29 April 2012

Cape Wrath

Right hand down a bit

Yesterday Puffins were the order of the day as they appeared regularly along the route. Today the Fulmars stole the show, hands down. Yesterday a few had shown themselves but today the word had got around and they were out in force as they accompanied me for most of the day. At Cape Wrath they came out in even greater numbers, a veritable flying circus as they wheeled and arced around me, seemingly seeing how close they could get. Every now and then one push it too far and suddenly have to turn away - lesson learnt.
The Puffins were out in force too, but looked rather lacklustre by comparison. A Skua also made an appearance later in the day to see what all the fuss was about, but soon became disinterested and left the party.
The Wind Gods looked more favourably on me today (though they still had the last laugh), though the Swell Gods were still in a mischievous mood.
I stayed a long way offshore to try to find a little calmer conditions and things worked quite well out there. Yesterday's snow showers had left a new dusting on the tops but the sun was making quick work of it.
Cape Wrath was a little lively in places (hence the name I suppose) and I was a little relieved to finally head east.
The cliffs were impressive but I was finally glad to gain a little respite as I headed into the shelter of the bay at Durness. The swell still made for a bit of a surf landing though as I dodged amongst the pinball table of obstacles that is Durness Beach.
And so Durness Post Office tomorrow to collect another parcel.
The last laugh? Oh yeah, an hour after rounding the Cape - after 2 weeks of Northerly winds - the VHF forecast came over the radio - wind variable becoming F4/5 East/North East.
Yeah, whatever...
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28 April 2012

The difference a day makes

Started the day with a walk along the headland. There was a mist in the air from the spray and the swell had left a wide band of foam along the coast. Not quite what I had hoped for but I got the feeling that things would settle a little.
I got on an hour late, the wind had dropped but the swell was still running - though smaller than yesterday.
I gave Greenstone a wide berth and then headed straight across to the next headland, Rubha C (map not handy!)
But a change of plan and then headed for Point of Stoer. Calm for the first two hours and then a steady breeze on the nose for the rest of the day.
P o S demanded concentration and an even wider berth and then a big decision: around the corner to find a spot to camp in the bay or another 9 miles to Scourie.
So here I sit in Scourie, drinking Guiness and listening to the All Scotland (Northern region) swearing championships.
I've not seen much of Scourie yet but I like it, but then you would after 9 hours in a boat I suppose.
Tomorrow will be a Canute day; I'll go when I feel like it - sod the tide.
Night night

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27 April 2012

Just been sat on the beach watching a large rain storm over the Hebrides, all silhouetted against the golden yellow sunset.
Life could be worse.

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Slaggan Bay

Day 15 - Gairloch to Slaggan Bay

Phew, glad that one's over. Got to say a big thumbs-up to Kokatat and Phoenix Spraydecks for keeping my arse dry through all that stuff (feel free to use that as a catchy marketing slogan if you like).

This morning I could see fresh snow on the hills as I packed and reluctantly left the sanctuary that was Carn Dearg youth hostel. The forecast wasn't brilliant but worth a short day I thought.
Stupid boy. A stressful day on the water that will rank up there with a few other not forgotten in a hurry days of poor decision making.
But now I'm sat in another idyllic spot, on a beautiful beach in the sunshine wishing I had someone to share it with. But then again they would probably not be talking to me after that one. Still, life goes on.

Hello to Philip, glad you are enjoying the blog. It's all a great big hoax really, I've actually been living in the garage for the last two weeks!

So, how are the others getting on? Michal & Natalie (HomeSeaHome) were approaching the I.O.W. when I set out. And what about Martin Lee (Around the Isle for Rheumatoid)? He had just passed the I.O.W. Has he made it safely around Land's End yet? I've not seen a full weather forecast since I left, but listening to the Shipping Forecast I get the feeling the South has had a good share of anti-paddling weather. I'm also keen to hear of the Mid-life Kayak boys, I seem to remember they are due to set out about now.
I'd be interested to learn how everyone is getting on.

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26 April 2012

More photos

I also received a parcel today, it wasn't like Christmas.
Just some no longer needed maps and kit..
It did include a memory card with photos though, a selection can be found on John's photo site.
Pascale
http://jalbum.net/en/browse/user/album/1163098/

View from Gairloch

Tomorrow?

