Sunday, 12 December 2010

Maiden Voyage.

At last we managed to get out paddling today, not quite the sea but a very fridge Loch Lomond. Really pleased with the new kayak. The water was still, the sun was shinning, it was flat calm but at least we were out.

Peter Baker.

Ray Wilson.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

A chilly night out.

I went down to my sister's over the weekend for a family party. Had a nice time catching up with everyone. Driving back on monday, I'd listerned to the East Midlands weather forcast, it said snow showers from 15.00 onward in Scotlands central belt. So, when I crossed the high ground south of Glasgow, without seeing any falling snow, I thought I'd be ok. Ten miles from Hamilton services I ran into the back of mayhem. The snow had been falling all day, the snow ploughs hadn't been able to clear the roads so the snow was hard packed and the heavy lorries couldn't get traction and were stuck. By midnight I'd got as far as half way up the M73, about 13 miles from the start of the jam.
It became clear that this was as far as I would be getting. I wriggled into my sleeping bag, rapped my down jacket around me and tried to rest. Not the most comfortable night I've ever spent. Around 05.00 things started moving and in a series of short hops I moved up to Castlecary. Here in the road works the lanes are divided off by cones. Up ahead a 40 tonner lost grip and began to slid back down the hill. I was stuck once again when suddenly a motorway maintenance gang appeared from nowhere. They moved the cones and cleared the snow so we could change lanes and get around the lorry. I finally got home at 09.00, 26 hours after leaving Leicestershire.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Atlantic RM

Yesterday was my birthday, how did I ever get to be that old? That wasn't part of the plan. I spent the day driving, talk about a busman's holiday. I went up to Oban to pick up my new kayak. A shiny red Northshore Atlantic RM. I took it to the pool last night, rolls really well. Today was to have been it's maidan voyage, but we woke to deep snow and high winds. Should have gone for a walk instead but somehow didn't manage to get around to it, just mooched around the house. I'm not sure when I'll get to paddle the kayak as I've family commitments next week. Hopefully get on the water before Christmas.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

New Kayak?

A few weeks ago I brought this lovely old North Shore Shoreline kayak. It needed a lot of TLC but was basicly sound. Unfortunatly it's to small for me. The front bulkhead has been set back so it could be used as a footrest. The lady I got it from was very petite, she had 6 inches of foam against the bulkhead. Even with this removed it's still about two inches to short.

I thought about moving the bulkhead, but that is such a pig of a job, I've decided to sell it on. So far, I've taken off the old backdeck mounted pump and I'm replacing it with a new hatch. There's a third bulkhead behind the seat with a screw in hatch mounted on it. This digs in to your back when sat in the seat. I'll be taking this away and blanking the hole off. I've spent today sealing the skeg box which leaked a bit. When all the work is done I'll put it on the market, I'm thinking of asking £600 for it.
I'l be putting the money from the sale towards one of these, an Atlantic RM, again from North Shore. Plastic because a, I can't afford a new fibre glass one, and. b, Plastic takes the knocks better. A couple of weeks ago I tried to get my 4 star, I didn't get it, and the old Anas Acuta took quite a beating. I'll still be keeping the old Anas but the plastic one will be more of a workhorse.

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Three star Dave Crocket, not me.

My atemps to slowly climb the BCU ladder took a bit of a down turn last weekend. Not good enough at controlling the boat in moving water. I just wasn't making the eddies well enough for three star in open canoe. Oh well.

Me atempting self rescue, it's much easier in sea kayaks.

The other on the course, all very good canoeists.
Lunch break on the Tummel.

Monday, 23 August 2010

More of the east.

The mistic east

Scotland's west coast is a world famous paddling destination. What is less well known is that the east coast is every bit as good.

Up the Clyde.

A few weeks ago I went over to the Clyde to join up with my old friend Peter and some of his cronies. The plan was to paddle up the Clyde from the Erskine Bridge. Then take the Whitecart river up to Paisley abbey in the middle of the city; not your normal sea kayaking trip. Low water stopped us under the car park. Then we went further up the Clyde to see some new war canoes being made.
Should we really be this close?
Paisley city centre.

The Waverley.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

20 years on.

In 1990 I went ski touring in Norway, the weather was atrocious. Afterward back in England I was talking with some mates down at the climbing club about it. One friend, Phil said he'd always wanted to go sea kayaking in Norway. I said "tell me more", soon after I got my first sea kayak. We decided to have a trial run in Scotland and meet up with some friend of Phil, Brian and Steve. Our route went from Arisaig to Egg on the first day and then on to Rum and Soay on the second day. From there we made out way back along the southern coast of Skye; not bad for a first trip. Eventually Phil emigrated to America and we lost touch with Steve but I still keep in contact with Brian and every year or two we have a trip out on the west coast. This year we went out to Canna and then back to Rum and Soay, twenty years after we first padled this way.
Brian paddling off soay 1990.
Brian (standing) and Phil taking a lunch break on Rum 1990.

Brian with Basking Shark Canna 2010.

Brian taking a lunch break on Rum 2010.

Sunday, 6 June 2010


Arbroath to Auchmithie, the slowest three miles you'll ever paddle!

Rocks, caves, sunshine and just a little swell, heaven.
I took my camera but didn't take a single shot, I was that absorbed in the paddling. These were taken by Ray Wilson.

Monday, 31 May 2010

Gigha; it's always worth going.

Went to paddle around the Isle of Gigha over the weekend. The weather really didn't look good as we drove down in heavy rain. Some of the party had gone down friday night and had been held up by a road accident at the "Rest and be Thankful" pass. As we packed the rain stopped. As we paddled the 3 miles across to the island the wind dropped. We pitched our tents by the pub and had a little siesta. By three o'clock things started looking brighter. We decided to go up to the top of the island and have a look. Once at the top it was flat calm so we carried on around. We were back at the campsite by seven and a merry evening followed.

