Volume 13 Issue 2

February 2013

February Paddler
The monthly newsletter of Liverpool Canoe Club

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Major Trip Reports.…

28/01/13   National League Canoe Polo Division 4

 

We are half-way through the season at Division 4 and our two sides are both mid-table, not bad for two brand new teams this year.  Indeed, our B team are only 1 win (3 points) away from a playoff place.  Many thanks to Scott Gibson who is running / organising the Div 4 league, and also to Dinny Davies for running the Division 3 League again this year.  All your hard work is appreciated.

 

 

 

If you would like to try Canoe Polo why not book onto the Halewood pool Session or speak to our Canoe Polo Representative.  Click for more information………

 

 

 

 

28/01/13   Introduction to White Water course – Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th January

Saturday 12th January

On a cold Saturday morning eight paddlers met up with Mike and Ruth for an introduction to white water course. After quickly changing and discussing preparation, boat outfitting and safety we warmed up.  Our warm up exercises didn’t quite live up to the ‘banana’ song and dance routine demonstrated by a nearby group of open canoeists but achieved their aim. As the snow began to fall, quite heavily, feelings of excitement were momentarily replaced by questions about what we thinking of, paddling in the snow.

 

While scraping the snow from our boats we watched an empty kayak being towed along the river followed by a young paddler on foot looking a bit crest fallen and very cold – his first day on the water. Fortunately, we had no swimmers! We got onto the river and practiced ferry gliding before carrying our boats across the snow covered fields to the railway bridge for some more ferry gliding practice. We paddled down to JJs for some well deserved lunch and coffee. Back on the water, Mike inspected the rapids. I was last to go down and felt a sense of empathy with footballers taking the last penalty – no pressure. After running the rapids we practiced breaking in and breaking out.

 

There was a little bit of queue jumping from the youngest member of the group, keen to show off his skills and put the adults to shame. It was a tight fit at times, with eight boats crammed into the eddy. There were a few collisions but despite this we all managed to avoid ‘eddy rage’. At this point a few of us decided it was time to call it a day and get warm while the rest had one last run of the rapids. All in all a great day was had by all. A huge thank you to Mike and Ruth!

Elle Rickards                                  

 

Sunday 13th January

A trip to Llangollen and a great opportunity to test out my Christmas Present in the form of one Sat Nav, although it took me to the right road I still had to phone Mike to find the kayaking centre and car park.  Almost a success!

 

Changed into our river gear, Mike began the day with an introductory group seminar, outdoors.  This ‘chat’ covered topics such as what important features to look for when acquiring kayaking kit and how to outfit your kayak ‘Blue Peter style.’ Lots of sticky plastic!   ‘It was music to my feet’ when it was time to get in as the freezing temperatures were turning them into blocks of ice!  We all clambered down to the slipway boats in tow this entry point provided easy access to the river.  It was my first river trip this year, so feeling a little apprehensive I launched myself onto the icy cold river and paddled around near the verge getting reacquainted with my Burn!

 

The first lesson of the day was ferry gliding from left to right across the river and back again.  The skill was demonstrated expertly by Ruth who gave us some really useful pointers after which we had numerous attempts.  The skilled members of our group managed backward ferry gliding!  Not for me!!

 

After lunch, the skills we practised during the morning were put into the context of running a river.  The art of crossing eddy lines was also added to the afternoon itinerary.  Firstly, eddying in and out was developed in isolation and as the day progressed several sequences emerged which included both breaking in and out and ferry gliding.

 

When the snow started falling this seemed a good time to call it a day and make our way to the get out.  After changing into regular clothes we all gathered in the cafe for debriefing and hot drinks. 

 

A great day on the river with lots of great people.  A huge thank you to Mike and Ruth for making the day both informative and fun.

 

Kathy Wilson             More Photos………                                   Watch the YouTube Video from Tony Doyle…..

 

28/01/13 January Photo of the Month Competition

 

Liverpool Canoe Club January Photo Competition Winners

 


Congratulations to Jonathan Maddock for his winning photo:

“Chris Murphy seal launching on the river Dee in the Snow.”

 

 

Runner up Mike Bell :

“Surfing at Crosby

 

Runner up Steve Gille :

“Don Brooks, Steve and Carole on Dee Estuary Crossing“

Not found your photograph ? – see all the entries for this month………..


 

28/01/13 Club Paddles
If you fancy paddling on any of the proposed trips this year then please consider offering to act as a coordinator. You won’t be in charge of the trip; you just select the date(s) and act as a contact point to give information / gather prospective numbers etc. Contact website@liverpoolcanoeclub.co.uk with offers of help or suggested trips.  All coordinators will take a list of names and contact numbers before paddlers get on the water - please contact the coordinator before the trip.

 

 

 

Informal trips arranged by club members are circulated by the club`s Googlegroups email system.



27/01/13   Surfing at Crosby Sunday 27th Jan

 

Well the day started early with stormy showers as we met at Crosby at 0830hrs for a quick cuppa and safety brief before greeting the sun and the mornings tide. Paul had threatened to come surfing in one of his many canoes from his fleet but he arrived with an i3 ready for action but constantly kept describing the chosen techniques he would be using if he had brought his open boat.

 

Bongo slides, 360's, carving the waves, off the lip and break turns all eluded our techniques as we crashed through the waves and then being thrown back to the beach and slammed down onto the sand. That is if we were still in our boats. We were expecting winds of around 25 mph but what we got were wind speeds of 33mph and gusting at 52mph which meant that if we stopped paddling even just for a moment the gales would send us backwards to start all over again.

 

The further we ventured out into the surf then the more exciting the waves and the return journey became.  Rather than us waiting for the right wave it was more like the waves picked us and carried our boats on an unknown course back to the beach.

 

Today I promised not to mention if any paddlers entered the water as it is not in my nature to influence any future voting for swimmer of the year.

"I can stand up here" Paul said as he collected his paddle from the water.

" If I was in my open boat then I could have done a little brace on the offside to recover and used the gunwales blah, blah, blah........and more rubbish" he said.

As the tide came closer to the beach then the first twenty to thirty foot of water gives a shallow area which can be enjoyed by any paddler wanting to practice or try new skills whilst surfing as gentle and steady waves take you back to the shore or alternatively as an easy walk back to dry land.

 

After about an hour of paddling hard against the wind we all sat in our boats tired and cold and watched Paul take his last return journey which this time successfully he landed back at shore. As he stepped out of his boat he lost his footing and fell to the floor just next to Mike Bell who had attended with his camera to collect the morning’s photos. Instead of helping Paul back to his feet Mike fumbled for his camera and couldn't contain his excitement to get the perfect shot of Paul on the floor.

