Volume 16 Issue 5

May 2016

May Paddler
The monthly newsletter of Liverpool Canoe Club

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News items or reports on club activities should be sent to website@liverpoolcanoeclub.co.uk

Archived Newsletters… 
Major Trip Reports.…

 

30/04/16 Major dates for Club Events – for more detail check the online Club Calendar…….

6 - 8 May 2016

Anglesey Weekend No 1 Tyn Rhos Click for more…… Coordinator Peter Massey   To book a place…

27 - 30 May 2016

Pembroke Bank Holiday Weekend Click for more…… Coordinator Jenny Brown  To book a place…

10 - 12 June 2016

Anglesey (Juniors) Weekend No 2 Pen-Y-Bont Farm Click for more…… Coordinator Keith Steer  To book a place….

3 July 2016

Hilbre Island Sea Kayak Race Click for more……

3 -12 July 2016

Scottish Sea Kayaking Trip coordinator Frankie Annan

15 – 17 July 2016

Anglesey Weekend No 3 Bodfan Farm Click for more…… Coordinator Jenny Brown   To book a place…

22 July – 7 August 2016

Alpine Summer Holiday Click for more…… Coordinator Keith Steer  

14 August 2016

Liverpool Triathlon – LCC Safety kayakers needed Click for more……

17 Aug – 2 Sept 2016

Alaskan Sea Kayaking Trip Coordinator Keith Steer Trip now full

16 – 18 Sept 2016

Anglesey Weekend No 4 Outdoor Alternative Click for more…… Coordinator Peter Massey To book a place…

11 – 19th February 2017

LCC Ski and Snowboarding Trip Coordinator Fiona Barry

13 – 17th April 2017

Scottish Easter Paddling Holiday based at Kinlochleven - coordinator Roy McHale. To book a place…

 

30/04/16 April “Photo of the Month” Competition

 

Liverpool Canoe Club Photo Competition Winners

Congratulations to Jenny Brown for her joint winning photo:

“Chris Thompson`s Boof is Awesome”

 

Congratulations to the Crosby Beach Paddlers for their joint winning photo:

 “The Iron Paddlers of Crosby

 

Runner up Pete Thomas:

“Babbling Brooks”

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

Criteria for the photo of the month competition…. 25 % Quality and sharpness of the photograph, 25% Quirkiness and framing of the subject,
25% Diversity of the subject material (ie not all one discipline), 25% has LCC logo or clothing in the shot.
Please send in your entries for next month now - website@liverpoolcanoeclub.co.uk

30/04/16 Sea Kayak Skills – TOWING SYSTEMS

 

In a previous newsletter we looked at various contact tows so now were going to take a closer look at tow systems that are suitable for towing a casualty greater distances in order to get them out of trouble and into sheltered water. Frequently in these scenarios, the casualty will be supported by another paddler rafted to them, thereby adding to the weight in the whole system.

 

Many designs have been carefully tried out over the years and some methods have been discarded as they just don’t work in the fraught and complex circumstances they’re likely to be use in.

 

Before continuing I would like to recommend a very informative DVD filmed by LCC member Matt Giblin and featuring L5 coach and LCC friend Nick Cunliffe. It’s called Sea Kayak Essentials Volume 2 http://www.kayakessentials.co.uk/sea-kayak-essentials-vol2/  and it contains some very up to date methods of safety and rescue, including towing techniques. At just 10 squid it’s a very worthwhile investment for any keen sea kayaker and it gives far more detail than we can achieve here. (look carefully and you’ll even be able to spot an LCC member acting as a “damsel in distress”)

 

That said, the following videos gives glimpses of how some systems might be used although, more recent thinking has removed knots from the towline and its normal now to clip into the deck lines and not to clip the boat toggles.

 

Overview https://youtu.be/s0N2NWAygC4

Towing_Systems_Overview.jpg

 

Tandem (or rafted) Tow https://youtu.be/QchiqjvSCxM

Tandem-Tow.jpg

 

 

Line Tow https://youtu.be/2tRyXuX5uvM

Line-Tow.jpg

 

 

Alternatively, the ThrowTow system has won a lot of followers in recent years and it’s my preferred towing system as it is versatile enough to be used as a short snatch or contact tow with built-in quick release as well as a highly effective long towline system. It won’t suit everyone but you should certainly consider its many advantages before spending cash on a less versatile towline. A number of us in LCC have made our own versions and have even made a few improvements to the original design. Ask for more details if you’re interested.

 

ThrowTow 1 https://youtu.be/AABoGuCPMS4

ThrowTow1.jpg

 

 

ThrowTow 2  https://youtu.be/iXVJjLWZLgQ

ThrowTow2.jpg

 

 

If anyone would like to develop these skills on the water, it’s likely that we will try to run a sea kayak safety and rescue day on Sunday 18th September to coincide with the Anglesey 4 meet.

 

Next time in this series of Sea Kayak Skills articles, we’ll be looking at sea kayak expeditioning.

 

Pete Thomas

 


25/04/16 Croatia Sea Kayaking Trip - Day 2 – Banjol/Rab to Maman Island

 

After a long but straightforward journey from the UK the day before, everyone was keen to get on the water.  Our boats (Prijon Touryaks and Seayaks) were delivered by the jovial Jogi, who runs the local kayak rental business, and everyone got on with packing and buying last minute supplies.  Jogi also gave us a briefing on the local weather patterns, places to re-supply with water and which local bugs and beasties you should avoid.  We were informed that none of the many species of snakes on the island were poisonous, but the Black Widow spider was definitely worth a wide berth!

 

We launched shortly after midday, and within 15 minutes we were joined by a pod of dolphin.  They played around for a wee while, and the sound of them exhaling as they surfaced was very audible.  It seemed like a good omen for the rest of the trip.

 

We continued our journey along the south coast of the island, passing many secluded sandy bays ringed with Holm Oak and pine.  The southern side of Rab is relatively verdant and, as we were to find out later, in marked contrast to the arid northern coast.  As we paddled further the breeze that had been in our faces most of the day strengthened and it became strong enough to hinder progress a little as we rounded Cape Kalifront, which marked the south western tip of the island. 

 

We pressed on towards our intended camp for the night, on the tiny islet of Maman.  However, unexplainably and bizarrely we managed to overshot our target by about 2km!  I thought it prudent to inform the others of this while I sat in my kayak five meters from the shore of a tiny beach they had landed upon to rest.  This position was far enough from them to avoid the rocks they hurled at me, but not far enough to miss the verbal abuse.

 

We re-traced our route for a couple of kilometres, and found the blindingly obvious islet we had been looking for.  Tents were soon pitched, food scoffed and whisky sipped.  Apparently the wind blew with tent threatening force that night, but I didn’t notice a thing - maybe because of a slightly enthusiastic amount of whisky sipping on my part.

 

Andy Garland

 

25/04/16 Caldy Island, Pembrokeshire 12th April

 

I'd rather not paddle solo if I can avoid it, not only for the safety aspect but it's always better to have someone to share the experience with. However being on holiday with my family and me being the only one paddling didn't leave me with a lot of choice. 

 

When I booked this holiday to Pembrokeshire I started to research were I could go paddling, first on my list was "the bitches" of Ramsey sound but there was no way I was going to go there solo as its a notorious stretch of water and has claimed at least one kayaker to my knowledge, so next I looked at Caldy island. A small island lying only just over half a mile off the headland south of Tenby. I figured this would be easily doable in a couple of hours. The south beach at Tenby has ample parking and easy access, is a lovely beach for the kids and has a bar for the misses:) Perfect.

