Monday, 18 May 2009

Rolling Ray.

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

Canoe, for a change.

My friend Ray has a couple of open canoes so he offered to leand one to me. One is a Charles River which whilst being a really good canoe is 35kg a bit much for one man with a dodgy back. The other is an Old Town Pack which is only 14.5kg, the plastic is a bit thin so I don't know how much ware it would take. Yesterday I took it out for a spin on Loch Chon.

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

New learning experience or mad paper chase?

For sometime now, I’ve been toying with the idea of getting into coaching, some kind of in-put to the sport; maybe. However the long list of “pre-requisites” and courses that have to be worked through is daunting to say the least. I, like the vast majority of kayaker, never bothered with all that BCU star tests, meaningless bits of paper. I grew out of that sort of thing with the bronze swimming certificate at ten years of age etc. Still, if you want to do the job you have to work with their system. Last year I went over to Largs and did my three star sea kayak.

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

Cameras; what to do about cameras? Many moons ago when still a teenager I brought an Olympus OM1; then the smallest lightest SLR. This had served me well over the last 30 odd years. It’s been with me across hill and moor, up a dozen or more 6000m Andean peak, through the Amazon jungle and the Atacama Desert, from the Kenyan bush to the frozen wastes of Finmark and down to the Falkland Islands. All that time it’s never let me down; it’s mostly clockwork only the light meter works on battery, so it works well in the very cold. I did take it sea kayaking, but because it wasn’t waterproof and I didn’t want to get salt water on it, I always kept in inside the kayak in a BDH drum. For on the water shots I’ve had a collection of waterproof compact cameras; none of them lasted long.
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.
I’ve seen a camera that would be ideal it’s a Canon 450D with an 18 – 200mm image stabilizing lens; trouble is its £820 and I’m out of work at the moment. So do I stick with the powershot and put up with its shortfalls or do I go back to carrying the OM and using film?

Night Owls

For the last few years some friends and I have been going to Loch Lomond on a November weekend to do some night time kayak orienteering. We base it around the campsite on Inchcailloch Island. The check points are lightsticks floating just off shore around the Loch. There's a code written on each lightstick which you have to get. It's all very low key and great fun. Afterward there's bar-bee-que and the next day we go all the way round again collecting up the lightsticks.

Brewing up whilst picking up the sticks.
The morning after, setting off from the campsite on Inchcailloch. (photo Peter Baker).

This is me in a borrowed plastic Nordkapp, very nice boat. Not so keen about having a flash gun fired in my face whilst night paddling. (photo Ray Wilson).

Another night shot, I don't mind so much when it's behind me. (photo Ray Wilson).

Setting off.
The Inchcailloch campsite, you can book it through the National Park.

Back again.

I've decided to give blogging another look, hopefully things will be ok this time. I've changed the name to "Into the great solitude" after a book by Robert Perkins. The name just says where I like to go; whether mentally or physically I'll leave up to you to decide. The header photo is of me just after rolling in the Clyde at Fairlie near Largs. We'd just had a really nice day out paddling around the Cumbrae Isles.