Friday, 20 November 2009

New Boat

Managed to get my new boat out to play yesterday on the Clywedog.

Pyranha Burn Medium. It's a bit different to my old Jefe, so just getting used to it, but what a great boat - I'm well chuffed......

...... and so are the girls -


Still wet and Windy yesterday!

I was running a four star kayak providers day with two of my good friends Jon and Matt

All the rivers in North Wales were in the fields and many roads were flooded. We met at Newtown, I'd paddled here two days ago and it ws ok - today it was just a big brown mess.

We decided to go check out the Clywedog, it's a trib of the Severn which confluences at Llandilloes about half hour from Newtown.
Here's Matt checking out the first drop on the Clywedog
Jon styling a flare 'n' boof
This is me about 5 years ago - the last time I ran the Clywedog

What a little gem!!

I had a great day, very pleasant paddling, good weather - in the gorge sections we even got out of the wind for most of the time.

Good paddling, Nice River. Good company!

Wind and Rain!!!

This week it has mostly been wet and windy.

Here's the cars loaded up ready to go, two vehicles. Six canoes

I ran a four star canoe for the Old Vicarage Centre, the lake day was at Bala - it was horrendous, almost gale force winds. Luckily we managed to launch at the top of the lake and paddle up into the Upper Dee - still pretty grim though.

We had a good one the next day on the Upper Severn, around Newtown, it was high but do-able. None of the photos came out very well.

Isle of Wight

Just before I went to Georgia I worked on some four star sea courses with Owen Burson at Isle of Wight Sea Kayaking.

Here's Owen -

Check out the blue skies and calm waters!

We had great weather and some great paddling

At one point we spotted an unidentified boat on the horizon -
We decided to paddle over to find out what it was, and found these two guys fishing from what looked like a bath tub!

Gators and Oysters

In October I had the good fortune to be invited by Marsha at Sea Kayak Georgia ( to coach at their symposium. I ran a Level 2, or rather I watched as my good friend Jen Kleck ran the course. What a great symposium in a fantastic location.
I was a bit slack with photos I'm afraid.
We were always well fed, but one night we had an oyster dinner, they were different to any oysters I've had before, much smaller and they cooked them with pepper, but there were bucketloads of them!! Check out the boys cleaning them before cookin 'em

One of the highlights for me was when we found a 3 foot gator on the grass in front of the shop, they guys managed to grab it while I held onto one end of a paddle, while the gator held onto the other! We released him into the creek at the back of the shop - no-one was very keen to do rescues there again!!
I'm in the process of organising a trip to the 'Deliverance' river - the Chatooga with the guys from Sea Kayak Georgia for next September, let me know if you wanna come!

New Sign at Leam Boat Centre

Pedalo Confession

OK, so it has been a while since my last confession.

I really needed to update my blog, so I thought I'd start by owning up to this one!

I love working at Leam Boat Centre 'cos they have loads of cool boats to play with.

I was running a Level 1 Coach Course, sat in a GP kayak with no deck, cos I wasn't gonna do anything but observe, anyway in the review I got all animated (surprise surprise) and ended up edging the boat a bit too much and soaking my shirt and shorts - cotton briefs too! I went back in and changed into more suitable clothes, then as I was about to rejoin the group I thought it would be cool to take a pedalo, everyone laughed - what a guy!

A pedalo is an amusement park ride

You sit in a moulded seat next to your partner and pedal it recumbant stylee, that then turns a paddlewheel under the hull which moves the sucker along, little joystick in the middle to steer.

When I came back to the deck I was struggling to parallel park it so I just pulled up next to another one and hopped across, one leg on each, I then twisted to pick up the painter of my pedalo, and the boats drifted apart slowly. No problem, I just scissored my legs together to bring them together again - I do it all the time in canoe, but to stabilise myself a little I held onto the high seat back. As I applied pressure, the f******* seat popped out, I toppled backwards a little and the boats parted dropping me on my ass in the Leam!