 

The plan was to head out in the last hour of the ebb in the early morning but the fog was so thick you could ear it!  By the time it cleared it was early evening and low water slack when I arrived.  From the cliff top overlooking the bay I noticed the swell rising up and breaking over a submerged sand sand bar just to the south of the beach, mental note for some surfing on the return I thought! Caldy sound looked calm and benign in the distance

 

By the time I was ready the tide was in the 1st hour of flood running south to north against me, so I kept in the shelter of the headland until I reached the narrowest part of caldy sound, then ferry glided across the half mile channel to the island. The crossing was easy enough but I knew from research that as time went on conditions in the sound would get more interesting as mid tide approached so after a quick rest and refreshment on one of Caldy's beautiful and isolated beaches I set off again.

 

I headed south again to the south-western tip of the island, as I broke from the shelter and began the ferry back across, the mood of the water had significantly changed and a bit of a race was developing, it wasn't quite Penrhyn Mawr but it did make for a more exciting crossing. As I reached the headland again a large eddy had formed just downstream from the tip, I played a while here breaking in and out while watching the swells as they crashed against the cliffs.

On the way back I looked out for the surf spot I had seen from the cliff top, the swell here rose quickly to break so not a lot of chance for long rides, after one short ride I was hit by 3 waves all from different angles which dislodged my pump and one of my splits, had to beach to recover them.

 

I would have loved to have gone all the way around the island but the seaward side looked a bit lumpy for me to tackle on my own and timing wasn't brill either.  For the people heading over for the LCC Pembrokeshire weekend I think it's well worth a look, maybe incorporating it into a longer paddling weekend.

 

Karl Winrow

 

25/04/16 Coatia Sea Kayaking Trip Day 0 - Getting to Rab

Manchester airport appeared to have it in for Mark and Vicky. Despite everyone having cookers in their luggage they only kicked up a fuss about their cooker. Then they wouldn’t let them board the plane just because Victoria had been cut down to Victor on her boarding pass. However, we all made it to Dusseldorf ready for our connecting flight to Split. Once on Croatian soil our taxi found Kirk at the bus station (he was already in Croatia) and our long trip to the ferry started. We arrived several hours later to find the ferry pulling out, but it’s not a long crossing and we didn’t have too long. There was just one ferry working, but two more were anchored on Rab.

They were pretty large ferries and give a clue how busy Rab is in high season. Our cab driver told us 10,000 people live on the island, but in summer there are 40,000 tourists. As we crossed as foot passenger we had to transfer into a second taxi. After our 12 our journey we were pleased to be shown to our rather comfortable mobile homes for the first night. The guy we were hiring the boats from arrived to say hello and after dumping all out kit in our rooms we headed into Rab old town for some beers and some rather good wood fired pizzas.

Mark Steward      More Photos….

 

25/04/16 Coatia Sea Kayaking Trip Day 5 - Crossing to the Croatioan mainland

On the 5th day of our circumnavigation we decided to make a crossing to the mainland. We headed for the port keeping in a tight formation and watching carefully for the ferry. Clear of the ferry we headed south until we came to an attractive village called Jablanac. We had to climb out of our boats in the marina and tie them up. Getting back in was fun after a lovely lunch and a few beers.

A short distance further on we arrived at Uvala Cove, which is a nature park. Before entering the cove we had to pay an attendant 15 Kuna (£1.50) each to enter the bay. We didn’t explore the park, but we were interested in finding a sunken German boat. The attendant turned up (with a ticket for each of us) and showed us where the wreck was by throwing a stone. The wreck was easy to see as the water in Croatia is amazingly clear. He didn’t speak English, but after confirming we weren’t German acted out how English bombers had found the ship and sunk it.

After inspecting the sunken ship we headed back to Rab. Conscious of the ferry we stayed tight again and crossed safely despite some confusion over our correct bearing. The ferry didn’t actually leave until we had finished our crossing. It was then a fairly short paddle to our next campsite. Tucked away on a small beach you could imagine you were miles from civilization, but from higher ground you could see the Islands main towns a few miles along the coast. A late night followed, but don’t mention the broken whisky bottle.

Vicky Steward  More Photos….

 

24/04/16 White Water Trip to Nepal – Day 9 Marsyandi (12th April)  BhulBhule to Bhode Odur

 

Following our long journey from the Madi Khola, we arrived at sunset at what was to be our home for the next two nights.  We would be staying in the grounds of a small school that was situated next the river.  We quickly de bussed and arranged out kit ready for overnight stay, we were to sleep the night in what looked like a roofed open sided  concrete platform.

Once it was dark we walked to the local village to sample the delights of the "Goat cafe" a single story building, to the left was the kitchen room , to the right was the dining area with two tables and a bed.  In the rear room lived the goats, Roy ( the goat wrangler ) Mchale must have thought that they looked lonely so with a series of whistles that are known only to St Helens goat herders, invited them in.  All was going well until one of the goats jumped up and peed on the owners bed, much to Keith's disgust!!!

 

Following our meal of Daal Bhat, we walked back using the head torches to locate our sleeping platform. Our alarm call was the local children who at six o clock  had their first game of football against our sleeping shelter, we did think about  challenging them to a game, however they looked too good.

 

Once up and packed we breakfasted at the Goat cafe, loaded the bus and headed for the get in.  The guide book states that the road to the get in used to be named "death ride from hell" it certainly has its share of sheer drops, with a few cheeky moments when passing vehicles forced our bus closer to the edge.  In Nepal they use a system of banging on the outside of the vehicle to indicate the driver still has sufficient room to manure.  The driver's Nephew who was along for the trip had been given the role of chief proximity alarm, much to the amusement of the other Nepali staff.

 

As this was to be an empty boat day we quickly loaded at the get in, eager to start paddling.   The river is wide and very powerful with churning grey water and massive boulders. Constant grade 4 or 4+.

Soon falling into a steady rhythm of keeping enough distance between paddlers that you could still see the correct course between the many rocks set by the guide, and not too close in case the paddler in front got into trouble and you needed to avoid them. 

 

The hours rolled by so quickly, it was sometimes hard for me to focus on tackling the section in hand when the scenery was so amazing, it was no river to loose your game face on. I tackled one section, broke out and looked up stream to see Roy's whole boat being lifted out of the water and back looped hitting the boulder behind him.

 

It was a very long day my whole body ached from the constant excursion, so with tired limbs we made the half way point and the get out   We had defiantly earned a cold drink and some warm Daal Bhat. What a fantastic day on the " raging river "

 

Stuart Toulson          More Photos...

 

 

24/04/16 Croatia Sea Kayaking Trip - Day 6 –Podenča to Banjol/Rab Thursday

 

A leisurely day in prospect due to covering more ground on Tuesday than expected.  It was a short hop back to our starting place at Banjol from Wednesday night’s camp at a lovely beach just short of a tourist venue at Beach Pudarica, looking out across the Barbatski Kanal at the long skinny island of Dolin.  Jogi had been in two minds as to whether to give us details of this beach as a possible camp, but as it was so early in the season he thought it would be ok.  No one was using the tourist facilities just over the cliff to the north so it was a blissfully peaceful place to overnight.  Tents up late and down, well, reasonably early, as there were more people about on this side of the island.

