Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Big Bash

Looking down under the Ballachulish bridge
From our room with a view
Perfect paddling conditions? No, the car park!
Ever since joining LSKC, we have been told we should attend their annual Big Bash up at Ballachulish, seems it is a really good weekend away. The thought of a couple of days paddling, meals included, comfy bed and a shindig at night sounded good, so we signed up.
Good Scottish paddling weather!

For our first days paddling, a day with Seakayak Freedom was arranged for the Falls of Lora. My previous memories of paddling this area was when we were doing the 4* training, specifically being towed by Hubby dear and another paddler in a V tow. Normally this would be lovely, sitting back enjoying the view, however, they had other ideas, paddling on either side of a large dry rock!
This time, Tony took us out. The large dry rock was on the other side of the bridge and safely submerged! We were doing lots of breaking in and out of the flow, giving it a bit more edge before heading over to the north channel, doing the same again in the opposite direction. Helped to unwind us.
Dry run edging!
Mark and Laura grabbing a breather

This was where things went downhill/downstream for me. Having been getting good edges on one side, I went in this time a bit hesitant (why, I still don't know!) and unsurprisingly ended up going over. Unsurprisingly, whilst still in the swirly area my roll failed. I'm saying unsurprisingly as my river boat roll is OK, unfortunately my sea roll went AWOL quite some time ago now!!!, however I have some tips from Tony I'm hoping will miraculously make it return! Something which did surprise me was my damp pants! My wee swim was obviously too much for my beloved drysuit!

Back in the boat, we finished off a fantastic, if not exhausting days paddling, before heading back to the hotel in time for the evening ceilidh.
On Oban slipway

Heading up the Sound of Kerrera
Looking over to a snowy Mull
 Next morning, Alice had organised a trip down to Oban to go round Kerrera. A lovely refreshing paddle with some bouncy waves round the north of the island. Lunch on the south of the island was accompanied by a sunny hail shower.
Coming round the south corner


Not a boat to play chicken with!
  For those of you who commented on the contents of my now famous wee blue sweetie bag containing sweets of various vintages, stickiness and saltiness, the bag has now been cleaned and replenished with new ones where you won't have to sook the wrappers off!
A few new sweets!
The only major incident of the day was not getting back to Oban before the ice cream shop shut! A whole weekend with no ice cream but a great Big Bash!

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Big boats on the Tay

Nice, new and still dry
This trip was to launch my new acquisition, my new Pyranha Burn, which I was lucky enough to win. I had been in and out the boat umpteen times, getting it fitted for me, all in the comfort of the bedroom (the spare one!)
Off we set for Stanley, where there were a few groups of paddlers, all interested in why I should be taking photos of the boat on the bank. Once they knew it was the prize boat, a few did say they had put in for the competition too. They seemed happy enough to have seen the boat, but probably much happier had they won it.
Launched at last
I jumped in and launched it, no beer this time. I thought I needed to keep my wits about me, it's a while since I'd been in a kayak.
Getting a feel for it
Down at the weir
The burn is really comfy, like a big armchair. A lot bigger than my other river kayaks, but still good fun to paddle. The river was quite high and there were a lot of fishermen around, so we didn't bother going up to the Linn. We had a bit of a play up at the wall, then down on the wave on river left, before heading down to the weir.
Having a wee shot

I even allowed Hubby dear a wee shot! I'd like to get a bit longer to play in the Burn to get a proper feel for it, we were just up for a short stint.
On the wave in the new boat
Same wave next day
Early next morning we were heading back up to Stanley with the sea kayaks for the 4th of the AWE sea sessions. We started off playing in the wee side river, ferry gliding back and forward, before doing the same using the full width of the river.
Grabbing an eddy

 After that, it was up to the wall for a bit more crossing the flow and eddy hopping before making our way further over to have a look at the Linn. We didn't stay long, it was really messy up there that day with no real eddies to sit in, just big swirly boils appearing from no where!
With the Linn behind
Aline, still upright in calm water!
Iain grabbing the wave
The only time Young Trevor got the edge right
 We headed back to the car for a bite of lunch before our afternoon session. Sandy was going to have a shot at leading down the weir. Hubby dear and Iain sat below the weir whilst we were above getting our instructions from Sandy. Whilst there, we were swooshed swiftly across to river right - too far! I was to take the first run down, the rest would follow. I followed Iain's directions to come further to the left. The full width of the weir was flowing making it quite hard to see where the chute was, so when Iain finished waving frantically, thinking I was there and with the full force of the flow pulling me to the edge, I went for it! Hubby dear and Iain just looked on in dread as I disappeared down into a hole - all 17' of boat and me! However, I popped back up and landed plonk bang in an eddy, nice and safe! I looked round to see where the others were, realised I had come down a slightly different route than I had planned, so went to indicate to them to move further over, by which time Aline had decided to capsize in the flat water, leaving her boat to come down far right! This was quickly followed by Phil, sideways, before he decided to bail, swiftly followed by Sandy - ditto! This left young Trevor still above the weir on his own. Not to be out done, despite me yelling at him to come further to the left, he also came over. Now Trevor is fairly invincible, using the wrong edge wherever possible and getting away with it - not this time. He became swimmer no 4.
Once all bodies, boats and blades were collected and returned to the rightful owners, we had a bit of an incident discussion as to what happened, why and how to avoid the same thing happening anywhere else. A real good learning curve with no injuries.
Heading towards Hellhole
 Off we set down past Hellhole corner with another wee swim. Phil decided to take the bouncy route, was perched on top of a rather large wave, with only thin air all around to put his support strokes into.
Back in the boat and sorted again, we found another eddy for a breather when Aline decided to have another swim. It seems Aline only swims in flat water and paddles the bouncy stuff well!
Next we were down through Thistlebrig with no swims - hurrah! Then it was a gentle paddle back to our get out at Luncarty.
Calm water at last
 A slightly damp day, lots learnt, but still a great days paddling in very different conditions for the sea boats.
Phil obviously hadn't swam enough and fell in getting out!

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

We May, we May not!

Heading out from Anstruther
Grabbing a breather in Pittenweem
Our third of the AWE sessions was meant to be a wee paddle out to the May island. The forecast at the beginning of the week looked good and everyone was looking forward to the trip. However, as the weekend neared, the forecast changed. It was decided that the trip could wait for another day as the winds were quite breezy and due to pick up more.
Playing around the rocks
Heading back to Anstruther

We still met at Anstruther, but headed along the coast instead, playing around the rocks. We had a couple of interesting rescues along the way, but other than that, a good paddle was had ending with a wee detour up the bottom of the Dreel Burn before heading over to the pub for a refreshing pint!
Making our way up the Dreel Burn