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Issue 10 - July 2013

ThePaddler ezine com .

International digital magazine for recreational paddlers


Sea kayaking

Interview with






Contents July 13

Photo of the month for July 2013 Big Paddle, Teesside, UK By Phil Carr Editor Peter Tranter Tel: (01480) 465081 Mob: 07411 005824

Advertising sales Anne Egan Tel: (01480) 465081 Cover: Martina Wegman Mexico. Photo by Lane Jacobs

Correction June issue Bellagio feature

We should have made it clear that the story was not wholly written by Barry and Olivia Ide and that Kristin Norrell also submitted material for the feature via Tripadvisor as supplied by Bellagio Watersports. THANKS KRISTIN.

Not all contributors are professional writers and photographers, so don’t be put off writing because you have no experience! ezine is all about paddler to paddler dialogue: a paddler’s magazine written by paddlers. Next issue is August 2013 with a deadline of submissions on July 20th. Technical Information: Contributions preferably as a Microsoft Word file with 1200-2000 words, emailed to Images should be hi-resolution and emailed with the Word file or if preferred, a Dropbox folder will be created for you. ThePaddler ezine encourages contributions of any nature but reserves the right to edit to the space available. Opinions expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of the publishing parent company, 2b Graphic Design. The publishing of an advertisement in ThePaddler ezine does not necessarily mean that the parent company, 2b Graphic Design, endorse the company, item or service advertised. All material in ThePaddler ezine is strictly copyright and all rights are reserved. Reproduction without prior permission from the editor is forbidden.

Where we’ve been… 12 14

24 32

38 48


70 78


4 6


Leader Equality in canoeing for Rio 2016. Eight of the very best Eight must see paddling videos.


ThePaddler’s Planet By Leslie Kolovich

Zakynthos, Greece It’s not all wild all-night parties – there is another side to Zante. By Tez Plavenieks

Issue 10 Greece 14

Progressive SUP Several easy steps to turning your board. By Matt Barker Smith

The land locked surfer Chris finds you don’t need the ocean to go SUPing By Chris Kenyon

Scotland 38


Galloway, Scotland It wasn’t all doom and gloom on Doon. By Matt Thompson

Northern Forest Canoe Trail The NFCT stretches through four US states and one Canadian province. By Katina Danaan Lapland Four men and their Pakcanoes on one of the finest canoe routes in all of Lapland. By Alv Elvestad

United States and Canada 48


Martina Wegman interview By Peter Tranter

The Alps Summer paddling though Austria, Switzerland and Germany. By Steve Brooks

Guatemala and Mexico The fascinating perils and pitfalls of paddling ww though Central Americ.a By Andy Holt

104 Scotland - west to east the ‘Spare Seat’ expedition from Oban in the west to Inverness in the east. By Richard Harpham

Austria 78

Guatemala and Mexico 92

114 Jackson Karma review By Phil Carr 120 Tootega Pulse review By Anne Egan 126 RTM Tempo review By Terry Wright

130 Hobie Outback review By Rob Appleby

Jersey Isles 136


136 Jersey Isles Jersey’s hidden caves on the north coast. By Trudie Trox 146 Rockpool Taran 16 review By Colin McWilliams

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Gender equality aids participation

Canoeing has one of the poorest gender equality ratios of any Summer Olympic sport and although female kayakers are allowed to compete in both the sprint and slalom disciplines, female canoeists are kept out of the Games altogether – and have been for 89 years.

Act now for Rio 2016

For a sport recently in the ‘Bottom 5’ on the International Olympic Committee's chopping block, with gender equality arguably a contributing factor, failing to immediately address the issue is indefensible. The IOC Executive Board recently announced that all International Federations must work within existing athlete quotas spots if they want to modify their programs. This means that to add women’s canoe something else must be dropped.

The question is: will the ICF submit a request for sprint and slalom women's canoe events for Rio 2016 – working within the quotas – to the IOC Program Commission before their final meeting in August? What are their short, mid and long-term plans for our sport and realizing balance between the genders and the disciplines (canoe and kayak) by 2020? Will they ever work to increase the quota caps? The ICF has previously stated it was working toward gender ‘equity’ by 2024. This is too late and could severely hurt (or kill) our sports place in the Olympic program. Wrestling moved swiftly to correct many of its equality deficiencies. 2024 is not moving swiftly or courageously.

Achieving gender equality AND balance between the disciplines in Olympic Canoe/Kayak (currently 9:3 ratio in sprint – kayak:canoe) sooner rather than later will increase participation, increase viewership and get canoeing out of the IOC's ‘Bottom 5’. Other sports get this. We – as a community – can help elevate this great sport and affirm its place in the Olympic Legacy.

What can you do?

1. Post a comment on the International Canoe Federation Facebook page n?fref=ts or email them at Tell them they need to act now – to save our sport. Let them know you signed the petition. 2. Contact your National Canoe/Kayak Federation (NF). The ICF must feel pressure from them and NFs must feel pressure from you to keep the momentum in favour of equality and balance in the program, and offering a full slate of events for both genders and disciplines.

3. Sign and share our petition - even better leave a comment. Each signature generates a letter to their email inboxes.

4. ‘Like’ and share our Facebook Page – Vote Yes for Women's Canoe.!/pages/V ote-YES-for-Womens-Canoe-C1C2/122318487824846

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MACH 1 Surf Session

Corran Addison United States

Greenland Arctic SUP

Greenland SUP Greenland

SUP For All

David O’hara Republic of Ireland

Jaime Lancaster 2013

Jaime Lancaster UK

North India SUP Exploration

April Z India

Following the HMS Beagle

Monica Aramburu Chile

Kayaking Telemark & Voss 13

Nils Dippon Norway

Canoeing the Gull River

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Dave Abel Canada

We offer the UK’s widest range of BCU coaching, performance & safety qualifications. All delivered by the UK’s most experienced and most qualified instructional team. b bespoke dates, tailored courses, off-site training, group bookings and non residential prices all available upon request

To advertise email: or call +44 (0)1480 465081

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By Jackie Lambert

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The National Waterspor A truly epic weekend! Hayling Island, Friday 30th August to Sunday

I was warned that I would need painkillers if I went the NWF (National Watersports Festival) last year. Not for the aftermath of the beach parties, but because I would have face-ache from smiling so much, which started on day one and occurs every time I revisit the memory of a truly EPIC weekend!

rts Festival


his year, the NWF is back and if you can believe it, even bigger and better! The NWF word had spread and a few other watersports fancied a piece of the action, so NWF 2013 will include Kayaking and Kitesurfing as well as the Windsurfing and SUP (Stand Up Paddleboarding) which were the main feature last year.

If you have not heard of the NWF, it is an event designed to allow intermediate, recreational watersports enthusiasts – rather than the pros – a chance to get on the water and take part. NWF is a fun event. There are simple, out-and-back ‘Master Blaster’ races, which are designed to allow anyone to take part, regardless of age, ability or type of equipment. If you can get yourself out to a buoy and back, you can compete! There are hundreds of prizes to be won and beautiful wooden trophies, created by Wayne Willets of Surfmirrors. Free coaching and race tips are offered by the top, professional coaches, many of whom are former British and World Champions. If you fancy trying something new, there are also free taster sessions in all of the featured sports.

The fun doesn’t stop there. The NWF boasts the biggest trade show in the UK, with all of the 2013 and 2014 kit on show. The beach parties, on Friday and Saturday nights feature live bands and Saturday is fancy dress, with a horror theme. There is a charity auction for W4CR (Watersports for Cancer Research) where you can snap up a bargain from the fabulous lots donated by the industry and exhibitors. To top off the action, there is also the unique ‘Night Watersports’ event, where the professionals race and perform incredible stunts under the floodlights. Peter Hart, windsurfing legend and professional windsurfing coach said of NWF 2012, “Extraordinary weekend at the NWF – it was a continuation of the Olympics and this amazing summer of sport – sun, camaraderie on a huge level, great performances, crazy dancing and a sea of smiling faces.” Online entry opens 1st June for both competitors and additional party tickets. Entry includes free camping for the duration of the Festival, tickets to both beach parties (on Friday and Saturday nights) and all other water-based and onshore activities.

Further information: or

1st September

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To advertise email: or call +44 (0)1480 465081 Photo:

SUP Paddler

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h e c i i l y s B e ov L ol K Photo: Joan Vienot

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For more information on how you can participate wherever you may be on the Planet visit Stay tuned for my weekly It’s about balance podcast of The Paddler’s t is an understatement to say that as paddlers we enjoy the water. Let’s talk about what we Planet with my guest host already know, and let’s go a little deeper. As paddlers there is so much we can do for the Christian Wagley on Planet. We are the firsthand observers of its most precious asset, water. The health of our, watershed relates directly to the health of our waterways.


