Tuesday, 28 January 2014

The launching of 2 boats. Part 2, Thankfully no Teithing problems

The launch No 2
The problem with me having my wee boat and Hubby dear not, meant I wasn't going to be out in it as much as I'd like. The solution, keep an eye open for a second boat. Much as I like my husband, he wasn't getting to share my boat, one of the reasons for getting a solo!
I knew this boat was to be used for coaching from as well as journeying and playing on the rivers, so when I spotted a lovely Freedom solo up for grabs, I started making enquiries. My next problem was that I'm up here in Fife, the boat was down in deepest Cambridgeshire (had to check the map to find out how far away that was, it's a long way!)
Thinking we were in for a long drive, I had mentioned it to a friend who then mentioned his son might just be going down to collect a Landrover from very close by. Problem solved! In the end the boat was up in Scotland in no time. I couldn't believe we had managed to get another boat in such good condition! Obviously well looked after by Nick.
No1 son complained about it, wondering where we would store all these boats! I think he felt we were doing to much SKIing, Spending the Kids Inheritance! I look on it as investment, if we didn't spend it, they would ask for a non returnable loan!
No2 son thought we could get more boats in the garage if we got rid of the freezer, he possibly understands us better, he's also a paddler!
No3 son just thinks Hey Ho! another boat!
Having a wee natter
Launch day for this boat was another cold day, well I guess it is winter! We met up with Madmoogs in Callander where we launched onto a fairly full Teith. None of the speeches and bottles of beer that I had, he's just not organised enough for that!
Catching a wave
Now Madmoogs turn
Now Hubby dear's turn
Colour co-ordinated
As Hubby dear is going for his MWE in the OC, Madmoogs and I were his students for the day. The sessions today were covering breaking in and out. Our first break out was just under the bridge where Madmoogs and I were having  a real wee natter about how good the 3 boats all looked, matching in red, but how Hubby dear would really need to change his grey drysuit for a purple one to match us!
After lots more breaking in and out, ferry gliding and catching what waves we could, we arrived at the bottom where a chorus of stecky groans coming from all three of us announced that our trip was over!

A nice, romantic, soft focus pic - no, just a smeary lens!
Next day to stop us seizing up too much, the pair of us were playing in the waves up at St Andrews. I'm saying playing, possibly getting pummelled would describe my time up there better, but all great fun!

Sunday, 26 January 2014

The launching of 2 boats. Part 1- A right Royal launch!

The launching of Sonic Too!

Just finishing off the beer
Just before I left for my holiday, I was fortunate enough to buy myself a new boat. Well, I'm saying new, it was second hand, but new to me and in such good condition that a fellow paddler did think it was a brand new boat, thanks to the care given to it by fellow SOTP member, Sue.
It's a lovely little We-no-nah Argosy. I had managed to have a try of a friends Argosy and loved it!
The launch was to be a gentle paddle on the Union Canal, plan to go in at Polmont, through the tunnel and out at the top of the Falkirk wheel.
Hubby dear being an icebreaker
KP as well
Sunny lunch spot

5 of us met bright and early on the very chilly Saturday morning, made our way to the canal, just to find it frozen solid! We decided to try the canal at Linlithgow where the barges had possibly kept it from freezing over - no, it was just as solid. Plan no. 3, we'd try Linlithgow loch! I've never paddled this wee loch before. We headed down to the waters edge. Thankfully the water was mostly unfrozen. As this was an official launch, I had brought a bottle of Hebridean Gold, not to smash, waste of good beer and makes a nasty mess, but just a wee swally! I had decided my new wee boat will be called "Sonic Too" after my much missed dog.
Linlithgow Palace
I have to say, launching in front of the palace was a rather lovely setting for my first paddle.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

What I do for a bacon buttie!

