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Monday, 31 January 2011

Very cold day paddling on the Dee

Very cold day paddling on the Dee at Llangollen with Phil and Cliff. They’ve been begging to go out for weeks, but river levels have not been kind. Today it was the air temperature that wasn’t kind - 0˚C when we arrived and it just about made 2˚C when we left at lunch time.
Just to prove the point I took the above photograph showing puddles on the car park that are actually pools of ice. It also looks like Phil and Cliff have also turned blue with cold – or they’re auditioning for the Smurfs! This blog site won’t allow me to upload the picture, if you really want to see it - have a look at my pictures on Playak.

There was a really impressive display of icicles along the river banks. This didn’t fill me with great joy when I took a swim – something that made Phil’s day as he always complains I never get wet. Anyway, I’m going to blame the manufacturers of my gear for this one. Boat designers have increased deck heights for some obscure reason, while buoyancy aid designers stuff more and more foam into the front of their vests; then add pockets. The result is that trying to roll is a nightmare! When upside down in freezing cold water adjusting my roll to account for modern fashion is the last thing on my mind, come on guys – make something that works rather than a fashion statement.

Otherwise a great day paddling – for our next white water trip we are going to wait until temperatures raise above freezing.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Double peaked depression

During the recent recession we've heard a lot about double dips. Today Afon Banwy  produced a second peak on the Environment Agency gauge. Usually the Banwy peaks under heavy rain and then is good to paddle a couple of days later, this time it peaked again today. A quick text to Chris (an instructor who lives in the area) for her opinion gave me all the info I needed to cancel the trip.

'The Vyrnwy is coming out. The Banwy brown and ugly. I'd give it a miss.'
This was followed by a flood alert being issued for the road at the get out. That was it, trip cancelled - time to ring the crew and fetch the boat off the car. It was almost fate, both Phil and I had the same idea - load up in daylight for a quick get away in the morning. Just the sort of action that angers the river gods into sending a flood to keep you grounded.

Paddling a flood or not paddling is a difficult decision. I've paddled floods, I've got scary pictures of Chris and I running the Vyrnwy and struggling to get under low bridges. With Bill, I  ran through Shrewsbury during the big flood of 2000. Guiding others is different, yes they want it exciting; but you don't want to scare someone so much that they don't want to paddle again or lose expensive equipment during a long swim. I know how it feels - I've paid into both accounts.

So here's to next weekend! Hopefully a dry spell in the week should calm things down a little and then back out to play. Lets face it, paddling is all about playing. If it becomes anything else, when the stakes become bigger than a knocked ego - you should ask yourself seriously why you're out there and will you being there have any impact on the history of kayaking? If you find yourself unable to answer - go home and get a life that matters.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

River Levels

Keeping a close watch on the EA gauges. Hope to run the Banwy on Sunday - the cold weather has kept us off the river and all the regulars are itching to get back in their boats. With a little bit of the luck the levels will stay up, but not turn into a biblical flood.

News on my health front is also good! Eight years ago I was diagnosed with scar tissue in my lungs, after a change of GP and a hospital referral to get things sorted out it appears someone hadn't put his glasses on to view the x-ray. The doc was looking at a healthy blood vessel! Thank God for thorough Asian doctors who don't just issue steroids like smarties.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Pool sessions

Pool sessions start Monday. Learn to paddle, learn to role or just come and practise in warm water.