“Where we are Standing Up On the Paddler’s Planet podcast on SUP Radio Show, Christian Wagley and I have been for the Planet!” discussing the global concern of pollutants killing our bays, lagoons, rivers and oceans. Alarming statistics of dying dolphin, manatee, sea turtles and seabirds come with evidence pointing to human irresponsibility. We are not preserving the forestlands that protect our watersheds. New development has been and in many places is still geared towards the automobile, clearing forests for wide streets and parking lots. Thoughtful planning for development, making neighborhoods more environmentally friendly, where people can walk, bike and use automobiles less often and preserving green space, are good ways to let Mother Nature’s natural filters work. Join us for World Paddle For The Planet in Panama City Beach, Florida, Did you know that trees are one of Mother Nature’s best guardians of the waterways? When October 10-13th. Founder, Bob rain falls to the earth much of it gets caught in the leaves and branches leaving only about 60% of Purdy, says, “Pick a change, paddle for it to fall to the ground. Most of it then filters through the ground and is slowly released into our a change with us, and commit to that waterways, naturally filtered. When we cut down forests, and build sprawling cities, the rain hits change until it becomes a reality.” For the pavement, carrying grease and grime, including fertilizer and pesticides, into the street gutters suggestions on how to join us as a which run downstream, unfiltered by nature, into our watersheds. satellite event anywhere in the world, So what do we do about it? Christian Wagley is a Sustainable Town Concept Planner and he tells contact me, Leslie Kolovich, at me that a big part of the solution is to build our communities in more compact form, bringing everything closer together. Historically, this is the way that many of America’s famous cities and towns were built, before the invention of the automobile, places like Savannah, Georgia and Charleston, South Carolina. These towns preserved big beautiful trees that canopy the roadways and naturally help filter and protect the watershed. It is about balance. Nature protects us; we must protect her. As paddlers, we understand balance and the importance of it for a smooth glide. So get involved with your community planning process, and make sure to be an advocate for green space and the protection of your watershed. Christian and I discuss this in more detail on our podcasts at Y our questions or comments are always welcome.

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‘You’re going where?’ my best mate asked in disbelief when I told him the choice of destination for our SUP trip…and I have to say, sitting in the departure lounge, waiting for our flight to be called, surrounded by Zante bound stag and hen parties, I’m inclined to ask myself the same question.

The ‘booze, beans, burgers ‘n’ boobs’ mentality permeates through the thronging mass and I start to feel nauseous.The girls ogle the boys and the boys salivate back in the girls’ direction. ‘Please God, let this be a successful trip’ I think to myself as I watch a bunch of ‘Oi Oi’ lads swigging beer. It’s a little after 5am and the boozing has already begun…

By Tez Plavenieks The stunning Shipwreck Bay from above. Tez taking a breather.

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Blue Caves archway

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Sweeping along the olive grove fringed coast you can’t help but gaze down into

the deep blue abyss,

trying to spot the abundant marine life swimming about beneath you

The Laganas strip

The island of Zakynthos, or Zante as we Brits more commonly refer it to, has long been a mainstay of the UK holiday scene and continues to be a popular choice for those looking for Greek fun in the sun. Laganas, the main strip, is dominated by rows of bars, nightclubs and fast food outlets. If drinking copious amounts of cheap alcohol, stumbling home with a kebab stuffed in your cheeks, falling asleep in the remnants of said kebab on the beach, waking to a blazing sun and getting third degree burns for the trouble is your thing, then you’ll right at home in Laganas. In all honesty, Laganas isn’t that bad – the beach is actually relatively easy on the eyes – it’s just not mine or Fi’s thing. At the risk of sounding like a snob, we were searching for the ‘other’ Zakynthos – the one we’d heard a few reports about, something which could only be achieved after getting away from the sprawl of Zak’ town and Laganas strip.

Heading north

As you climb up into the hills, heading north, the vibe mellows dramatically and with the splash of amazingly coloured blue Ionian Sea to the right, the green hues of olive and apricot trees on the left and Cephalonia rising from the heat haze to the north, our anxieties began to evaporate. With a scorching sun beating down we continued our journey along the winding cliff roads all the way to the sleepy port of Agios Nikolaos. Still in awe of the striking countryside and enticing water, we hung a sharp right, descended a small hill and finally arrived at our destination – the Peligoni Club.


The Peligoni Club is a watersports and beach club that’s perched atop the rocks right on Zante’s north east facing coastline. With no discernible beach to speak of we were intrigued as to how guests would get in and out of the water with their kit.

Greeted by beach manager, Chris Haysey, Peligoni dog mascot, Snoop, and the rest of the beach team, we were shown the ropes, where all the watersports equipment hides and given the low down regarding prevailing weather conditions. Having completed the guided tour we hit the water to cleanse ourselves of the travelling grime and in seconds were straight into the swing of things.

Start the day right

The area around Peligoni is extremely beautiful. The colour of the water is simply astounding and just begs you to dive right in. Flat, glassy calm seas in the morning give amazing SUP conditions. Sweeping along the olive grove fringed coast you can’t help but gaze down into the deep blue abyss, trying to spot the abundant marine life swimming about beneath you. At 10am in the morning the mercury is already soaring into the mid-30s and after a few strokes Fi and I found ourselves regularly dropping in to the water to cool off. The warm Ionian Sea envelops itself around you and brings respite to inferno like conditions you experience when ‘spooning’ around. Having finished off a hearty breakfast of delicious locally grown fruit, Greek yoghurt, honey and strong coffee we would head off to do a few circuits of ‘Little Italy’ which is a small peak of rock that juts skyward and lies a few yards offshore from Agios Nikolaos port. Apparently the rock is owned by Italy but doesn’t have any inhabitants – apart from a healthy number of squawking seagulls. The island is great for those SUPers who love a few laps and offers a unique and beautiful vista to keep you entertained during your SUP sessions.

R&R at the Peligoni Club

After a spot of pottering and investigating all became obvious. A slipway cut into the rocks makes for the perfect in and out and is actually pretty easy to navigate – despite the initial hesitation on our part.

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All the hues of blue and turquoise shimmer and glisten in the sun

Shipwreck Bay

Further afield

We travelled to Zakynthos with our own iSUP gear as we wanted to make sure we weren’t restricted to just the club. The Red Paddle AllWater is the perfect tool for the job, simple to travel with and avoids costly excess baggage charges. After the first day in resort we loaded up the hire car and went off exploring. The eastern flank of Zante is a stunningly beautiful part of the world and hides a plethora of SUP touring options. In places the jagged cliffs are steep and white and conceal multiple caves that are just begging for discovery.

Shipwreck Bay is another iconic Zakynthos location. Only accessible by boat (or SUP), the bay is on the north facing coast and boasts the most amazing swimming pool blue coloured water you’ve ever seen. Called Shipwreck Bay because of the junked ship hull perched on the white sand, Shipwreck Bay is definitely worth a punt with a paddle. If you decide to SUP to the spot then it will take a good few hours to reach. Paddlers would need to be aware that coming ashore during the mission, in the event of an accident, wouldn’t be that easy as sheer cliffs and sharp rocks litter the shoreline. We cheated and had Chris Haysey, the Peligoni beach manager, buzz us round in the centre RIB.

Mikro Nisi is one such spot – about a tenminute drive from Peligoni. As you descend the steps to the smooth white pebble beach the clarity of the water leaves you gasping in awe. All the hues of blue and turquoise shimmer and glisten under the hot sun.

Unfortunately on the day in question an early breeze filled in and was nuking off the cliffs making paddling a bit of a mission. Battling against the wind, we still managed to get some shots but after a time we gave it neck. Thanks to Chris for the transport, without which we wouldn’t have made it to the bay.

Once inflated, we paddled round to the caves on the left and spent an enjoyable time investigating what was on offer. Some of these caverns are big enough to get inside and offer shady respite from the glaring sun’s rays out in open water.

It’s also possible to view Shipwreck Bay from the vantage point high on the cliff above. Those without a head for heights should beware though – as stunning as the view is, it may leave you jelly legged and dizzy!

During our sessions we were asked a lot of questions with regard to our Red Air SUPs, as apparently stand up paddlers just aren’t a common sight. This is a crying shame as there’s so much paddling potential here just waiting to be ‘swept’…

Blue Caves

During one noteworthy morning we had the opportunity to paddle among the famous Blue Caves. As with those found further south, the Blue Caves are large archways and caverns carved into the rock from years of being lashed by winter Mediterranean storms and erosion. The Blue Caves are a busy tourist hub with high volumes of boat traffic ferrying punters in and out. We had to be careful not to cause a nuisance, as Greek boat drivers are notorious for not giving way to anything! A number of caves make up this stretch of the Zak’ coast and you can easily spend hours marvelling at these geological formations. For those who do decide to head to Zante for some SUP action then it’s definitely worth making the trip here. It’ roughly a 30 minute ‘sweep’ from Agio Nikolaos port. Just be sure to do it in the morning before the Meltemi breeze kicks in.

