This Is The Clyde

Kayaking wannabe

Here I am back out on the Clyde, where else, for a putter on a breezy day. We had a bit of a workout as we paddled into the wind and chop, but nothing too severe. Having experienced a bit of chop before, and now that I can roll (kayaks in the Dunoon pool … er, on one side), you might think I could be getting a bit cocky more assured. I have, however, recently been reminded that I am still very much a wannabe in this business. Let me explain …

It so happened to be a certain someone’s birthday last week and what better present to give the keen sea kayaker than a copy of This Is The Sea 4 (and no – I dare not refer to the commonly used acronym for this DVD series for fear of having my blog black-listed, or consigned to the murkier depths of the Internet). Anyway, having watched and enjoyed This Is The Sea 1 and 2, and having heard many favourable reports about the most recent number 4 in the series, I felt it was a safe bet to order in a copy as a present. The fact that I sat and watched it alongside the birthday boy was an incidental bonus, of course. The DVD consists of 2 discs (and is thus excellent value for money). The first contains several short films featuring sea kayakers from around the world. The 2 films on this disc that left the greatest impression on Alan and me were the one featuring a (certifiably insane) sea kayaking duo (along with brave film-maker, Justine Curgenven) on the wild and woolly Ottawa River, as well as the film featuring “commando kayaker”, Dubside. One thing is clear, these are not any old kayakers, especially the latter. I’m not sure about dressing in black and acquiring a self-assembly kayak, but using the bus system to get to one’s launch spot has its appeal in terms of generally maintaining harmony with the low eco-footprint of kayaking. As a small start, I have thought about purchasing a trolley so that we could wheel our kayaks down to the shore where we launch. The only thing that puts me off is the thought of hiking back up the (steep) hill after a day’s exertions, with kayaks in tow.

Disc 2 contains footage of 2 exceptional kayaking expeditions: the first involves a journey around the Queen Charlotte Islands, or Haida Gwaii, off the west coast of Canada. It so happens that I am currently reading a book about that very location, “The Golden Spruce: A True Story of Myth, Madness and Greed” by John Vaillant, which offers a captivating insight into the history and culture of this area (and its relationship with the logging industry in particular). The second expedition involves film-maker Justine and her partner, Barry Shaw, circumnavigating the South Island of New Zealand. This is certainly not for the faint-hearted. Surf becomes an ever-present theme and I could practically taste the salt water (and the adrenaline) as Justine and Barry took on yet another dreaded surf launching or landing. This really is tremendous filmwork and I think the “up close and personal” nature of the filming truly involves the viewer at a level not seen in many other adventure documentaries.

The end result is both inspiring and humbling. We at once recognise that we need a lot more kayaking experience under our belts before we can aspire to anything like some of the trips reviewed in the DVDs, but we also very much look forward to gaining that experience.

With that in mind, I did take my nose clip with me today – you know, just in case I had the opportunity to break out into a bit of rolling practice on the sea. Once I get over this particular aversion, there’ll be no stopping me.

1 Comment

  1. pamf says:

    Indeed, Wenley – such memories …

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