A new club, and other trials

There are certain clubs that are a pleasure to join and participate in. I can think of the 2 kayaking clubs that I have joined in the past couple of years. It’s been a while since we’ve been over at Garnock in Ayrshire and it’s not for want of wanting. We haven’t forgotten our pals over there and the fun we had with them last year. A happy complication occurred when the local Cowal club started up and met on the same night as Garnock. The choice was drive 20 minutes to the Cowal club, or 1.5 hours to Garnock. As you might guess, Cowal won out and we now hang our heads in shame in front of the Garnock crew (we do intend to return soon).

Some clubs aren’t so fun, and last week I discovered that I had qualified (without even trying!) for entry into a new one, the one called “Multiple Sclerosis”. Ugh. The diagnosis didn’t come as a shock as it’s been suspected since last October, and it is classified as “mild”. But somehow actually having the label pinned on me has been a bit unsettling, to say the least. Half of me is in complete denial – I feel fine overall and still have all my fitness, and the other half is determined to beat it (yes, I will be the one!). There’s another half of me (I know, I know) that is all messed up. I am told that that is natural.

I’ve been grappling around for something to lift me out of that third half’s abyss, to occupy my mind with more pleasant things. The other day, Alan and I decided to take advantage of the sultry temperatures and go to Loch Eck to try to roll our sea kayaks. I figured, now that I’ve mastered rolling the Dunoon pool boats (one of my proudest achievements of recent times), there was a fair chance of success and nothing would cheer me more than rolling my very own Nordy.

OMG it was like trying to roll concrete.

There are several possibilities here:

  • The amnesiac excuse: I’ve completely forgotten everything I ever learned about rolling (it sure felt that way).
  • The blame someone else excuse: the technique is waaay different between a river kayak and a sea kayak, even although several coaches assured me it would not be.
  • The feeble excuse: the cold shock of rolling in the not-so-sultry waters of Loch Eck deprived me of any cognitive ability, other than to gasp and panic.
  • The looking for sympathy excuse: I was a wee bit distracted and not in the best frame of mind.
  • The poor workman blames his tools excuse: the Nordkapp’s thigh braces aren’t the most gripping.
  • The bad karma excuse: my self-pride at learning to roll the pool boats was unwarranted and OTT, so this is what I get.

It was with great despondency that I exited the water realising that I have taken a bit of a step back, in more ways than one. But no-one promised us a rose garden, did they? Life is by its very nature a bit of a trial – it’s how we respond to that trial that determines how much we actually suffer. Happiness is, after all, a choice.

So I’ll try rolling again, maybe with my Capella just for comparison. I’d pay good money for appreciate any tips about transitioning from rolling a river kayak to rolling a sea kayak.

I’ll do a bit of yoga to sort my head out. And I’ll probably go for a paddle somewhere nice too.

Tomorrow is another day.


  1. Owen Merrick says:

    Rolling it the sea can be quite different due to you wear lots of restrictive clothing. Before you start to practice just sit in your kayak and try stretching, so you know you can do the moves. Also slow down, have a look around, then try. Even do a few bow rescues first. You’ve just got to get used to the different enviroment.

    Sorry to read about the MS. Keep your chin up.


  2. pamf says:

    Owen – Thank you for your tips. I kind of threw myself into it like I do in the pool, but applying more awareness would be useful. I did think about it being that bit more restrictive with the BA on – it may well have affected my sweep a bit. I recall the pool boats feeling like dead weights when my sweep was inadequate, so perhaps that’s a clue. I tried bow rescues and they were a bit laboured – but I’m not convinced my head was in gear due to aversion to the cold etc (wimp!). I was feeling the boat to be very different, but I just need to figure out the adjustments to make to accommodate this.

    You’re right, it’s a different environment and I’m now adjusting to having to work there and not have it all just magically happen.

    Many thanks!

  3. Hello Pam, I am very sorry to hear about the MS. I am sure you know that it is a very variable condition. One of my regular paddling friends has had MS for many years and is currently in far better shape than I am!

    Douglas :o)

  4. pamf says:

    Thank you, Douglas, for the kind comment. I am indeed seeking out positive stories and it is very encouraging to hear about your friend. I’ll do my level best to follow their example 🙂

  5. Alice says:

    Hi Pam, I am just starting to discover the joys of paddling – having been doing ‘land sports’ for years. I found your site (added to my favorites). I hope to be doing some paddling down Bute and Cowal way over the summer. I am very sorry to learn of your recent diagnosis. Keep up with the stories and pictures.

  6. pamf says:

    Hi Alice – Thank you for your comment. Hope to bump into you down our way! Enjoy your paddling – it is addictive 🙂

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