Paddlers would need to be aware that coming ashore during the mission, in the event of an accident, wouldn’t be that easy as

sheer cliffs and sharp rocks

litter the surrounding shoreline

Afternoon blow off

Greece is famous for its afternoon thermal breeze known locally as the Meltemi. The wind kicks in, usually, around mid-afternoon – although it can be earlier. The Meltemi blows from north to south and for the downwind aficionado this can serve up some awesome conditions. We did a few mini downwind gun runs but with only iSUPs at our disposal catching runners and rollers were a little tricky. Fortunately, as Fi and I also windsurf, we could still make good use of the blow and spent most afternoons blasting back and forth in front of the club. Around 6pm we’d retire to the bar for some well-earned Mythos (local brew) and/or gin and tonic. Never has après tasted so good…

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Zante a SUP Mecca? In the whole 10-day period the wife and I paddled every day and windsurfed all but one. For paddling exploits the island offers a huge amount of potential. With the right support and logistics some serious downwind action could be achieved, as could a total circumnavigation of the island – a feat, as far as we’re aware, has yet to be completed. For the recreational paddler Zakynthos delivers some absolutely stunning, interesting and mellow touring and exploring opportunities. If you’re the type who, like us, fancies combining a few

disciplines, then as long as you’re not a hardcore wave head, you’ll be well served in this part of Greece. Zante will no doubt continue to attract the ‘boozy boys and girls brigade’, and why shouldn’t it? However, if you’re looking for something different from your stand up paddle boarding trip then Zak’ would also be worthy of consideration. With still so much untapped SUP potential, the island is ripe for discovery. Check it out before everyone else does…


Fi and I would like to extend our massive thanks firstly to Red Paddle Co for the iSUP gear we travelled with. Without this generosity we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to explore the stunning Zakynthos coast. We’d also like to give a massive shout out to the Peligoni Club staff that helped make our stay super fun, comfortable and enjoyable.Thank you Ben, Chris, Bibby, Lee, ‘Big’, Rory, Charlie, Charlie and Snoop – we’ll be back!

You can find more at

Tez Plavenieks is a freelance watersports writer/ journalist who produces articles, features and stories for a number of printed and online platforms.

To advertise email: or call +44 (0)1480 465081

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‘Polar Bears and Paddleboards’

The Polar Bears and Paddleboards

is a unique expedition to undertake the world’s first stand up paddleboard expedition in Arctic waters. The team of 10 will attempt to paddle approximately 100Km in just five days.

project has an internet presence through an increasingly popular website and social media following, which is being strengthened by awareness campaigns from commercial supporters involved with the project. The social media following of Bear Grylls and Oakley alone numbers millions of individuals worldwide.

Against a stunning backdrop of icebergs and beautiful scenery in Greenland, the team will paddle to the face of an Arctic glacier demonstrating just how versatile paddle-sports and stand up paddleboarding in particular are. The expedition is being used to promote stand up paddleboarding as a means of active recreation, to support charities and for the UK wide education project the 'Schools Explorer' operated by Justin Miles.

The project already has given rise to a number of 'spin-off' activities and events such as corporate activities, charity fun-days and the worlds first ever 'paddleboard marathon' which was held on London's River Thames in June 2013. Justin Hankinson will be supervising the filming of the project and the expedition. He will be using the material for a series and documentary to be shown at various film festivals around the world. You can see the expedition trailer on our Vimeo channel here:

The expedition has attracted the support of British adventurer and television personality Bear Grylls and commercial supporters of the project include well-known names such as Oakley and Berghaus. The entire project, from preparation to the expedition itself is being filmed to create a documentary by team member Justin Hankinson (a cinematographer who worked on Spiderman 3 among others).


















You can get involved and help support the project with pledges starting at just ÂŁ10 and in return you will receive some fantastic rewards! Details are available from our Kickstarter project page: bandpaddleboards If you would like more information on the expedition or would be interested in discussing advertising opportunities, please get in touch: polarbearsandpaddleboards

We have received some very generous prize donations from our sponsors, project partners and supporters, and are delighted to be able to off you the opportunity to win some fantastic prizes in our grand draw on the 24th August 2013.






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o hopefully, although... I know it's been cold but it has warmed up now, you've already been out on your SUP for the first time this year. This article is now going to teach you how in a few steps you can start to turn your SUP, no matter how long it is. Firstly I'll recap on wave catching – remember progression on your SUP is all about catching the best wave possible, which will give you the best opportunity to try out these manoeuvres.

SUP PROGRES Try and get in focus

Surfing is a bit like meditating so by all means let your mind wander on the things you need to do but it’s the ocean and the waves marching towards you, which you'll want to return your focus to. Standing tall on your board, try and pick the wave you want to catch far out to sea, watch it as its moves towards the shoreline and monitor its changes in shape and size. If it looks too steep and is breaking outside of you, you'll have no chance of catching it unless you want a bouncy white water ride.

Board stance

So make sure you're in the correct position, which is where the waves are first starting to rear up. Pick a wave, which looks steep enough to catch but still on the verge of breaking – this is the most important part of catching a wave on a SUP.Try and time your paddle power delivery so that you're not out in front of the wave but matching the waves speed as it rolls towards shore. At this point you should remember that if you can paddle for a wave in the offset stance (surfing stance) – one foot slightly ahead of the other this will help you control the board once you start to catch the wave. Another way to look at it is to lower your bum to the deck, keeping your feet under your shoulders and your back straight.

Copyright: Matt Barker Smith, 2013


Paddle hard to catch the wave

Let the wave build up behind you and deliver the power consistently with your paddle, you should always try and finish the last paddle stroke on your stronger side no matter which way you end up going (left or right) Next – the tail will lift subtly and you will start to glide down the face this is when you can try and widen your offset stance.Try to get your back foot closer to the tail and bend your knees - this will do two things. 1. Make you more stable on the board, by lowering your centre of gravity. 2. Give you more control of your direction.

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Look where you want to go

If you stare at the beach in front of you, you'll surf straight back into shallow water more commonly known as a straight hander. However, if you have caught the wave early and you've paid attention to the wave's shape as you caught it, you can rotate your shoulders clockwise or anticlockwise and this will open your body up and increase weight over your back foot. You should still have your paddle in your hands, use it to stabilize yourself or as a brace to stop you falling off. This is the first stage of turning a board, shoulder rotation is very important as this sets your stance in a stable position so you can change where you lean your weight without losing balance by using your paddle.

Shifting your weight and starting the turn

Applying more weight to your back foot will slow the board down but also engage the fins more, so if you want to turn or stop, more weight centred over your back foot will do this. If you want to speed the board up, you'll do the opposite and apply weight over your front foot. Shifting your front foot over towards the boards rail will allow you to bury the rail into the wave face and therefore start to make the board turn, again use your paddle and the radius of your turn will be sharper.


In order to get more radical and turn the board more aggressively and faster you will need to pay a lot of attention to the boards speed, without generating speed on the board you will find it hard to attempt any turn without losing balance. There are a couple of ways to generate speed, but it's a bit like trying to twiddle spaghetti on a fork with one hand and write your name with the other hand without it looking like a four year olds scribble! Sometimes the wave will give you speed, at other times you'll have to work for it.There are lots of factors that will effect your board speed – wave size, wind, board size or fins, which I will talk about in a later feature. Bend your knees and compress your upper body weight into your shoulders especially when you are about to reach the bottom of the wave face.Try and lower your chest to your knees and push hard with your feet – this in turn will force more weight over the fins and rail of the board, it’s a bit like when you turn a sharp corner in a car and you are thrown to one side, use your momentum to your advantage and lean into it.

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Use your paddle

The paddle will help you leverage more power out of each turn, so you can lean more weight over the rail and use the paddle to stabilize yourself. If you find you are losing speed try driving your paddle into the wave face and trying to pull your body past the paddle, you can generate more speed this way if you hit a slow flat spot on the wave.The paddle is key if you really want to get some more performance turns from your surfing.

Practice makes perfect

I have one last nugget, which may appeal to some of you and not to others. It's a training tip, which I used with my wife for her training before Peru. Skateboarding has to be one of the closest things to surfing other than getting the board wet. One particular style of skateboard, which is growing across the globe, is the carving skateboard. These style of street surf boards are designed to be ridden as you would a surfboard; using the technique as described above to generate forward momentum without putting your foot down on the ground. Weight, speed and compression all working in unison to keep an endless ride, use a paddle pole to increase the similarity to paddle surfing. Try:

Forehand cutback

Cross body forehand cutback Backhand cutback



ThePaddler 32 The term ‘Land Locked surfer’ simply came from those of us who did not live close enough to the ocean to get our fill of waves. Of course surf websites and webcams amongst other devices has vastly improved so you can pretty much know where the waves will be without wasting money getting to there to find a flat calm ocean. BY CHRIS KENYON

surfer locked Land

I once read in a surfing publication that being in the centre of the United Kingdom was a good thing as you had access to all of the UK coastline and was roughly the same to find swell in whatever direction you headed. This was not the case however when my interest in surfing began at 14-years old. When I was little, being in the water use to scare me, I’m not sure how it came about but somehow I came to love it eventually. I think it was in my blood – my grandfather was an avid sailor and set up the first sailing club in the Midlands before he moved to Cornwall. Although it scared me, I was exposed to the ocean on a regular basis with my family based down in Cornwall. I enjoyed every aspect about First ever SUP session

Winter training session

I came up with a cunning plan to create a website for landlocked surfers as I began to realize that I was not alone and there were actually

quite a few of us

it from hearing the waves crashing late at night when we would arrive at my grandparents for our holiday to just being on the beach in the sun.


