, I went off and managed to make one go in a straight-ish line, turn etc and did a rescue; all well and good. Yesterday, I spent the bank holiday Monday back at Ardmay House on Loch Long doing my “Foundation safety and rescue training”. So, now I have the first two ticks on my list of pre-requisites, I could go ahead and book onto a level one coach’s course now. But first I think I need to go and brush up on my open canoe skills. Passing the two star just isn’t really enough, being just about able to manoeuvre your own canoe wont inspire much confidence in those you are trying to coach.
So now, to show people how to do a sport I know about and have expertises in, know and understand the environment where it’s practiced, I have to go away and learn another sport in a different environment. Seems like a huge distraction to me, especially as I'll have to hunt around looking for people to coach whereas my sea kayaking club has lots of people to coach in kayaking; but we’ll run with in and see.
Saturday, 2 May 2009
Now I have a fairly good digital compact (Canon Powershot A540) and a waterproof dive case, which works really well. I’ve taken some really good – well good for me anyway – kayaking photo’s with it and I really like using digital; saves so much faffing around. For the past couple of years it’s all I’ve taken with me, but the lens has a quite short focal length and I’ve mist out on some really good wildlife shots because of this. Also it’s not always as sharp as it could be.
Like this one.
Not sharp, and so far away. With a telephoto this otter would have been so much better.
I'm a bit happer with this one; still could have been sharper.
Brewing up whilst picking up the sticks.