New Year’s intentions

What better way to start the year than on the water, even if it is a little chilly out there? Recent weather would suggest that the much rumoured “switching off” of the Gulf Stream (which is supposed to keep our climate from going the way of Canada’s) has now occurred. We’ve had snow and ice on the ground for so long now, I can barely recall the colour of grass. OK, I exaggerate – but it has been a couple of weeks at least since our “big freeze” began and it’s going to take a bit of practice to re-learn how to walk without shuffling or clinging on to walls and such by the time the thaw does come.

No such worries on the water and New Year’s Day found a group of us shaking off 2009 with a refreshing paddle from the Holy Loch to Loch Long and back. Some eejit suggested that, in the tradition of the New Year’s Day “dook” (trans: swim), a New Year’s Day roll might be in order. Fortunately no-one heard me.

Palm River Tec Paddle Mitts

Palm River Tec Paddle Mitts

Santa was very good to well-behaved paddlers this year, and I donned my new Arctic gale-proof Palm River Tec pogies, eager to test them out. Northern Kayaker has already reviewed them here – and I concur with her opinion. They are a little tricky to get on, I’d say impossible without the use of teeth. I’m thinking about asking Palm what they recommend – surely it’s not the inelegant tugging and biting performance that I put on (people with dentures can forget it). Once in position, however, the pogies sure are toasty.


Alan - back on the water (for a little bit)

Alan - back on the water (and testing my pogies)

Suitably bolstered by this auspicious start to the paddling year, I was back out on the water a couple of days later, but this time a special treat was in store – the return of Alan! After hand surgery which was immediately preceded by a sternum injury, the latter being particularly debilitating, he has been out of commission since October. We didn’t go too far, not wishing to cause re-injury, but it was lovely to float about on the Clyde and do a bit of seal-spotting on a bright winter’s day. And it was especially lovely to see Alan back in a kayak. I have missed him.
Bustin' a moveI do like to set a few intentions at this time of year (or in the yoga nidra tradition, some sankalpas). I won’t bore you with the minutiae of my more minor resolutions (mostly addressing sugar intake and time spent on LOLcats). It would be easy to say my primary intention is to go paddling (well … it is!). But I will also mention my other “big ticket” item, which does tie in: I intend to live in the present tense. It is, after all, the only thing that exists – the past and the future reside only in our minds, and all we have is this very moment. Kayaking has a way of plonking you straight into the moment and making you literally sit up and pay attention. Perhaps that’s part of the reason why we get so much out of it, because it relieves us of all the other “junk” in our heads for a short while. And what a relief it is.

On that note, as we raise a glass to the New Year, indeed, the new decade, let’s also raise a glass to this very moment.

Makes much more sense to live in the present tense.
Present Tense
, No Code, Pearl Jam


  1. Mackayak says:

    An excellent intention – one I will be trying to keep to myself both on and off the water! Being restricted in opportunities to paddle through injury its important to pace myself and enjoy the moments when I am fortunate enough to be afloat, even if I can’t go as far as NK quite yet!

  2. Pam, my river tec paddle mits reside permanently in my Optio drawer. The ones you want are the Palm descent white water pogies. No teeth needed!


  3. pamf says:

    Mackayak, Sometimes these setbacks teach us something. As they say, “Your enemy is your teacher”, and I think this applies to broken ankles. I hope you have many special “moments” on the water and that the ankle continues to heal well.

    Douglas – I was a bit hesitant about neoprene pogies, having found neoprene gloves to be not terribly warm. But thanks for your thoughts (always appreciated!). I can’t not wear my River Tec ones as Alan gave me them for Christmas! Seriously, it’s a struggle to get into them, but they are beautifully warm once on.

    Cheers guys!

  4. Northern Kayaker says:

    Glad to see you out. Looked like a lovely winters day.

    I have palm descent ones too. I like them but found my hands sometimes got a little cold – I concur the River Tec ones are SO COSY but there must be a better way of getting them on! I will email you a photo I was sent the other day….

  5. pamf says:

    Hi NK, Loved your photo! One for the Palm catalogue, I reckon. I wish I could think of an easier way. If I do, I’ll be sure to contact you. Take care.

  6. Dan Thomas says:

    Congratulations to Allan – I sympathise. The first proper winter for years and I’m hobbling around, unable to get up the hills due to a freak kayaking accident (really!) in mid-November. I can still just about manhandle a boat down a beach so I’m still getting on the water. On New Year’s Day there was enough snow landing on the boats to stop in mid-paddle and build little snowmen on the spraydecks. That didn’t deter my companion of the day from having a refreshing swim. She insisted on landing through surf instead of finding a quieter beach and it all went downhill from there. I was happy though, because I’d just seen some eider. I’ve never seen them around here before.

    I use my teeth to fight my way into my pogies too, but I wouldn’t be without them.

  7. pamf says:

    Hi Dan – And Happy New Year to you! Sorry to hear about your accident. It’s those silly, freak injuries that cause the most havoc. Have today heard of 2 folks who have broken something through falling on ice. The A&E depts must be full!

    A swim in that water – no thank you! I don’t envy your companion – one of the reasons I stay away from anything too “splashy” in these temps. I’d love to see the spraydeck snowmen 🙂

    There are plenty of eider up here – they’re all oohing and awwing away. The cold doesn’t seem to bother them, funnily enough 😉

    Glad to hear that the “teeth” method of donning pogies appears to be quite normal. I was concerned that I was missing something fundamental.

    Hope you heal soon.

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