Some may pass at the chance to surf at Crosby but believe me when you catch that rare wave that makes you feel at one with your boat and the excitement you may get from a Crosby wave then nothing else compares.

                         

Or you could just try a Canoe - half as much fun - twice as much effort - four times as heavy - 32 times longer to get there !

 

Paddlers were : - Paul Harwood, Steve Rose, Jenny Brown, John Allerton and Karl Tattum.

Photography and uncontrollable laughter : - Mike Bell

 

Karl Tattum    More Photos…..

 

27/01/13   New Canoe Shop to open in Warrington M6 Junction 21

 

Kayaks & Paddles (Manchester) Ltd - The Canoe Shops Group is opening a new store near Junction 21 of the M6.  Manchester Canoes is part of the Canoe Shops group (7 shops).  They are due to open on 2nd of March from their showroom / warehouse shop at Junction 21 on the M6.

 

Address:  Manchester Canoes and Kayaks, Unit 14-15, Rufford Court, Hardwick Grange, Warrington, Cheshire WA1 4RF   http://www.manchester-canoes-and-kayaks.co.uk/

 

 

 

 

 

26/01/13   British Triathlon is delighted to announce the 2013 British Triathlon Championships Liverpool on 13 and 14 July 2013.

The event, which will take place over the weekend of 13 and 14 July 2013, is expected to attract thousands of athletes competing for the following British Championships:

  • British Elite Sprint Triathlon Championships
  • British Youth & Junior Triathlon Championships
  • British Paratriathlon Championships
  • British Age-Group Standard Distance Triathlon Championships, incorporating the final ITU Standard Distance Age-Group Triathlon World Championships qualification event for the Great Britain Age-Group Team

We are expecting to provide safety cover for this new event / company.  Details will be circulated when known

 

More information here……

 

 

24/01/13   Liverpool Canoe Club Alaska Sea Kayak Expedition 2012 "Hey Bear"

 

20 minute video of the trip now available on YouTube.

 

 

Click for more Liverpool Canoe Club movies…….

 

21/01/13   The river Dee 20th January 2013

 
The shout went out but the snow came down. 8 souls braved the weather to make it to JJ's. So glad they where open and the hot showers available for later. Our start point was a little unorthodox. Instead of hitting the water we all started from 100ft up a snow covered hill. Potentially the worlds biggest seal launch. None of us quite had the bottle to attempt it. But kayak sledging was fantastic fun. We did manage to seal launch from up the bank as the snow was a good 6" deep in places.  After negotiating the weir we set off for the Serpents Tail. After scouting it and setting up rescue we ran it. 100% success gave us all a buzz. The level was just right. A couple of the party went round for seconds. Most were happy to stay dry after one run.  We played about on all the waves back down to JJ'S. I managed to swim on the middle wave, but I didn't mind because I've never played on a wave. FYI guys, tell me it's a nasty wave BEFORE I paddle in.
 
Our group split up here. Six of us headed down to Town Falls.  We had viewed it from the bridge as we entered town and for the 3 virgins in the group it looked massive! But lead well by Roy and Chris, Adam, Sarah, Andy and myself followed on.  It was the highlight of the day, not too tricky.  We all took great lines and completely styled it. Town Falls put the icing on a perfect day.  Deep snow all around. In a picture post card setting.

 

Thanks to Chris Murphy, Roy McHale, Adam Carey, Sarah Gille, Andy Peers, Jonathon and John Maddocks for a great paddle.  A drink and a toasty in the Duke Of Wellington in Trevor, (where we always get a warm welcome and this time a warm fire) finished off a great day. And the snow kept coming down.
 

Stephen Hitchen  More Photos…….

 

20/01/13  Saturday – River Eden (From last Novembers Thorny How White Water Weekend)

Having had a great run on the Greta and it still only being early afternoon a conversation took place regarding option for a second river for that day. The Eden was obvious choice and only about 30 minis away. So a plan came together in which a vehicle would be put at the get out as the rest of use made our way to the get in. We all duly arrived and waited for those who had gone to deposit the shuttle car. Just as we were starting to get cold and wondering where they were they arrived, having had to do some unplanned boat reties, as one kayak was trying to escape down over a car bonnet. We also got chatting to a couple of local paddlers who were also running this section of the river and knew some of our party.

The river is generally grade 1 to 3 and at the level that day was likely just to be a big bouncy run down with most rapids well washed out and forming big playful wave trains. With high levels and a very muddy get in it took time to get us all on but once we had set off as a mass group; all 20 or so off us. As expected the river was just a serious of big bouncy wave trains with a flat bit in-between flowing fast.  Our progress was swift. We passed a couple of fishermen and a shooting party without any incidents and soon we arrived at the carved rock above Armathwaite weir.

 

After one or two photos’ we stated to think about the weir.  With the group congregating in an eddy some of the group jumped out to take a look. One or two of us decide not to bother - big mistake! Mark was the first to drop down to another eddy to take a look and came ferry-gliding back over saying something like a tight line if you boof the edge of hole.

ian

Maybe I am getting complacent or just plain lazy as I have shot this weir a number of times before I decided to take a look from my boat. I dropped down the eddy saw the hole and a line I was thinking of shooting. I then tried to ferry back across. Then reality hit; I was not making any ground.  In fact I was moving backwards towards the weir. "What happened to my two safe eddy rule"? So I decided I had only two choices; run it backwards and hope I was on the line I wanted or Spin and try and pick up speed and the line to get though the hole below.   If I did this it would look really good but if the hole got me I would be in trouble.

 

Well you know what happened. I dropped straight into the hole and stopped dead. I was able to sit and scull quite happily.  This was no problem until I tried to find that exit point. So after a couple of quick tries and knowing everyone else was still up stream I felt the best option was to swim. The best thing to do would be to let my boat go and swim out of the stopper as hard as I could. Just as I did this I saw a line appearing from above but was unable to grab it so swam out about 6 yards downstream.   By now Mark and a couple of others had run down to help.  After checking that I was ok Mark and Roy went off downstream and successfully chased and retrieved both my boat and my paddle just as the local paddlers turned up.  They showed the rest of the group a safer line down the far side of the river and I was left running down the bank to the get out.

 

Thanks to all who came to my aid, it was most appreciated. From my point of view; nothing damaged apart from my pride and the loss of my swim free record for 2012 and of course a very early nomination for next year’s AGM.

Ian Bell    to read all the articles from the weekend go to Dec 2012 Newsletter…….

