Jun 11 2012

No decent paddling yet this year, boooo.

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Well….. I get up to the lakes quite a bit, as my mother has a static caravan up there & I do enjoy flat water paddling on Windermere. But not all the time, it really frustrates me not being able to paddle any rivers, without a load of hassle from anglers, etc. I don’t want the stress of it all, as I’m still not sure what the trigger for my Epilepsy is? It might be stress, so I don’t want to go there.

So, I’ve been doing a lot more planning for my little trip.

I’ve decided to change direction. I’ll now be going anti-clockwise around England. There’s a few reasons for this.

The first is that I will do the very long portage quite early on, when I’ve still got the energy to do it.

The second is, apart from the first bit, in the Irish Sea. Once I finish the Offa’s Dyke path, it will probably be the end of May & the weather should be a bit better. (I hope it’s not like this year!)

And lastly, the tides & average wind conditions for that time of year. I think there’s more chance that they’d be with me, than against me. (Maybe!)

Well, we’ll see, hehe.

At the moment, I’m trying to figure out a type of sail, that won’t be too heavy to carry across Wales. I think I’ll try to design it so I’ll only have to carry the sail cloth. (probably a lightweight ripstop thingy.) Then once I get to the Severn estuary, I can make the mast, etc out of some branches. Hmmmm?

Anyway, I’ll figure it out & post some pics, so it doesn’t look as boring on here.

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Apr 24 2012

This is going to have to be done on the cheap!

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Right then, I’ve looked into sponsorship, but I don’t really have the balls to ask. I’d feel cheeky asking for kit or money to do this. So I’m going to have to carefully plan things out, buy the cheapest kayak I can find (within reason) & make some of the kit myself.

Anyway, I’ve decided on a yak.

I’ve made the decision based on size, weight & cost. I’ll be getting a Venture Kayaks Surf Jet.

According to Venture, its 13kg, great, that’ll do nicely!!!

Its 3.05m long, which is short enough to carry on my back.

It has a very simple drop down skeg.

Its only priced at about £350 new.

On the down side, it only has 1 small screw in hatch, I think I might have to change this. It also doesn’t have any other cargo space, but I’m sure I’ll figure something out.

Sooo…. This got me thinking about paddle options…

I’m thinking about a greenland paddle. I like them a lot & I’m thinking that trying to do a long journey in the kayak above whilst using a euro paddle, will probably be total hell for my joints & muscles. But where the heck have I put my old paddle? Its not anywhere, so it’ll probably be a trip to a timber merchants, followed by either a long walk home, or a bus journey carrying a long plank of wood. The cheapest paddle I can find is £140. I know I shouldn’t get the cheapest of everything, but when you’re a bit skint, what choice is there???

On the plus side, my other half has told me to get a BA for the dog, so I might actually be getting some paddling done soon. Woooop!!!!

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Apr 16 2012

I need a suitable kayak, any ideas?

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I’ve been looking into this for a while, as my inflatables, just won’t be up to the job.

I will have to make some compromises, but I need it to.-

Be under 20kg (45lbs) I plan to be carrying or dragging it on wheels for a few hundred miles, so it really needs to be as light as possible. I do a lot of backpacking, so this wouldn’t be a problem, as long as its not too heavy.

Not to be too long. For carrying it, it really needs to be under 3.5m (11.5feet.) But if it is over that, I could use a trolley, but I would prefer to carry it.

Have a skeg. This is a no brainer. If  I’m going to be using a short yak on the sea, then I’ll need some help to stop it weather cocking. If it doesn’t have one, then I’ll have to rig up some kind of lea board, or something?

Enough storage room. A hatch would be nice, but a tank well would do. I’ll be going lightweight on spare clothing & camping gear, but not on safety.

Well that’s it, I’ve got a few ideas & I’d greatly appreciate any ideas. I know a full blown sea kayak would be best, but I can’t afford the price, never mind the thought of getting it across Scotland & Wales.

