Friday, 11 August 2017

Girls just want to have fun!

In August I was honoured to be asked to coach at the WSKF on Bute.
Busy Bute

Getting to grips with balance

Round the Burnt Islands
 I had 4 lovely ladies needing an introduction to seakayaking. What a thoroughly enjoyable weekend I had, all the more so as one of the ladies was battling cancer at the time and her determination was awe inspiring. I must have done OK as I have been asked to the Devon one this year.

Back home, we now have no shower and very little kitchen. The garage still doesn't want to come down. Time to head off again!

This time 5 of us, Andy, Ansgar, Alice, Ken and myself,  headed off to Lewis and Harris.

Shiants sunset
 Our first night was a flat calm trip out to the Shiants, that saw Andy sleeping fully clothed with one eye open most of the night due to the fact there wasn't much beach and the tide was fairly high! With a bit of a strong breeze forecast, we didn't want to hang around too long so after playing in and out the rocks at Galtachan, we cut straight back to the lighthouse at Rubha Uisinis  and up to Leumrabhagh.

 We then decided to camp outside the hostel at Reinigeadal as the weather was forecast to get really breezy. We managed a lovely trip out round Scalpay, a very fast, one way trip/surf the full length of Loch Seaforth and a walk over the hills to Tarbert for a swim, just to find the pool was closed due to lifeguard shortage!
Garenin Blach House
 We spent the next few days over at Garenin where we stayed in a Black House hostel, I would highly recommend it if you are in the area. From there we had trips out from Miaghaig, passing the "Cuma", no-one was home. and round the inside of  Great Bernera, another trip out from Carlabhagh round by a  stormy Craigearn and back in through a massive jacuzzi.
Sheltering from the "breeze"
 Unfortunately due to the drafty conditions, we were kept well away from all the outer beaches. The last of our time up in the Hebrides was spent storm watching!

Still a wee gap on the floor for our kit!

Even less kitchen now, but beginning to get new windows. Garage is eventually down to the foundations!

Warmer waters

Colourful waters!

Time for some warm water! A wee trip to Gran Canaria was in order.
Kitchen units are now in, still no shower. Garage is beginning to be rebuilt!
Spot the paddling kit on the line!

Time to get away again! 

Ice cream stop
Off to Torridon for a weekend with LSKC this time. We had great trips out on Loch Sheildaig, managing an icecream at the hotel there. Next day, we had a mass paddle out from Arddaroch, passing Kishorn island, round to the coral beach then in to Plockton for icecream. As good a weekend for socialising as it is for paddling!
More paddling kit drying!

As for the house, garage is getting there, heating is in and the decorating is just beginning (my job!) Guess I'll need to stay at home a bit now!

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

A visit to Old Harry, Just what the Doc ordered!

It's not often that Ken and I get the chance to paddle just the two of us together so after Jersey we decided having come so far to spend a bit more time down south. Of course it helped having our own boats with us so our first day out was to visit "Old Harry". We put in at Swanage Bay, headed out along the wonderful white cliffs of the Jurassic coast. In and out of caves, arches and pinnacles before reaching Old Harry, quite a spectacular coastline. We then returned the same way with our get out right beside an icecream booth! 2 scoops of ginger icecream to finish off the day - yum!

After a few "dry" days we visited Port Issac, home to Doc Martin, such a pretty area, it would have been such a shame not to paddle it!

Back home, it was good to see that the builders had done some work! Demolishing walls, garage, hauling out windows, chimney down, nothing but stoor everywhere! Time to go paddling again!

In July, 6 of us, David, Paul, Colin, Martin, Ken and I met up for breakfast at Tescos in Oban before heading over to Ellenabeich to start our weeks trip round Jura. Boats loaded, off we went - slightly against the flow! Now anybody who knows the area knows this is going to be hard - it was! However we had to leave at this time to help us a bit later. After getting out my boat to haul it through a bit of a flow against me while cutting through the rocks, things started getting easier and we made it down to the bothy at the bottom of Scarba. Next morning after the mist cleared, we had a beautiful paddle across the Gulf of Corryvreckan to Jura. The tide was going with us (thankfully!), the sea was flat calm and we just flew down the east coast of Jura whilst watching a Minke a short distance off. 
Lussa Bay, Jura
   After stopping for lunch in Lussa Bay, we made it down to  Craighouse where we camped infront of the hotel. Only a couple of days into the trip, but still wonderful to get a lovely hot shower, then over to the hotel for dinner and a pint! Next morning the weather had changed! We passed a couple of young sea eagles as the tail wind blew us round the bottom to Rubha na traille, then a bit of a battle past Brosdale Island. 

Good drying day

Corpach Bay, Jura
We stopped off on the beach opposite for lunch, then a strong battle up the sound of Islay. The tide was with us, the wind certainly wasn't! We eventually made it up to the lovely beaches at Rubh'a'bhaillien. It was good just to flake out on my bed that night, just as well as the midgies were hell there! So 3 days into our week long trip and we were about 3/4 of the way there. Next morning, with empty boats , we had a wee trip up Loch Tarbert, up through the narrows, with our lunch stop at the lovely Cruib Lodge Bothy. Next morning, boats once again loaded, we had a shortish paddle up to Corpach Bay, what a stunning area with a fantastic waterfall that was just calling to be turned into a shower. It was bracing, but boy did I feel good after that shower! Another shortish day when we made our way up to Gleann Beag, stopping off at Glen Garrisdale bothy on the way.