 

20/01/13  North West Local League Divison 2 – Tournament 3 at Stoke

6 players represented the club's C team at last night's North West Div 2 competition. Me, captain Roy McHale, Paul Harwood, Olivia Rowe, Lucy Stuart, and Paul Flaherty.  Unfortunately the results didn’t go to plan. We turned up and instantly earned 3 points as Wildcats didn't attend, but that's where the points dried up.  Heavy defeats followed to Trentham A, Loughborough University, and Red Rose.  A moral boosting friendly was arranged at the end against Pendle Paddlers who also had a night of heavy defeats, Pendle went home with the friendly wooden spoon as the Liverpool Canoe Club C team prevailed 3-2.

 

Positives from the Tournament.   Paul Harwood found his best position as a goal keeper.  After a shaky start and a bit of direction on how to hold the paddle while in goal he went on to make 8 or 9 impressive saves.  Most players on the team got the opportunity to experience a sprint and when we put our mind to it we had long periods of holding a strong 3 and 1 defence and kept out the onslaught on our goal.  This was particularly good in the first half against top of the league Loughborough.    Lucy got some assisted referring experience at the end of the evening.

 

Things to work on for the future.  A sense of urgency getting back to our goal or when putting pressure on the ball, more intelligent pass / shot decisions in the final third, and composure on the ball or when passing. Hopefully the players can work on these areas and build on the positives highlighted above. As discussed we may reassess the most suited league for the team for next season but if nothing else, at least the curry and company was good.   Darren Bohanna

 

To find out more about Canoe Polo click here…….

 

 

19/01/13  Brittany Kayak Festival 201

 

I've received the following link from one of my French contacts for a sea kayak meeting this August.

I am unable to attend myself, but I feel sure anyone joining the session will have a great time.

Most of the French kayakers speak English so no excuses there!

 

The link is self explanatory (and In English too)

 

 www.kayakdemer.eu/festival

 

Cheers

Dave lynch



19/01/13  River Mint and River Kent.  September 2012.
 


This was the River Mint and the River Kent in the Lakes in huge levels back in September.



Dave Manby15/01/13  Dave Manby talk at the Marina – How to organise an Expedition abroad.

Many Rivers to RunAbout 40 people attended the talk last night given by Dave Manby.  He had some excellent slides of previous trips to Nepal - Dudh Kosi, Karakorum - Braldu River and Turkey – Coruh and recounted many epic stories as we went through them. 

 

Dave Manby has been at the cutting edge of expedition kayaking for the best part of a quarter a century. In that time he has had more first descents and epic adventures than most paddlers have had swims, from his expedition experience on the Dudh Kosi in the 1976 to leading a trip for disabled paddlers on Turkey's Coruh river in 1993. Along the way he has met many of kayakings more colourful characters, and here he presents the stories - and rivers - that have defined their lives.  Hopefully we will see him out and about as he lives in Shrewsbury, not too far away.

 

Dave has published several books and DVD over the years. Go to his website to order. http://www.davemanby.com/

 

For more talks organised by the club go to……….

 

15/01/13  Wakeboard park planned for Queens Dock

Picture of wakeboarder in Salt House dock when Industry Wake Parks did an event in 2011. The company wants to open a wake part in Coburg Dock in spring 2013 and has applied to the council for planning permission.A PIONEERING wakeboarding park could open in Liverpool’s docklands.

Industry Wake Parks (IWP), a leading wakeboarding company, has applied for permission to open a centre in Queens Branch Dock.

The plans involve building two wakeboarding wires, raised by towers (three metres above the dock wall), to pull wakeboarders through the water.

Four floating obstacles and ramps would be installed along the path of each wire for riders to perform stunts.
Read more: Liverpool Echo

14/01/13  Over the Sea and Far Away. A Dee Estuary Paddle Sunday 14th January 2013

After being cajoled to join Dave Lynch on his Dee Estuary paddle assisted by both the flood and ebb tides that sounded like a nice day of drifting up and down the estuary. Eleven brave souls braved their heavily frosted cars to arrive at West Kirby Slip to don extra thermals and shiver while we awaited the arrival of the water.

Dave had promises a calm sunny day and expectations were high as the rising water lifted us off the slip, it looked promising enough as we paddled off although the far away coastline of a foreign land was shrouded in mist. But the wind was light and the sea calm and we enjoyed a swift paddle out to the main channel. It was my first time offshore and for a time out of sight of land in my kayak and for a short time felt a little vulnerable, when Dave and Tony were seen indicating our course in different directions. I decided that it was just a ploy to add to the fun of the trip as I hadn’t fallen out.

Eventually the coastline of Wales loomed into view and as we closed the decisions was made to land on this distant shore at a place near Bagillt and claim it for the LCC and enjoy lunch and a welcomed visit to the bushes, (it was really cold you know).

As the flood tide eased we got back on the water and paddled back towards England and arrived far enough upstream for the ebb to deliver us all back at West Kirby slip.

A great day, a great paddle in great company, Thanks Dave for arranging the trip and weather and sea conditions on the day. As we loaded the boats onto the cars, the first flakes of snow drifted down. Fantastic!

Steve G   More Photos…….

 

 

13/01/13 National League Canoe Polo A, B and C teams all played last night.

A Team Dinny Davies, Joe Boote, Dave Cook, Phil Holland, Keith S, Josh Cook and Ben Waller

We were playing in National League Division 3 at Stockport international Swimming Pool.  We played 4 games against Viking D, White Rose B, Kingston B and Tees Tigers C.  We drew 1:1 against Kingston but won the other 3.  Results table Division 3 North ……

 

B Team  Darren Bohanna, Peter Stone, Andrew Leach, Lloyd Nicholls, Tolly Robinson, and Anthony Kingdon.
We were playing in Derby
against FOA V, Manchester Wildcatz D, Manvers,  Manchester Wildcatz C

3 wins and 1 loss for the B team last night   Results table Division 4 North……

C Team  Paul Harwood, Theo Gaussen, Mark Garrod, Olivia Rowe, Steven Rose and Scott Gibson
We were playing in against 
Manchester Wildcatz D, Manvers, FOA V, Manchester Wildcatz C

won 2, drew 1 lost 1.  Results table Division 4 North……

 

If you are interested in playing Canoe Polo either contact Darren Bohanna or book a session at Halewood Pool on a Monday Night………  There are plenty of boats, helmets and Buoyancy Aids etc.


13/01/13 Club Expedition to Alaska “Hey Bear” Part 3

This clubs` expedition to Prince William Sound is now well established with trips in 2008, 2010 and again in 2012. This time we headed South towards Whale Bay and Icy Bay.  Here we were surrounded by pods of Humpback whales day after day as they circled around us and the islands.  The group made short open crossings, encountered extremely gusty winds (some up to 60 knots keeping us off the water for a couple of days) and enormous tide-water glaciers.  Nearly every day we encountered numerous marine mammals and birds; black bears, sea lions and common harbour seals, sea otters, bald headed eagles; they seemed to be everywhere.