 

On the water, the other six headed off into the middle distance while me and Carol took a more leisurely approach to the final leg, taking in the more built up  sea front, the small marinas, the busy preparations for the imminent tourist season and admiring the gardens along the way.  Ten minutes before arriving back at Banjol we had light rain – the only rain on the whole trip and then it was back to sunshine on the beach where we started from.  We still had the boats for another day on Friday so we decided to camp right by the shore on the campsite, therefore solving the problem of boat minding overnight.  The camp site was more or less empty apart from a couple of campervans so it was good to spend another night right next to the sea.

 

Thursday afternoon we wandered round the beautiful coastline to explore Rab Old Town where some of the buildings are truly ancient, dating back 2000 years to the Romans.  There are four spectacular towers around the town, a nunnery and several historic churches.   Apart from a cultural fix, much beer was downed, and Kirk regaled us with the tale of the noodles and the dry bags.  Suffice it to say, never put your toilet necessities in the same coloured dry bag as your noodles!  Whilst enjoying refreshments in a square overlooking the marina we discovered we were right by the home straight for the 2nd day of The Four Island mountain bike race – and the large boats tied up alongside were there to transport the competitors to the next stage on a neighbouring island.

 

Back at the campsite we had a very peaceful evening, making use of the excellent facilities – going feral for a week is fine but oh, the bliss of a hot shower and hair wash is not to be underestimated.

 

 

Debbie Hughes                                            More Photos….

 

24/04/16 Keith Jackson – Our Condolences

 

It is with the deepest regret that I have to announce the death of club member Keith Jackson, aged 73, who passed away last Thursday 21st April.

Despite being diagnosed with Leukemia 2 years ago, Keith maintained a cheerful outlook & an enthusiasm for the outdoors, & until quite recently was still able to paddle at Knowsley Outdoor Education Centre where he had been an Instructor for over 20 years.

 

 

Dave Williams

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

24/04/16 Hilbre Island 22/04/16

A day off on Friday and I was wondering what to do when Pete Thomas sent out an invitation to paddle to Hilbre. I responded along with Julie, Natalie, Adrian and Alex. So seven LCC members arrived at the West Kirby promenade ready to be on the water for 10am.

 

Adrian was keen to get off and dragged his kayak several metres onto the mud and sat waiting. If fact he waited patiently for almost half an hour before the sea gently lifted him of the muddy sand. Soon after all seven were launched and on their way.

 

The sun was shining and it soon became evident that most of the group had overdressed for the occasion. Threats of stripping off on arrival to Hilbre were made. Of course, this is nothing new for Julie who is often observed shedding an item or two of clothing after a paddle.

 

A nice comfortable pace was maintained by the group as they headed towards their destination. As on other trips we were accompanied by the inquisitive seals who resided in the Dee estuary.

As the group approached the island Natalie split off and headed for the beach with shouts of "don't be long with my lunch" directed at John who was carrying her food in his hatch.

The other six paddlers headed around Hilbre taking on the overalls on their clockwise route around the island. Soon they too arrived at the beach and Natalie and her lunch were reunited.

The group enjoyed sandwiches, sausage rolls and cake. Today was Sylvia's birthday so Adrian provided birthday cake for the group....whilst Sylvia was at work!!

Today was also the 37th wedding anniversary of Pete and Carol so a double celebration was had on Hilbre's small beach.

 

Soon the group had to leave the island and one by one the paddlers launched kayaks and headed back to West Kirby. The return trip was just as pleasant as the outbound journey and soon the group landed on the slipway. After boats were loaded on cars a short journey was made to the Ring 'o' Bells beer garden where cool drinks were enjoyed by the hot and thirsty group of paddlers. What a great end to a Friday paddle.

 

Report by John Fay              More Photos…..

 

22/04/16 Coatia Sea Kayaking Trip Day 3 – Maman Island to Prison Camp on Sveti Grgur

 

The night before was spent on the small island of Maman. We were camped on the ismuth of the island which could potentially be a bit exposed and, sure enough, after we had all retired to our tents and settled down, a sudden fierce gust of wind hit our tent and nearly flattened it. The wind increased and, as we were in our new lightweight tent, I was becoming a little concerned. I exited the tent to check all was ok and noticed that lights were on in other tents. We were all checking that everything was secure which was just as well as the wind continued for 3-4 hours wildly buffeting the tents but all survived the night.

 

The morning was sunny and calm, and we set off to retrace our route back a mile or so to the point we had reached the night before close to the next headland. We headed round and into the next bay and landed at the small village of Lopar where a small shop could be found. On the way round the headland a couple of deer were spotted and a big bird high above which was probably a Griffon Vulture. After topping up water and renewing Pete’s supply of Coke to try and settle his upset tum we set off to cross to the uninhabited island of SV Grgur.

 

As we approached we could see many gun emplacements disguised well with local stone. The water was clear turquoise and many sea cucumbers could be seen deep below us as we paddled into the bay where we saw a number of derelict buildings, one of which an enterprising local from Rab, called Marino, was refurbishing as a bar/restaurant for boat trippers visiting during the holiday season.  Pete chatted to him and he was happy for us to land and camp for the night and he soon disappeared back to Rab in his motor boat.

 

We set off to explore the island, which had extensive  derelict buildings, dry stone walls and water catchment structures all made in the local stone, what was this place? It was a deserted and stripped out women’s prison camp opened in 1948 and operated by communist Yugoslavia under Titos regime.  Many women died here until it was closed in 1988, but not as many deaths as on the adjacent very barren prison island where many men perished. On a lighter note it was a beautiful island with a mixture of wooded and bare rocky areas. On our walk about we disturbed deer, rabbits, a water snake, frogs and hundreds of tad poles in disused water holes. The walk was completed with a swim by some brave souls, the water was still a bit Brrrrr to tempt me in.

 

Sunbathing, eating, and drinking followed until we retired to our tents to listen as the nocturnal wild life serenaded us to sleep, or NOT as it warbled away loudly on one note  all night long!!.

 

Carole Thomas                       More Photos….

 

 

22/04/16 Coatia Sea Kayaking Trip DAY 4 – Prison Camp Island and North Coast of Rab

 

Not many people I know get to spend the night in a women’s prison camp but the derelict and spooky camp on Otok Sveti Grgur  (St Gregory Island), just north of the main island of Rab, held us captive for a near idyllic night. A bout of food poisoning had plagued me for 3 days at the beginning of the holiday but, as I lay awake listening to the loud sonar-like call of the Eurasian Scops Owl, I wondered how many political prisoners had suffered much more than I.

 

Waking up and getting ready, I realised I was feeling hungry, which was a good sign as I had entirely vacated my bowl, stomach, spleen and brain over the previous 3 days. A hearty breakfast of porridge and tea stood me in good stead for what was going to be the longest paddle of the whole trip. At a relaxed, slow pace, we each packed away our tents in the morning sunshine and headed out around to the arid northern coast of the island. On our way we spotted another group of kayakers who had spent the night tucked into one of the very few camping beaches along the coastline. They had obviously decided to give the prison camp experience a miss.