Can no-one rid me of these meddlesome winds?
The forecast tomorrow means a paddle is possible but with the coastline ahead and with a full boat it would be close to borderline. If the forecast is a little out or the swell is significant then things could be a bit of a handful.
I am conscious that every day lost takes a long time to make up and I don't want to outstay my welcome with the friendly people at Carn Dearg either: but these thoughts are easily formed in the warmth and shelter or the indoors.
It could be another early morning, suck it and see, trust your instincts sort of day.
Decisions, decisions.

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Rest day

The kind people at Carn Dearg SYHA are being very patient with me as I wait for a break in the weather. The shipping forecast this morning included the term 'severe gale 9' - ahh, back to sleep then!
The Youth Hostel is situated on the N side of Loch Gairloch with a small ridge behind and so is a little sheltered from the winds; at times things don't look too bad down in the loch. Then a glance out towards Skye and into the Sound and things can be made out rolling downwind that I'd rather not be part of.
So I've had chance to catch up a little, take stock and sort a few things out.
The chance to wash clothing was appreciated; I had a minor wardrobe malfunction in Craignure with my only pair of trousers and a rashly chosen egg & bacon roll. What a mess, if I stopped in the street dogs would lick me.
Other than the damage from the trolley mishaps the Taran is in surprisingly good condition - disappointed at the avoidable damage but pleased that I've looked after her otherwise.
The rest of my kit is standing up well generally, might try to talk a little more about that later.
So what next?
Well I have to be careful not to get too comfortable here first of all! But the coastline from here on N has limited landing places and is a little exposed to the swell. So even the options to scratch a few more miles here and there are limited. Have to take each day as it comes really, Jim's Dad is also now onboard as onsite weather reporter at Aultbea which gives a useful insight.
Back at Mission Control the Team Manager is sorting out more postal resupply boxes. The people at Craignure P.O. were very helpful, especially as I arrived out of opening hours of course. Shawn from the campsite also deserves a mention for sending the return parcel back - cheers Shawn! The next parcel is due at Durness and the lady there seems very helpful too. Unfortunately as the route heads S some post offices aren't quite so accommodating. We've had to make minor route changes to allow - the north/south divide perhaps?
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25 April 2012

Scratching

Weathergirl and Chicken Man suggested I might want to start early to try to sneak in front of the weather. Sounded like a plan, seemed less like a plan at 4:00am though.
The wind was still rattling the tent when I awoke, hmm not convinced. In for a penny, in for a pound though - as I packed, the wind eased a little and I got on the water. Got around the trolley problem after using my trusty Gerber to (eventually) whittle a skid out of a piece of pipe found on the beach. Sand was a beautiful spot, but I had to leave it behind and head north once again, into a headwind - once again.
The plan was to reach Carn Dearg SYHA near Gairloch before the forecast strong winds arrived at lunch.
I scratched my way up the coast. The crossing of Loch Torridon was relatively short at 4 miles or so but it was exhausting. The swell came from two directions, the wind from another and the chop from everywhere else - not big conditions but hard work.
A quick breather out of the wind at Red Point (lovely beaches), some food and then pogies and extra hat again for the last leg. Though the wind was strong down Loch Gairloch the conditions seemed quite straighforward to the finish at Little Sands, after a bit of a faff I arrived soggily at the SYHA Carn Dearg.
I ran down to the town for some food and a look around though I had to beat a hasty retreat from the pub after banging my head on the table as I fell asleep. Sorry Marcus but there's no chance of beating the 74/80 record - I'm only on 2 out of 12 so far!
The forecast talks of gales and winds up to F9 in the area for tomorrow - a day off perhaps?
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24 April 2012

