Monday, 23 July 2012

Solo Surf!

skaill Surf forecast

For the first time in months, the swell forecast was something to take note of, even if the accompanying wind was not ideal.  It felt like time to get Rainbow Brite wet again so after work and banana on toast, Phyllis and I set off to Skaill.

IMGP1913 Skaill Bay Right

It was pretty much low tide when I arrived, which is the rubbishest time of day for the right, but there were definitely some waves so I decided I might as well get in and see whit like.

IMGP1916 Waves

Every so often big monster set would come in right across the whole bay, yep, there was definitely some swell, although it was very messy and frothy white.

After farting about putting the foam back in my boat  (this tells me she hasn’t been paddled since before early May), I got on the water and out to the break with no problems.  I had a nosey around to see what was happening before catching a lovely wee wave.  I was looking where I was going for the turn but had to remind myself to edge before it would really kick in!

IMGP1921 Waves on the horizon

I sat on the edge of the break and watched what was happening and although I knew I needed to get in deeper to catch good waves, I also did not want a mashing.  Still, I caught a few that were OK and stayed upright and dry.  After a while, I caught one but my take off was far too straight and by the time I had engaged the turn, the white water had caught up with me and picked me up on the fluff.  I finally got off the back of it, only to be met by about 5 foaming white monsters from which there was no hiding.  Finally one was so steep it tail looped me and I had a peedie roll.  I battled back out to the break and sat and had a look for a while again.

IMGP1923 Waiting and watching

The tide was coming in by this point and the character of the waves was changing, just off the shoulder was really confused and not a nice place to be.  It was hard to see if the wave was just going to break again in a random place as everything was all lumpy bumpy and unpleasant.

Given that I was on my own, I decided I really didn’t want to piss about in there and risk getting totally thumped so I headed back into the beach while there was a break in the swell.  I was quite pleased to negotiate my way to the beach without incident or more bashes to my hull!

I had literally sat down on the grass by the van when what should appear round the corner than Hairyaker and Nanavan.  We chatted about conditions and Hairyaker did a lot of beard stroking, but I felt that I’d had just enough for my first time out in about 3 months.  I left them there and went home to play my fiddle.

IMGP1928Nanavan and Rainbow Brite discuss the conditions

It may have not been the best session ever, but who can complain about getting a chance for a surf in July!

Homeward adventures

After what feels like months of living my life in a whir of travelling, money spending and exhaustion, this weekend was a chance to finally stay at home and do some mental regrouping.  I needed it!  I had been planning to paddle the Garry and collect my new toy, but my wise housemate suggested that perhaps it was time to stop, just for a little while at least.

After the fun on the Garry a few weeks ago, I decided the right tool for the job was needed, unfortunately, however, I got a little over excited with eBay and ended up with a very small boat in Bristol.  Ooops!  What’s done is done and the boat is now in Blairgowrie  awaiting the next stage of its journey.  The question remains, can even get in it?

boatTiny boat! 

Although I was staying at home to ‘relax’ this weekend, that didn’t mean I was just going to sit in my house and drink tea, especially not as Friday brought the best weather for ages, coinciding with a climbing evening.  I toddled off to Roseness and found Don on his own so at least between the two of us, he could lead and I could belay and second.

IMGP1904 Looking from the crag to Copinsay

IMGP1907Don leads

IMGP1909  Don leading the VS route

I hadn’t climbed in so long that at first I could barely remember what to do! However, with a bit of gentle reminding, I was fine.  The midges were biting hard in the shade under the crag so belaying wasn’t too much fun! We climbed 3 good routes, the last one being really tough at the top with a peedie overhang to negotiate.  Despite being totally out of practise, I managed to get up and to collect all the gear too.

This week is Stromness Shopping Week (like a gala week) so on Saturday we were asked to play an exhibition polo game in the Stromness Basin.  Using our beautiful homemade goals and several hundred metres of rope, we managed to create some kind of ‘pitch’.  The sidelines were to be imagined!

groupPreparing for the match 

The regular players had not played for several months, some had not played in years and others had never played at all.  It was a good mix but a great bunch.

P1100193 Hairyaker on the ball

P1100207 Dodgy shooting from Northern Kayaker

P1100201 Evil Kevin

I got shoved in and for some reason could not handroll, my legs just seemed too straight in the boat.  I had flung my paddle away and for some reason I thought the others were miles away so I bailed.  I was not happy.