 

The northern coast of St. Gregory Island is very steep-to and, although we were shaded from the sun, the dazzling white limestone cliffs made it difficult to see through the glare at times. There were no significant caves to explore as the crumbling rock had collapsed in long before any deep caves could form. We were close to other islands all around us and it was easy to see how we could be tempted to spend weeks exploring the whole chain.

 

It wasn’t long before yet another prison island came into view. The even more barren Island of Goli Otok was the location of a men’s prison camp where many had died in some unthinkable hell. We had time to pay it a visit but decided not to, partly out of respect but also because I think we unconsciously fancied some light relief in the flesh pot of nearby East Lopar on the main island of Rab. We made the short and easy crossing to Rab in a remarkably tight formation and Andy commented that Keith would have been proud that we all managed to stay together.

 

A short stop on a beech after the open crossing enabled those with a full bladder to find some relief. Back in the boats we headed around the corner into the holiday resort with shallow water and sandy beaches. It was quiet at this time of year but I would imagine it to be something like Rhyl during the height of the summer. For those who needed it, the stop provided an opportunity to stock up with water as the next part of our day was along a particularly arid part of the coast. By now we were about 3 hours into our day’s paddling so, after a short lunch break on the tiny island of Otocic Likovac, we started along the precipitous north coast of Rab.

 

Jogi, our contact on Rab from whom we hired our equipment, had warned us to keep a respectable distance away from the base of the loose rocky cliffs as sheep, searching for non-existent grazing above, had been known to kick off landslides, one of which narrowly missed one of Jogi’s paddling colleagues not too long ago. There were indeed sheep high above us and we each spent a lot of time gazing upward, fascinated by the rocky landscape but also looking out for anything that might flatten us. This stretch of coast provided habitat for the iconic Griffon Vulture and, although we had spotted one soaring high above us a few days earlier, we saw none along this stretch.

 

Jogi had also told us to keep our eyes open for “the shrinking cave”. Apparently it’s possible to paddle into it via a small tunnel and the water is so cold inside that swimming in it is likely to shrink some important pieces of anatomy beyond all recognition!!. Unfortunately we failed to find it but, on the other hand, perhaps it’s just as well.  We turned out to be not the only ones who couldn’t locate the entrance as we bumped into a Danish couple and their dog. They were paddling in the opposite direction and we stopped for a while to exchange experiences. These Vikings had apparently sailed and paddled many of the islands in the region and commented that Rab had it all. We left them and their dog after taking photographs of each other as a memento of our chance meeting.

 

There are a couple of landing beaches along this inhospitable coast but each of them had very steep crumbly ground above and behind and looked like they were likely to bury our tents had we decided to spend the night there. Over the past few days we had weather updates by text from Jogi and there was a threat of a brisk southerly wind filling in. Paddling along the north coast we were very conscious that it’s not the place to get trapped. The steep cliffs form one side of a funnel shaped coastline and a dangerous north easterly katabatic wind called the Bora can play havoc with a group of tiny sea kayaks. Taking all of this into account, it wasn’t difficult to make the decision to press on to a much more accommodating campsite at the far south eastern end of the cliffs, not very far from the ferry port we used to get to Rab just 4 days ago.

 

When we arrived at the lunar landscape beach we had about an hour of sunshine left to warm us before the high cliffs plunged our beach into shade. Thankfully there was no wind but we quickly set about the task of erecting tents and making them secure against a blow that never actually arrived. We sat round and chatted into the night and realised that during the relatively short 17.5 mile day, we had actually paddled just under half the distance of the whole circumnavigation. Time to slow things down again tomorrow.

 

Pete Thomas    More Photos….

 

17/04/16 White Water Trip to Nepal – Day 7 Madi Khola (10th April) Lamarkhet to Karputar

 

We arrived at our put in after about 2 hours of travelling along very narrow and winding roads with an almost vertical drop down into the Madi Khola Valley.  The river was only recently discovered and added to the third addition of the guide book.  Several authors had described how remote and special the river was, “a real gem”.  They were not wrong.

 

Our three guides (Raju, Biraj, and Naresh), who we had now got to know very well knew it was Joe (6 pipes) Sheppard’s birthday and had got a special cake for him.  We interrupted the briefing to present it to him and slices were cut for all to enjoy.  A final pack of the boats; we all had sleeping bags, spare clothes, essentials and a couple of tarps packed into dry bags in the back of the kayaks.  They were noticeably heavier and mostly stern heavy.  We were to paddle with a small, narrow river approach, eddie hopping all the way down. 

Let the nightmare begin !

 

So today is the start of our over-night self supported trip down the Madi Khola, described in the guide book as a class four, shallow rocky river.  As we set off it was eddy hopping down one at a time meandering through large boulders and watching out for each other. The river opened out in places and then back into boulder gardens.  The holes seemed to be magnetic to me but so far I managed to escape them by rolling out.

 

As we continued down the river a lapse in concentration and some lazy paddling put me in a hole from which there was no escape.  I pulled the deck and came out the boat.  Some people thought I was standing up but this was just the power of the water holding me aloft in the foam pile.

 

Further down the river and again not paying attention I got pushed against a large rock, tipped over and while setting up for a roll, hit a rock with my shoulder. I instantly knew I had done some damage and held my shoulder to support it. After a rescue and a bit further down the river I was upside down again and rolled up in a lot of pain, this was getting serious.  The rest of the group got me down to the overnight stop but we had to paddle again tomorrow.  John Cooke   More Photos….

 

 

 

After a full day of 6 hours paddling we stopped on a small sandy beach opposite the small town of Karputar The sun was setting fast and it did not take long to set up camp.  We changed and made our way across the suspension bridge and into the old town.  This traditional Nepalese farming village was extremely rural in character and we were welcomed with the traditional call of “Nameste”.  After looking around we descended to the riverside restaurant where we welcomed warmly by he proprietor and provided with Chai Tea (Piping Hot, Sugary and milky tea which was a favourite of the region).

 

In the fading light there was a cremation taking place on the river bank just below the village.  This the traditional method of dealing with the dead in this region and involves a hot fire on the bank of the river and the ashes and bones being swept away in the summer Monsoon floods.

 

The evening meal was prepared – spicy noodle soup which was excellent followed by our staple of Dhal Bhaat.  There was one solar lamp to cook by and we had candles on the tables.  After several rounds of drinks to celebrate the birthday boy we eventually left the café to kip under one of the two tarps.

 

We awoke early the next morning and packed up before heading over to the riverside again for a breakfast of two boiled eggs and Aaloo (Potatoes)

 

17/04/16 White Water Trip to Nepal – Day 6 Mountain Biking (9th April)

 

Today was booked as a relaxing day off for people to do as they pleased, five of us hired mountain bikes and split into two groups.

 

Roy and David choose one route while Keith, James and John took the option of a longer but supposedly easier one. This involved riding around the lake via the Peace Pagoda (see 8th of April).  so off we went heading out of town early so as to beat the rush hour traffic and heat which is unbelievable.  We headed north east out of Pokhara and then take a small road leading up to the Peace Temple, from here the man in the shop said it was an easy pleasant ride.  By the time we got to the top it was becoming clear it was anything but easy. We pulled into the café and the first litre of water was consumed.

 

Back on the bikes; the hills were endless providing some fantastic views over the lake with impressive mountains as the back drop.  The downhill sections were superb, long, steep and winding; a mix of dirt, grass and stone.  We passed many small farms with Nepalese farmers planting the many terraces for the last of the dry summer season.  Two water buffalo were pulling a traditional wooded plough.