Our friend Tom Pogson (opposite) delivered and collected the kayaks in Whittier, an 8 hour round trip for him from his base in Homer.

 

Pete Thomas, Carole Thomas, Debbie Hughes, Vicky Howell, Steph Long, Frankie Annan, Keith S, Kirk Williams and Ian Bell

 

Day Eight (Friday) – Delenia Island to Knight Island (Herring Point)

By this time in the trip my recollection of days has become a little hazy to say the least.  I am pretty sure as we were starting to pack the boats to leave Delania Island that I was greeted by a “Bon Annee” from Keith, and I was convinced that Friday was indeed my birthday, and what a way to celebrate it in style – in Prince William Sound.  Looking on the calendar since returning I see the 25th was actually a Saturday, so hey ho, what’s one day here or there? 

 Having broken my spork (on its first outing) Pete very kindly presented me with a new birthday spork – bright orange so it’s easy to spot on the floor, and Vicky gave me a pair of wooden moose head salad servers.  Bought in Anchorage and transported in her hatch together with a burst red wine bag, which resulted in the said mooses now being marinated to a beautiful shade of purple.

Thanks Pete and Vicky – I will remember this birthday (whichever day it was) for ever.

Leaving Delania Island the intermittent drizzle was drying up and although overcast the weather stayed dry for the rest of the day.  We paddled on up Dangerous Passage, going from headland to headland parallel to the mainland coast, across the entrance to Ewan Bay, to Paddy Point.  We filled up water supplies along the way and eventually arrived at Grit Point at the end of Dangerous Passage.  The decision was made to cross what was now Knight Island Passage and spend a night on Knight Island.  Frankie in particular was very pleased about that as she had told various people that she would be going there and any suggestion of fibbing would be avoided.

 

The crossing from Grit Point to Shoulder Point took about an hour and a half, the sea smooth and we made good time.  The whales seemed to be having a day off and this was one of the very few days we didn’t see any.  After a brief rest on the water at Shoulder Point we set off up the coast to the north end of Knight Island, past the entrance to Herring Bay and an hour or so later arrived at Herring Point where we set up camp for the Knight.  The usual landscaping of shingle took place to flatten enough room for the tents but we had more room than the night before on Delania Island.  There were rather too many spiders scuttling about in the pebbles for my liking – they were on all the beaches but more so on this particular one.  The fly sheet was kept tightly zippered.

I am pretty sure there was no lunch stop on this day and that I was ravenous by the time we had put the tent up.  We had supper watching sea otters doing their usual floating on their backs stuff whilst crunching delicious shellfish.  Pete had a go at tossing the caber – or was it collecting firewood?  Fires had become a part of the evening ritual now, using the leave no trace below the high water mark method.  It was good to get rid of rubbish before it began to stink.  Taking your spray deck off having had a bag of trash (see, getting to grips with the lingo) in your cockpit all day was not pleasant.  Plus, it might have contaminated my pineapple…….

 

Woke very early next morning to hear the sea sloshing around quite a lot on the shingle but by the time we got on the water to depart all was calm and tranquil again and we were treated to spectacular views of snow capped peaks many, many miles away on the mainland to the north.

P.S. Pineapple made it to Day 10 before we ate it – it was absolutely delicious despite having been kicked around by my feet in the cockpit, drenched in sea water and bashed about in the bear cache every night (except one – whoops) All trips should have a pineapple!  I bet it was the first one to make it to Icy Bay ever! 

Debbie Hughes    More Photos…….        Voice over……..

 

 

Day Nine (Saturday) – Knight Island (Herring Point) to Picturesque Cove

We had stayed the night at Herring point, an excellent campsite with stunning views across the sound to the mountains in the north.  We got up in the morning and Pete wanted to look around the corner so undertook a small excursion out to the headland. Once we were all afloat we headed off to make our longest crossing of the trip (approximately 11 miles) across to Crafton Island.  The weather was just about perfect, flat calm with excellent visibility.

Once on Crafton Island we landed on a perfect white stone beach for elevenses.  We spent a few hours in enjoying the sunshine (we were also waiting for the tide to change direction).  We followed the coast along past Falls Bay and Main Bay towards a small island inside “the reef” near Foul Bay. As we made our way along our friends the Whales made yet another appearance.  We stopped and watched a while and then paddled parallel to them as they blew and snorted their way along with us.

After a very late lunch we started to look for a campsite.  The plan was paddle around in Port Nellie Juan to explore for a few days.  Unfortunately the weather was about to break with very strong winds forecast.  We could not afford to be caught in the exposed Fjord so we decided to put in the miles and cross over to Applegate Island and find a camp at the South End of the Culross Passage.  If the winds were as strong as forecast we may still be able to paddle up the passage and not loose a day.

As we crossed the three miles we saw lots of the now familiar spurts of water indicating whales.  They were back but also had a large flotilla of watching boats. The Whales popped up right in front of us and I could not contain myself and decided that I had to power over towards them.  As I did this the others reminded me that I risked a $1000 fine for chasing or harassing any marine mammals so I eased back as I realised that there were plenty of other small boats around to observe my actions.  Despite this I did get a number of close views of the whales with a number of broaches and blows before they had decided that they had had enough of spectators for the day and swum off out to sea again.

We found a good campsite in the shelter of the passage but we needed water so explored Picturesque Cove.  We found a number of streams; the second one had a 100 or more dead salmon strewn all around.  This was obviously the result of bears.  We paddled into the stream stealthily and caught a glimpse of a small black bear wandering off into the undergrowth.  The third stream had a small waterfall and some of us had a little bit of sport trying to fill water bottles from the boats (there was no way to climb the small cliff and access the water sensibly).

 

We returned to the beach to make camp after a long, long day but at least we were now within striking distance of the finish.

 

Kirk Williams    More Photos…….       Voice over……..

 

Day Ten (Sunday) – Picturesque Cove to Surprise cove

The weather had been quite kind to us over the course of the trip but my sea kayaking skills were tested on day 10  rounded the point from Culross passage and crossed the Sound heading for Surprise Cove. We had received radio reports that the winds would become extremely strong over the next few days so we had to cross the Sound whether we liked it or not; as it was going to get a whole lot worse. It was the first time I had experience rough seas in a sea kayak. As the waves pushed some of us towards the rocks; both the incoming waves and the reflective waves battered my kayak. At one point, whilst I was at the trough of a wave, I could not see the others trying to head further out to sea. My heart was racing as I was bombarded by massive waves. Eventually, through sheer determination and “not wanting to die”, I paddled through the huge waves and high winds and made my way out into deeper water. It was like being in a “tsunami”. After another hour of paddling and praying, I was relieved to see Surprise Cove.  This was extremely sheltered and it even had wooden platforms for our tents.

