Monday, 27 July 2009

LoCo Roundup

Only three weeks to go before I fly out to Washington for the LoCo roundup!

This is a great event, now in it's third year. I was there last year and had an awesome time. This time I will be working with Jen Kleck running a BCU Level 2 course. It's a really laid back atmosphere on Ginni Callaghan's Slow Boat Farm.

I seem to remember being plied with Budweiser and Clamato - yep that's clam and tomato juice!

I also was king of the 'pull yer mate off the bucket' game - I beat Jen! She still disputes this!
Although this is predominantly a sea kayak event, the multi boat approach to the new BCU awards means that there is plenty of canoeing and river kayaking going on.
A gang of us sneaked off one day to go run the Clackamas which runs off Mount Hood in Oregon
This year I also have a couple of days work in San Diego, so I'll be Livin' the American Dream, by driving this truck all the way down the West Coast of the USA!!

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Leoni Loves White Water

Here's my daughter aged 4, paddling the mighty Jackfields Rapids in high water.

Last New Boat!!!

Last February I got very excited at the Boat Caravan and Outdoors Show at the NEC Birmingham when I saw Northern Sound Birch Canoes. I started chatting to the Owner Rob, and before long we were launching one of his beautiful boats on the kiddies kayak pool! After more chatting Rob offered me the chance to trail the boat over a longer period of time.

The boat I have is just under 14' long and is built to an Algonquin design using authentic traditional tools and materials. As well as being a thing of great beauty, it also paddles like a dream.

Check out the Leamington Trial video on Northern Sounds website.

New Boat

Here's some photo's of my new boat - it's a Nova Craft 15' Prospector.

Look at the hull - no scratches - it no longer looks like that! I've been paddling it loads on white water, so it has a few battle scars now, I'm very pleased with the boat - it handles beautifully on moving water, and tracks really nice in the wind too.

It's set up a little differently to a stock Prospector - there's about two inches off the freeboard at the midships, but the prow and stern are the same height, so the gunwale has a more 'sweeping' line. The seats are set differently too, it's primarily set up for solo paddling, so the bow seat is closer to the yoke and I paddle it backwards. I find this better for tandem white water too as it puts the bow paddler nearer the centre. The stern seat is a little closer to the centre too, to balance the bow paddler, and also there is room for my four year old to sit backwards on it so we can paddle with the boat balanced. It works extremely well for what we do.
This was the 'maiden' voyage - so I found a maiden to paddle it! This is Clare on of my Long Term Students

Monday, 20 July 2009

Tourability – 19th July

The sun always shines for Tourability, at least it has every time we’ve run it since it started seven years ago – alas this year proved to be the exception. Undeterred by the miserable forecast, and high river levels a large gang of West Midlands coaches under the direction of organiser Dave Bateman gave up their Saturday to take youngsters and adults with special needs on a trip down the river Severn. Possibly due to the promised rain, numbers were a little low this year, but the brave paddlers who did turn up set off from Arley in a flotilla of canoes - rafted and singles and kayaks heading for Bewdley.

Generally we stop on the shingle beach above Trimpley for a picnic before taking on the mighty Eyemore rapids, this year the beach was under brown swirling water and the rapids were completely washed out, there were very few eddies and lots of overhanging trees, so stopping was pretty much out of the question – this was likely to be the quickest Tourability ever – we might finish before Dave had even had chance to have his breakfast! The miles were whizzing by, and Bewdley was already in sight when the lead boat disappeared up a small tributary on river right, officially this is Dowles Brook, but for today it was a Jungle Creek Adventure! Fallen trees blocked the way, but with pocket saws flashing like cutlasses a path was hacked through and the adventurers set off up through the jungle, howler monkeys could be heard in the trees and every bough had poisonous snakes hanging from them – difficult to believe we were still in Worcestershire. After two days and nights (about 300 yards!) we could go no further so we stopped and ate our picnic, the rain had stopped and the sunlight was even starting to dapple through the trees.
We soon headed back to the river Severn and continued the last mile to Bewdley High School, home of Wyre Forest Canoe Club who very kindly allow us to egress there. Everyone including the volunteers got a certificate of attendance and a Paddlepower Start Certificate.

Thanks to all the coaches who gave up their time, Anna for running the shuttle and huge thanks to Dave Bateman for organising the event.
Next year we are planning to move Tourability back to its normal June date – the weather in July is rubbish! If you work at a Special School or know anyone who would like to join us next year, or if you want to volunteer to help out - drop Dave Bateman an email for details