 

Our route took us out and around the lake passing through villages that showed us the rural Nepal in all its glory. Our turning point was a suspension bridge at the far end of the lake and as we started heading back.  We stopped at the first café for drinks.

 

Further down the road we pulled on to a grassy area where the paragliders come into land and watched as they hovered in the sky above us. By now it was way passed lunch time and we headed for a café to get some local food.  A lovely lakeside setting and some really nice food and a drink (Momo`s and special fried rice).  It was only a short hop back to town and off we went riding along what can only be described as tracks not roads.

 

Back at the shop the bikes were returned all safe and sound, eight and a half hours it had taken us, about four litres of water each and the only word to describe the day,     BRUTAL

 

John Cooke       More Photos……


 

 

17/04/16 Glencoe Skiing – Easter Blackwater Bank Holiday Weekend

 

Some of us took a day of paddling recently while we were up in Scotland. Here is a short video of the day. For those that were there, you should be able to download this for your own use.  Chris Murphy https://vimeo.com/163069790

 

 

 

16/04/16 April Photo of the Month Competition – Please vote for your favourite Click for More.    

 

Trevor under a bit of a Strain

Paddling Eas a' Chathaidh on the Orchy

Chris`s boof is Awesome!

 

 

 

 

The Lower Etive
 

Lismore Paddle at Easter

Dee Estuary

 

 

 

Crosby Surfers
 

Babbling Brooks

Appin Harbour

 

 

 

16/4/16 White Water Trip to Nepal – Day 5 Peace Pagoda (8th April)

 

Gautama Buddha, also known as Siddhārtha Gautama, Shakyamuni Buddha or simply the Buddha, was an ascetic (śramaṇa) and sage on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. He is believed to have lived and taught mostly in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent sometime between the sixth and fourth centuries.

6 Pipes (Joe Sheppard) after being disappointed that we could not squeeze in another river in the afternoon cam up with the idea of visiting the white domed Peace Pagoda that overlooks our hotel and Phewa Lake. We walked along the beach to the pontoons that hired wooden fishing boats.  We negotiated two boats for the 9 of us.  We had to pay for a life jacket each but proudly informed the guys that we were all kayakers so everything would be ok.  Well it wasn’t, it was clear that our open boat skills were extremely lacking.  Everyone looked on as we went round in circles, totally uncoordinated.  Somehow we made it across to the restaurant on the other side where we were to moor our craft and hand in the lifejackets and paddles for safe keeping.

The trek up to the top was gruelling to say the least, step after step, was it ever going to end?  The actual Peach Pagoda was impressive to say the least and we spent some time at the top looking around and taking photographs.  We respected the rules (shoes off and silence) but he single security guard at the top had a difficult time with several visiting Indian tourists and we observed him blow his whistle several times at some less respectful visitors.

We then headed over to the café for some cold drinks before making the climb back down which was a lot easier than the climb up.  Someone suggested that the first to get to the boats could take one and leave the other for the rest.  Some how Kac Kac Keith and Ben Gunn were left on the beach supping beer and coke while the three Gibbons were going round in circles trying to get the boat back to shore to pick up the two waiting travellers.  After some discussion of where our departure point was we finally made it back in one piece, but not before our open boating skills had taken a severe dent.

More Photos……….

POKHARA WORLD PEACE PAGODA TOURA Peace Pagoda is a Buddhist stupa; a monument to inspire peace, designed to provide a focus for people of all races and creeds, and to help unite them in their search for world peace. World Peace Pagoda is the massive Buddhist stupa which was constructed by Buddhist monks from the Japanese Nipponzan Myohoji organisation.

 

Besides being an impressive sight in itself, the shrine is a vantage point which offers spectacular views of the Annapurna range and Pokhara valley with the marvellous view of Fewa lake from the top..

 

Standing on top of the Ananda hill, Shanti Stupa adds more beauty to Pokhara Valley. It is a perfect holiday place providing a clear view of the Himalayan range, Fewa Lake and Pokhara city. The hilltop provides a splendid view of sunrise and sunset. TripAdvisor has ranked Shanti Stupa as top second attraction in Pokhara. The pagoda is 7 kilometers from Mahendrapool, the major business spot in Pokhara. There are several ways to reach the peace pagoda. There are hiking trails, cycling tracks and the blacked topped road to the Stupa.

 

There are many trails for hiking. One of the popular and adventurous hiking trails is by crossing the Fewa Lake by a local boat and climb uphill through the local villages that takes about an hour to reach the hilltop. There have been cases of mugging in the hiking trails in previous years. The partial black-topped road from Chorepatan to the Stupa takes about 25 minutes, which can be reached by taxi or private cars. There is no public transports yet available to the foothill of the Stupa.

 

 

16/4/16 White Water Trip to Nepal – Day 5 Upper Seti (Pokhara) (8th April)  Lhachok to Dam

So today was the river Seti Khola, a continuous grade 3 with some grade 4. The river itself is a funny colour as it is very silty and a milky colour from all the glacial rock ground up from high in the Himalaya.  It is very similar to an alpine river, ie wide, shallow and full of large house sized boulders and rocks.

The put in was easy enough at a metal bridge with a rough track leading down halfway to the river.  The river was technical, eddy hopping as we went down.

There as only two features which really needed scouting. Unfortunately we did not bother with the first one which was a small drop with a boof to the left needed to clear the stopper and large house sized boulder on river right. 

Raju had gone first as this is an ideal place to take photos.  We all made it over with different degrees of style and then came Stuart.  He was aiming too far right and dropped in rather than boofing.  He back looped skywards and was pushed against the large boulder and eventually swam out of the turmoil. He had a small cut to his lip but was soon reunited with his boat.  It made for a good photograph though.

Having learned our lesson we got out and looked at the second rapid.  This has a technical run in and snake around large rocks before emerging into a narrow gorge.

After these two rapids the run down to the get out is good grade 3 and fairly continuous.

A great day in an unbelievable country.  No rolls, no swims today for me J John (Mamma) Cooke             More Photos…..

 

 

 

15/4/16 White Water Trip to Nepal – Day 4 Kali Gandaki (7th April)

 

 After a very lazy get up and a fantastic river side breakfast we packed up the raft and set off downstream.  The valley opened up a little and the  river gradually mellowed.  Numerous warm waterfalls fell from the valley sides.  Our trainee river guide swapped into a kayak for this section giving Biraz a turn in the raft.  Unseen by most he swam in the warm water after failing one of his practice rolls.  After a while we pass the remote village of Seti Beni which has yet another cremation so we drift on by.  Soon the steep cliff faces return and all of a sudden there is a rumble from the valley sides above and lots of dust.  Is it a landslide or perhaps an earthquake.  Raju provides the explanation; they are putting in a new road high on the valley side.

 

After a short while we chase bright blue kingfishers down the valley side as we enter the “dog water” which forms the lake before the dam and our get out at Andi Khola.  When paddling across the lake we found a group fishing from a traditional wooden boat – they showed us their catch – five large fish.   Where the relatively small river of Andi Khola flows into the dam was a small track leading up to the waiting bus.  We helped ferry the raft and all the gear up the steep slope, loaded the bus and had our lunch which was waiting in a small raft group shelter consisting of a corrugated iron roof over a steel frame.  Tabby our driver then negotiated the narrow bumpy roads back to our 4 star hotel in Pokhara.   More Photos…..