Mixed day - Sandaig Islands to Sand

Started early to catch tide. Stepped over fresh otter prints on way down beach, one last look at the Sandaig Islands and then I was off... into a headwind.
Only a gentle one though but at 5 degrees I needed my pogies. Soon at Kyle Rhea where wind dropped and tide picked up, 8+knots - at last!
Into Loch Alsh, dead calm and peaceful. Headed over to Kyle of Lochalsh to trade time for rations at the Co-op and then off again.
Calm still as I headed to the Crowlins with porpoises and a seal for company. Smooth chop started to come in, forewarning of an imminent wind.
As I passed the islands and headed N the wind suddenly went to F4 and stayed there. I slogged N towards Applecross with squalls blowing through, wind increasing and things getting quite lumpy - possibly a front passing by?
By Applecross I was hugging the cliffs to try to get some shelter; in the end I elected to land at Sand to consider the options.
Plenty of space at Sand, 2hrs to next beach and the SYHA further on was just not feasible.
Much soul searching as I felt there was a little more in the tank but went for better the devil you know and opted for an early stack at Sand.
A trolley malfunction on the beach damaged the hull, annoyed as this is 2nd time. Paddled all this way with no more than a couple of scratches but some nasty damage walking up the beach - bugger.
By the time I had the tent up the front had blown through and things settled down out in the Sound! Tempted - but knowing what Uncle Geoffrey would say I put the thoughts to the back of my mind and admired the view.
Annoyed with the trolley.
Frustrated with the wind Gods (again).
But quietly pleased with an ok mileage in poor conditions.

23 April 2012

Weather doesn't look too good for a couple of days so may try to finish on a campsite tomorrow to use facilities - washing etc. if I get storm bound.
Found a tick crawling through the tent tonight, hope he left his buddies at home.
Cheers Barry for the offer of the trolley. The axle is showing a fair amount of wear but no great drama yet. Little Brother and Dad are on the case to put a couple of spares together just in case.
Douglas, I could see Ailsa Craig in the distance as I crossed from Larne. Made me remember the trip there a year ago with you and the gang, a good day out.
Wisdom tooth decided to push through just before I set out, today was my first pain free dayn hopefully should sleep better tonight - ticks allowing!
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Another day, another headwind - Arisaig to Sandaig

During the night I had a visit from the Rozzers, well I guess it was them - flashing lights and big torches.
They shone their torches at my tent for a while, so I shone mine back at them, so they got a bigger torch and shone that. Eventually I guess they were happy that they had won the battle of the torches and they got back in their sticky little car (still with lights flashing) and knobbed off.
Anyway, as expected I awoke feeling pretty shitty (sorry Mum). But I have a well practiced routine to deal with such days, I do cock all for a while.
So I did; once I'd finished doing cock all, I just faffed, nothing productive just a good old faff. Then I did a little more cock all for good measure.
Eventually I felt a bit better and started to get everything together.
On the water the headwind was still there and I slogged my way up the Sound of Sleat in a F3-5 dead on the nose - tedious, tiring and frustrating - nice scenery though.
Later frequent squalls came rolling down the Sound. I was making poor progress (Skye Bridge just wasn't to be) so eventually I decided to call it a day, disappointed in only a 17nm covered. But I had stumbled across an idyllic spot at the Sandaig Islands. Time to watch the sunset and get some rest.

Arisaig

Craignure - Arisaig

A relaxed start in Craignure meant I was not on the water until the pm. It was a straightforward paddle up the Sound of Mull, gazing across at the hills and more memories.
It was fairly calm as I neared Ardnamurchan but still there was a prolonged stretch of 'spikey', confused water - wouldn't want to be there on a rough day. It took a while to round the Point but as I did the lighthouse suddenly appeared, clad in sunlight, perched in a very impressive setting.
Decision time - camp on the beach at Sanna or push onto Arisaig - a 13 mile open crossing, it was now around 18:30.
Wanting to make the most of the good weather I went for the crossing, knowing I would have to work hard. The weather was good, but ahead things looked a little less pleasant.
Initially things went well but as I watched the impressive sunset over Eigg, Rum and Muck a stiffening headwind picked up.
The last hour and half was very hard, I will pay for this later I thought, but eventually I threaded my way through the Arisaig reefs to a welcome landing in the darkness.
Today I am sore, it will be an easier day!