We spent the next two days at Surprise Cove as there was a storm out to sea. At Surprise Cove though, the sun shone gloriously and we sat on the beach sheltered from the 50 knot winds. The beach became a laundrette as we set about drying our sodden kit and we also dried ourselves out with two days of sunbathing, reading, listening to music and relaxing.   Steph Long    More Photos……      Voice over……mp3..

 

 

Day Eleven (Monday) – Surprise cove – Storm Bound

We woke up in Surprise Cover after a very wet night.  The tents, paddling gear and everything was absolutely soaking but it was now clear skies and promised a very sunny day.  We were still waiting for the storm to roll in which was forecast to appear in the afternoon.  The forecast was for 50 knot winds which would make paddling a tad difficult.  We all had a very lazy day spent drying our kit, swimming, cooking and generally recovering from the previous 10 days.

By the afternoon the breeze had started to pick up, the tarp began to move around, the trees started to bend and the water had bigger ripples.  By the evening the wind started to really gust through.  That night we were worried that our tent was going to be squashed if a tree fell down on top of us.  Fortunately Surprise Bay was extremely sheltered so we all survived in tact.  However we were glad that the tarp had been taken down as precaution.

 

Vicky Howell      More Photos…….       Voice over…….mp3.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day Twelve (Tuesday) – Surprise Cove – Storm Bound

Another day at Surprise Cove.  A really beautiful sunny day with a nice lie in.  We slept on the lovely tent platforms with the security of my “rock solid quasar”.  The winds were a little tasty during the evening / night, with reportedly 40-50 mph winds.  Fortunately there were no trees down on us.  A coffee and breakfast at about 10:00 am.  I spent the rest of the morning exploring the state park trails behind the campsite, I found a small lake with what looked like a stream emanating from it.  It later turned into a good little waterfall.

All my kit was now bone dry so I spent the rest of the day reading and relaxing.  The usual evening meal of creamy potato soup, salami and pasta.

I was now looking to get back in to a kayak and getting back onto the water tomorrow.  A good holiday day!    Kirk Williams      More Photos…….     Voice over…….mp3.

 

 

 

Day Thirteen (Wednesday) – Surprise cove to Squirrel Cove

It was going to be a long day and the plan was to paddle deep into Blackstone Bay and visit the many glaciers that terminate at its head.

 

Emerging from my pit at 5 in the morning to ensure we got on the water by 7 to take advantage of the flood tide and light winds, I watched the dawn gradually light the settled sky following our enforced two-day shelter from the predicted 50 – 60 knot winds. Feeling a bit lethargic and slow after our restful couple of days off, I paddled at the back of the group and marvelled at how the low dawn light illuminated our team and the tops of the mountains behind them reflecting in the calm waters. Our stay at Surprise Cove was a good, safe and sheltered one and it allowed us all to recharge our batteries, dry our kit and generally sort ourselves out. What a pity that this next paddle was to be the second to last one we would do on our Alaskan odyssey.

 

 Soon after paddling around the corner from Surprise Cove and into open water a Bald Eagle flew over our heads. It was one of dozens that we saw on the trip but it’s hard to be blasé about seeing such a large and noble looking symbol of the USA flying just meters away from us. Very close to Whittier now, our start point and end destination, we heard the buzz of fishing boat engines as we paddled deeper into Blackstone Bay.

 

A few hours passed carelessly as we all paddled steadily towards our goal. Ian stopped suddenly and signalled to the rest of us by waving fingers of both hands on each side of his head; by now we recognised that this was a signal that a bear was close by. Sure enough, there it was, initially close to the shoreline and, spotting us by smell, sound or sight well before we saw it, the bear was already heading uphill and away from whatever danger it thought we represented. Perhaps it was alarmed by 9 multi-coloured smelly fashion victims gawping in its direction. Whatever the reason it soon evaporated out of sight and we were left only with the memory and perhaps a blurry photograph or two.

 

Although the tide was flooding towards the head of the bay where the glaciers where, at times we experienced a noticeable counter current that we had to paddle against. This came from the fresh water flowing from the melting glaciers and, being less dense than sea water, the fresh water flows on top. The sea water which can flow in the opposite direction below the surface as it probably was on this occasion.

 

Pressing on, Willard Island became obvious to our right in the centre of the bay. This area gained notoriety in Paul Twardock’s book “Kayaking & Camping in Prince William Sound” as he describes how a couple paddlers lost their lives there when they capsized in cold water overfalls probably caused by Spring tides and adverse winds. Thankfully it was a calm day and we saw only slight evidence on these “skookemchucks” as the indigenous “First Nation” people call overfalls. We stopped briefly for elevenses on the terminal moraine that connects the mainland with Willard Island and forms a glacial dam, separating shallow, cold, brackish water close to the glacier from warmer and deeper seawater on the other side. From our unusual snack venue we could clearly see many of the glaciers we were about to get much closer to. In Blackstone Bay alone, there are seven glaciers and many of them tide line, that’s to say they actually terminate in the sea. The tide was coming in quickly so we couldn’t stay there long as the moraine would quickly cover. We were forced to gobble our elevenses as fast as we could and get back in our boats. This was a frequent problem for Frankie who suffered from severe indigestion as a result. Unfortunately, fly ridden beaches, encroaching tides and even mini-tsunamis caused by calving glaciers often forced us to get back on the water sooner than we had hoped.

After passing a number of spectacular glaciers with deep crevasses on our left that didn’t tide line, we were soon at one that did. Blackstone Glacier falls gradually from a vast snow mass into the sea and the sound of it calving can be heard many miles away. In fact, both Debbie and I heard an unmistakably deep rumbling noise about 4 the previous morning at our campsite some 25 kilometres away. It’s quite likely that we were listening to this glacier calving. For those that don’t know, glaciers are generally incredibly slow moving but even the slowest of them terminate somewhere in a tangled mass of broken ice. When this happens at sea level, under the force of gravity, the glaciers “calve” great chunks of ice that collapse suddenly in a crashing splash into the sea. Some of the deep throated rumbling noises come from glaciers inextricably moving over massive rock beds and some of the noise comes from this calving action. Either way, the noise is unforgettable and certainly makes me feel like an insignificant speck on a powerful and awesome landscape.