It was inevitable I would become a surfer, and around the age of 14 I did an incredible amount of car washing to raise the money for my first board – A Tsunami pop out in a variety of fluorescent colours with a bungee cord leash! I still have it in fact! From that day my good old dad would drive around Cornwall, don his wetsuit and grab the body board so I could get some waves. I would surf anything and each session was so precious as I had so little time to enjoy the water. Wetsuit technology was not where it is now so I often donned two suits making me about twice my own weight on the water. It was an addiction however and nothing put me off. The irony of the whole thing was that I live in the Midlands, the middle of the UK – about as far as you can get from the surf! It was a depressing thing for a 14-year old Kelly Slater wannabe to have to get his surf fix in the school holidays, it also meant my progression was limited, as I never got regular training sessions.

In my late teens I moved up to a 6’8’’ board and then finally a long board facing the fact that this would be the best way to get waves and maybe because I was well on my way past 30. Perhaps I should have moved to the coast but I had strong ties in the Midlands and that was just the way it was. I also had my own family and work commitments which changes a lot of your priorities.

A cunning plan

My appetite for waves may have been dampened but I never lost it, as one day the light bulb went off and I came up with a cunning plan to create a My first boards website for landlocked surfers as I began to realize that I was not alone and there were actually quite a few of us. During my research I accidently came across a video clip of Laird Hamilton on his SUP. What on earth was this? As I looked further into it I realized I could do this SUP thing anywhere! That was it really; I had my first paddle in Sheffield and was hooked! I got my first board and paddle and was off, nobody could stop me. I could paddle on the canal five minutes from house! I got some odd looks doing that, I don’t think the concept of SUPing the Midlands waterways had ever been done before then.

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SUP surf session in Cornwall Ok, so it wasn’t Hawaii but I could be on the water nonetheless. As my passion grew and became my obsession I found more and more I was becoming a Stand Up Paddle boarder and not a ‘surfer’, I was only using my SUP to surf and my long board would remain in my uncle’s garage roof. This story is not unique at all, I meet so many people who come to me saying they are a landlocked surfer and thought they would try SUP. Their addiction soon becomes as mine and

of me even braving my first SUP surf competition at Watergate last year. It inspired the creation of a club and there is nothing better than talking to like-minded souls about your latest paddle adventures. If I want to surf now there are plenty of people up for a trip too. There is certainly a lot more to this story of the land locked SUPer to come as I meet more and more people who have something in common with me. As the sport of SUP grows I think that more and more inland cities and towns will see

My love of the ocean and waves remains the same,

I’m still a surfer, just a SUP surfer now they also become full on paddlers. That is the great thing about Stand Up Paddle boarding, it has no boundaries. Not only has it inspired a whole new generation of landlocked SUP’ers (over 60 at central SUP club now) it has taken me to places that I would never have gone as a surfer. It has opened up a lot of opportunities including the chance to develop the SUP racing scene in the Midlands, becoming a team rider for Starboard SUP UK and getting to know a whole new set of people both in the UK and abroad. My love of the ocean and waves remains the same, I’m still a surfer, just a SUP surfer now. My skills have improved vastly to the point

the figure of a paddle boarder on their local canal or lake and who knows where that will take us in the future. The scene is growing quickly with a strong focus on the inland paddler, it’s definitely an exciting time to be involved in the sport. For anyone who wishes to try it out or can relate to this I advise finding your local SUP club (there are a fair few now) and giving it a go. I’m willing to bet that you wont regret it and you will soon start to satisfy that ‘inner surfer’ . It can be taken to your own limit, whether that’s just to get outdoors and on the water, paddle with friends or become a competitor it’s all available.

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OC Paddler

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A little exploratory trip in


Galloway, Scotland‌


By Matt Thompson of Wilderness Canoe

Paddlers: Matt Thompson, Wilderness Canoe Alex Wride Greg Spencer and Eira



It didn’t turn out to be so gloomy after all! Doom on Doon was meant to be the tongue in cheek moniker for a hare-brained idea of a canoe trip in Galloway, Scotland. Starting and finishing at Loch Doon, this circuitous journey was nothing if adventurous and verging on the pointless. ThePaddler 39

Pole, Line or Push..?

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Loch Macaterick

A stream that led into the hills and on towards an isolated loch linked to other lochs by a height of land portage and thence back to the beginning via a second stream. Stream is of course a grand word for a watercourse that actually has water in it. Whether there would be enough to float a canoe of all things would be another matter. Leaving in the late afternoon, the three of us plus dog, had approx. 6km to cover in order to make Loch Macaterick. We could of course just stop when it became too dark to travel onwards, but that would leave more ground to cover the next day. We pushed on, literally at times, resorting to not only portaging the packs, but also the canoes for a stretch or two. The last 60 metres of height gain saw the sun set; the stars begin to show and finally the open expanse of the loch. On went the stove for a cup of tea and dinner at exactly 22.30; then a tarp slung over the wall and a canoe, propped up with a paddle and sleeping bags were retired to for a well-earned sleep.

The last 60 metres of height gain saw the sun set; the stars begin to show and finally the open expanse

of the loch

We’d decided that lightness would be our alarm and departure would happen when it was, well, the time! Waking to a bright and sunny day we were beguiled by the weather and lack of midges, when suddenly it started to rain from somewhere. Fortunately it lasted only a minute or so before deciding that it just wasn’t worth the effort to spoil such a great day. Exploring the islands and outcrops of the loch looking for future campsites, as if we would return, before heading up the little feeder stream that would give us access through the forest to a second stream and our route downhill.

Poling country... Sometimes! ThePaddler 41

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Canada or northern Scandinavia

we could have been in a remote part of The height of land crossing was an almost flat firebreak through the trees along a vague deer track. Leading to a ditch that was deep enough to float a canoe, any section of water that didn’t mean having to push or pull or drag or worse, pick up the canoe was a relief. If it wasn’t for the hills acting as our backdrop, remote hills at that, we could have been in a remote part of Canada or northern Scandinavia.

to the murky, muddy depths below while we slid and hauled the canoes across.

Surrounded by mature forest with swampy marshes and patches of water full of ‘Bogbean’, lilies and tadpoles; isolated from the world we had left by silence and the distant call of pipits. After crossing Loch Riecawr, we headed on downstream again through deadfall trees and over boulders before more swampiness and vegetation that threatened to send us through

The second camp spot was brilliant, just a patch of grass and moss on a bend in the stream, probably never visited before by humans... signs of deer before us was the only passing we could tell. It was early, but after the previous day’s exertions almost into darkness it was a real pleasure to be able to sit in the sun, read and take in the feelings of where we were.


Another chance for cool feet

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Just a few hundred

metres to the nearest known forest track if you looked on the map, but without that information we could be as far from human presence as it could be. Lots of brews and snacks plus dinner of Mushroom Rissotto, we retired to sleeping bags as the sun turned the sky orange behind tall spruce and pine. Although knowing that the next day would return us to the vehicle, we knew not what lay ahead other than a rough idea of the distance – 3.6km, distance that would still be fresh ground until the last kilometre. This trip had been almost as expected – tough! However, the achievement in completing such a small circuit was immense. A precursor to another trip which is hovering in the middle ground of my mind, one I have mulled over and looked at for a number of years; one which would require the same fortitude; either a solo trip or a good choice of partner. This trip showed the way...

Main photo: Peaty water, Brown Trout; Isolation

Sharing the load I Perfect campsite = Midge less!


One man and his dog Sharing the load II

her cascade...

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Full gallery can be seen here: Day 1. Start - 16.30; Distance - 6km; Time - 6 hours. Day 2. Start - 11.00; Distance - 5km; Time - 5.5 hours. Day 3. Start - 10.00; Distance 3.5 km; Time - 5.5 hours.

Wilderness Canoe

Wilderness trips, workshop days in flatwater, river and traditional skills. Wilderness Canoe provides programmes of outstanding quality. A variety of expeditions and skills based programmes from a half-day to multi-day in length, primarily in NW England, the Lake District and Scotland. Our aim is to provide safe, educational, ecological, unpressured experiences for all levels of participation.

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four two states





lakes and linking




rivers and


740-mile Northern Fore and


offers a lifetime of paddlin

st Canoe Trail (NFCT)

g destinations or the paddling trip of a lifetime.

A journey By Katina Daanen

Main photo: Second Lake, New York State. Photo NFCT.

Below: Katina Daanen

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From the Adirondacks of New York state to the very top of Maine at the Canadian border, this fledgling inland water trail traverses some of the wildest and most remote backcountry of northern New England, but it’s never too far from nearby towns and villages.The route's variety of flatwater, swiftwater and whitewater, on a range of rivers, streams, lakes and ponds provide extensive opportunities for canoe and kayak recreation.Vibrant communities along the way offer historic hotels, quaint bed and breakfast inns and camping facilities, as well as dining options and heritage attractions.

The NCFT trail was officially completed in Spring 2006 with 13 mapped continuous sections.