 

15/4/16 White Water Trip to Nepal – Day 3 Kali Gandaki (6th April) Modi Khola to River camp just before Puri Ghat

 

This morning we woke to a great sun rise.  Most had a great nights sleep on the sand.  Over breakfast we discussed the previous days fun and just marvelled in our surroundings.  The rafters have a very organised system for cleanliness.  Everything has to be washed to ensure that no cross contamination occurs.  Buckets of freshwater are lined up along the flow of the river.  Hands are washed using a small pouring jug with medicated soap ensuring that water is poured over your hands and not back into the clean water.  Dishes are rinsed, then washed with soap and cloth and then rinsed three times in progressively cleaner water.

 

A camp toilet was set up at the far end of the beach.   A helmet on top of a paddle signified that it was free.  There was a square of cloth around 4 rafting paddles with a pit dug in the sand.  Used toilet paper was placed in a plastic bag for later disposal.  Once used you placed a thin layer of sand placed on top to keep things clean relatively smell free.   This system worked extremely well until 3 piece (Graham) used one of the plastic bags to place his poo neatly in.  We think the talk of running the Colorado Canyon and how everything has to be packed out may have confused him a little.

 

Once the shelters and tents were all packed up and placed onto the raft we headed off down river.  The first rapid just below the campsite was aptly named “good morning rapid” and the large waves breaking over us washed those sleepy tears away.  We continued down river enjoying the size of water, mostly large grade 3 with many surf waves and wave trains.  Before long we were all swept down a large rapid called “Rafters Refund”.  Those at the front followed Beraz`s line over the double drop.  Progressively the line of 12 crept closer and closer to the shoulder of the massive hole at the bottom just before the house sized boulder.  John was the first to be stopped in the hole followed by Keith who was backward surfed and then reverse looped.  The remaining paddlers paddled hard to miss the carnage but Stuart went for the left shoulder.  As I rolled up I saw the back of his boat.  As Keith and John emerged from the hole to be swept downstream Stuart was now pinned against the large boulder holding on to a tree at about neck height.  I called for the others to try and help but realistically there was little way anyone could get to the midstream boulder from the bank.

After about 20 seconds Stuart had decided to pull his deck in case he became trapped; the boat filled with water and sank lower and he decided to let go and boat with him still in it floated free and downstream where he was reunited with his paddle.  This was a wakeup call for all.   We continued downstream, often turning back to glance at the Annapurna range or high walls. 

 

After a few more hours we came to a sandy beach and broke out the lunch.  There was another raft just along from the beach which had a small fresh water stream.  Lunch consisted of coleslaw (made in a bag which amazed Roy), bread, salad,  peanut butter and jams, biscuits and slices of melon.

 

A group of local villagers were herding their goats along the beach when there was a commotion and much shouting in Nepalese.   Tiger, tiger was the call from the other group everyone pointed their cameras towards the action.  I seems that a large cat had attacked and killed one of the goats at the back of the beach but had been frighten off but the goat herders.  The elderly lady in charge of the herd took out her smart phone and called the “Sangie” (boss).  After a few minutes he arrived and dead goat was taken from the undergrowth.   This was a significant loss for the villagers but least they had the remains of the goat.   It was most likely an attack from a leopard as we were informed that there were no tigers in Nepal.

 

We headed off downstream but soon came to a bend on the river with a large cave with many bats inside.  We paddled inside to see hundreds of the furry winged creatures hanging from the ceiling.  A little further along we came across several riverside cremations.  It is the tradition in Nepal to burn the bodies of the dead on the banks of the holy rivers, especially at confluences and showed a little respect by paddling on by quietly.

 

As we made our way downstream we took many more photographs before eventually arriving at our campsite.  This was a 3 star site, with a visiting bar.  A local entrepreneur carried his woven basket down to our camping beach and set up a stall of beer and vodka.  When he discovered that 3 of our party did not drink he took out his smart phone and rang up to valley top for James’s order of Coke and Sprite.  Within 30 minutes this was delivered onsite but John and Roy had already purchased all the bottles of beer (apparently for later!).

 

As we set up the tarps for the evening’s camp we were watched by many of the local children.  After the evening meal Roy offered the remaining bowl of pasta and garlic / cheese sauce to them which they soon polished off. Roy also gave them healthy helpings of the very hot green chilly sauce as it was clearly too hot for him as he lacked “Chilly Power!”

 

Later that evening we learned how to catch some of the hundreds of fireflies that drifted around the campsite and debated over the constellations’ above.  We had lanterns lighting up the camp which were made from clear plastic bags half filled with sand with a candle placed within.  This all added to ambience.     More Photos…..

 

 

 

 

 

09/04/16 White Water Trip to Nepal – Day 2 Kali Gandaki (5th April)  17km

The Kali Gandaki is one of the famous names of Himalayan Rivers, rising in Mustang in Tibet and flows into the new dam (2001) at the confluence with the Andhi Khola.  This is a fantastic river for non-stop play action, although there are some holes on the river that you wouldn’t want to play in. Expert paddlers would be at home on this river and enjoy and exhaust themselves playing on the waves.  Aspiring and confident intermediates would find this an enjoyable and fulfilling expedition.

 

After a 3 hour bumpy and dusty bus ride we arrived at our access point at Baglung.  From here there was about 2km of fast flowing grey water indicating the origins of the Kali Gandaki as glacial melt water.  After a little while we came across the first hard rapid of the day, Little Brother.  This should always be scouted from the bank as often the rapid changes with the seasons.  There looked to be a clear line down through with a couple of larger stoppers and a rock / hole on the right at the bottom.  We watched as Biraj Grg (Biraz), our guide paddled to show us the line.  6 Pipes did not bother with this and returned to his boat to paddle down straight after Biraz.  This was clearly a mistake as although looking very cool in his shades he eddied out and then took a completely different line falling sideways into the first stopper.  Over he went, struggled with his roll which took several attempts and by this time had been pushed over onto the right hand side.  His cool shades had been lost to the might Gandaki.  Everyone else paddled down in style and made the rapid look easy.

After a short distance we landed on the river right to scout “big brother”.  This is where the rivers main flow hammers into some massive rocks and you have to break out river left to miss an enormous hole.  This time we all learned our lesson and watched as Biraz showed us the line.  We all returned to our kayaks to paddle the rapid.  John (the silver fox) struggled to see the line and was Balta (upside down) in the middle of a massive wave train.  His roll failed him but he kept trying two, three times.  The power of the river was propelling him toward the massive hole on river right.  Fortunately he missed this by scraping down the rocks on extreme river right and was swept over the shoulder of the hole and out to safety.  He had been sucked out of his kayak by the power of the water and says that he never pulled his deck.  His kayak was swiftly emptied in the eddy and we all pointed out how lucky he had been. 

 

The group then paddled down some excellent big water that proved excellent for playing in holes and waves.  We were really enjoying the river and getting used to size of the water.  Still in a steep gorge we spotted several eagles flying high overhead.  The river mellows a little before eventually meeting the Modi Khola.  There is a very high suspension foot bridge marks this point.  The Kali Gandaki is a very holy river and often confluences are used for cremations.  We made for a small beach a few hundred metres down from the Modi Khola and set up camp with the Monkeys.

