Sunday, 22 September 2013

The land of giants

Looking out to the Bass Rock
A few weeks back Hubby dear and Dangeroo Dave were running a 3* sea assessment for LSKC, I went along for the jolly, dish out sweets and generally make up numbers.
Our first day was out from North Berwick with a little jaunt east towards the Leithies Rocks where the group were guiding their shut eyed partners round the rocks. It's a bit un-nerving being guided by a river paddler who kept insisting on stating the wrong edge!
Later we had a nice wee paddle over to the Bass rock, always great to get out there again.
Heading out
Getting ready for some "rescues"
Peek a boo!
Next day, we were leaving from North Berwick again and headed out to Craigleith where the group were put through their paces, what with having so many ill, tired, sick paddlers all needing towed!
Our next island was the Lamb where  Dangeroo Dave  found a neat wee keyhole inlet where the group had to do their turning whilst dealing with a lovely swell! Hubby dear had them cutting through other narrow wee channels still aided with the swell. All great stuff.
The ups and downs of surf
Round by Craigleith
Aline concentrating
At least Sandy didn't loose the heid!

Then onto Fidra, never been to this island before, where we stopped for a spot of lunch. Although there was a fair bit of swell especially round the islands, further out the sea was flat calm.
Lunch on Fidra
Playing in the swell of Fidra
Heading straight for a Rock! Rock! #*"!*##**! Rock!

 After lunch the haar came in - thick! Dangeroo Dave  asked me to set off on 180o, which I duly did with the rest of the group following, but with no sight of land, the sea being so smooth, the haar being so thick, it had a weird feeling. After a bit I realised I was blethering too much, was sitting on 150o so changed my course again, A bit more blethering (I like a good natter!) and realised I was on 210o. Oops! Dangeroo Dave was a bit surprised at my zig zag route, Hubby dear is used to my blethering! Ahead of us a shape eventually appeared, Sandy and I reckoned it was the mast of a yacht in the distance, when all of a sudden this yacht suddenly flapped it's wings! It was a cormorant sitting on a rock.  Another couple of paddle strokes when all of a sudden giants started to appear through the gloom. We were almost on the beach. These figures looked like the shadows of people - really long, really weird! This haar was a bit delusional! We could see for miles above us, but only a few feet round about us.
Beautiful views
Could be a Vettriano painting!
 We followed the beach along, feeling sure someone had stolen North Berwick. It was interesting coming back in through the skerries. We had to keep far enough out so as not to land on the rocks with the swell, but close enough in to see where our landing spot was. All very surreal!

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Canoeing, my alternative therapy.

My interest in open canoeing has been increasing of late. Originally, I would avoid the canoe like the proverbial plague! They were big, heavy, hard to handle and if there was more than the merest breath of wind, I had absolutely no control at all!
Coming down from Aberfeldy
 During my journey to my L2, I "had to" learn to paddle with a single blade, so therefore I was out in those enormous boats more often. The more I was out and learning, the more I was beginning to enjoy canoeing. In the end, the best part of my L2, apart from passing, was being forced out in the canoe more often, although I still had a lot to learn.
 I then noticed a 3* was coming up on Loch Lomond for which I duly signed up for - then wondered why I do these things, beginning to doubt my ability to pass.
I took the canoes out as often as I could up on the loch. I was kindly given a loan of a lovely little Argosy from Madmoogs while she was off peddling instead of paddling. I took it down from Aberfeldy to the top of Grandtully. It was the first time I'd been in faster moving water since being a mock student up at Knockando. The Argosy was fantastic, so light and comfy. It was decided not to run Grandtully as there were more rocks than water here, I've never seen this spot so low before (not that I intended paddling it anyway!, but Hubby dear and KP had run it a couple of weeks previously) I'd had a great time, I could feel myself really getting into this open boating malarkey.

A bit sunk, that's before icecream!

The following week was the 3* on a rather sunny, but very breezy(!) Loch Lomond. The sailing was interesting with one pair using a 2 man group shelter, one pair using a 4 man group shelter, we used an 8 man group shelter. It was enormous, the wind caught it and we zoomed, great stuff. I reckon we could have entered the tall ships race with that one! Another great time in the open boats - and a pass!
Hubby dear and KP are doing their 4* open boat leader awards which means they are spending more time practising and leading (me!).
Calm Loch Faskally
What goes up

Comes back down

Our next journey was up on Loch Faskally before heading up the bottom of the Garry for a little bit practising poling. I have to say, the Argosy isn't the easiest boat to pole!
Next was a trip up to Stanley. Madmoogs was back and unfortunately was looking for her Argosy back so I was in a club boat. I had forgotten how heavy they were. I was concerned again about managing to handle a heavy boat again, especially in faster water. No problems, we headed upstream to practise ferry gliding up by the island before having a go at lining. After lunch we made our way down to the weir. After a successful run through here, KP and Hubby dear had a bit of playtime in the waves. Had I been in a wee kayak, I would have joined them. I decided I'd be safer sitting at the side taking photies. Next it was down through Hellhole, before a long slog into the wind past the mill. KP had a wee play in the standing wave here, managing to flood the boat - Ooops!
Ferry gliding

Madmoogs back in her Argosy

Attempting lining

Coming through the Stanley weir

Hubby dear surfing the Stanley weir

Now was the bit I was a bit hesitant about, Thistlebrig. I've been down it countless times in a wee kayak at various water heights! first time in a canoe. I started off kneeling, perched nicely on the seat, through all the bumpy bits. By the time I had reached the bottom, I was kneeling in the bottom and beginning to realise how wide this boat is, feeling like I'm almost doing the splits! It was actually easier than I thought it was going to be. Now for the gentle paddle down to Luncarty to the get out.
Yet another great trip in the open canoe. Maybe one of the best parts was, I have a well goosed back which takes a lot of stretching and exercise to keep it from seizing up. Normally I'm fairly decrepit by the time I'm getting out of my kayak (I'm fine while I'm paddling), but after a day in the open boat my back felt great. The different paddling position makes a huge difference.
My thought is, as I feel my work has contributed to my back problems, then I should be able to buy a company canoe and charge it to my work as an alternative therapy treatment. As I'm self employed I'm not quite sure what my accountant would say to that!