Monday, 8 August 2011

Garry 3, Kerrara 1, Ice cream 2

Last Monday, I got a frantic phone call from Cathy at Sea Kayak Oban, to say the 4 kayaks that were ordered for FCAG were on their way back up north and that Stuart could meet up with us at Stirling services at 7.00pm that evening. After a few phone calls to rearrange my evening, we headed over to Stirling to collect two of the kayaks, brand new North Shore AtlanticLV, still in their polybags. We would collect the other two at the weekend.
On Saturday, Kevin had arranged a river trip up to the Garry, a bit north of Fort William. A long way off meant an early rise (I'm not very good at them), but Kevin, Kris, Craig, Bill, Liam Ken and myself all met up at the boatshed for 7.30.

We arrived at the river at about 11.00 and once we had dropped the cars off at the bottom, we had a walk up the side of the river. As I was the only one never to have paddled this river before, Kevin was pointing out the different drops and what lines to take, not that I remember any of this once I'm on the water. We put in just below the dam, next to the huge tunnel, hoping they didn't decide to release through here all of a sudden.
Where's Kris

Still Bill
 We had a wee play around up at the top, before starting to head down. It wasn't too long before I found out I could still roll! Down to the next bit with a lovely wave, good for side surfing, (well it is for some folks). At the last drop, I followed Kevin's line and survived it all. A nice, short trip, but really good. We got out for a quick bite to eat, when Bill decided he was finished paddling for the day.We loaded the boats into the back of his van and walked up the left hand side of the river, jumped in just below the wave and swam to the opposite bank and up a bit to get the boats again.For some paddlers this is the only way they swim in a river, but not me!
Is this on the swim count Kevin
Sarah getting more water logged
Another one for the swim count
Back up the top, another play, then down to the wave again, this time I managed a good surf before coming out upside down again. Back to the last drop where I followed Ken's line this time. I never got far before I was upside down with the paddles ripped out of my hands, I was in for a bumpy swim back down to the bottom. Boats back in Bill's van, back up the left hand side of the river again (Kevin was determined to get more wild Blaeberries), back in for another swim across the river and back in our boats for a quick last run. All was going well until the last drop. I followed Kevin again, but no luck. I was suffering from deja vu. Upside down, paddles ripped out of hands again, bump, bump, bump down to the bottom. Despite having 2 intentional swims and also 2 unintentional swims, I had a great time, what's more, I think it must be the first river I've paddled down without letting slip a wee sweary - must have been good.

The others all headed back down the road while Ken and I headed down to Inchree to the Glendevin B & B. Next day the weather had turned a bit windy and miserable as we headed down to Oban to collect the other 2 new sea kayaks for the club. We got changed, picked up the kayaks and had a wee stroll down to the slipway, stopping the traffic as we went to get across the street.

Shiny new boats
Ken posing
 Ken was paddling the Atlantic LV, while I was paddling the regular Atlantic, both with new paddles. We headed up round the top of Kerrera and down the other side, stopping off in Slatrach Bay for eats.

Cuddles are hard to get with 2 B.A's
Grandma at Gamhna island

Ken in his lively LV
  The regular Atlantic is a very comfy, nice boat to paddle. As we were coming round the south end of the island, the wind and tides were kicking up some decent waves, but my boat still handled it easily. The LV was a bit more lively at this point. We turned into the Sound of Kerrera where we swapped boats so that we could try each one out.

Lots of yachts


Ken heading home
 We were sharing the Sound with approximately 100 yachts as they finished a race. Back in Oban, we stopped the traffic again as we took the boats back up to the car. Once they were tied on, it was off for an icecream (of course), a  double (of course), Bailies and Ferrero Rocher, I'm sure it was the low calorie version.
What a great weekend.

Monday, 1 August 2011

A wee jaunt down from Stanley

Raring to get on the river
Ken, happy to be in his boat again
When we found out there was to be a trip up to Stanley in July, we didn't sign up too quickly. It was my big birthday on the Friday, with Hubby Dear organising a family barbecue for the Saturday, however he obviously intended going as the boats and kit were in the car before the family arrived. Sunday arrived and I blearily crawled out of bed. We would meet the rest of the group at the river rather than the boat shed, anything for an extra 5 minutes in bed. Sunday was a glorious day and brought out probably the most paddlers I've seen on the Tay for a long time. Iain took his group off to coach them, while the rest of us headed up to the Linn for a play. Although this is now July, it's only the second time this year I've been up to this spot. I'm always a bit apprehensive when I first see the drop, especially when I've spent so much time in my sea boat lately.

Kris on the Linn
Steve in the Linn
Sarah coming through the Linn

Ken tailying
 My river boat always seems small in comparison. Once I'd been back and forward a few times, with lots of support strokes, I was a bit happier. We then headed down to the taily spot, I'm obviously getting too old now for tailies as I never managed any good ones, Ken faired better though. The others stopped for a bit of a break, while Ken and I headed down to the weir for a play. We managed a few good surfs, before the rest of the group arrived along with masses of other paddlers going through various assessments.

Sarah managing a surf

So is Ken
Kris too
Iain on the weir
Down to Thistlebrig, where Iain asked me to lead Gordon (whose already had 3 swims) down. Off we went bobbing down, chatting to Gordon, when I turned round just in time to see him going plop overboard again. He seemed to be upside down for ages, but he did come out, just as we were coming up to the big, bumpy, frothy bit. I doofed through this backwards, while rafted up to Gordon's boat with Gordon hanging on in between. It's usually me getting rescued. A great day for a paddle and a great way to recover from the shock of being old!