 

Our support raft was unloaded and we set up camp fairly quickly.  The skies were darkening and far in the distance we heard the rumble of thunder.  Fairly soon strong winds were blowing strongly and Kurt’s tent was being blown over.  Sand was everywhere but as darkness fell the temperatures stared to cool and winds ceased.  Fire Salgie (Roy McHale) had made a large fire from drift wood and we settled down to an excellent meal cooked by our support crew.

 

More Photos…..

 

 

 

8/4/16 White Water Trip to Nepal – Day 1 Trishuli (4th April)

 

We were up early at 6:00am for breakfast – Scrambled egg, ham and toast.  Our Toyota Hiace van arrived to take us through the streets of Kathmandu and on to the Trishuli River at Charaudi.  The road climbs out of the flat bowl of the Kathmandu valley and as we descend down into the Trishuli valley we meet the first of several traffic jams, the first caused by a small accident but the second by a lorry stopped on a bend with its gear box being removed by the driver.  At Charaudi we transfer all our gear onto the Paddle Nepal bus which we will adopt for the remainder of our trip.

 

 

Map of Tishuli River

Our three river guides tying the boats on top of our Paddle Nepal bus which we get to keep for the 2 weeks.

 

 

We all gear up and pad out our boats ready to get on the water.  6 Pipes is off down the first rapid leaving 3 still sorting their boats.  The river is wide – at least 40 metres and the current pours over obstructions in the bed creating many small waves and rapids.  The best rapids are caused when the river is funnelled through narrows when the Trishuli enters small gorges.

 

The first significant rapid we reach is “Ladies delight” around grade 3+ where we try to surf and bounce over the big water.  After about 3 km in the gorge we meet the first of two larger rapids, the first being Gloria.  This is enormous compared to water in the UK with massive wave trains but is relatively straight forward.  One of our guides, Biraz, breaks out into an eddie on river left followed by several of the group.  We paddle back up the eddie to try and cross and drop into the face of the first wave which is over head height.  Some reach over the crest with their paddle and get swept downstream while a few are able to be shot down its face and bounce seemingly out of control before shooting out the other side.

 

The second rapid is known as “upset” and regularly flips rafts.  The guide book says that it is “infamous and probably the most photographed rapid on the river.”   There is a monstrous hole and wave here and we follow Biraz in a line (or get swept by the speed of the river).  Most emerge with huge smiles across their faces.  Graham fails to roll (he is in a boat that is too small for him) and has a 3 piece! (Boat, paddle and body go in three different directions but are reunited in the eddy below.  John (the Silver Fox) is also “Balta” (Nepalese for upside down) but all cheer after his third attempt at a roll is successful. 

 

 After about another Kilometre we arrive at an alternative Rodeo Beach and meet three Nepalese playboaters.  David tries to show them what to do in his large burn but eventually gives up and joins the rest of us at our egress point for the short carry up the track to the waiting Paddle Nepal bus.  After tying on the boats and changing we enjoy a late lunch of Dal Bhat before taking the 3 hour bus ride to Polkhara and our hotel, the Coast.  Once in Polkhara we drop in to the Paddle Nepal office to hand over the UK Sterling we have been carrying to pay for everything organised by Paddle Nepal – basically everything from airport taxis, hotels and tea rooms, all transport and boat hire and raft support etc.  This has certainly been the easiest and most relaxing trip I have ever coordinated. 

 

The hotel has fantastic views out over the lake at Polkhara.  After cleaning up we head out into the town to explore and find a good restaurant.  Roy and Graham buy some curtains to wear as trousers; we have to drag Roy out of the many souvenir shops selling local “tat” and eventually look for a restaurant.  I could not persuade the others to try a local so we end up at “the Godfathers Pizzeria”.  The food is good and it has 4.5 stars on trip advisor.      More Photos…..

 

8/4/16 Marine VHF Short Range Course (SRC) and Certificate for sea paddlers

 

If you paddle on the sea, either in a sea kayak or go fishing from a sit on, one of the important ways you can improve safety, for yourself and for others, is to carry a handheld marine VHF radio and know how to use it. Once you’ve got one you’ll find it an invaluable and powerful link to a worldwide safety network.

 

Following on from the courses we’ve held over the last couple of years, when many LCC members successfully passed the Marine Short Range VHF course and received their certificates, we’ve been talking again to SEA VOICE TRAINING http://www.seavoice-training.co.uk/page/112/Kayaker-Safety-at-Sea.htm  about putting on another course especially for LCC members.

 

SEA VOICE TRAINING is a very professional local outfit run by Paul Harrison who, up until very recently, was a Liverpool Coastguard Officer stationed at Crosby. Paul has trained thousands of radio users, both leisure and commercial, and because he was a Liverpool Coastguard, he knows a lot about the areas where we might typically paddle.

 

His very informative and interesting course will take place over one day of a weekend sometime in the coming month or two (final date TBC) and there’s a short exam at the end of it. Don’t worry, it’s not that difficult; Paul explains all of the procedures very clearly and much of it is very hands-on so you’ll get lots of opportunities to practice everything. You’ll also get some valuable pre-course learning resources (used to be called homework) so you can get stuck into the work beforehand to get a head start. FULL COURSE DETAILS here http://www.seavoice-training.co.uk/course_details.asp?course_id=10 Discount offered to LCC members.

 

Once you’ve successfully completed the exam you’ll get the Royal Yachting Association Certificate and can then be confident about your abilities to use the radio correctly and legally.

 

Don’t rush out and buy a handheld until you’ve completed the course but look here http://www.dschandheld.com/ for some very useful information about what they’re all about.

 

I’ve already got a number of people who’ve expressed interest but there are a few places left on a first come, first served basis.

 

If you’re keen don’t delay – email me today and we’ll sort out dates, venue and cost.   Pete Thomas email [pete AT axonet.co.uk]

 

 

8/4/16 A Day at JJs on the River Dee.

 

Thanks a lot to Anthony Brockway who provided a full on day’s coaching at JJs. The gauge was on 9.5 when we got on and 11.25 when we got off so we had lots of water to play with.

 

Restricting ourselves to features in the short stretch between the railway bridge and Mile End Mill, it was amazing where the time went. The ratio was 1:3 so we each got a great session out of it and, dare I say it, came out the other end ever so slightly better than when we went in to it. At the levels we experienced, sharp eddy lines and grabby boils were ready to eat the unwary but, despite this, only one of us took a swim (no it wasn’t me this time although I did get a tad wet getting out of my boat near the end).

 

Anthony’s coaching was free of charge but almost cost him dear when, carrying our boats upstream to one of the rapids, a frisky horse mistook his orange Burn for a massive tasty carrot. It just wouldn’t give in and tried repeatedly to eat Anthony’s boat as he was walking briskly up the side of the Dee.

 

Thanks for a great and instructive day. Would love to do more.

 

Paddlers: Garry Thomas, Carole Thomas, Pete Thomas, Anthony Brockway, Trigger the Horse

 

4/4/16 White Water Trip to Nepal – Day 0 (2nd and 3rd April)

 

Our journey out went like clockwork with 6 of the group flying from Heathrow to Deli (Jet Air) and then on to Kathmandu and 3 taking Qatar Air flights from Birmingham to Dubai and then on to Kathmandu.  Graham, Joe and James had arrived first and were eventually met by their Paddle Nepal arranged taxi to be taken to the Hotel (Sacred Valley Hotel).  They spent the rest of the day getting their bearings and discovering the many shops of Thamel District.

