Not being swayed

We’ve been frequenting lochs recently. We were in Loch Lomond last weekend, in Kilbirnie Loch on Thursday night and Loch Eck yesterday. The predominant theme has been getting wet self rescues. We even did a bit of eskimo rescuing yesterday – the first time in our sea kayaks. Eskimo rolling was attempted, but it served to convince me that my work awaits me at the pool first of all. Still, it was worth the ice-cream headache to build on a feeling for what it’s like to roll a sea kayak. The good news is that I don’t think I’m any worse at it than rolling a pool boat. My hip flick still goes on an occasional leave of absence. To me, it’s a bit like a missing limb, I can feel it’s there, even when it’s quite evidently not. Still, what I lack in skill, I make up for in bloody-minded obsessiveness tenacity.

I’ve been reading several online discussions on the Nordkapp LV and it’s very interesting to learn the varying opinions on suitability. Comments about its “instability” abound. I read of one person who gave up their Nordkapp LV in favour of a UKSK Explorer as they were tired of “having to think” about the kayak when on the water. In contrast, another person stated that they were selling their Explorer in favour of their Nordkapp LV because the Explorer was “too boring” in comparison. Someone else mooted that the “instability” issue is overblown and that, where there is any perceived primary “instability”, it is in order to afford greater secondary stability and impressive maneoeuverability, particularly in rough conditions when it is “rock solid”. Then there is the issue of fit. Views have been expressed in various forums that the Nordkapp LV is still too big for a smaller, lighter paddler. But I found when testing it that everything sat where it should, and that the kayak felt comfortable and nippy (unlike others I tested which felt cumbersome and bulky). There may be some nuances that fall short of absolute textbook perfection, but that leads me to question – what is the perfect fit for a smaller, lightweight paddler? A totie wee Avocet LV? That’s a bit like having to shop in the kids’ clothing section. And even early thoughts on the Rockpool Isel suggest that it might only be suitable for very short camping trips. Not that I’m planning to circumnavigate Iceland or anything (not quite yet), but 2 or 3 nights would be good.

Yet another poster chipped in to a US forum with a comment to the effect (and I paraphrase), “You’re all a bunch of gear-heads”, and opined that it’s not about finding the perfect boat, it’s about learning to paddle any boat (within reason). Wait, this is sounding familiar … yet I do believe the poster was from Minnesota, and not the Garnock area (at least, they said they were).

Short of having a kayak built to spec (and what kind of odd little boat would I end up with?!), I am happy to acknowledge that I am a novice and that I wish to learn. In other words, I am happy to “fit” a kayak that I am comfortable in and that has a lot to offer me. It’s easy to be torn in different directions by the trends and opinions that are out there, but I think you have to trust a bit of instinct as well.

I hear that you and your band have sold your guitars and bought turntables.
I hear that you and your band have sold your turntables and bought guitars.

I hear everybody that you know is more relevant than everybody that I know.

But have you seen my records? …

You don’t know what you really want.

Losing My Edge LCD Soundsystem

Coming apart

I feel it coming apart,
Well, at least I tried,
I can win this war
By knowing not to fight

Me, I’m Not, NIN, Year Zero

Back at the pool practising eskimo rescues and, what do you know, like a moth to a flame, like a missile seeking heat, I honed in on precisely all the things you shouldn’t do most with a good dollop of irrational fear mixed in. Alan performed a few near perfect rolls, even managing to wait while inverted until I blundered into position as rescuer. Next it was my turn and I made the interesting discovery that something happens to my brain when my head is underwater. Basically, it stops functioning – a bit like when you get a blue screen of death on a PC. Or it enters a parallel universe where there is no up or down, all logic is suspended and the only thing that resides there is the specter of a watery grave. (more…)

Change of scenery

Lest anyone should think that I have nothing to report other than our kayaking lessons, we are in fact in the throes of preparing for our belated return to California. We were supposed to go last year, but got caught up in the terror alert du jour (the scary liquids one) and decided to postpone. This is our first trip back to the Bay Area since we lived there for 5 and a half years, returning to Scotland in 2003. It’s going to be fun/emotional/weird/unsettling all at once. It’ll be great to go hang out with our friends, but it will also be strange to re-visit our lives over there now that we’re back and have essentially moved on. The really fun part is returning and not having to check in to the cube farm. It is immensely satisfying to know that we are free from all that, no matter where we are located. (more…)