P1100217 The other laugh at my handrolling!

P1100220 Swimming!

We had a massive audience for the game(s) and were told later that there had been quite a lot of interest from people watching.  Since we normally play in a pool, people don’t often get to see what it’s really all about!

We kept playing until we were all knackered and after about a couple of hours, decided to call it a day.  Everyone had a had a whale of a time and we suddenly realised that maybe this was a place where we could play outdoors more often.  We finished the day with a free pint in the sponsor’s pub, can’t argue with that!

Next week, Phyllis, the Tall One, the Dirty Hibee and I go to Shetland for the symposium and a lot of fun round the islands.  It’s going to be AWESOME!!

Thanks to Batman and Dool for the polo photos

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Rivers of fun!

Last weekend I was invited down for another weekend on the rivers with the guys I went to the Tummel with.  We rendez voused at the Pattack take out and had considered some evening playboating skills but after an unscheduled trip to Spean Bridge and a stonking head ache, some food and beers seem far more apt.  I set upon the beef bourginion.

IMGP1585 Dinner preparations

IMGP1588Mary and Jen’s tented village 

After a good craic over a few beers, a highly amusing phone call from a friend and me falling in a hole (“I’m in a hole!”), in the morning it was time to head over to the Garry, via the wonderful Spean Bridge shop!

We ran down the Garry as far as the playhole where we spent a good long time each playing on the wave (or in my case….not….).  I was trying out a friend’s Nomad with a view to purchasing.

IMGP1591Duncan tears it up! 

IMGP1593 Jen on the wave

IMGP1595 Jenny shows us how to get on the wave and stay there!

After playing for a while, we headed on down the river and decided to run the two wee drops below the take out, taking care to check out the fallen tree.

IMGP1605 Crappy passive technique

After a piece or two back at the take out, it was time to go back up river to the playhole for another go on the wave, this time I tried out John’s Juice .  We ran down again and I was having a total mare, I think  ran half the rapids upside down!  Arrghhh!  My theory was that my pieces hadn’t fully digested!

IMGP1611 Falling off the play wave!

Back at Phyllis it was time to brew up, before heading back up to the playhole to to practise stern squirts and back deck rolls.  Unfortunately, I managed to break the seat of the Juice on the third attempt at a stern squirt! (Sorry John).  My nice friend Mark kindly lent me his S6F and I was immediately in love!  It was such a fun little boat and just perfect for pissing about on the eddyline trying to do stern squirts.  After a few false starts, I managed one or two, but they weren’t caught on camera!  I was really pleased though.  I gotta  get myself a playboat….

IMGP1618 Trying to squirt

IMGP1620 Running down

Mark and I finished the day running down back to the take out.  This time I remained upright the whole way!!!  Great fun!

After an unscheduled but very pleasant night in the Bridge of Orchy Bunkhouse, it was time for the Etive on Sunday.  This time I was trying Jenny’s Jefe Chico.  I was a little bit apprehensive about the run and about my first go on biggish drops  but as ever, the others were fantastic about talking me through lines and setting up safety.  It was good to know that some of them were nervous too!

IMGP1629 Second drop of Triple Falls

IMGP1631 Jen on the second drop

IMGP1636 Neil on the third drop

IMGP1643 Mangling Letterbox

IMGP1649 Jenny lands Letterbox with style

IMGP1653 Not happy about my performance on Ski-Jump

The biggest rapid of the day was Right Angle Falls.  This is a 20ft drop into a big pool.  We put in right at the top of the big drop (missing out the right angle) and despite ‘melting’ as instructed, I still couped when I resurfaced and then got pinned to the right hand wall before I could roll.  Jenny was there to scoop me up and sort me out so all was good.

The rivers were absolutely awesome and the craic wicked.  Clearly there is much to improve in my river running technique but I had an absolutely brilliant time and am now completely converted to white water.  I just can’t wait for another go!


(Thanks to Stu, Jenny and John for the photos).

Thursday, 5 July 2012


Last weekend I had an absolutely awesome time with my mate from school and the rest of the crowd on a couple of rivers.  Again, it was a mammoth mission to get off island but boy was it worth it.

Unfortunately, my camera went to Dunkeld, but my friend took a few photos.

Running the Etive
I'll write more when I get my camera back, in the meantime, I continue to crave that river rush!