22 April 2012

The People

Marcus warned me that I would meet nice people on my way around, but I'm quite a sceptic when it comes to people!
Things didn't start too well when the first lady I met refused me water, the second person gave me some but was pulling his trousers on as he stood in the doorway.
But then things got better: at Niarbyl a couple offered me a shower and a brew as soon as I got off the water, Chris at the Niarbyl Cafe was very helpful and Ryan down on the beach was great company. Rather ungratefully I had to turn down his invite of hospitality (maps and sleep beckoned) but later his grandparents came all the way down the hill to chat and we spent a very pleasant time as the sun went down.
Over in N.I. the Warden at Silver Bay campsite was most helpful and Jetski Barry made good conversation; next day the staff at Carnfunnock were friendly and helpful too - thanks for the weather. The lady at the Southend Tearooms fed me well (though I kept her beyond her closing time) and then there was Jim at Point Sands who thrust a welcome beer into my hand before the boat was off the beach. Dave the owner was very helpful there too.
Scarba I just had myself (and the Oystercatchers) for company.
At Craignure the staff at the stores had held onto my parcel for me while Shaun (?) at the campsite is going to post my parcel back for me (he says!)
Marcus was right, it seems like not only are there still some nice people out there but it appears they may even be in the majority.
Quite refreshing for a grumpy old sceptic like me.
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Saturday - Scarba to Craignure

From early on I knew it wasn't going to be a good day. The tide didn't seem to get going, the wind of course was a headwind again - a F4/5 for most of the way and I was feeling the miles of the previous days.
The last time I was at Craignure I surfed into the bay just before midnight on a rainy night after a circumnavigation of the island. Today I paddled a much shorter distance but seemed as tired as that last visit to Mull.
On the upside I collected my first resupply parcel, it felt like Christmas! More maps, Wayfayrer meals and even my fleecy jim-jams! I was pleased to get more Clif bars too, I was rather disappointed when they ran out a few days ago. Though I did find a good alternative in the tearoom stores at Southend in the form of Bobby's Bakewell Flapjack - if anybody by remote chance knows anyone at Bobby's a box full would help to send me nicely on my way!
All in all a slightly disappointing day that makes the next few days a little more complicated - but then it's not such a bad thing to be reminded that your just a middle aged bloke on a canoe trip when all is said and done.

20 April 2012

Day 8 - Tayinloan to Scarba

Set off from the beautiful Point Sands with calm weather at last, didn't even need a cag initially. No swell, no chop, no stress!
Still had the obligatory head wind of course but even that had dropped to a gentle breeze.
Had the company of a few porpoises for a while, one laid motionless on the surface for a time - not seen that before.
Made steady progress up the Sound of Jura, with only me, my thoughts and the scenery for company.
The breeze strengthened and things got a little choppy as I neared the top of the Sound. I was pushing late in the tide and was a little nervous of the flow from the Corryvrecken on one side and Dorus Mor on the other, but everything ran quite smoothly.
As I approached Scarba the tide was changing in the Sound of Luing so I closed on the shore of Scarba to use the eddy. As I came in close I saw an impressive Stag on the water's edge, surprisingly he did not take fright and we watched each for a while until I had to move on.
Eventually I pulled up on a small jetty on Scarba to make camp for the night. From the tent I can see the hills on Mull where Pascale and myself have run in previous years, fond memories. Can hear to roar of the Grey Dogs from the tent too.
Tomorrow a short leg to Craignure to collect a resupply parcel from the Post Office - not sure whether to carry on or chill out for the remainder of the day - pub, cafe, shop - hmmm...

Jura

Having my lunch in the middle of the Sound of Jura, hope work is going ok for you all!
Photo from the campsite last eve.

19 April 2012

Comments and emails

Thankyou to everyone for their comments and emails. The kind words and encouragement are appreciated and does help when I'm feeling a little sorry for myself! Apologies that I can't respond individually but as you can imagine battery life is a precious commodity. Cheers anyway!
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Day 7(?) Dunaverty to Taylinloan

An early start to venture around the Mull; to be honest I wasn't sure what to expect and I was a touch nervous after Tuesday. I think I now probably have a different outlook on the place than Mr McCartney does. I was glad the swell had dropped away but it was still a confused and bouncy ride in places.
After that things just settled down into a long slog with little tide against a F3-5 headwind all the way to Point Sands campsite N of Tayinloan.
The campsite is a wonderful setting on the waters edge looking out over to the Isle of Gigha and beyond to Jura. The welcome was warm and friendly too, I had a beer in my hand before the boat was off the beach!
Today was a long slog and to be honest I was a little disappointed on how I paddled, but just sitting on the beach admiring the sunset put everything in it's place.
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Larne to Mull of Kintyre