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Katina Daanen by the Kiosk in Saranac Lake

I first learned about the trail at Canoecopia, an annual springtime paddlesport show held in Madison, Wisconsin. Within the hour, I knew I wanted to paddle the entire trail and was already scheming about whom I intended to recruit to make the trip happen.

Brought to life in the 1990s

The idea for the Northern Forest Canoe Trail was brought to life in the 1990s when Mike Krepner, Ron Canter and Randy Mardres of Native Trails, Inc. researched the traditional water routes used by Native Americans and early settlers in the Northern Forest Region, from Northern Maine to the Adirondacks of New York. In 2000, Kay Henry and Rob Center – former principals of Mad River Canoe Company – incorporated the Northern Forest Canoe Trail organization as a way to translate this research into a recreational, community and regional resource. (NFCT 2012) The trail was officially completed in Spring 2006 with thirteen mapped continuous sections. A guidebook was published by the NFCT in 2010. One of the allures of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail is that many sections of the trail are appropriate for novice paddlers. It’s perfect for dipping your paddle in the water for a day trip or experimenting with portaging and overnight canoe camping. A majority of visitors will likely experience only a portion of the NFCT during any given trip this way. Paddlers like myself, who love the idea of a journey and a destination, will intensively plan, paddle and portage every possible mile of the mapped trail.

Common Loon

Beckie Miller tracking up the 74 mile section of the Missisquoi River near East Highgate, VT. Photo Katina Daanen

Most paddlers first discover the trail by spotting the ubiquitous yellow and blue diamond-shaped NFCT medallions and realizing a favourite lake or river is actually part of a much larger route. These trail blazes are posted at all put-ins, takeouts and portages. Engaging kiosks with information about the Northern Forest Canoe Trail and that area’s segment are also found at community boat landings and trailside parks throughout the route.

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are those who paddle the entire trail in one season. In order to complete the full west to east direction of the 740-mile route, Through-Paddlers will need to ascend over 160 miles (257.5 km) of rivers upstream, descend or carry around rapids up to class IV, cross large, exposed lakes subject to wind and waves and portage. Under optimal paddling conditions, the NFCT includes 62 portages totalling 55 miles (88.5 km). Most Through-Paddlers either complete the trail as soloists or as a team. My trip was unique in that I coordinated six different people to join me for six ‘legs’ of my journey, most of who were from the Midwest. With the exception of my daughter, Kacia, who was 26, all of us were over 50. My husband, Sam, was the only man.

Long Lake, New York. Photo NFCT

The trail has been successfully through-paddled by canoe and kayak. As of 2012, over 40 people have completed the trail as Through-Paddlers. The average trip length is 45 days, but it has been paddled by three people journeying in a single canoe in as little as 21 days. I travelled in July and August, always with one of my family or friends, in a portage-friendly Wenonah Minnesota II Kevlar canoe. My trip lasted 53 days, six of which were zero mileage days or what we referred to as “paddler swap days.” These were the days when my paddling partners met me at predetermined rendezvous points and we reorganized supplies and repacked. We made certain to take advantage of visiting the local trail town pub or steak joint during these down days too.

West Branch of the Penobscot River, Maine. Photo NFCT The start of the trail in Old Forge, NY. Photo NFCT Flagstaff Lake, Maine. Photo NFCT

Sam and I left Wisconsin on July 2 and drove to upstate New York with all the gear. The car was then able to used by the paddlers to either find me along the trail or I would use it to meet them. It was a complicated and not inexpensive system shuttling the car eastward, but it worked. Most paddlers have to figure out a way to get home after paddling 740 miles away from where they first launched. I knew— or at least expected—that my car and my husband were going to be at the end of the trail awaiting my arrival.

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NEWYORK: 147 miles (236.6 km) The first three maps provide a great introduction to the trail. Sam and I paddled and portaged this section in nine days. From quiet ponds and flatwater lakes to languid rivers and crashing cascades, canoeists and kayakers will be able to test a variety of characteristic waterways—all within the first 100 miles (161.9km.) You will also find yourself quickly perfecting your portaging skills as half of the trail’s 55 miles of carries occur in the New York segment alone.

True wilderness is mostly absent, but the scenery is spectacular. The starting point for Through-Paddlers, and the western NFCT terminus in Old Forge, N.Y., is a popular tourist town located in the heart of the Adirondacks. The first six lakes though which you pass are dotted with shoreline docks, vintage camps and lakeside cottages. Boat traffic and human encroachment thins out as you make your way toward Saranac Lake Village. The Raquette and Saranac Rivers offers classic river paddling, plentiful Adirondack lean-tos or campsites and the unique opportunity to pass through two sets of hand-operated locks. Raquette, Forked, and the Saranac Lakes are jewels strung together between these rivers and home to several architectural circa 1900 Adirondack-style ‘Great Camps.’

After passing through the larger villages of Long Lake and Saranac Lake, the Saranac River begins its descent out of the Adirondack Plateau. It winds around gorges, waterfalls, industrial dams and through continuous whitewater and the metropolis of Plattsburg, N.Y., before spitting paddlers out on Lake Champlain.

Map 1

Fulton Chain of Lakes to Long Lake.

Bluff Island in Upper Saranac Lake, New York. Photo K

Map 2

Long Lake to Saranac River.

MAPS 1, 2 and 3

Katina Daanen

Brown’s Tract Carry, New York. Photo Katina Daanen

Portaging (or carrying)

Throughout the Adirondacks and parts of New England, the term ‘carry’ is always used to describe a portage. Conversely, ‘portage’ is always used in Quebec. Both words describe the same action and could be used interchangeably. There are officially 62 portages totalling 55 miles and 23 of them occur within the first 100 miles in New York. Most are short and provide safe routes around hazards like dams and rapids. Longer portages connect watersheds and often follow roads.

Map 3

Saranac River to Lake Champlain.

While some paddlers choose to carry all their gear in the historical style of the voyageurs, many modern paddlers use wheels to aid in portaging. It is important to understand that many of the carries are considered unwheelable and gear will, at times, still need to be carried.

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Moose. Photo: NFCT

Map 4

Lake Champlain and Missisquoi River.

Map 5

Missisquoi River to Lake Memphremagog.

280 km) MAPS 4 and 5 Out of the 162 miles (260.7 km) of upstream travel required for through-paddling the NFCT, two-thirds of it occurs within Vermont and Quebec. I picked up my friend Beckie at the Burlington,Vt. airport and we spent the next 11 days together, mostly paddling upstream.

We started out by crossing Lake Champlain, sometimes referred to as the “Sixth Great Lake” in the United States, on a beautiful summer day. Then began our 74-mile (119.1 km) haul up the Missisquoi River to Lake Memphremagog, getting a brief reprieve on the 12 milelong section of lake spanning the United States and Canadian borders.

Quebec offers the chance to savour a little French Canadian culture along the trail. We looked forward to arriving in Mansonville and stopping at a celebrated boulangerie for croissants. Leaving Mansonville means next heading out on the 5.6-mile (9km) Grand Portage, the longest formal portage of the trail following a country road connecting the Missisquoi and Lake Memphremagog watersheds. After checking back in with U.S. Customs using a video phone at the Newport,Vt., marina and taking a welldeserved break exploring the town, it’s back to paddling upstream for another 30.5 miles (49.1km) on the Clyde River to Island Pond,Vt. The 6-mile (9.7km) segment between Newport and Derby Center is considered by many Through-Paddlers to be one of the most challenging parts of the entire trail if paddling and not portaging around the continuous string of Class II–III rapids through which you will need to track. Wanting to keep my friendship with Beckie intact, we took a shuttle around this potentially troublesome section.

The Clyde then meanders through agricultural pastures and forested lands after emerging from Pensioner Pond and flows through a rare natural bog feature known as an intermediate fen. It’s a few more miles to the village of Island Pond where the river flows under a hotel, ending at its source at Island Pond. Paddling resumes downstream on the narrow, twisted and beaver dam-strewn Nulhegan River that evolves into wider, but shallower and boulder-strewn whitewater connecting to the Connecticut River at the New Hampshire state border. This part of the NFCT passes through the protected timbered lands of the Silvio O. Conte National Forest Wildlife Refuge.