 

 The ice floating on the sea from this constant calving can be heavy and congested, choking further progress, or it can be sparse with leads opened up by the wind and tides. It’s possible to force a way through and today, this job fell to Debbie who did a great job opening up a passage for the rest of us to follow line-astern. It’s great being amongst the brash ice as it’s called. You can feel the cold water even through the thick padding of a Nigel Denis Explorer seat and the sound of it melting in the sea water sounds like you’re floating around in a bowl of snap crackle and pop Rice Crispies, especially since the water is sometimes milky white from the finely ground glacial till, a rock powder resulting from millions of tons of ice grinding away over bedrock for hundreds of thousands of years. As long as it’s not too choked, the ice moves out of the way easily if a bit alarmingly as it makes grinding noises against the kayak hull and prevents the paddles from landing in the water in the familiar way. Without the aid of any illegal substances, most of us could see all sort of odd shapes in the contorted shapes of the melting ice. Animals, cartoon characters and things you can’t mention before the watershed were all there on display waiting for us to catch them at the right angle as we paddled past.

Around the next headland was yet another glacier and yet another one around the next. Alaska has millions of them and we hadn’t begun to scratch the surface. One of us saw another group of kayakers about a kilometre or more away. They looked tiny close to a massive and powerful waterfall emerging from some hanging seracs that terminated yet another glacier as if in mid-air. This was apparently the scene of another kayaker’s death caused when one of these seracs collapsed and obliterated the unfortunate paddler. Enough said; we didn’t venture any closer to the waterfall and left the other unknown party to take their own risks. It was just a step too far for us and looked far too close for comfort.

 

By now the tide had turned and we headed back out of the bay on the ebb with a slight breeze at our backs. The going was easy and we stopped for lunch on a shingle beach that gave us an incredible view of the circ of mountains and icefields that fed the seven glaciers we had just negotiated. Just before we landed on our lunch beach we heard a loud rumble from one of the glaciers we had just left behind. We turned just in time to see a massive impulse wave emanating from where the ice had plunged into the sea. The wave swept the rocky walls for hundreds of meters before being finally absorbed by the brash ice and the body of water. Fortunately, we far away from its reach. The sky was blue and we were treated to a display from two float planes that flew their rich customers on a sightseeing tour out of Whittier or maybe the sea plane base at nearby Anchorage. Again, they were tiny against such a grand backdrop and served as a reminder that we were once more getting closer to civilisation after a couple of weeks in the wilderness.

 

Leaving Willard Island to our right, we headed further and further out of the bay until we eventually reached Decision Point, our campsite on day 1. Leaving this behind, we were back in Passage Canal with Whittier at its head. Our destination for our final campsite was Squirrel Cove and while cooking our final evening meal on the beach, a squirrel obligingly appeared on a nearby tree.

 

We all slept well after such a long day, knowing that tomorrow would be our final paddle back to base and back out of the wild.                                                                                                                                                                       

 

Pete Thomas    More Photos…….     Voice over……mp3.

Approximately 58 Kilometres

 

Day Fourteen (Thursday) – Squirrel Cove to Whittier

 The wind was not as strong as the forecast had suggested and we had a reasonably leisurely start (certain individuals – names withheld - did not want to carry their boats too far, so we waited for the tide to make its way up the beach and with only a short day to paddle there was no real rush. It was not raining so the tent and most other kit packed away still dry; good news for fight home for those of us with little room to spare on weight limits. So we left the campsite at about 9.00am having packed our boats for final time on this trip.  As we left; Carol demonstrated a perfect launch without boat scratching by sitting a stride her boat, pushing off and then getting in once a float

From our last camp site we headed North; across Passage canal to paddle back to Whitter on the north side of the fjord having departed on south side.  We stopped about half way along on a very fly-infested beach for elevenses. This then gave us the opportunity to visit kittiwake falls before heading back south into Whitter. The Falls are a local place of interest visited by Cruises ships, Prince William Sound ferries and local Kayak guides. As the name suggest there is a large coloury of Kittiwakes nesting here  next to a couple of spectacular waterfalls. Keith followed by me paddle under the larger falls for the photo opportunity!  Kirk and a couple of others where brave enough to try the smaller one. Kirk had not bothered with his cag so avoided the larger falls.  As we left the falls we watched the tour boats leaving the harbour with the day trippers going to the glacier. We then paddled in to Whitter just as Tom arrived to pick up the boats.  Perfect timing.

Once all the kit was unpacked and boats checked we thanked Tom and said goodbye.  We then packed our personal belongings for the journey home and went to the local bar for some excellent fish and chips while we waited for Mr Go Purple to collect us. After an hour or so Keith texted him to check he was on way.  Good job as He had confused the dates  and was not expecting us until the next day. He promptly sent his son to collect us.   We used the extra time well to visit the local fudge and souvenir shop and to look around Whittier.

Back in Anchorage we checked into the motel for showers and to get tidied up for journey home. We all went to celebrate the end of our trip with a meal out before starting to split off for our journeys home. Kirk was heading back to California to meet up with Gerry and Karen; Vicky was staying on a couple more days to explore the interior and the rest of us where leaving in the middle of the night to fly home to Manchester.  Stephanie was leaving us in Amsterdam to go back via London.

One of the best trips I have been on, Great group of people, special place. Thanks Team, and partially to Keith for coordinating it all.  Ian Bell       More Photos…….   Voice over……mp3.

 

Advice for future trips:

1/ Food available from Fred Mayers from 6:30am / Seyers Mall 24hrs or Sainsbury`s on route.

2/ Getting to Whittier is relatively easy (train, hire car or shuttle bus).  We used go purple shuttles this time.  ($255 each way for whole group plus Gas, tolls and tips - Garry)

3/ UK style sea kayaks available for hire from Tom Pogson (alaskakayakschool.com) (cost was $648 each including delivery, top of the range paddles, BA, Flares and Pepper Spray etc)

4/ Need bug head nets in worst areas. (Although late August is the best time to go rather than July.

5/ Large lightweight tarp is very useful to cook under and for shelter from the rain.

6/ All stoves should be of the same fuel in case one has a mechanical problem. Such a long expedition means that you take only enough fuel for yourselves.

7/ Tents should be capable of pitching on rounded pebbles on the beach immediately above the tide line. Do not expect to use pegs in the conventional way but they can be buried sideways with the guy clove-hitched onto the middle. (similar to a dead-man or snow stake)  They should be 3+ season tents and be pretty waterproof.  In very heavy rain a spare tarp can be hung over them to shield them from torrential rain.

8/ Paul Twardock`s book “Kayaking and Camping in Prince William Sound” A Kayaker's Paradise is an excellent reference. National Geographic publish a topographical, waterproof map of the west of the sound (Sheet 761)

9/ Keep bear safe! All food needs to be sealed x 3 (2 zip-locked bags + 1 dry bag) and stored overnight away from the sleeping area (50m). Processed foods are far easier to keep bear safe (soup and pasta etc) and are easier to prepare.  Tooth paste and wash kits kept with foods – not in tents. Hand flares are probably better than pepper spray as defence against marauding bears. It is impossible to hang all your food for a two week expedition so a bear cache is used covered with a tarp and pots etc hung on the outside to try and alert you if it is raided.

