Friday, 1 June 2018

Maiden Voyage

Last year, Kate and I went down to Orca Adventures and built one of their Lakelander Canoes. We'd wanted to give her some more coats of paint before launching, but the unpleasant winter weather resulted in this not happening until recently.
We finally managed our maiden voyage, with the help of Calum. Now called "The Vital Spork", she proved delightful to paddle. It wasn't too hard to keep up on the Brompton, though.

The Vital Spork from Iain McBride on Vimeo.

Monday, 30 April 2018

Dodging the weather

I had a week of paddling planned with William, from his mother's house in Lochcarron. The weather was pretty blustery, so we quickly decided not to go off camping, and instead had a series of day trips. The joy of this was that 95% of the time we were paddling downwind, with little effort and lots of surfing. Great fun, but not conducive to photography.
Applecross was wonderful on a spring morning, as was the cafe in its walled garden. We took the opportunity for a brew up at the lovely bothy. I won't publicise its name, but it is well known to sea paddlers. A great place, which even has it's own library.

 Outside, a submarine was cavorting about, going in circles. It turned out that the daughter of my friend John was aboard, but not to blame for the erratic driving.

 A calmer final day took us to Loch Torridon, home to vicious squalls and the biggest sea urchins I have ever seen.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Building a boat

I've long had a hankering after building a boat, but I'm not a terribly handy sort of person, and the pictures of projects that I had seen all seemed to involve lots of sharp implements and many many clamps.
Then I came across the website of Orca Adventures, which is Steve and Dan from near Penrith.
They do regular canoe building workshops in a big shed outside the village of Great Strickland. A four day weekend is long enough, and the village is a lovely place to stay.

First cut up wood

Roughly assemble

Tie it all together

Tape and epoxy the joins

Think about that later

Pause and admire

Pretend to help

A coat of varnish

First coat of paint

Lots of colours to choose from

Add yoke and seats

Second coat of paint

Watch paint dry

Carry it home

So now I have the loveliest open canoe I have ever seen. Unfortunately I have no where to keep it and I'm not that keen on open boating, but I guess I'll get over that.
It seems to need a name. I'm thinking about "The Vital Spork".

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Back to basics

It's been some time since I had any proper coaching in a kayak. This September I signed up to join Jim Gibson and Steve Scott (aka Aquaplay Scotland) for their annual trip to Spain. Jim and Steve have been running fairly informal coaching courses on the Noguera Pallaresa river (in the Pyrenees) for several years. Water is guaranteed due to a regular dam release, day time temperatures are high, and the town of Sort welcomes paddlers and rafters in abundance. It has a slalom course constructed by the complete diversion of the river to the side of the town. I guess this reduces flood risk as well.
White water paddling doesn't lend itself to photography, not while participating at least. The pictures of me are pinched from facebook.

 Jordan Campbell getting some air on the slalom course

 A Catalan capercaillie. The woods in this area are full of wildlife.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Greenland again

Keen to escape the searing heat of a Scottish summer, I returned to East Greenland this year.
For anyone that loves travelling and paddling in wild places, it's a true paradise.
Normally the short summer brings settled calm weather, but this year we were bedevilled by breezy days, and an unreliable but alarming weather forecast. This restricted our movements somewhat, but we still found some remarkable places.
I won't give a blow by blow account, but if you want to go, contact Martin.

 The scene at Tasiilaq camp site.

 We had some tricky landings.

 But they gave great campsites.

  Old graves prompt some thought on what life here was like even relatively recently.

The remains of "Bluie east two", an abandoned US air force base, provide one of the most surreal landscapes I've even seen. It was abandoned almost overnight, and the toxic content of tens of thousands of barrels of fuel allowed to leak into the ground. The Greenlanders had no say in the matter at all.