Wednesday, 13 April 2011

War and Peace update!

Well I haven't really blogged properly for a little while so thought I should do an update. The lack of bloggage hasn't been because I've been inactive but because most of my trips have been to places I've already covered in previous posts and I didn't want to keep going over old ground. That said I feel some kind of a summary would be in order.
Back in February I went out over three days and two nights with Sean (first night) and Shuzz (second night). This was my maiden trip hammocking and I can't see myself sleeping on the deck much in future given the choice. We camped at our favourite spot on Wallaby island and were graced by the presence of Russell and Sandy the friendly wallabies that we've met before. They were very cheeky and Sean actually had to push Russell away as he had his nose in our food bag! (don't worry, we gave them plenty of treats).

 Shuzzy has a hammock too and it was interesting to compare notes and first impressions. We both reckoned that an underblanket is going to be vital in cooler weather (we used our self inflating mats to insulate underneath but the wrap around nature of a hammock compresses the insulation on the sides of your sleeping bag and causes cold spots).
This is the hammock, the top bit is a built in midgie net with zip entries on each side and held out by bits of twig and bungie cords. It's really comfy once you get used to the strange sensation. I've subsequently adapted a fleece sleeping bag that I have to work as an underblanket and it works well (although I'd need something warmer for really low temperatures). One great thing is that you can just use your sleeping bag unzipped like a quilt which is really convenient for getting in and out.
At the start of March I finally got my sailing rig and after fitting the thwart and mast foot to my canoe was keen to get out and try it out. I set off with my usual kitchen sink canoe camping load aboard for a two night trip. You can see my sailing rig in the blue bag lying on top.

I wanted to camp on Bucinch (a small island I've picnicked on a few times) but when I got there there was a couple already near where I wanted to set up so I paddled on to Inchcruin to another great spot I'd spotted previously. As I approached it looked deserted but as I was about to land a guy and his dog showed up and I spotted his canoe parked on the shore. I went in for a chat anyway and it turned out to be a member of the SOTP canoe forum I go on. He was just leaving but unpacked his stuff to make us a cuppa! What a nice guy! After a drink and a chat he repacked, loaded himself and his beautiful dog aboard his canoe and departed leaving me all alone.

I set up my camp and then the wind picked up so I quickly got into my drysuit and set off to try my sail out. It worked way better than I expected and this bit is in the video I posted earlier here
This is the canoe ready to go.
The next morning my friend Iain paddled out to meet me and after having breakfast and packing my stuff we set off to paddle back to Wallaby island.
Once there I set up camp again, we had lunch then we paddled around the island and explored the old Colquhoun summer house as Iain hadn't seen it before. Then I paddled back to the car park with Iain, refilled my water container and after saying cheerio to Iain, headed back to my camp and the inevitable cheeky wallaby encounter.

The next morning I sailed back to my van in much stronger winds and was again really impressed with my rig.
My next trip was to meet up with Stephen (one of the bushcrafter guys I'd met on my Loch Long trip when I returned Shewie's trivet). He contacted me to say he was heading onto the loch for a night to try out some modifications to his home-made canoe sailing set up so I decided to go too. I was at our meeting place first having sailed all the way from the car park. I dumped my bags under a tree then set off to sail back and meet Stephen. This is the video I'd already posted of my sail.
 Suffice to say I was happy to push my luck a bit once I'd dropped my kit off and inevitably I ended up swimming! Still I learned a lot from that experience and once we set up camp we went back out for a further sail until the wind dropped and part of Stephen's leeboard bracket bent stopping the fun for him.
We spent the evening chatting (Stephen has done some amazing sounding bushcraft courses both here and abroad) and eating and had the usual visit from Russell and Sandy but hit the sack pretty early.
The next morning there was no wind so any thoughts we'd had about improvising a repair to Stephen's leeboard so that we could sail back were forgotten. I was happy to leave later on in case the wind picked up but Stephen decided to head off first thing to get home and start modifying his sailing rig based on what he'd learned.
I hung about and packed up slowly and was visited by a couple of guys from SOTP who were up from St Helens for a weeks paddling (I'd given them some advice on parking for their trip on the forum and told them to look out for me on the loch). We chatted for ages and had a brew together then I set off home. The wind had indeed picked up and I managed to sail all the way back to the van again (including some interesting sailing through the narrows running downwind and gybeing through the S-bend section, good fun).
The next trip was an overnight wallaby watching expedition with Val. We'd been out to see the wallabies before but Val hadn't experienced them coming right into camp. Val paddled her kayak while I took most of the luggage in my canoe.
We camped in our usual wallaby hotspot campsite and had a nice barbeque and a wander about.
Later on Russell and Sandy made an appearance and Val carried out tests to see what a wallaby's favourite food might be!
The next day was beautiful and after breakfast we had a nice paddle back around the other side of the island.

As we paddled around the far side of the island an osprey swooped overhead and landed in a tree nearby, I've never seen an osprey before so was well chuffed!
The final trip update was with Sean and Pat (on his first kayak camping trip) to Inchcruin. Unfortunately I forgot my camera for this one! We had an enjoyable stay on Inchcruin, I did a little more sailing in very light winds and while paddling back the next morning we saw another osprey fly over (from never having seen one to seeing two inside two weeks!)
Since then the weather's been unsettled and windy so I've been doing lots of windsurfing and also attending Shuzzy and  his fiancee Jen's wedding.
I do however have a trip planned for the coming weekend.....................

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