10/ Neoprene boots with over trousers are ideal for keeping your feet dry and launching boats on the gravel beaches. (Wellington Boots would do a similar job but may not be as comfortable)

11/ $12 toll on tunnel to Whittier / Lazy Otter for charter boat drop-off or to pay for parking by the small beach under passenger ferry ramp.  Tunnel into Whittier is at half-past the hour and out of Whittier on the hour.  (Except when a train is going through it)

Discussion of the whole trip…….mp3.

Pete Thomas, Carole Thomas, Debbie Hughes, Vicky Howell, Steph Long, Frankie Annan, Keith S, Kirk Williams and Ian Bell

 

To read more about the expedition and see the whole write-up please go to the major trip reports page at the top of this newsletter or click here……..

 

07/01/13 Farndon to Chester - 6th January 2013

 

This trip was coordinated by Dom Buckley.

 

The day started overcast but dry with all the paddlers meeting at the car park at 9:30 next to the old sandstone bridge in Farndon. This was approximately 12 miles upstream from our get-out point in Chester. The water level was very, very high and moving swiftly. The levels had been even higher as lots of silt had been left on the car park floor after the river had receded a little. There was also a huge pile of large tree trunks and logs jammed between the middle stanchions of the bridge.

 

After ferrying are cars back and to from Chester 13 paddlers in all set off on the river just after 10:00am. We were a mixed group of all ages, all with different types of boats ranging from white-water kayaks, sea kayaks and a slalom boat. The river meandered at speed through farmland and past wooden holiday homes which dotted the banks on either side.

 

After about 7 miles we passed under the Iron Bridge at Eaton which leads to the Duke of Westminster’s home and found somewhere to get out for a brief bite to eat. It was a struggle getting in and out as the banks were so muddy after all of the wet weather we have experienced lately.

 

After lunch we headed off again for the last stretch which took us into Chester. The weather really began to brighten up. By the time we got into the outskirts of Chester the river had widened and slowed down considerably. It was nearly 2pm by the time we got to our get-out point just by Chester Sailing Club.

 

It was a great day and all the paddlers really enjoyed themselves.

 

Thanks to Dom for organising the trip and making a great day for everyone!   Andy Peers

 

05/01/13 River Signals

The Club uses the Internationally recognised IRA (Rafting) Signals  However, any signals used must be agreed by all before paddling and generally should need little or no explanation.

Universal Signs / River Signals

Stop!

Paddle or arms held horizontally and moved slightly up and down

Stop! Potential hazard ahead. Wait for "all clear" signal before proceeding, or scout ahead. Form a horizontal bar with your outstretched arms. Those seeing the signal should pass it back to others in the party.

Stop 2Stop Paddling

Go. or 1 down

Paddle or arm held vertically in line with the body

All Clear: Come ahead (in the absence of other directions proceed down the centre). Form a vertical bar with your paddle or one arm held high above your head. Paddle blade should be turned flat for maximum visibility.

ClearGo

Help/Emergency

Vertically held paddle or arm waved back and forth

Assist the signaler as quickly as possible. Give three long blasts on a police whistle while waving a paddle, helmet or life vest over your head. If a whistle is not available, use the visual signal alone. A whistle is best carried on a lanyard attached to your Buoyancy Aid.

Every paddler should carry a whistle for emergency communication. Here are the basic whistle signals.

  • One blast: Attention, possible emergency
  • Three blasts: Help, Emergency!

help

Go that way.

Paddle held out at 45° (or as near as) to one side N.B. Never point at the hazard.

Right/Left: To signal direction or a preferred course through a rapid around obstruction, lower the previously vertical "all clear" by 45 degrees toward the side of the river with the preferred route. Never point toward the obstacle you wish to avoid.

go that wayGo that way

I'm ok

I'm ok: I'm ok and not hurt. While holding the elbow outward toward the side, repeatedly pat the top of your head.

OK

No Signal then no one moves! If leading a group check out Andy Grimes Article with alternative views......

Canoe Club River Signals Video - YouTube Video....




Specialist signals (MUST be agreed within each group as not universal)

Portage

Portage
(or "someone's walking") Might also be useful to indicate to a swimmer on the bank to get them going along the bank to unite him/her with paddle and kayak.

Come down
"like a train"

Signal like pulling on a train whistle.
All come down leaving suitable space between each paddler

Eddy there.

Index finger pointing up and moved in a circular motion, then pointed in a certain direction

Swimmer

Making swimming movements in front of your chest, accompanied by pointing at the swimmer.

Hard Landing

Fist hitting open palm

 

Boof move.

Open hand hitting open palm at about 45° and skating off at 45°

 

Tree or sieve.

Hand held up with palm out and fingers stretched open

 

Tongue of water

Pointing at outstretched tongue

 

Go centre

Hand pointing to the centre of head or stomach then travelling up and down the centre of the body

 

Rock.

Fist clenched and held up

 

Hole.

Thumb and index finger held in a circle

 

Throwbag needed to be used in direction indicated.

Arm moved as if throwing a dart

 

Look!

Hand over eyes indicates that you need to take a look at something.

The club also has developed a number of signals for specific trips. In Alaska we held fingers on head to indicate a bear, whiskers for sea otters, arm going up and fingers opening for a whale, hands above head in a triangle for moutain views etc etc.

This article was taken from our own online kayaking and canoeing handbook…..

 

04/01/13 Christmas Rolling Competition

Each Christmas we hold a rolling competition with club members trying to complete as many rolls as they can in 30 seconds.  Congratulations to Danny Byrne who just managed to hang on to his title again this year but both Paul Flaherty and Jon Maddock (Jnr) pushed him very, very close this year.  Next year we need to get a few members training for the event to set new records.  Many thanks to Dave Reynolds for coordinating and timing again this year

Boat

Name

Hand Rolls

Rotobat

Dan Byrne

18

Rotobat

Jon Maddock Jnr

17

Rotobat

Jon Maddock Snr

15

Rotobat

Roy McHale

12

Jackson Star

Jake Smee

11



Boat

Name

Paddle Rolls

Rotobat

Dan Byrne

14

Burn

Paul Flaherty

12

Rotobat

Roy McHale

11

 

Matt Eagan

10

 

Connor Eagan

7

 

Matthew Pegram

6

 

Anthony Egan

6

 

John Pegram

6



02/01/13 New Years Day Surfing Crosby 1.1.2013

Five paddlers took to the water on a very blustery day and a further ten paddlers arrived with their cameras in hand ready to catch the action but I became rather nervous as a good number of them had also brought their throw lines just in case Paul took another famous swim.