Monday evening was spent at a very nice campsite at Carnfunnock near Larne. Strong winds and heavy rain all through the night but my trusty Vango took it all in it's stride.
Tuesday morning started with a no-go forecast (who decided on 05:20?) for the crossing, backed up with a quick peek out into the bay. Oh well, I have a good book and every episode of In Our Time I could download, it could be worse! But then the wind suddenly dropped - bugger.
So 2hrs late I was on the water - the crossing went ok, a bit lumpy near the Mull and half the World's navies to dodge it seemed (I'm sure there is a Captain of a rather fetching white gunboat who should be able to find a hint of red gel down his port side, if he looks carefully), but no great dramas.
Anyway the 2hrs meant that I had missed the tide heading North along the Mull. I gave it a try but as the tide turned a huge swell came in and scared the willies out of me. After thrashing around for far too long I turned tail, into a nasty headwind and headed through the tiderace to eventually make a surf landing at Dunaverty Bay - wet and knackered.
Wednesday was a rest day at Dunaverty/Southend. I was a little shaken by my exploits around the Mull and physically things were begining to tell. So a day of R & R along with Haggis, Tatties 'n' Neaps in the Tearoom.
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18 April 2012

Day 5 and 6

John made it to Scotland and decided to land and rest in Dunaverty, where there is no internet or phone reception.
Pascale

16 April 2012

Day 4 - Frogger - Larne(ish)

The end of day 4 and it was the first day I got to eat any chocolate; still no pie, chips or cake though.
Nobody told me it would be like this.

Set off this morning from Cloughy waved off by Jetski Barry and his daughter. Only a slight breeze and blue skies. Weathergirl had warned me things would deteriorate later, so I'd added an extra thermal and was soon a touch warm.
Passing Donaghadee the wind was picking up and the first hint of a warm front was building above me.
A nervous moment as I had to make a prolonged ferry as the size of the contrary flow surprised me at the Copelands. Another nervous moment (or three) as I crossed the entrance to Belfast Lough; remember that computer game with the frog trying to cross the road without getting squashed? I was in frog empathy mode for a while.
The wind was all from behind, building to a 5. I tucked into a gully on the Isle of Muck to change maps and then the final leg to land N of Larne (and a 3 mile walk to find food). A little sore here and there but not a bad day.
The forecast for tomorrow doesn't look too good bearing in mind another crossing, this time to the Mull of Kintyre. The plan for the whole trip is to step things back a level on what would normally be feasible. If it would be close to the limits normally then now, with a full boat and a long trip ahead it is probably too much.
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15 April 2012

Day 3 IOM to NI

Left Niarbyl, Isle of Man this morning for another long crossing to Kearney, N.I. Seven and half hours of chop and chilly north winds, had to wear pogies by end of day.
Glad to have the two crossings behind me now, they are a little more stressful than coastal paddling.
Hoping to see the end of N winds.

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Paddy O'D

This one's for you Paddy.
Niarbyl, Isle of Man to Kearney, Northern Ireland. F3-4 northerly all the way with 2-3ft chop. Full exped load.
T=7:26
Just thought you'd like to know.
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14 April 2012

Apologies

..to Marcus and Barry for not letting you know I was off, it was a last minute decision and I figured you wouldn't be too keen on a 4:30 am phone call.
Apologies also to Mike, looks like I might not be in work for a while...
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Niarbyl Cafe

Thankyou to Chris and all the staff at the Niarbyl Cafe. The view is fantastic, the food too and the shower was most welcome! Thanks again.
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Day 2 - Niarbyl

A second day on the Isle of Man. Unfortunately the forecast for F5-6 northerly winds was too much for me. I suffered a touch yesterday and I didn't think a 30 mile crossing was a good idea in such winds, so I scratched my way to Niarbyl.
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Day 1 - Friday the 13th