Chel so

The campsite at "The Boathouse".

Christine and Greg

Ray hard at it.
On Sunday the sun really came out we went and played around some skerries before heading home. There was another accident at the Rest and be Thankful; ha ho.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Isle of May.

As the video takes up so much space on the camera card I only took this one still. It shows the landing beach.

I took these shots with my compact camera in it's waterproof case, I used a cheep table top tripod tied to my deck elastics. I have to remember not to edge the kayak whilst filming as it tips the camera to much.

Isle of May 2.

Part 2, there were hundreds of Guillemots, Razerbills as well as Puffins. The Puffins and Turns didn't seem to be nesting yet but the Eider ducks were mostly hatched.

Isle of May 1.

Sunday was a lovely hot sunny day so 16 paddlers from Fife Sea Kayak Club made the 5 mile crossing to the Isle of May. I made this video of paddling the west coast of the island, it's to big to upload in one go so I've split it into 3 parts.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Return leg.

From Tarbert Bay to Mallaig is only ten miles but it was the hardest day of the trip. The wind was force 4 from the north west and was being funnelled down Loch Nevis. We hugged the shore and used what shelter we could but it was a slog.
Mad Tom's "Whale" boat.
A welcome break on the shore of Loch Nevis.

Looking across to Inverie, you never can see the wind.
Once out of Loch Nevis the funnelling effect stopped but the wind was now on our beam and my kayak has no skeg. It wasn't so bad in the rough bits around the small headlands but the smooth bit in between were hard work.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Tarbert Bay Bunkhouse.

We spent the night at the bunkhouse in Tarbert Bay, what a place? As you can see it's an old church complete with resident ghost. It's kept by an old climber called Frank, he kept us entertained all night with a constant string of really filthy jokes. it cost us £2 a head, half the price of the campsite. we didn't see the ghost.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Loch Nevis.

Next day we set off down the Inverie River and into Loch Nevis. The tide was against us but the wind was with us. The paddle down the Loch was nice and layed back, the sun came out and the winds were light. At Kylesknoydart we paused for a photo session before playing in the tidal narrows for a bit. Kylesknoydart.

At the head of the Loch stands Sourlies Bothy, our lunch stop. Here we met a couple of walkers, they were trying to walk from Fort William to Cape Wrath. Neither of them was in the first flush of youth and seemed to have really underestimated the route. They'd been walking for three days and had already been lost and taken a major wrong route. They were knackered and really down. Their route would have taken them into the Knoydart peninsular all really hard going. They said they were going to walk around the coast. I didn't have the heart to tell them that there wasn't a path and it would be even harder going that way. As we left, I saw them set off, the woman was walking with two poles and limping away at the back.

Sourlies Bothy.
Heading back up the Loch the wind had gotten up, it was now a steady force 4. We creeped around the southern shore all the way to Tarbert Bay.

May Day

Saturday was May Day, a group of us headed up to Mallaig. Not sure why Mallaig as it's a horrid place to put in; but that's where we started. We paddled around into the mouth of Loch Nevis, there's a nice beach by the islet of Eilean Giubhais where we had our lunch.
Eilean Giubhais.

We took a bimble around Sandaig Bay before heading into Inverie for the night.
Sandaig Bay.

Long beach campsite, Inverie.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

The sweet river Clyde.

On a stormy night in January 1974 a Greek ship "The Captayannis" dragged it's moorings, hit a tanker and was holed. Her captain run her into a sandbank in an attempt to save her but she capsized and 8,000 tons of sugar dissolved into the Clyde. 36 years later she's still there a slowly rusting land mark. Six of us paddled out to her last sunday.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Busy, busy, busy.

Last week I went up to Skye, over the weekend I was camping at Sligachan the windist place on the whole west coast. I was using a tent I'd been given a couple of years ago and hadn't gotten around to using. It's a Vango Equinox - not really a mountain tent - so it did well to stay up.
On Sunday I went for a walk arond the base of Sgurr nan Gillean (965m). Last time I went winter climbing on this mountain I was avalanched out of a gully along with my Brother and his girlfriend.
Sunday night the campsite was hit with a force 8 gale and torrential rain, still the tent stayed up. I didn't get much sleep so by first light I was packed up and away down to Breakish near Broadford. This is Gordon Brown's new home; I was doing my four star training with him. Fortunately we were in the classroom for the first day as the gale blow itself out.
Tuesday saw us down at Armadale rockhopping. Now I love rockhopping and this was doing it in conditions that I'd never get anyone from my club out in, let alone anywere near the rock. Needless to say there was quite a lot of gelcoat left on the rocks. One lad even managed to snap the nose off of one of Gordon's plastic Nordkapps. Really good time but can't say I really learnt much.
Next day we went to Kyle Rhea, here we did self rescues, practiced pretending to repair a holed kayak whilst still afloat. Delt with unconscious casualties in the water, did the scoop rescue, paddled in tide and wind, rolled, much more like I was expecting. All in all a great if expensive time.
This Saturday, I played along on my friend Ray's three star assessment, we did this on our home water, the Firth of Forth. That really is enough BCU crap for sometime, so Sunday we went for a layed back paddle on Loch Long.
We put in by the RFA jetty north of Portincaple. There was a yanky Destroyer on the jetty, the police launch guarding the destroyer pulled us over as we set off. The copper on board was most apolgetic as he took our names and addresses. After that we went around to Carrick Castle for a bite to eat, then onto Ardentinny for another break. Out in the Clyde a submarine was going through manoeavers, surfacing and diving. This was the first time I'd been paddling without a drysuit this year and it felt really good to be without that tight neck seal. On the way back I even went without my cag it was so warm and calm.