I did hurt my fingertips while clawing at the poxy little excuse for a boat to save myself, to no avail. I came up, looked around and all of the deck staff, all of my students were just staring in disbelief, even the hundreds of members of the public around sensed that something monumental had just occured - the silence was eerie, then I heard a click from an SLR camera, then the laughing commenced! I was up over the pedalo and onto the bank in an instant, grabbing my cap as I went.
In this photo, I've just climbed back on and am in the process of replacing the REMOVABLE seat!!!.

Time to change again for the third time and it wasn't 11am yet!

Jenna said that never in the history of the Boathouse has anyone fell off a pedalo, even the most incompetent of deckhand boys has ever been that f***in' lame!

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

GART - Death Valley

Ah, now I feel homesick!

So we are heading out of Yosemite to Death Valley, at this point Ellery Lake we are at 9538' above sea level, it's pretty cold up here, check out the ice and snow on the side of the mountains.Two hours later and we are nearly 300' below sea level, this is the dashboard readout on the truck- yep that says 122 degrees F! It was so hot we were worried about the sealed hatches in the sea kayaks deforming so pulled over to pop the hatches, there were three boats so 9 hatches to take off, it seemed to take forever to do anything in that heat, the sweat was running off me in a matter of minutes.Ah, the open road, now this is what I call a road trip!We stopped to look around the information centre, which was very good, and cool inside too. On our way back to the truck we popped into the restrooms (don't call them loos out there they don't know what you are talking about). I heard a bit of commotion in the ladies and this little fellow came wriggling out, aparantly it was quite a nice temperature in there for a Rosie Boa - the ladies wanting to take a pee weren't so amused!Badwater Basin - Death Valley 282' below sea level.

So now we really are on the home straight, and as if by magic the elusive Elk finally put in an appearance

By 10pm we are back in San Diego, by 10.30 we are in the pub, by 2am we are staggering out the pub, at 2.20 we are Stand Up Paddleboarding in Mission Bay, by 4am I'm at last in bed - well crashed out on the floor at Aqua Advetures Shop.
Jen took me and my hangover to the airport at about noon the next day, and that was the end of the Great American Road Trip!!!

GART - Yosemite

So the new kayaks have all been delivered, we could just run down I5 to San Diego, but where's the fun in that? So we decide to head East to Yosemite. As I'm driving along I notice a warning sign that tells us the road we are on is closed near to Yosemite, Jen flicks through the road atlas and we are soon on our diversion. This puts perhaps 50 miles on the journey, and as we start to get near the Park we start to see convoys of Firetrucks heading towards the blaze. We also see that there is thick smoke blanketing the landscape, so much for beautiful views of the mountains! Reminds me a little of the Oregon coast two days ago!

We did get to see these fire helicopters hovering over the river just a few feet from us, loading up with water then flying away to dump the load on the fire. There were always two more choppers waiting to fill up at this spot - it was pretty awesome to watch. I love the fact that the Californian Fire dept employ a photograper!Through the smoke we could just make out El Capitan!As we came out of the park, the road we wanted to take was closed due to fire, so we took another diversion - this was about 150 miles and put 4 hours onto our trip - the distances are just huge! If I drove anywhere for four hours in the UK I'd fall in the sea! Eventually we started to come out of the smoke and headed towards Death Valley

Monday, 14 September 2009

GART - Redwoods

So the night before I nearly lose the truck and trailer over the precipice in the dark, I'm taking no chances today, I leave the trailer on the side of the road and in daylight try to drive the truck through a tree!!!
It won't fit!!!! But only because of the kayak racks, we toy with the idea of taking them off, but decide to just watch other people taking their trucks through the tree. Did I mention the road goes THROUGH the tree!!!!!

So still impressed with the whole road through tree thing, we come across this- The Legend of Bigfoot shopIt's a kind of gift shop/ museum of all things Bigfoot and all things made out of redwood, I bought a fridge magnet I was so impressed!
At last we arrive at this famous landmark, and get into San Francisco at rush hour, after the Elk thing, and the tree thing, Jen decides to drive through the City

We drop off a load of kayaks here, the guys stayed open late for us, it was about 7.30 by the time we got there. We stayed while they unwrapped the boats - there was a beautiful surf kayak, a Rush I think in black and a super slick looking Anasacuta again in black. The next drop was at a dealers house - it was really late now, so we found another motel to stay. Jen was a bit happier now that we hadn't got thousands of dollars worth of other peoples boats on the trailer!!!!

