The Slightly Imperfect Paddling Club

Julia, back on the waterWe’ve been a bit out of our paddling routine lately, what with Easter visitors and some poor weather to boot.  We were, however, back at the pool on Friday for the last session of the year, and then out on the sea on Saturday which coincided with the arrival of summer. Warmth and sunshine abounded and seemed like such a luxury after the harsh winter that we endured. I popped along to Loch Eck yesterday to try out some new rolling technique, but I can honestly say that it had more to do with just getting out on a beautiful day than with fretting over blade angles and head positioning. (Note to self: no matter how sunny and warm a day it is, Loch Eck is still a barely defrosted icebox in April. It certainly sped my roll up.)

A significant and unfortunate development occurred since I last posted. In the course of a “warm-up” during a coaching assessment a couple of weeks back, our paddling pal, Julia, ruptured her ACL (anterior cruciate ligament). I don’t know about warmed up, but I understand that things certainly got a little heated as she writhed about in extreme pain before heading for the hospital. And so, she now awaits some quite serious surgery (I’ve squirmed my way through the animation). This did not , however, stop her from going for a little paddle from the beach at Ardentinny at the weekend.

Naturally, Alan and I were keen to offer our help and support, making offers to carry her kayak, assist her in and out of it etc etc. This lasted all of half an hour before we basically left her to fend for herself. Well, not quite. To explain, Alan wasn’t having a good day. His recent sternum injury had reawakened and he was becoming increasingly nervous about setting it back again. And so he decided to bail out of the paddle shortly after setting out. Fortunately, the others in our group were of adequate strength and number to ensure that Julia wasn’t left floating about the Clyde helplessly.  On the plus side, I got some towing practice in.

It started out so well ...

It started out so well ...

As a result of recent events, and following on from my post on the subject, I’ve come to appreciate that almost everyone is dealing with their own personal challenges. In our little group on Saturday we had a torn ACL, a sternum injury and 2 gammy knees, one bad ankle and a neurological condition. And that’s just the stuff I know about! The Scottish paddling community is also acutely aware of the absence from the waters of a well known paddler who has  recently undergone radical knee surgery.

All of this serves to make me appreciate that getting out in a kayak is a privilege that is not to be taken lightly. I am less inclined to obsess over matters such as rolling (no, really) and more inclined to just enjoy being on the water.  To those of us with slight imperfections, the “ordinary” moments of kayaking – and indeed life – are without doubt something to be savoured and appreciated.

“”That’s why I always say, what is the mark of a good warrior if he has no scars? What battle did he fight? When you see someone all scarred up and still going on, you can say, “That’s a good warrior.”
The Wind is My Mother, Bear Heart (Muscogee Creek Indian medicine man)


  1. Alice says:

    I cannot agree more with your statement about ordinary moments of paddling. Nailing the perfect roll in the pool (even in an Avocet) will never be the highlight of any paddling career. But rounding a headland in perfect light or the salty spray of the waves on your face, or just putting your paddle in the lovely waters of Loch Fyne is the stuff of memories.
    I am about to take delivery of my first ever sea kayak so getting a little obsessed!!

  2. pamf says:

    You’ve captured it, Alice. And seeing a seal or 2, or better still – an otter or a dolphin even!

    Congratulations on your new kayak! Wishing you many happy voyages. What did you go for?

  3. That’s the spirit Pam! A toast to you and Alan! I am really sorry to hear about Julia and wish her a speedy recovery. Not that I needed much persuasion but that’s put me right off warm up exercises!

    Douglas :o)

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