Monday, 7 February 2011

Getting better.

Well I was out on the Big Loch again on Saturday and Sunday (including an overnight camp on Inchconnachan). I'm not going to blog the trip as such (since I've done so many other overnighters on Loch Lomond) but I want to record some thoughts and post the odd pic.
When I set off it was quite windy (upper F3/ lower F4) so I decided to head downwind which was fun (surfing) and quite interesting (difficult to steer and maintain a course), once I got into the relative shelter of the narrows I decided to see if I could make progress against the wind (which was a bit lighter there). It was hard work but I succeeded in paddling against the wind with my single bladed canoe paddle (where previously I would have had to resort to the double bladed kayak paddle).

I was pretty chuffed about this, I reckon my paddling is getting more efficient the more experience I get. On Sunday I managed to sneak up on some white deer on Inchmoan by paddling quietly. I really love the subtlety of all the different canoe paddle strokes, how they work and how you can blend them together to steer and propel the canoe and I can feel it all coming together in my paddling.
I had a few items of new equipment to try out this time.
First up my long awaited pair of Muck Boots. These are neoprene wellies that I'd read loads about on the canoe forum. They really lived up to the hype, comfy, warm, convenient and dry, a one boot solution to canoe camping trips (ideal for paddling and for wearing around camp).
I also got to try out my fishing shelter (inspired by Sean's beach shelter that we used to sit by the fire in the rain on a previous trip). It only cost £12 and is made of very light nylon so I was worried it would leak like a sieve but it held up well during the heavy (but short) showers on Saturday night. So far so good then but I'm not sure how durable it'll be (but for twelve quid......!)
One thing I've had for a while but not really used while paddling is my Snugpak Poncho. My idea for this was that it'd be a good waterproof for camping but would be ideal in the canoe when it was raining as well. I tried it on Sunday and it's perfect. When you're sitting or kneeling in the canoe it covers your legs as well as your body, it fits over whatever else you have on (for instance a buoyancy aid) and it packs up really small when it's not in use.
I finally replaced my old buoyancy aid too. My old one was one that I got free with my last but one kayak, it had to be pulled on over your head and always got caught on my drysuit zip and only had one pocket. I wanted to replace it with one with a front zip for easy access and some more pockets for my camera and other stuff. I couldn't decide whether to spend mega bucks on a top of the range one or go for a cheaper one that I'd seen reduced on the net. In the end I went for the cheap one, it'll float me just as well, has enough pockets (and a drinks bladder pocket on the back) and cost a third of the price of the high end ones I was considering.
I think this canoe is the best toy I've ever bought, I can't believe it took me nearly twenty years to fulfill my ambition to own one!

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