Part two next month

Flagstaff Lake, Maine. Photo: NFCT

Maps, guidebooks, websites

Thirteen maps detail the trail indicating campsites, portage routes, trail signs, access points and GPS coordinates along the entire route. In 2010, the Official Guidebook was published as a companion to the maps and online planning tool. The Northern Forest Canoe Trail maintains an informative website with a trip planning tool and links to paddler blogs. The Northern Forest Canoe Trail’s Through-Paddler’s Companion, a guidebook by 2011 Through-Paddler Katina Daanen, is forthcoming. Excerpts from the book were used in this article. Her current NFCT Sectional-Paddle and full 2011 Through-Paddle adventure is chronicled in a daily blog at

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Lapland Pack up and visit

Many years ago, a group of friends bought canoes, picked a route on the map and went on an epic trip. None of us had been on a canoe trip before, and none of us knew how to paddle a canoe in whitewater, but we had a good time and I was hooked on canoe trips. Through pure luck, our route turned out to be one of the finest canoe touring routes in all of Lapland. By Alv Elvestad


ine does not always mean easy, and on my trips in the area I have thought about the best way to travel the route. This time we decided to go with lightweight solo PakCanoes. A solo canoe is manoeuvrable and easier to push into deeper water when you get stuck on rocks and a small canoe is more fun! From our home base on my brother Tore's farm in the Reisa River Valley, Tore drove us in his Mercedes wagon, pulling a snowmobile trailer with all our gear up the rough mountain road to the Goulasjavri Lake where our trip would start. My American friends wondered what they were getting themselves into as we saw more and more patches of snow along the road. Cliff Jacobson, the oldest member of our group (author of Expedition Canoeing and many other books on canoe travel and outdoor skills) was taking bets on whether the car would make it all the way to the lake. Wes Rusk and Tom Randgaard were starting to look worried when the lake finally appeared and we could start unloading the trailer. It was cold and windy up there and Tore did not stay long. We were on our own, heading for Kautokeino. Once our canoes were ready, we were off – straight into the wind. The progress was painfully slow, and after just a km we had enough. We took the first campsite we could find – next to a snowfield with a spectacular view across the lake to Halti, the highest mountain in Finland. We woke up to a perfect day – sunny, but cool with a strong enough breezes to keep the mosquitoes away. It was just right for a long day of portaging. Tom was in charge of breakfast and cooked up half a kg of bacon and a dozen eggs for the four of us. It seemed like a lot, but it turned out to be just right for the day ahead.

After completing the paddle across Goulasjavri, we had to carry our canoes and gear 3km, gaining another 100m of elevation to a pond at the height of land where a stream flows south into Finland. It took three loads, and we were exhausted when we finally made camp, but happy that any further portaging would be downhill!

Above the tree line

Our river trip began as high in the river as you can float a canoe. The blue line on the map indicating our stream starts about 3km above our camp, and none of that would be canoeable. At 850m elevation and 300km north of the Arctic Circle we were far above the tree line - a perfect place to start a river adventure. The stream out of our pond had a nice narrow channel, so we could paddle for a few minutes to the first waterfall. We dragged the canoes along the tundra, past the falls to the next pool and then paddled a little until we got hung up on rocks – then dragged into deeper water and paddled a little more. Our big mistake was to drag our loaded canoes down a long and wide rapid where the water did not even cover the rocks. Carrying our gear would have been easier. It was a relief to get to a long pond that we paddled almost all the way to the reindeer fence that marks the border. We could slide the canoes under the fence, and we were in Finland.

We dragged the canoes along the tundra, past the falls to the next pool and then paddled a little until we got

hung up on rocks –

then dragged into deeper water and paddled a little more ThePaddler 59


Did you know: Speeding tickets in Finland (and Finnish Lapland) depend on your income. One man with an annual income of 7 million Euros was fined was fined 116.000 Euros. ThePaddler 60

As soon as we were across the b




a thick gray fog descended on us, and it was time to call it a day. Our backs were grateful to get a break from dragging canoes, and our sleeping bags felt very good. Tom woke up early, and expressed surprise that there were sheep so far into the mountains. He had not seen them, but we could clearly hear the bells. He was out of the tent like a shot when I told him they were reindeer - not sheep. Across the river from us was

a flock of several hundred, and we had a good time taking lots of pictures. After seeing several more flocks later in the day, the reindeer became much less exciting. As we approached Pithsosjavri, the first big lake in Finland, we had the nice experience of dragging our canoes past the last waterfall on a large snowfield. Snow really is easier for dragging than tundra and rocks!

and carry again‌


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The river out of Pithsosjavri has enough water for paddling, but it is rocky, and it gets steeper and steeper. It got a bit too crazy for our taste, so we pulled off to scout – just before what turned out to be the first waterfall. Unfortunately, we had stopped on the wrong side of the river, so we had to work our way upstream until we found a place where we could safely ferry across to the hiking trail we would use to portage past the waterfalls to the next lake. Carrying heavy gear down a steep and rocky trail is hard, and Wes must have had a tough time. His knees are not quite bad enough yet to be replaced, but close. If they had been my knees, I would have at least complained about the abuse! The next river starts with two waterfalls. One could be paddled, but we judged it too risky and lined it instead. The second waterfall runs in a steep gorge, so lining was not possible. We dragged the canoes on the tundra past the falls. Helping us old folks, Tom picked up the heaviest pack and pulled two of the canoes behind him. Just below the falls is a challenging rapid – almost 2km long, dropping over 20m. There is one good size eddy at the end of the steepest part, about half way down and we stopped to scout the rest. Cliff and I decided to line it, but it was impossible with all the brush along the bank, so in the end we got back into our canoes. It was at the limit of what we would run, but we got down without any serious problems, although all of us got stuck at least once. We reached calm water just before the tourist huts at Meekonjavri. Paddlers who want to run the Poroeno River without the challenging mountain crossing from Norway can hire a float plane or helicopter at Kilpisjavri and get dropped off at Meekonjavri. This is the start of a beautiful string of lakes connected by easy rapids at the foot of a rugged mountain to the north. The Poroeno starts at the outflow from the lake Porojavri where the Valttijoki River enters from the north. Here we leave the mountains behind, and the terrain ahead is almost completely flat. The riverbanks are covered with brush and are quite wet, so campsites are rare. At one point the river has broken through a long esker, forming a beautiful campsite on the north side of the river. This is the only site I have used on all my Poroeno trips. It was almost like coming home, and we enjoyed ‘happy hour’ with a glass of 12-year-old single malt inside Cliff's screened tundra tarp. Cliff designed the tundra tarp in cooperation with Dan Cooke (, and it has

we enjoyed ‘happy hour’ wit single malt inside Cliff's scree

Did you know: Kiruna is the largest city in the world – measured by area.

th a glass of 12-year-old ened tundra tarp

become very popular with American expedition canoers. It provides effective shelter for a canoe group from bugs, wind and rain – much like a lavvu, but the tundra tarp is much lighter and is not intended to be a tent. We learn a lot on a canoe trip with experienced ‘trippers’, and my first trip with Cliff was no exception. I am now the proud owner of a tundra tarp, and ‘happy hour’ gets even happier with something comfortable to sit on. I am less convinced by Cliff’s preference for fresh food on a trip where everything has to be carried – although there was something strangely fitting about serving the reindeer feast in Kautokeino at the end of the trip with fresh potatoes that had been carried through reindeer country for almost two weeks!

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We pushed our canoes under the fen in the middle of the stream, and

Did you know: Some might think that there are polar bears in Lapland. Well, that’s not true.

The day after ‘the esker’ has the most challenging whitewater on the Poroeno. That is quite obvious from Kyösti Pietikätikainen's excellent paddling map. The ‘fireworks’ start at Runkakoski with a long Class IV rapid. We always stop to scout, and we always come to the same conclusion. The first part can easily be run on the left, and lining the rest on the left is easy as well. Cliff generally lines with a fairly short rope at each end of the canoe. On the Poroeno I like one single longer rope attached to the stern so I can launch the canoe into the current. I only pull it back to shore when it looks like the canoe may run into trouble. Runkakoski was just a warm-up. At Ruunuvuopio the river widened to a small lake with two outflow channels. The first channel has big boulders and looked intimidating. The second one just looked challenging. It starts a kilometre long rapid that drops 10m. It was busy, but not very difficult. The next big rapid started just past a cabin on the left. The river makes a sharp left turn and drops over a small ledge. Don't worry if the canoe in front of you disappears very suddenly! The challenge is after a km where the river gets even steeper. We stopped on the left and lined about 200m past the steepest section before we got back into our canoes and ran the rest of the rapid to an open cabin at Tenomuotka.

Hell's Gate

We were happy to have the opportunity to spend a night inside, but it turned out to be the most uncomfortable night on our trip. The Tenomuotka cabin is mostly used in the winter by skiers and had no mosquito netting, so we had the choice of getting too hot or being eaten by

bugs. We chose the heat! It felt good to leave the cabin in the morning. Below Tenomuotka the Poroeno gets easier – except for the falls at Hell's Gate. Here the river picks up speed between cliffs, makes a sharp left turn and drops 2m into the pool below. The portage past the falls was less intimidating, but we had to climb up a steep hill, through a reindeer fence and lower the canoes by rope to a pool under the falls. Below Hell's Gate, the river enters a beautiful forested valley, and we drifted quietly along between gravel bars. There was nothing difficult until we reached an abandoned border post at Munnikurkkio. The buildings are still there, and so is a stone marker commemorating the Norwegian King Olav's visit there in 1976. It seems a strange place for a royal visit – as remote a wilderness spot as can be found in all of Lapland. We carried past the class IV rapid next to the old sauna and enjoyed the next 4km of fairly easy rapids.