 

We arrived shortly after high tide and the water was still landing on the bricks and rocks that form the beach at Crosby. Dave Blake was keen to get started but we delayed the start by twenty minutes to give the water a chance to move out and give us a calmer entry to the wash of manic waves that were ready to greet us. Dave insisted that he and i should be the first test pilots out on the water so into the mess of waves we went. both of us fought to get out and stay upright and negotiate the dumping waves which were over our heads but we only lasted a few minutes as the combination of strong wind and confused waves we were soon dumped back to the beach and a call was made for another coffee break to give the water a chance to calm down a little.

 

As soon as the water receded to the sandy shore we hit the sea with a mission to catch as many waves as possible and we were not disappointed as wave after wave became our afternoons entertainment. Dave may have been first on and in the water for 2013 but managed to catch the biggest waves of the day as Steve, Sally and John all committed themselves to the surf and the afternoon’s weather.

 

Thanks to Keith Jackson, Chris, Don, Julie and Richard for their moral support and great pictures…….

Paddlers - Dave Blake, Ste Rose, John Walker, Sally, Karl.

Karl Tattum.

 

 

02/01/13 Crosby Surf Sunday 30.12.2012

I was the only paddler who didn’t get a waterproof camera for Christmas but I don’t mind as every other member of our club has one and Paul takes the opportunity to have his photo taken next to his van for a promo shot before every paddle.

 

"Take a picture of the surf Karl................ ....but make sure you have my phone number in" he said as he pointed to his van. A new advertising strategy this year for Pauls business and a new strategy also for his paddling as now the excuses come before each paddle.

Displaying his range of boats in the back of his van Paul began the lecture "This blue boat doesn't roll very well and the green one is slow to turn and my new jacket sometimes gets caught blah blah blah...."

"come on lets go" someone shouted and five paddlers began the descent to the water. Paul, Dave, Kathy, John and myself observed safety zones and a plan of action as we walked to the water against the bracing wind.

 

36mph winds with gusts of 46mph ensured our paddle out was near impossible but with much effort we were soon at the point of waves and into the action but we couldn't stop for a rest as the wind would laugh at your effort and blow you back to shore.

Kathy stayed in the same position paddling hard for a good twenty minutes, John practiced for the rolling competition and Paul took his usual stance. That is standing in three foot of water holding his boat and asking for help to get back in. Well its true he's mastered the escape side but 'Master of self rescue' my arms were aching because of holding his boat that many times to help him back in. He said his new deck kept "popping off" as he was upside down but i explained that it would if he had his hand on it whilst going over. (see the video...thanks John)

 

Surfing is great fun and you can choose your size of wave dependant on how far out you paddle. The first twenty to thirty foot of beach gives small breaking waves which are easy-ish to manage and then as you paddle over the sand bank you can find a mess of monster dumpers from varying directions which are not for the faint hearted or upside down paddlers Dave.

 

Safety and support was attended by Keith Jackson who could easily be identified by his neon fluorescent jacket and howls of laughter from the beach as Dave decided to have a go at fishing but from a fish's perspective as he was blown off course into shore and caught a stray line on the way.

 

Another great morning was finished with coffee and de-briefs in Dave’s home from home camper where Kathy requested that we don’t mention her swimming in three foot of water.  Don’t worry Kathy your secrets safe with me.

 

Karl Tattum.   More Photos…..     Video of Paul`s Swim….

 

 

02/01/13 Smile, you `re on candid camera! A fast zoom along the upper Dee.

 

It was a late night call, 11pm to be precise, when I received the call from Ian asking if I was up for paddling the upper section of the River Dee in opens the next morning, a trip that I had suggested during our last return from Hilbre Island. Daft question, neither of us had paddled that section before, so of course I was.

 

So it was agreed, we would both leave Wallasey at around the same time, meet somewhere in Corwen and just take it from there – don’t you just love the firm plans!

Somehow, despite me hitting snooze far too many times, we arrived in the same car park in Corwen at approximately the same time. Luckily the car park was free for the festive period, so we decided to leave one car in the middle of Corwen away from the river with no tell tale signs that it was a paddlers car and shuttle up to Bala with the two opens on top of each other on one of the cars.

 

With the very strong wind it wasn’t the fastest of shuttles, and so we had lots of time to discuss where we were going to start? With the late call we hadn’t read the guides too well, we knew there was a nasty weir below the lake and some suggested that you should start on the river Hirnant instead, but we wanted to do the whole river – so starting on the lake it was. Given the strength of wind, we also agreed that it would probably be better to lock the boats at the get out and shuttle with just cars.

The waves were big as we launched onto the lake, and we zoomed under the bridge and onto the river Dee. Not knowing exactly what to expect, we took it careful and got out early to inspect the sluice. What we saw, after scaling a barbed wire fence, was an impenetrable wall of steel across the whole river. There was no option other than a long carry of boats across a muddy field, over the barbed wire fence and then another carry.

 

Nicely warmed up, we popped back onto the river only to be greeted about three minutes later with a low head dam that was followed by a really nasty looking tow back. With the river in high spate we could not risk getting too close and lining the boats through, so out and portaging again it was.  Back onto the river we veritably zoomed along with the fast flowing current and strong winds that was mostly on our backs – only mostly because this river meanders a lot – and we agreed that it might be better to use one of the alternative starts.

 

Big wave trains and lots of boils, but nothing hard, the river was a hoot and the rain squalls never dampened spirits as the miles passed by – about 16miles / 25km. We never saw another soul, and the only time we stopped was when Ian spied a canoe paddle that came home with us, a gym ball that we couldn’t recover and the tip of an old slalom boat that was peeking out from underneath a strainer. We tried to recover it, but couldn’t.

 

This is a really great run at this level, nothing hard and if you can cope with the portage or launching via the alternative start then you will have a pleasant tour in lovely countryside.

All too soon we came to the main A5 and were greeted by a passer by taking numerous photographs of two paddlers enjoying the spate conditions. Unfortunately, I think he was trying to take photographs for evidence as he was going red in the face whilst he shouted, “You’re trespassing, get off the river!” Hey ho, luckily we were not getting off until the next bridge. But knowing how heated these events can get, we decided that it was probably best not to leave our canoes whilst we did the shuttle, so instead it was two boats onto the roof again and another slow and steady drive back up to Bala.

 

Despite the shouting, this was a great trip and one I will definitely be doing again as part of a source to sea trip, but I think it is probably best done with strong flows as it is a reasonable stretch.

 

NB, I did this write up to allow time for Ian to complete his masterpiece that is the write up of the recent trip down the Eden. I think that write up may contain very strong evidence for use in the swimmer of the year 2013 competition

 

Mike & Ian

 

02/01/13 January 2013 Newsletter Published
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