The boys playing in the flow of Corryvreckan
 From Gleann Beag, we made our way across  the Corryvreckan again to the Garvellachs for lunch, then onto Belnahua where the "boys" had their own stone skimming contest!
Arty Farty!
 Our last day took us round Fladda before zooming back to Ellenabeich with a lovely tail wind and of course an ice cream!
Kayakey Kid rock hopping!
Out with Grandma and Grandad

A real seakayaker, complete with silly hat!
As we arrived back home on a Saturday and with the boats still being on the car, it seemed a shame not to make the most of that by going out again, so on the Sunday, we collected the Kayakey Kid, headed down to Seafield, paddled past all the seals,round to Kinghorn, to his Great Grans for strawberry tarts. As we were about to leave to come home, a huge pod of dolphins passed by - what a fantastic trip and right on our doorstep! Kayakey Kid now thinks all sea trips are like this!
Cool kid

Seal watching at Seafield
Back home, the house is still upside down. The garage has now started being knocked, it was just too wee for boats!

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Jersey Jaunts

Having not been on my blog for so long, I had decided to update it a wee bit when I came across this post - in draft! So rather than dump it, I'm posting, albeit nearly 10 months late!

Having eventually got the house sort of emptied and the car all packed, we were off!
After a long, long drive, we eventually arrived in Poole, parked up in the ferry carpark and closed our eyes. When we surfaced a couple of hours later,  another 2 cars had appeared, obviously having the same idea as us, driving down overnight. It was Lori and Antje, Anne and Alan all down from Scotland as well.

Where's the sun?

Thankfully the ferry crossing this year was less eventful than 2 years ago. They were a bit surprised and unprepared for so many kayaks boarding and not desperately helpful with it!
Our first paddle of the symposium was a day trip round the north of the island with Natalie, Mikeal and Eric. It was also great meeting up with Doris and Felix again. We were putting in at St Catherine's with it's massive breakwater, then heading round the coast to Greve de Lecq for lunch. We had the chance to explore lots of caves, cuts, a waterfall and a gloup.

In the gloupe

After lunch we were now heading round the west side of Jersey, past my "incident gap", past Stinky bay along the long bay at L'Etacq and Le Braye then round to Corbierre, our get out. A lovely paddle covering some of the island we missed the last time.

 When we go to symposiums, I always think it's good to take the chance of trying new activities, as does Ken - but quite why I let him talk me into this days activities, I'm not too sure.



 Cliffs and Caves! We made our way over to the next bay at St Brelade where we were kitted out with wetsuits, helmets and double sit on tops. A sit on top is bad enough, a double is worse, a double shared with Ken is worse yet! However off we went, across to the cliffs, where we jumped off the boats, clambered up the rocks and looked over the edge. Now I realise we were starting small, but to me this was big! Kevin gave us our instructions on how to jump, then proceeded to do a demo making it look so easy! When it came to my turn, I realised, I don't mind swimming around in swooshy, frothy water, I don't mind clambering up all sorts of rocks, but it's that bit, where your feet leave solid ground that I'm not happy doing! I did do a couple, but other than that, I would clamber up for a look, but that was enough. I was full of admiration to those who could just "take that step!" As for the caves part of the trip, the tide was out too far, so really it was just cliffs! Having chickened out of some of the jumps, I did still have a great day!

Day three, we were out Rock Gardening. This is likely to be the only type of gardening Ken is ever likely to do! Once again we were down at Corbierre Lighthouse. It really is a stunning location for paddling! This time Gordon split us up into smaller groups, my one being led by fellow Scot, Callum. We were practising timing - not my strong point!, then taking turns leading our wee groups round the rocks.
What was really surprising here was how many daft folks listen to the siren, the warning that the tide is about to cover the causeway, yet they still risk running across so they don't get wet feet!
In the afternoon we were down at St Brelade again. This time with a good Scottish turnout! Janet, Sandy, Alan, Anne, Lorri, Antje, Ken and myself all having a good giggle on the SUP's. We all had a great time, but I can't see the point on standing on one of those when you can have a nice seat in a kayak!

Lots of good wet fun!

A  SUP chain

This sunny afternoon was rounded off in the best way possible. Sitting on the beach eating icecream, before heading back to the hotel for a lovely cold beer!

One more go!

Day 4, surf's up! down at Le Braye. What a great time, always do with the surf. Don't know if I'll ever be really good at it, but who cares, it's fun! After that, we all piled into El Tico for eats.

Time for Tour de Rozel, the tiderace, next. This is a very fast bit of water zooming through between the headland and a rock. There just seemed to be kayaks going in all sorts of directions, all at great speed. Getting out was exhilarating, just don't like so  many boats close together. After an exhausting morning, we had pleasant, dry afternoon at the Orchid foundation.
Day 6, Ken obviously hadn't had enough zooming water the day before, so headed out to the tour again. Antje and I opted for a more gentle paddle, before going shopping in damp neoprenes for BBQ food for the evening BBQ at Greve de Lecq.

Unfortunately, we were now on our last day. There was a walk organised, however Ken, Julie and I went for a wee paddle out from St Brelade, round to Corbierre and back again.

A nice gentle paddle finished off a fantastic week, out with good friends, just fine!