Gart - California

So at last highway 1 takes us across the state line and we are in California, nearly home, you'ld think... well you would if you were from Dudley. Wow California is a long state!!!

Anyway we are driving along, it's getting close to dusk and Jen spots a sign for spotting wild Elk, cool! I turn off the highway into a sort of car parking area, but there are no elk in site, I drive on a bit and we spot this sign -

"Oooh, oooh Fern Canyon, Mike Franklin said it was cool there, lets go"

Check out the rest of the sign - we didn't! I drive onto this dirt road which climbs through the redwoods at a pretty steep angle, that big truck is auto, rear wheel drive, got a huge trailer on the back with 5 sea kayaks, 7 surf boats, a white water boat and two canoes and we're going off road!!!!

The road eventually starts to flatten out at the top of this ridge then we start to descend the other side, the road is really steep now and twisty, and I'm concerned about coming back up, we pass a turning pull in, we joke that we could always come back to this, but we carry on, until we meet a Park Ranger, driving up the hill in a truck which looks far more suited to this terrain. I open my window and in my best Californian accent say "Hi Buddy!" Long story cut short, he thinks I've gone mad, hadn't I read the sign, he says I won't make the next turn, and insists I back it up!!!!!!!, he offers to watch me back, I'm a bloke, I tell him I'll be fine. Jen reminds me it's her truck and asks the nice ranger to watch us back. Bt now it's dark, I'm trying to reverse this huge truck and trailer back up a really steep twisty dirt track, I did manage it without any dings but I was sweating like a pig by the time I'd finished. We drove back and read the sign. And we still didn't see any Elk!!!We found a place to crash for the night, and in the morning drove back towards Patricks Point, because Mike Franklin said it was cool. At Patricks Point the fog was thicker than ever we couldn't even see the ocean!Later that day the sea did clear and we got to see some beautiful views, hmmmmm California Dreamin'

GART - Oregon

GART - The great American Road Trip, Jen and myself joked about doing this at last years LoCo, I didn't think it would ever happen, but here we were, saying goodbye to all our friends in Washington and heading for the Oregon coast. The plan was to drive the entire coast of Oregon, down the coast of California about as far as San Francisco, then head inland to Yosemite, down through Death Valley, then end up in San Diego.

We stopped here for breakfast on the first morning, this is a whalewatching centre, they had apparantly seen six that morning - it looked a bit rough. We watched for half an hour then got distracted by the Oyster Omlettes in the Sea Hag Cafe - possibly the best breakfast I've ever had! We drove on South and quickly got engulfed by mist and fog, something to do with the Humbolt Current apparantly, either way we were told that the Oregon coast is stunning, but we wouldn't know! We saw lots of views like this -
Occasionally we did get a clearing in the mist and from what we saw it really is an awesome stretch of coastline. We didn't have time to hang around though, we had a trailer load of Valley Sea kayaks and surf boats which we needed to deliver on our way through San Francisco. Here's our little rig, all loaded up with delivery boats, the ones Jen had bought with her and the new canoe we had bought from Alder Creek.

Highway one, the coast road took longer than we anticipated, especially with the fog. We were planning to stop and paddle but the slow roads meant we were constantly behind schedule. Jen did manage to sneak a rest occasionally though -


Last year we ran the Upper Clack in kayaks with Paul Kuthe, now we were back, this time to run the grade2/3 lower sections in Canoe. Here's the team demonstrating how environmental we are by taking a trash bag with us to pick up any litter we found - we filled two of these by lunchtime!
That's Jen, Karl, Ginni and Axel

Nuff said!

This is me running the most technical drop on the section in a Pocket Canyon we borrowed from Alder Creek - thanks guys, we liked it so much we bought one and took it back to San Diego with us.

This is Jen styling in her Nova Prospector 16.
Ginni with a bit of poling action, this was a fantastic strtch of river for four star canoe