Disinfecting the canoes

Our last 13km on the Poroeno were completely flat, and we were happy to arrive at an S-shaped bend in the river, knowing that the trail that would bring us to the Kautokeino River watershed started at the end of the curve. It is impossible to see the trail from the river, so I had to get ashore and look around. The trail is easy – a few hundred metres in flat, open terrain to Lake Kuoskata, but before we could put our canoes in the water, we had to disinfect them. Poroeno is infected with the Gyrodactilus Salaris parasite that would kill the salmon in the Alta-Kautokeino Watershed.

nce, climbed over it d were back in Norway Making our way down the stream from Lake Kuoskata was a challenge. Parts of the stream were narrower than the canoe and overgrown with brush. Fortunately, it was not very far. Once the stream had water from several more lakes the stream bed was wider. Dragging became easier, and we could even paddle parts of it. As usual in Lapland, the national border was clearly marked with another reindeer fence. We pushed our canoes under the fence, climbed over it in the middle of the stream, and were back in Norway. Another couple of lakes and more stream sections brought us to the Kautokeino River at Acet. There are not many good camp sites in the area, and our best bet was to continue a couple of km to the Sami settlement at Goatteluobbal. Sami reindeer herders use the place in the winter, but it is usually deserted in the summer. Getting to Goatteluobbal had taken us longer than planned, and our families expected us to arrive in Kautokeino shortly.

Fortunately, Cliff had brought his satellite phone, and we could call my brother to let him know that we were simply delayed. We were fine, and there was no need to be worried about us. Some people feel that bringing a satellite phone ruins the feeling of being in the wilderness. In our case, the phone made it possible to enjoy our wilderness experience without worrying that our families would be concerned about our safety. The Kautokeino is a delightful canoeing river. Its upper part has an almost endless number of little drops that can be quite technical. But unlike the Poroeno, rapids on the Kautokeino are mostly short, so the consequences of a spill are unlikely to be serious. As we progressed down the river, the landscape became drier, and there were promising camp sites. But I was looking for my favourite site where cliffs appear on both sides of the river for the first time. There is a nice camp site behind the first cliff on the left - and a beautiful spot for a camp fire on top of the cliff about 5m above the water.

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Our second day

on the Kautokeino the river was larger, and so were the rapids. The scenery is spectacular where the river meanders between the cliffs, but we hardly noticed. We were too busy plotting a clean route for our canoes. Although it never gets intimidating, the river is steep and rocky, and the whitewater goes on for hours – with the occasional “hang-up” on a rock. Wes got stuck on a rock that he could not see and was in and out of his canoe several times before he got free to continue on his way. We were happy to finally spot the power line at Galanito, marking the start of quiet water that we knew would last all the way to Kautokeino. It got even better when the wind started blowing at our backs. I had brought WindPaddle sails for all our canoes, but there had been no opportunity to use them. Now they were unpacked and attached to the canoes, and we spent a few minutes figuring out how they worked. That was not very hard, and soon we were cruising down the river. The last few kilometers were completed in no time, and we arrived in Kautokeino in grand style.

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Freestyle European Champion Sickline Queen Teva Mountain Games Steep Creek Champion Extreme WW kayaker

Take a glimpse of the very colourful world of pro boater:

Photo: Mexico by Tony Czech

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here and what was your first paddle? I started paddling on a whitewater course in Sault Brenaz, France. I was real scared at the beginning and would only paddle down the last bit of the course and without a spray deck on. Often the kayak became full of water and I had to jump out and swim to shore, leaving the full kayak for my dad and brother to take care of.

And your first competition?

This was a freestyle competition in Plattling, Germany. I was 14-years old and there was a very old point system where it was ‘spin to win.’

I’m a paddler and going on vacation, where would you recommend? Steamboat Springs. Photo by Shilo Gibson

There are so many sweet places in the world to visit! I would definitely recommend Mexico as I recently went on a trip to the Agua Azur – this is an amazing place! But there are tons of great destinations; discovering new places and rivers are the best part of our sport.

WW kayaking tends to be a male dominated area of paddling – how do you cope?

I don’t mind at all that male paddlers dominate the sport. We can learn heaps from the guys. Usually there are a couple chicks around anyway and I guess we often gather together.

Any regrets?

Photo. Chile by Mike Dawson

So much more than just a pretty face, this lady can easy mix it with the ‘big boys’ of the world of extreme white water kayaking. The outstanding talent that is Martina Wegman the 23 year-old Dutch Queen of kayaking, has a string of championships from the world of freestyle and river running.This gives Martina an enviable skill set and at just 24, she is improving year on year.

When I started running harder whitewater and waterfalls my dad once ‘joked’ he regrets getting me into the sport. I enjoy travelling and being on the water, I have no regrets at all!

There are tons of great destinations; discovering new places and rivers is the

best part of our sport How does kayaking give you satisfaction?

I love the travel part of kayaking, being on the road, travelling to new places and seeing so many stunning places on our beautiful big planet!

What is the biggest accomplishment in you career?

I’m very down to earth and don’t really have accomplishments in kayaking. I never have trained for kayaking so I guess I can’t expect too much out of it, I just want to make sure I am enjoying. I guess the closest to an accomplishment would be that I never expected to run high waterfalls and lately I have been on trips running 50-foot drops.

What are your goals for the next 12 months?

I don’t have any goals set. I do want to get a bit more into slalom paddling as I think it will help to improve my paddling whitewater.

What would be your ultimate achievement?

I don’t have an ultimate achievement in kayaking. I do want to achieve something besides kayaking and hopefully get a marketing job in a sick company some day.

Any advice for women starting out in ww kayaking?

I always have start slowly and build up my confidence on the water during the years. Freestyle kayaking has helped me in getting a very solid roll and being fairly relaxed when I get trashed in a nasty hole on the river. I also think it is important for women starting out to learn to read water and know your own ability.

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Photo: Mexico by Tony Czech

Which women paddlers out there are currently pushing the ww boundaries?

It seems like the sport is evolving a lot! I’m sure there are heaps of chicks I don’t even know of ripping! Currently Katrina van Wijk and Nicole Mansfield are taking the lead, running some amazing whitewater!

In river running competition – who is your closest competitor? Nouria Newman! She is a very solid all-round whitewater paddler! She is training hard for her slalom career, which has made her a very strong paddler!

What’s next for you?

I’m currently sitting in the airport waiting to board a flight to Iceland, where I team up with Mariann Saether, Katrina van Wijk and Shannon Carroll. I’m very excited about this trip but a bit intimidated as I’m the weaker link of the crew, having the least experience in running waterfalls!

Where do you see yourself in 20 years?

Ha ha – hopefully settled down, owning a very sick house, kids and a proper job :) plus still kayaking.

Photo: MIddle Palguin-Chile by Mike Dawson

I never expected to run high waterfalls and lately I have been on trips running 50-foot drops!

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OK Martina let’s finish with something short and snappy…

If you could paddle with anyone in the world dead or alive who would it be?

Mike Dawson ;-)

Pick two celebrities to be your parents…

I’d honestly never want to switch my parents for any other person to have as my parents, especially not a celebrity.

What’s on your Tivo?

I don’t know what that is.

Favourite iPod track?

It changes all the time but at the moment I like to listen to Icona Pop – I Love It.

What would you do with $100,000?

Buy a sick house and travel lots.

Cats or dogs


Facebook or Twitter

I don’t have a Twitter account, so I guess Facebook.

An ideal night out for you is?

Late evening paddle, cooking dinner with friends, playing games, watching a movie, hot springs, going out…

What one luxury item would you take with you on a desert island?

Any broken bones?

Nah, I have been super lucky never to get into much trouble.

If you could be a superhero for one day, what superpower would you choose and why? Either flying, as you can easily get to different places or walking over water, so I can just run up some stout whitewater and run it over and over.

What three words would you use to describe you? Shy, down to earth, adventurous.

Probably a camera to capture all the action.

What do you get really angry about?


If we came to your house for dinner, what would you prepare for us?

BBQ or home made pizza.

Thanks for your time Martina

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By Steve Brooks

The land of mountains some sweet rivers too!

Spring and summer is a special and colourful time in the German speaking Alps. Flowers hang from balconies of houses and hofs (traditional farm houses), high alpine meadows bloom and the ringing of cow bells set in some of the most scenic and dramatic mountains in the world is just another highlight.

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With so much snow and ice up in the mountains it gives Austria

huge white water

kayaking potential

With time honoured traditions and events such as the Summer Solstice (mountain fires and torches), church fairs and colourful cattle drives all of which are cherished traditions in the Alps. During these festivals brass bands play ‘umpah’ music, rifle companies’ parade around in all their plumage, locals dress in their national and regional costumes (lederhosen for the men and dirndl for the women) are all hallmarks of these events.

Of course traditional food such as mountain cheese, cured ham (Speck), sausages (Wurst), pretzels can all be washed down by a typical Alpine beer - in fact there are over 40 different types of beer and some 4,000 different brands. Austria is well known for its mountains, culture and especially the skiing. With some of the worlds best and prestigious ski resorts it is not just the backdrop that makes these resorts so famous but the snow that regularly falls. St Anton am Arlberg is renowned for all of this as it receives some of the most snow in the Alps and has the terrain to match.

Throughout Austria there are an abundance of glaciers, some of which are open throughout the summer, which race teams and recreational skiers alike frequently use. So with so much snow and ice up in the mountains it gives Austria huge white water kayaking potential from Spring right through to Autumn.

