Thursday, January 25, 2007

Always Take The Camera

Well I wasn't really going anywhere today, just an hours paddling in the cold. I won't bother with the camera. It's cloudy and there's one of those winds that goes right through you and chills the bones.

On the way back I saw a Cormorant ahead and just stopped paddling and let the boat drift. It seemed interested and I floated closer and closer as it watched me for any sign of danger. When it was close enough to touch with the paddle I could not hold on anymore. I blinked and it paddled away. That's the closest I have gotten to wildlife in the boat.

Ten minutes later and I have three swans approaching. Now do I change direction and go to deep water or stay shore side ? They decide for me and angle out a wee bit, we are still heading towards each other. The sun comes out for the first time and I think 'I wish I had taken the camera' when they decide they don't like kayaks and take off about ten metres away and fly past me on the right, now that would have been a very nice set of pics.


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Decisions Decisions.

Today it wasn't windy ! Five days of wind, decent wind mind, and a wee window today. Maybe we had better get used to having Wee Weather Windows from now on :-)

I decided to go over to Balintore and Paddle in the 'real' sea for the first time in my new boat. I intended to paddle for an hour or so and up to Hilton and back sounded good.
An explanation first. There are three villages, Shandwick, Balintore and Hilton. Most people call the beach Balintore beach and even all the villages as one long village of Balintore. So I call Shandwick beach Balty beach, are you still with me ?

When I got to the beach it looked fairly calm so I loaded the boat with the usual safety gear and launched.

After about five mins I noticed that it was getting bumpier, I soon chickened out of a solo paddle along the rocky shoreline and decided to just paddle about at the beachy area. If I had been with more people, no problem but I decided a while back that if I had any doubts about a paddle I would go to plan B.

I had just started doing some turns when I felt the boat go up, I turned to see a nice big wave go under the boat and race towards the beach. I had never stopped to think how fast waves go before, anyone know ? As it reached the beach spray came off the top as if it were windy. I'm having some of that.

There seemed to be a few big ones at a time then nothing. I waited for the next set and paddled in. Just caught one but the Balty beach is steep and they are up and over quickly, so was I ! I was just setting up for the roll when my arm and shoulder hit the beach, I pulled the deck and swam in :-) A couple of the locals were staring at this nutter clambering out of the water dragging a boat in 4.5degC and I don't know how cold the north sea is right now around 8degC maybe ? It was great, I was roasting. Helly hansen base layer. Fleece layer, then my fleece lined dry suit.

I took some of the surplus gear up to the car and went out again. Didn't catch the wave this time so turned back out. Just sitting out there doing nothing is enjoyable, have a wee paddle, stop, have a slurp of water, have a look around, great. Oh here comes some bigger ones, paddle. Nah a sideways brace into shore and one last try.
Nothing, too few and far between. Anyway an enjoyable 90 mins playing about, and NO BLOODY WIND.

Time to chill out with a coffee.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


I had days off on Wednesday and Thursday this week. I checked the weather on Tuesday to see if paddling was going to be possible, both days were a bit windy so I arranged to go swimming on Wednesday.

Tuesday night was stormy but Wednesday morning was lovely with an unpredicted light easterly wind which would have meant a nice playfull surf over at Balintore. I was struggling up and down the pool instead.

I am rubbish at swimming and it's something I have never liked. A few years ago ( when I was fit ) I did the Highland Cross and whilst training I was doing 17 mile runs and 50 mile cycles. I still couldn't swim more than 4 lengths without stopping !

Anyway, back on subject Muzz. Last night I decided I was going paddling just before it turned bad again. This morning it was still bad and it's been getting worse.

I'm going to give paddling a miss today.

Like the other day it doesn't look that bad eh ? Believe me it is.

No I'm not going swimming again. Now where's those cakes...

Saturday, January 06, 2007

OK, The Bike It Is.

After yesterdays prematurely aborted paddle, I decided to take a leaf out of Douglas' book and go out on the bike.
I first built this thing in 1995, I ordered the frame a Kona Cindercone and then added a STX RC groupset and a few X-Lite bits and the Rock shox forks. Last summer I had to put a new groupset on it.

I tend to cycle from the house so there's always tarmac involved in my cycles. This one leads me from Invergordon around the side of Cnoc Cor Guinie OS Grid Ref 671,754.

This is the first tarmac climb at Tomich hill 700,709.

We are now at the top of the road climb and this is looking back from the scotsburn road at 693,730

I had taken the jacket off but had to put it back on about here, the last wee bit of road before getting to the hill.

At last we are close to the bottom of the hill, this is the farm at Inchindown 690,743 and the sun is out !

The start of the hill climb is also a wee bit of tar :-)

This soon turns into forestry track proper.

And we start to get some views. This one out towards the Sutors where I have paddled, remember the pictures of the gun emplacements ?

As the track gets steeper,

and steeper

Yahoo, I'm at the top and didn't even use the granny ring !

On the way back I noticed that more windmills had appeared on the horizon, not really visible on this pic

but zooming in a bit reveals them

I can actually see another set form my house so they are kind of IMBY but I'm still not a NIMBY.

We now join the Struie road and caution is advised coming back down

Some roads are still suffering from recent flood damage.

A wee detour took me home along the back of Alness. Total time taken today was 2hrs 20 minutes. Just went to check my records and I don't even have an entry for this route, I'm sure I'll beat this time if I go out again and don't keep stopping to take photos.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Quite A Windy Wee Paddle

I had good intentions today of doing a 15k paddle around the firth. On waking I heard the rain rattling off the windows and knew I was in for some fun.
I packed the gear anyway and launched from my usual spot into the jaws of the wind.
The rain had abated by this time and the waves weren't too big, but the wind was a real bummer. I have checked my nearest met office weather station and it says 22mph with gusts of 40mph.
I could see the gusts coming and had to dip my head into them, like being on the road bike.
Here's my attempt at getting a photo.

And another try.

And finally I got one, as you can see the waves aren't really a problem, this was just before rounding a corner where there was even less protection from the wind. You can see the effect of wind on the waves here though.

I turned back soon after this, managed to turn the GPOS on where I was doing 4.5kph without paddling. A nice gentle stroke was giving me a 8.9kph, great paddle back.

My put in point was no longer going to be a take out point as it was now HW so I continued until I found the nearest bit of beach.

Angle up, paddle paddle, quickly rip of spray deck and --- DOH! --- boat swamped.
I bloody always get swamped when getting out in breaking waves.

I then had a wee walk along the sea front to get the boat back home, with the boat on the Eckla trolley of course.