Sunday, 13 November 2011

Tay Descent

Up at Dunkeld
After last years Tay Descent, which we never managed to paddle - work got in the way, Ken and I decided we'd give this years a bash. We've done the stretch from Loch Tay down to Thistlebrig a few years back and remembering how some of the sections were a bit long, flat and slow we decided to try it in our sea kayaks. I've never paddled a sea boat on the river before and was definately not taking my Avocet down through Campsie. One Friday evening, a few weeks before the big day, we took a Carolina and a Mystic (a very old, but still very good boat) up for a trial go. There had been a lot of rain previously and the river was running fairly full. I'm used to paddling this section in a small river boat where you can turn and spin quite easily, but a sea boat in the fast flow was a bit strange. After going over the weir successfully, I'd decided I was quite happy to do the descent with the Carolinas.
The evening before the descent, we popped up to Perth to register, collect our goody bag, including a Tunnocks caramel wafer, yummy, and listened to Ray Goodwins canoeing talk.

The put in
Me still upright
Ken stayed upright anyway
Next morning I was up bright, early and full of the cold, but hey ho, I'd be fine with a bit of fresh air. We were starting off up at Dunkeld with masses of other paddlers. We set off fine having a wee chat with anyone who we were passing or was passing us. We or should I say I was doing fine until Campsie. We were guided to the 4th chute, which is where I decided a wee cool down swim would do my nasal passages the world of good!. I went over and literaly fell out of my boat. I was worried in case I was the only / first person to swim. When I turned round just about everyone behind me was doing the same. It did make me feel a bit better. Back in the boat, we bobbed down the next bumpy bit. We then were at the weir. There was an aluminium canoe getting lined up in front of us to go over. All you could hear was a big grating noise as they took the wrong line. Next thing they were upside down and out of the boat. Ken managed to rescue one guy and get him to the side. The safety bloke got the other one a good bit further down. The boat was busy going round Hellhole corner. The only bits that were visible were the tips of the bow and stern. The poor safety girl at the bottom of Hellhole was only in a tiny river boat and couldn't cope with this beast. Ken chased it down, before eventually jumping in, dragging it to the side away down by Stanley Mills. This did slow our time down even more than my wee swim, but we weren't doing it for the time. We then bobbed down Thistlebrig, the river was quite high so there wasn't much to it that day. After that it was flat the rest of the way, but the wind had really picked up, straight into our faces of course. I was glad when we got to the finish line. I reckon I would have done better if I was fighting fit and not also carrying three weeks of excess holiday tum! I also don't know if we really benefitted from using the sea boats as opposed to river boats. I probably wouldn't have had my swim and the sea boats were actually quite heavy in the end. We all live and learn. I still enjoyed the day, the paddle and the natter with other paddlers and especially the soup and sandwiches at the end.
The welcome finish
Back in dry clothes, cosy and warm

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