Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Chocolate eggs and sea monsters

Last Friday, three of us set off from Silver sands at the back of 7 in the evening for a short night paddle. The plan was to head out round Hawkcraig point, across the bay  to Braefoot, then cut across and round Inchcolm.The day had been fairly miserable up until then with thick haar which kept rolling in, in big, cold, damp clouds. England and Wales had been put on a smog alert as the air had been so still. We didn't seem to have had any wind either, so I  was expecting mill pond like conditions. Once we had rounded the point, we found that there was quite a swell with the occasional white horse. Lovely paddling conditions when we could see, but I admit to being a bit wary about these horses galloping up on us in the pitch dark! One good thing though, the haar had cleared and we had a beautiful sunny evening.

Honestly, I haven't had 1 too many choccy eggs

Ken approaching Inchcolm
 By the time we had a slow paddle round and across to the island, getting followed most of the way by the usual inquisitive seals, the sky was getting quite dark. We weren't going to have to stay on the island too long for the dark to come down. We stopped for a coffee and a Cadbury's cream egg, the things I do for chocolate.

Do you think the radiation is still a problem here

We put on our head torches and attached our glowsticks to our backs. We decided to aim back upstream a bit as the tide was going out and the flow can be quite strong at times and headed across towards Braefoot again. This was Bart's first evening paddle, so we wanted to keep him between the two of us.


 We reached the shipping channel to find a boat approaching. We stayed put to allow it to pass us, only to find another one approaching. We allowed that one to pass as well. We may have right of way over the boats, but I'm not arguing with them. This one had spotted us, put their lights on us and asked if we were heading in to Aberdour. When we said we were, they shouted back, "That's OK, we'll not need to tell the others!"
As we were heading across the shipping channel after explaining to Bart, that once we start to cross, we have to really "gie it some welly " and clear the channel fast, I get a bit concerned when all stops for a photo shoot! I get even more concerned when I look to the right to see the most enormous sea monster which has appeared from nowhere. This tanker was huge and was sharing the same bit of water as us! I shouted at Bart to get a move on, this boat wouldn't even go bump as it flattened us! Another couple of paddle strokes and Bart decided to get another photo. I reckon he was trying for a close up without the zoom lens!!! Luckily, this boat was getting towed in to berth, but it could still shift. After a bit more yelling at Bart (he must by now think I'm a nag, could be right, but I like the thought of surviving my trips) we made it into Aberdour bay. The crossing itself had been surprisingly smooth. The waves seem to have been ironed out. As we approached the point to turn into Silver sands again, the chop got up again, but we didn't have far to go.
It's funny how in the dark the surf sounds huge. As we were approaching the beach, I was getting ready for my landing and was a bit surprised to find the "surf" was just a tiny ripple.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Just add water

Last weekend, Hubby dear and I spent our time at the Club Coaches weekend up at Glenmore Lodge. Arriving on the Friday evening, we quickly dumped our bags and headed straight for the bar where we bumped into a couple of guys I did my level 1 with last June. It was great seeing them again and catching up with all their adventures. After a rather delicious dinner (the food is rather excellent at Glenmore), we had a good natter with Wullie, the poor long suffering coach who assisted with the level 1. I wasn't sure he would remember who I was, but I think the nightmare of me and open boats will probably stick with him for a long time yet.
Next morning was spent getting various SCA updates, then more food. The afternoon saw me at the "coaching young paddlers" module. It was great to hear other coaches stories about the joys young paddlers can bring to us, such as not wanting to put kit away, disappearing before kit is put away, preferring to splash and soak anyone in the near vicinity. It made me realise that our club is pretty much like any other club. Wullie (yes, he had to put up with me for another afternoon) summed it up by saying it can be like herding kittens, so true.
The evening was sponsored by Balvenie whisky and saw us having a wee whisky or three with our tea. We were then surprisingly upstairs in the bar where there was "A question of paddlesport" quiz organised. Quite how Giles figured out the marking, I'll never know. One question right, 1 point. Any more right, have a few extra points, seemed to work.
Next morning was when we should be getting wet. Our course was "Intro to surfing". Our problem was beautiful, sunny weather and no waves! Our group headed upstairs to go over how to predict when the surf will be there with weather and surf reports, surfing etiquette and watched some surfing videos of how surfing should be done. We then all traipsed outside to go over different styles of surf boats. Marty then arrived with 6' garden canes. He explained they were used to mark out the beach to show where the surf area is and where the paddling out area is. So far so good. Next he took two canes with rubber bands at each end and stepped into them - a boat. He then stood at the top of a grassy slope (this was the wave) and started running up and down explaining which edge to use and how to get back on the wave. Looked absolutely hilarious but was extremely effective at showing how to use your body to move the boat. It was then our turn. We donned our "boats" and took turns at "surfing" much to the delight of the group who were stuck in a classroom all day "coaching the mind" who had now come out on their balcony to watch. Marty then brought out an inner tube, put his boat on it and showed us the effects of edging and good posture. Another very effective teaching aid. Hubby dear did suggest I get one for coaching. I did say I already had a spare tyre, but it wasn't quite the right one, although after all Glenmore's yummy food, my spare tyre might be just as effective.

Getting our instructions

Now our turn
With real paddles!
We then took the boats down to a lovely, calm Loch Morlich with not a single wave in sight where we had a go at paddling the surf boats, rolling them, then doing rescues and generally playing. So when I say, just add water, we did have water, just not the right type.
On Loch Morlich
Hats off to John, Fiona, Marty and Matt for giving us such a great days flat surfing. Hopefully we'll see you in a couple of weeks at Sandend and hopefully there might even be some waves.