It was a real last minute gamble with the weather to go or not. Thursday evening it was a no go but a last minute check on Friday seemed to give a gap in the weather.
So I headed off at last, however the weather wasn't too favourable with a strong headwind most of the way; I did finally arrive at Port St Mary after more than ten and half hours paddling, worn out.
The weather forecast changed late on Thusday night making a crossing to the Isle of Man possible. Early Friday morning I dropped John off at Cemlyn and he finally started his journey around the UK.
Pascale



12 April 2012

Hanging Around

The North Atlantic Pressure Chart looks like a game of pinball with low pressure systems bouncing around all over. Yesterday I decided that an Anti-Clockwise attempt may be a better option with the weather as it is (predominately Northerly winds), but I wasn't convinced. So I made a few calls to get people's thoughts (Marcus, Geoff, Barry and Micky C) on the idea. By the end of the day I was happy that I could rejig the plan and head off CCW, it would be interesting to see how that pans out too as I believe it has not been done before.
But then looking at the forecast again late last evening there is a good chance of gales over the weekend, I may as well spend a few more nights in a soft bed than expose my nice Vango tent to possible F9-10 gales I figured.
So once again things are on hold. The frustration of the waiting game again 'til the outlook improves.
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10 April 2012

New boat 2


And the first time out, on a pleasant evening around Puffin Island with Marcus and Aled.


08 April 2012

New boat

Here is the new Taran when it was in the Rockpool factory awaiting final finishing.

06 April 2012

Kit - The Blades

Working at Rockpool I am lucky to be able to try blades from the large demo range there : Legend, Braca, Zastera and Epic. For the last 18 months or so I have been very happy paddling my Zastera Medium Burtons; they are a really solid and steady paddle in the rough - predictable and forgiving throughout the full stroke range. I also like the narrower 28mm shaft. The Burtons are great with a lightly loaded boat (for pottering, races and records) but I was little concerned that they may have a touch too large blade load for an exped boat into wind. So I started to work my way through the variety of blades to search for the one that suited the job in hand.

The Epic range are seen as a benchmark the world over; they are nice to paddle but I prefer more of a index on the grip than you get with the oval shaft. Too many years upside down I suppose!

When I took a look at the first Braca set I was very impressed with the quality of construction, very impressed. Unfortunately the demo set were on a slightly too stiff shaft for my preferences and while I was waiting for a softer set to arrive I took a look at the Legends.

I had paddled Legends for many years previously but it had been a while ago. It was interesting to catch up with changes to the Legend range and speak to Len about the various designs. A set of Small Fusions duly arrived - very nice and slightly unusual. They are a small blade and at lower speeds and lower blade loads they almost slip a little, very smooth and gentle to paddle. But when you put the power down they suddenly lock into the water as if they have just doubled in size - unusual! Time trial work dispelled any worries of small blade slippage with some good times on the clock.  Another feature that caught my attention was how easy they were to paddle in to wind, the boat slowed a litttle but the blade load didn't seem to change greatly - none of that paddling through concrete stuff. The stainless steel tips add confidence to the durability too. All in all a very nice package (confirmed when The Boss wouldn't give them back to me!)
Len and Kate were very helpful and have even sent a new set on a custom soft shaft with the heavy exped loads in mind - yep, the Legend Small Fusion are the blades for me.

Charities

I had intended to raise funds for 3 charities through this venture. I approached each one to inform them of my intentions (admittedly at fairly short notice), as of yet I have had no reply from 2 and from the 3rd (the RNLI) I received the following reply:

"Dear John,

Thank you very much for your enquiry, and thank you for thinking of supporting the RNLI with a fundraising event.

Unfortunately, from your description, this isn't an activity which the RNLI feels it could condone, support, or encourage. As you say, this is a huge challenge, and in our view, potentially a very dangerous one. The RNLI could not encourage undertaking these types of challenges, solo without visual contact with others or a safety boat.

As I am sure you are aware, the sea can be an extremely dangerous place. The cost of a rescue should you find yourself in difficulties, is high, and of course any adverse publicity to the RNLI would negate the efforts you would be making to raise awareness.

I'm very sorry, as you've obviously given a lot of thought and planning to this, but under the circumstances we really can't support your idea.