Well, back from a lovely, warm, sunny holiday where in nearly three weeks we got about 10 drops of rain - if that many!, straight into paddling back in Scotland where it's been chucking it down most of the time we've been away!
The open canoe start
Somehow Hubby dear and I managed to be talked into helping with the safety on the Tay Descent. It's 2 years since we had taken part in the descent and I always remember it seemed a long trip.
I opted for being a sweeper (last paddler making sure there were no stragglers) behind the single kayaks, whilst Hubby dear was sweeping behind the sea kayaks. It's been a while since I had been in a kayak on the river and the Tay was looking quite big!
Standing in the middle of a field up at Dunkeld on a freezing morning (I'm still on Florida thermostat!), I'm wondering why I offered to do this, possibly for the bacon roll we were provided with!
We got on the water and ushered paddlers to the other side for the start. That alone was quite interesting, some were coming along to use it for a coaching session, some "out to win!" and some for a good old jolly.
Happy to be back on the river!
As a sweeper, I didn't really see those out to win, the gun went off and so did they! I followed a coached session down til they decided to stop for tea, sweets, lunch, coffee! I carried on making sure they realised they would get picked up by the following group of sea kayaks.
A bit further on and Iain passed us in his seakayak. A few words of encouragement (such as paddle faster!) were shouted (he did do very well in the end).
Iain out near the lead
You can always tell on the Tay Descent when a "bumpy" section is close by, lots of fluorescent safety around. The top of the Linn was no exception. By this time Hubby dear had caught up and over taken us. There were a few chutes on the Linn running with a chicken chute at the far end. The Tay is my "local" river and I opted for the first or main chute. It was big, but that's the one I'm used to running. Just below the drop, 2 safety paddlers made their move. Did my running commentary coming through the bumps, sometimes swooshed round backwards, sideyways and even forward! (it's very swirley here) make them think I was a rescue candidate? I wasn't giving them a chance!
Slightly further down, the beach was littered with all sorts of kayaks, canoes and paddlers, recovering from their refreshing swims.
It was a great days paddling. A lot faster than 2 years ago, but then there was masses more water this time.
After that it was off to the show in Perth with our free tshirts. A tshirt and bacon buttie - well worth it!

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

You should give kayaking a try!

Our early morning alarm caller!
During our recent visit to the Gulf coast, we were having a walk round Lovers Key, a place we've visited on previous holidays. Along the way we came across a couple of ladies who were paddling a double sit on top and were having a breather on this sweltering hot day. They were excitedly telling us about manatees and dolphins they had seen before announcing "You should give kayaking a try, it's great!" We still don't know what was funnier, the fact that we should "give kayaking a try" or the thought of Hubby dear and me in a double! - I don't think so!
A bit further on, we saw our own manatees and ospreys.
The not so slow resident tortoises
White Egret
Belted Kingfisher
We hadn't planned on paddling this part of our holiday, that was to come on our next leg, down in the Everglades. We've paddled this area a good few times before and we were really looking forward to it. Unfortunately the US Government had other ideas! They were on shutdown. The whole of the Everglades is a National Park and was closed. You'd think it would be impossible to close such a vast area, but no, they managed! So no paddling for us there. We were only there a couple of nights anyway, long enough to have one of their fabulous grouper sandwiches washed down with an ice cold Bud.
A smiling local!
Blue Heron
Little Green Heron
Enjoying Grouper pieces and cold beer
Our next stop and final part was down to Key Largo, a wonderfully laid back area popular for diving, but as we still hadn't had our paddle, we had a little visit into Florida Bay Kayaks to put this right. Organised for the next day, we arrived back at the shop bright and early and was then taken over to Ocean side at Garden Cove where we launched, not in layers of thermals and drysuits like our previous paddle up on Skye, but just our cozzies, buoyancy aids and sun screen - bliss! We headed off round Rattlesnake Key, thankfully no rattlesnakes were spotted! We then cut across to Sound Point where we spotted Spiny Lobster in the mangrove roots. We cut right across Whitmore Bight to save a bit of time, we had to get to the bottom of Sound Point before lunch when the tide would change and it was still a good distance off as we hadn't been paddling fast, nosying around the mangroves. We passed Willie Point, then on past El Radabob Key where we paddled over a massive Eagle ray and made it to the bottom on time. We stopped on a small chain of islands for lunch and a wee snorkel with lovely little Butterfly fish before cutting back across to South Sound Creek where we passed over a nurse shark. Once back inside John Pennecamp park we had to make a bee line for ice cream which we guzzled whilst watching large iguanas wandering around folks sitting on the beach! We then cut through a channel back to the Gulf side only to meet another couple of paddlers just coming off the water. On finding out we were from Scotland, they asked if we knew of Gordon Brown. Their jaws almost dropped when we described the last time we were paddling.
Hubby dear crossing over to Rattlesnake Key
Lunch stop on our own wee island
Crystal clear water
Heading into Largo Sound
Green Iguana
Cutting through the channel

Next day, up bright and early again and off for a couple of dives. I was a bit nervous as we hadn't been diving since last year, I needn't have worried. We went with Key Largo dive centre who were superb! Just Hubby dear, our dive master and myself. We were out at Molasses reef where the water wasn't particularly deep, 35 and 40', but wonderfully clear. Lots of fishes, eels, corals and sponges. Quite surreal looking up through the clear blue water to see a Caribbean reef shark cruising past in one direction and a large ray drift past in the other direction, just like being in a giant marine tank!
About to be pushed in?

Last pic before the waterproof camera was no longer deemed waterproof!
Black racer

Colourful Red Cardinal
 Unfortunately holidays come to an end - just as the American government opened for business again. We did manage a walk through the now opened Everglades before getting back on the plane.
Wild Orchids

The End