I’m thinking SOT at the moment over SINK. There’s a few reasons for this. The first is safety. I’ve got a good roll, but can anybody say that you can roll 100% all of the time? A SOT is much easier to perform a self rescue in. I’m hoping to find paddling partners for the harder sections of the coast,but I think I’ll be solo for a good few miles. Also, with a SOT. If push comes to shove, I can crack out my bivi bag & sleep in it.

I’ve got a few ideas,

1. Liquid Logic Coupe.  -   http://liquidlogickayaks.com/coupe.cfm

2. Liquid Logic Versa Board. –  http://liquidlogickayaks.com/versa.cfm

3. Ventur kayaks Surfjet. –  http://www.venturekayaks.com/kayaks.php?kayak=Surfjet

4. Australis Squid. –  http://www.australiscanoes.com.au/australis-plastic-sit-on-top-squid.php

5. Cobra Explorer. –  http://www.shopatron.com/products/productdetail/Explorer/part_number=1020V-12/10084.0.1.1.25071.0.0.0.0?pp=12&

6. Make my own, which will probably go better backwards & sink soon after.

Any other ideas would be great.

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Apr 16 2012

Freedom to paddle.

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Right then, this is my first ever blog, so you’ll just have to bear with me. (We’ve all got to start somewhere.)

So then… What does “Freedom to Paddle” mean?

Well if you live just about anywhere outside of England & Wales, it probably doesn’t mean that much to you. You already have the right to paddle just about anywhere you want.

But here, in England & Wales, the reality is a lot, lot, different.

We only have the legal right to paddle on 4 to 5% of our rivers. Yes that’s right, 5% at most. Its shocking. Unless there are access agreements in place with the land owner and/or the people who hold the fishing rights, then paddling or any other use of a river, is classed as common trespass, which isn’t a criminal matter in itself, but if they can prove that you’ve caused damage, or been verbally abusive, it then does become a criminal matter. When I say prove, what I really mean is, their word against somebody who is already committing civil trespass. Who’s side do you think the law will be on???

This isn’t just a problem for paddlers, it also effects swimmers, rowers & even children, who just want to play in the water.

Under the Countryside Right of Way act 2000, rivers & freshwater lakes were originally going to be included, but they were taken out at the last minute, due to the objections of landowners & anglers. This wasn’t done in Scotland & there is now a public right to use Scottish rivers for recreation.

I don’t know why they just listened to the land owners & anglers? It seems like we’re living in the 18 century or something. Maybe they bribed them!!!

Anyway, I’ve had enough, but what can I do???

I’ve had a little seed of an idea in my head for a while about this, but first, I should tell you about my own paddling problem.

I live on a hill between two rivers, they’re both good rivers for paddling, mostly flat water, but there’s some grade one, with a bit of two thrown in. There’s other great paddling rivers in England & Wales, but I can’t get there. I have Epilepsy & I can’t drive. I got this from a bad head injury in 2003 & although its a lot better than it used to be, I’ve still got it.

Both of these rivers are within walking distance, either carrying a kayak on my back, or by using a trolley. I could say “sod it” & paddle on the rivers anyway, there’s plenty of people that do. But I’d rather not break the law & always having to keep an eye out for Land owners & razor wire stretched across the river & having heated arguments with anglers, is not my idea of fun.

So, I’ve got two choices. Either, just restrict my paddling to when I can get to other places. ie. Scotland, the English Lake District & Norway. (Oh, I forgot, they’ve stopped all the ferries to Norway, so that’s out too. Grrrrrr.)

Or, I can work on my little plan & this is why I’m doing this blog.

My plan is, to start at the Cumbrian coast in Western England, Paddle up the sea to the Scottish border. Then cross the length of the border on the Scottish side, using rivers as much as I can, but also carrying or dragging my kayak. I would then paddle around the English coast, until I reached Wales. Where I would either use a trolley or carry the kayak along the Welsh/English border, until I reach the sea, where I’ll the paddle up to where I started from.

I thought I might as well try to raise a bit of money for charity whilst doing this, but it will be done mostly for political reasons, trying to get the law changed.

Yes, I’m probably a bit mad for wanting to do this, but I just want to go paddling & I can’t at the moment.

 

 

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