 

Kathmandu city travel guidebookThamel is a commercial neighborhood in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. Thamel has been the center of the tourist industry in Kathmandu for over four decades, starting from the hippie days when many artists came to Nepal and spent weeks in Thamel. Even though Thamel has been referred to as a "ghetto" by some, many low-budget travellers consider it a hotspot for tourism.

Thamel is distinguished by its narrow alleys crowded with various shops and vendors. Commonly sold goods include food, fresh vegetables/fruits, pastries, trekking gear, walking gear, music, DVDs, handicrafts, souvenirs, woolens, clothes. Travel agencies, small grocery stores, budget hotels and restaurants also line the streets. Cars, cycles rickshaws, two-wheelers and taxis ply these narrow streets alongside hundreds of pedestrians.

There are many restaurants in Thamel that serve traditional and continental cuisine, although prices are significantly higher than in non-tourist areas. Thamel also acts as the pre-base camp for mountaineers. It boasts a wide range of mountaineering gear shops, foreign money exchange booths, mobile phone shops, pubs, clubs, and nightlife along with the numerous travel agents and guest houses. Thamel is home to a wide range of the Nepalese population, and serves both entertainment and employment purposes.

 

 Thamel is a popular tourist district within the capital city of Kathmandu. It's comprised of 5-7 main streets and many more smaller ones that criss cross the area.  Thamel can be difficult to understand when you first arrive. There are no street names. It's best thought of as a mass of unorganized streetTs. There's no real boundary to Thamel as such. But, knowing its centre is a good way not to get lost.

 

Main road in Thamel, Kathmandu

 

Later at our hotel we were treated to an evening meal of Dal Bhat with numerous extra special dishes at the roof top restaurant with several extra large bottles of beer.  The drinks bill turn out to be me more than the meal and we later found beer was about £5 per bottle in Nepal.  More Photos…..

 

2/4/16 River Dee - Farndon to Sandy Lane – 31/03/2016

OK, is not a white knuckle ride but, on a nice spring day as it was recently, paddling an open boat from Farndon to Sandy Lane is an easy and enjoyable trip that’s right on our doorstep.

 

I was surprised a few weeks ago that we managed to get 9 people on the water paddling open boats when I posted two sneaky mid-week trips at the docks. This time when I posted the Dee trip, I was less surprised when five and a half people turned up to enjoy the sunshine in preference to keeping the country going and paying the taxman. There’s obviously a demand for canoe trips and it would be great to perhaps do more soon on some faster flowing water with the occasional rapid.

 

But who was the half person? Well, when he gets bigger he can thump me for calling him that but at just 18” tall at the moment, young Jack Garrod, Mark’s son, doesn’t yet count as a full sized paddler. Despite this he stole the show on the river and seemed to enjoy sitting snugly in Mark’s canoe, watching the world go by dressed in his new pint sized buoyancy aid with a shark’s fin on the back. This was his very first “expedition”.

 

As is often the way with mid-week trips, we had the place to ourselves and this gave us a chance to watch some of the wildlife. At one point a huge buzzard flew over us, probably attracted by the possibility of carrying away young Jack to feed its chicks back at the nest!

 

After putting in on river right at a picnic site just above Farndon bridge, we practiced eddying out behind the bridge piers. The water at this point was flowing reasonably well and it helped us a lot as we headed off downstream. After a number of meandering bends, we passed through various riverside “shacks” on both the Welsh and English sides of the river. Some of these properties are quite nice holiday homes while others looked like shanties about to crumble into the river. Everywhere there were piles of flotsam composed mainly of bits of dead trees that, at times, almost choked the river. Like many in LCC, Carole and I have paddled this section of the Dee many times but I’ve never seen it with so much deadwood in it. The next big rainstorm will probably flush most of it further downstream, over the Chester weir and into the Dee estuary.

 

Eventually we left the shanty shacks behind and were out in open countryside of the Cheshire plains. The river soon runs through Duke of Westminster’s estate and glimpses of some very fine property around Eaton Hall were in stark contrast to the ones further upstream. Passing under the stunning iron bridge near Aldford, we knew the bulk of the trip was done. Ignoring an alternative get-out at Eccleston Ferry on river left we paddled under the ugly concrete bridge of the North Wales Expressway and soon encountered a number of rowers out training with Chester Rowing Club, a sure sign that we had almost reach our get=out at the carpark in Sandy Lane.

 

The 11.5 miles took us about 3 hours. When the tides in the Dee estuary are close to springs, the water flows over Chester weir and on very big tides, can back up as far as Farndon. Get your timing wrong and you’ll be paddling against this flood a lot of the way. Choose a neap tide or an ebb tide and the paddle is a lot easier.

 

The weather was so warm that two people wore shorts and most of us stripped some of our layers off as we progressed downstream (yes, it really was that warm). If you’ve not already done this trip in an open boat ... do it soon.

 

Paddlers: Jack Garrod, Mark Garrod, Anthony Brockway, Caroline James, Carole Thomas, Pete Thomas

 

 

2/4/16 Friday's Dock Session

 

As the weather for this Easter weekend was looking less than favourable, Julie’s suggestion of meeting at the dock for a session on Friday was well received by us three.

We decided that a bit more practice in our Sea Kayaks, with the strokes that Robbie, John and Zoe had so well demonstrated over the preceding weeks, would stand us in good stead.

We had also decided that it was about time to practice with our towing gear.

We each have had front deck mounted “Close towlines” as per Gordon Brown, a 5 star coach, for a while. The long body mounted towlines, we have had for at least a couple of years. Neither of these have been practiced with for some time, so Friday was to be the day.

Having, “Edged” “Braced” “Stern Ruddered” “Cross Bow Ruddered” “Turned on the spot” and “Torso Rotated” we then went to the “Garages” to do some negotiating there.

 

 

After a period we decided to try out the “Close Tow” lines. Firstly it was Gordon Browns type. Short length, medium and full length, going forward and reverse.

This was easy to use and worked well.

We then tried the one that I have with the cam lock buckle. I have a full sized wiregate carabiner on the business end of this and it proved far easier to work with than the plastic clips fitted to the Gordon Brown type. The Cam buckle allowed easy length adjustment to be made in seconds, although the means of safely securing the loose end, when retrieved, requires a re think.

 

During our Close Tow practices we had the “BENEFIT” of some well-meaning advice from various people. This related to the need for quick release devices to be a part of the kit.

The Gordon Brown style, admittedly failed in that area, but I do feel that it would still be safe to use in the right circumstances. The cam buckle type was in fact really good in that area and released very quickly.

 

After returning to our start area by the slip, we had a few tows using the long line. Deploying that proved not as easy as might be expected and modifications (Daisy Chain) have been made before the next practice session.

Rope and Water do not mix well!!!!!

A number of new Snap Shackles and Wiregate carabiners have been ordered and will be fitted for our next adventure.

After the towing a few rolls were executed---------some more successfully than others Ha Ha.

I feel that a coach led session on towing would be of real benefit to us mere mortals. It’s not as straightforward as it appears.

 

Bob Hamilton   https://youtu.be/1OhowpFVDe8

2/4/16 2016 Newsletter Published 
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