Sunday, 28 December 2014

Paddling My Own Canoe

I've done a fair bit of canoeing from the front seat. However, this autumn I decided to learn how to paddle by myself. My first outing was a trip on the Tay from Kenmore to Aberfeldy with STAUCC's freshers trip. Learn by doing.

Looking out on a windy and wavy Loch Tay.

The scariest part of the trip came right at the start - paddling around the bottom end of the loch into the mouth of the river. The waves were big, the wind coming straight down the loch. Paddling on one side just wasn't going to cut it, so, just in case, I had brought my touring paddles. Paddling with them I made it round into the river, though it was still terrifying!

Made it into the river! Now I just wait for the kayakers to catch up...

Eventually the first group of kayakers caught up and I floated down with them as they played a funny game involving passing a ball around as many times as possible. Soon, the grade 1 began and it was amazing how much more unsettling tiny riffles are when you're in a 15 foot long boat. The levels were very, very low, so there were rocks everywhere!

Just above the Chinese bridge rapid.

The main rapid of the day, a grade 2 under the Chinese bridge, was easier than I thought it would be, with very few rocks in the main stream. I bobbed down easily enough, though some of the freshers managed to find some rocks that I hadn't even noticed. I gave one girl a ferry ride back across the river to her boat! Off we went, down the long river. I was very thankful for the extra speed of the open boat over the little river boats, as there was a lot of flat.

At one point I did some ferry crossing on a powerful jet - getting the hang of this thing now.

Photo by Kathryn Haddick.

Photo by Kathryn Haddick.

Photo by Kathryn Haddick.

The get out in Aberfeldy.

My second trip was downstream of this, from the SCA access point to Grandtully. A step up in difficulty, but not too far. Thankfully there was a bit more water, so a lot less rocks.
I was tagging along with a beginner trip, so I got to practice ferry gliding and eddying with everyone else. It requires a lot more concentration than you might think!

Off we went down the river. Some bouncy rapids, eddying and ferry gliding and we were at Grandtully. I don't think I've ever inspected with that much intensity. Despite my intense inspection I was still on the water and paddling down before any of the kayakers were finished looking. I came up to the top drop, the most difficult move, as slowly as possible and slid down neatly. Unfortunately I was a little too far to the right and got spun around in the flow by the tail of the eddy in the middle. There wasn't enough time to turn the boat around, so I sneakily just turned myself around and paddled into the eddy from there! Quick breather, then out and down the final easy shoot to the bridge. So awesome!
Photos taken by my lovely husband.

Just after sneakily turning around in the boat.

I'd also brought my Jed, so I went for a play while the uni club faffed around. I rescued some of their kit during some carnage filled moments too.

I'm quite liking this solo paddling thing!

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