A light paddle

A little excursion on Easter Sunday revealed the gradual emergence of other vessels back on to the water after their winter hibernation. Not all mariners are as fortunate as we sea kayakers are. While others are busy painting and repairing their yachts and gin palaces motor vessels, we are still out there engaging with the high seas (when it’s not too windy … or cold). But now it’s spring we find ourselves sharing the water once again. Correspondingly, VHF radio traffic has increased and we were interested to listen to the idle chitchat vital communications enlivening Channel 16.

Approaching the metropolis of Gourock

Approaching the metropolis of Gourock

We launched at the Holy Loch and headed east across the entrance to Loch Long, keeping a sharp eye out for speeding tankers who might be heading towards the Finnart Ocean Terminal. Upon reaching Kilcreggan, we decided to cross the Clyde and aim for Gourock. The number of times I have entered the locale of Gourock in my lifetime must reach the many thousands, but this was the first time ever in a sea kayak so it was a rather notable event. Nothing beats the feeling of reaching a destination under one’s own steam. We made a quick stop at the Gourock shore front in order to take advantage of its conveniently located facilities. Being Easter Sunday and thus a popular day for visitors who may well require the use of said conveniences, they were of course inconveniently closed. Re-donning my spray deck, BA etc, whilst cursing the toilet gods, I got back into my kayak to paddle northeast towards Gourock Pier where fortunately relief was available. Note to self: do not gulp down half of one’s water supply in anticipation of facilities that (being Scotland) are more than likely going to be locked/relocated/out of order/non-existent.

After re-launching at the delightful trash heap that is the beach beside Gourock Pier, we turned southwest and made our way to Lunderston Bay. Entertainment was provided by a couple of tugs chugging past us who created a decent bit of wake for us to play in. We then recrossed the Clyde back to Dunoon and, dodging the ferries, returned safely to the Holy Loch.

Me and my paddle

Me and my paddle

The observant amongst you may have noticed a new addition to our paddling kit. I am abashed to point it out, but the photos do not lie. We splashed the cash and bought a set of Werner Ikelos paddles for Alan and Werner Cyprus ones for me, both neutral bent shaft. I’m sure I don’t need to justify such purchases to fellow kayakers, but the fact is that it is through trial and error (and expense) that one determines what is best suited to one’s needs. We started out with straight-shaft paddles before appreciating the wonders of crank shafts. We were then quite happy with our Lendal Kinetic Touring paddles, until we lifted a set of Werners and our perception of what a paddle should be like was duly rocked. Indeed, I have been aware that my Touring blades were a bit on the big side for me, requiring more effort than is strictly needed and being better suited to a big, burly bloke.

Upon setting out on Sunday, we found ourselves repeatedly checking that we hadn’t somehow managed to drop our paddles and were instead clutching air. Such lightness! It brings a whole new meaning to the term paddle feather. And yes, the Cyprus blades are the very ticket for someone of my strength and stature. We are delighted.

Cloch Lighthouse

Cloch Lighthouse

And so it seems that paddling can be quite an expensive business, but herewith is an excerpt from my handy Great Big Book of Excuses for purchasing kit:

  • It is a lifetime (and a quality of life) investment (well, once you’ve identified your ideal kit, that is … and until it wears out or breaks …)
  • The dollar/pound is losing/gaining value, ie the exchange rate may or may not be favourable when you next think about buying imported goods
  • You could, of course, prudently save the money in your bank account and have it earn … nothing much at all now actually
  • As my mother used to day, it will all be the same 100 years from now.

Not only that, it’s always good to have back-up kit in case of emergencies, or for, say, roughing about on Loch Eck – which is what we’ll be doing tomorrow night at 5.30 pm under the guise of the Cowal Kayak Club. What better way to spend a Friday evening.

For some interesting info on paddle choice, check out the following:

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