If you would like to discuss this further, do please feel free to contact me. If you would like to join in with an RNLI organised event, please visit our website: http://www.rnli.org.uk/how_to_support_us/events

With very many thanks for your interest and support for the RNLI.

Kindest regards,"

For the moment the charity fundraising page has been put on hold.

05 April 2012

Kit - The Boat

When the planning starts, one of the first and most significant choices to make is which boat?  For me it came down to a choice between the Rockpool G.T. and the Taran - also by Rockpool. After being involved with the design, shaping, testing and paddling of the Taran I must admit I must have a soft spot for it. The G.T. is a good boat but to me the Taran is special. The Taran was never designed as a pure exped boat though so it wasn't a clear cut decision. I wondered if the weather may affect my paddling days more in the Taran, but as Aled pointed out, if I'm not happy to leave the beach in the Taran I'm not going to be happy to launch in any other boat either. It's nearly 3 years since I started paddling the boat in it's earliest form and so I think I know it better than anyone, I'm happy I have made the right decision.

Next we had to decide on the construction. For an exped the consensus is usually to go with polyester/glass for 'ease of repair' and also heavier to cope with the wear and tear. But then we'd not been scared to bend the rules with the Taran; so we went a bit lighter along with epoxy/diolen for the construction. This is a bit of a gamble admittedly, but it has advantages too - it will be interesting to see if we got this one right.

Hectic

The day started with a visit to Ysbyty Gwynedd for a scan (a long story) and then the remainder of the day revolved around chasing up last minute kit and sorting out general niff naff.
Pete Baars (Summit to Sea) once again came up trumps with the kit - it was getting close to the wire with a few bits and pieces but it all seems to be coming together at last. Cheers Pete.
Also a mention to Leah from Lendal Paddles and Nigel Dennis for sorting out a nice shiny set of Lendal Kinetic Touring blades for me at very short notice. I'll try and give you a bit more warning next time folks!

04 April 2012

The Waiting Game...


Others are on their way; Martin Lee and Michal & Natalie Madera all started at the weekend and are making good progress along the southeast coastline. But I sit here with an eye on the weather. I still have a couple of days until my window opens but it looks like I won’t be going anywhere on day one. The biggest factor in this game is the weather; it decides when you paddle and when you stare at the inside of the tent for the day. It decides what is safe and what isn’t.

My chosen start point of the Anglesey complicates things a little. The plan is to head to the Isle of Man on day one, followed quickly (hopefully) by another crossing to take me north towards Scotland. With 2 significant crossings in the early stages it is a waiting game, looking for good enough weather to get onto and then off the Isle of Man in short order.
Until then we wait, I feel it may not be the only waiting I may have to do...

01 April 2012

Why?

Well, by now I've been asked a number of times why I am setting out to do this trip, just what are the reasons behind it? There is a pregnant pause as they wait for the deep and meaningful answer, followed by palpable disappointment as I point out there isn't one.

I could use the old 'because it's there' answer - but that would be too flippant.
Or perhaps the 'to raise funds and bring attention to the plight of the lesser spotted Mongolian tree frog' - but then that's not my way either.
Or perhaps I could waffle on about a voyage of personal discovery as I find out of just what kind of 'stuff' I am made - that will be interesting, but no, it's not the reason.
Perhaps I could mention how I look forward to an interesting voyage along the breathtaking British coastline, meeting people and having adventures along the way - no not really; I have no doubt there will be long stretches of cold, wet, miserable and generally crappy paddling ahead. And as to the death defying adventures, well frankly the fewer of them the better! If I can get around safely and not have my kit nicked I'll be happy. No, this is not the reason either.

I don't think there is a real 'reason' why I am setting out, it's just a natural progression really. I worked to get from Novice to Div 4, and then the aim was for Div 2 and of course in turn into 1. Premier would surely be enough? But no, the goal then moved to making the 'The Team', after that it was work to win a Championship and so it went on, and on...
Around the Beacon, then a first solo trip to the Skerries, followed by one around the Island and then across the Irish Sea (only now a real paddler apparently).

No it was all just a steady progression.

There isn't a 'reason' - it's just inevitable really....



Is it lunchtime yet?