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The snow melt usually starts earlier in the east with the region of Salzkammergut, well known to the German speaking kayaking community as a spring destination. Out to the west the melt comes a little later. The River Inn is the main point of focus, with tributaries such as the Sanna, Pitzbach, and the Oetz all adding to its size along the way making it the biggest volume of white water in the Alps.

Austria is often regarded as summer destination that should be paddled during July and August. The Inn is at its highest and so too is the Oetz Valley – an intimidating river that shows no real mercy in its upper reaches and the lower can also be slightly nerve racking in full flow! But during the month of June the rivers are more manageable and for a good kayaker it is good to know that there are plenty of options as all the major rivers and sections are running with flows that you can enjoy but also take on a challenge!

Warm up

We met up with Tony from New Zealand and Peter from California in St Anton am Arlberg and laid out the plan. Basing ourselves in the west of Austria for a couple of days gave us the opportunity to warm up on the Inn and run some of the tributaries such as the Sanna. The Sanna is a classic Alpine Class III-IV river. It has quite a steep gradient and everything keeps on flowing and the technical feel is also coming back now. Before the devastating floods in 2005 it was a Class IV+ Alpine gem, however, the flooding was so bad that not only did all the rocks disappear but also a brand new car garage on a tributary called the Rosanna. The river had to be rebuilt from scratch and it suddenly turned into a man made canal with huge stones at its banks and not one rock in the river or tree or bush along the side. Finally after some eight years the river is coming back to life. There are rocks washed down in the Spring and when the river gets big which is giving the Sanna its character plus bushes and trees were replanted and it is looking much more natural again. There are plans being developed for a dam on the Sanna! More information can be found later about action is being taken and what action can help to save this beautiful river.

Enns River, Austria

Tony Peter

We met up with from New Zealand and from California in St Anton am Arlberg and laid out the plan

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Next we headed north and hopped over the border to the Loisach – one of German’s most loved and kayaked rivers. Setting is amazing, the Zugspitz (Germany’s highest mountain) looms in the distance and all the while the river cuts a path in the valley floor through woodland. Though the road is right next to the river you only become aware of it just when you paddle under the one bridge giving it a remote feel something that is sometimes difficult to find in the Alps except in a gorge! It is a sweet little technical river giving you the opportunity for various lines and perfect place to put the art of boofing into practice.

art of boofing

The perfect place to put the

into practice



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Switzerland too was on our plan and again it was just an hour’s drive to the Engadine Valley, a Romansch speaking region of Switzerland where the Inn starts its journey on the way to the Danube. Engadine in Romansch means Garden of the Inn and the valley is stunning. The river also lives up to that reputation, as the Giarsun Gorge is one of the best Class IV rivers the Alps has to offer. The warm up has classic Alpine views of meadows, snow capped mountains and the sound of cow bells ringing from high up somewhere. Soon the river starts to tighten up and the gorge approaches. What follows is some 10Km of fantastic class IV (IV+) read and run technical white water that is Alpine river running at its best! As a warm up we ran the Schuls Gorge first, which is a great way to get used to the temperature, gradient, grade and volume of river you will expect in the Giarsun Gorge. To enjoy the beauty of this valley even more we camped in the Engadine and after dinner we watched the final rays of sun trying to burn through the clouds.

Ardez-Engadine, Switzerland Giarsun-G

Classic Alpine views of meadows, snow capped mountains and the sound of

cow bells ringing

from high up somewhere

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Next stop was the OetzValley and a run on the lower section from the village of Oetz down to the Inn and on to Haiming. The Oetz is an amazing river with so many different sections and it is more for the harder end of the boating grades especially throughout the Summer. In the Autumn when the river level drops, the Oetz is home to the famous Sickline Extreme Kayaking event. It has been running now for over 5 years and its popularity has boomed with great access to the site for spectators and media. It is now on prime time Austrian TV, which can only be good for our sport! The Lower Oetz offers the Class IV kayaker a sample of its milder side to its character. The continuous water that has a ‘pushy feel’ keeps everyone entertained but with the knowledge that if you do make a mistake it will not punish you - well not too much! Half way down is a weir that needs to be portaged, but do not worry as there is a rather entertaining sign post telling you that it is just 600m away. Apart from the nuisance of a death trap on the river, the Lower Oetz is a great section of river. We continued our journey. Originally we were heading to the state of Salzburg but the area was devastated by flooding and huge mud slides that washed away bridges and took roads apart. The kayaking area of Lofer was even cut off for a few days. Instead we headed further east to Styria and made our base in the beautiful Enns Valley and Gesäuse National Park. The first day we spent running the Salza River – Austria’s equivalent to the Soca in Slovenia. Turquoise blue river with views of snow capped mountains and again great vegetation all along the river gave us another remote feeling. It is a slightly milder river than what we had been paddling earlier but was great to get to grips with advanced skills such as paddle placement throughout the day.

Again the Koppentraun had not been spared the flooding this Spring. Just downstream of the put-in the local residents had the water in the gardens and cellars. The shuttle had also been lengthened due to the huge landslide on the Koppen-Pass that went into the river and again changed the rapids. Chris Strobl – a strong local kayaker – had run it the week before and explained the changes that had taken place. What we found was exactly what Chris had said. The first part was similar all the way to the main drop, where on inspection we found that the rapid had dropped half a grade and there was a nice line on far right.

It was a pleasure to show them not only the mountains but also some sweet white water t Later that afternoon we went to check out the Lower (Kummerbrücke) part of the Enns river below the dam. What we found was that it was still a pumping, brown mess with the odd bit of wood making an appearance. We would see what the tomorrow brings! Our final day saw everyone run the Lower Enns from below a road bridge known as Hartlskrom in German. The river had slightly dropped but still provided some entertainment. The put-in went straight into Class IV+ and put the boys to the test, the river then gorged up to make some great boily rapids that tested our reading and understanding of white water before it turned into some fun bouncy Class III rapids. For our last run of the week we headed to the Koppentraun in Upper Austria. It is one of the most popular class IV rivers in the German speaking kayaking community, with only a few handful of English kayakers knowing about the river and even less having kayaked it! It is a fantastic river and can be compared to the ‘Sanna of old’ but with more water. Starting in the stunning region of Bad Aussee, it finishes in the famous Traunsee.

What followed below was a complete character change and we were running Class IV+ pushy medium volume water with good gradient. There were plenty of new rocks, which were forming some huge holes in medium water levels and pillow waves with some tight lines to navigate. It really put the teams’ skills to the test and by the time we got to the take-out there were huge smiles. Peter and Tony had kayaked quite a difficult piece of Alpine white water and it was fitting that the skills they had learnt and put into practice throughout the week had paid huge dividends; it really was a great achievement. Throughout the week we had kayaked all characters of rivers, in three different countries and all set in amazing locations. What followed… sunshine, clear blue skies and warm temperatures and some serious big water Alpine kayaking!

culture and traditions still used in daily life in the that Austria (and its neighbours) has to offer!

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Steve Brooks

Steve has lived in Austria now for over 15 years and from being a place to come and work seasonally on the river, to a base camp and finally making Austria his home! Steve’s love for kayaking and adventure is infectious and this can especially be seen in the kayak school he set up four years ago. Based out of the Arlberg Region in Western Austria, the school runs courses for beginners, coaching and instructing kayakers through all the white water grades. It is the adventure kayaking and spending so much time in a kayak on various rivers with different kayakers that has put the kayak school into the fore for innovation, quality and professionalism. When the kayaking draws to a close in Austria, Steve heads off to the Indian Himalayas to kayak and explore. In the winter he comes back to his home and heads into the mountains in search of the perfect powder run!

For more info check out: and


NEW 2013 NRS Flux Dry Cag Black/Green

Tel: 01753 655455


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Guatemal with a ta

“As I sat there the man approache took off the safety catch o

Did Andy Holt ma

ed and purposely on his gun. Welcome to Guatemala”

ake it… Read on…

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Photo: James on the Cabuz

alaastelaMexico of

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In October 2012 myself, James Fleming, Matthew Brook and Tony Becker embarked on a 17- day trip to Guatemala in Central America. Why Guatemala? Well I love exploration and I wanted some Jungle boating in South or Central America away from the norm, so Guatemala came to my attention through a website, The author of this website is Greg Schwendinger, an American who has been living in Guatemala for 10 years and who is responsible for many of the first descents in the country. After numerous Email conversations with him on logistics the trip was on.

The hardest part was getting there, as you can’t fly into Guatemala city with boats and there are no hire company’s or kayak suppliers anywhere in Guatemala so that wasn’t an option either. We eventually came up with the plan to fly into Cancun in Mexico through Virgin Airlines with our boats, hire a jeep and drive down into Guatemala – over a day and half.

After spending a night in Cancun from our ninehour flight, the jeep was loaded and it was time to hit the road. Unfortunately after about 12 hours of driving the jeep got sick and was losing power, so we forced to limp the car into Valamosa city in Mexico and got a dodgy fuel pump replaced. With a day lost the rest of the drive down went according to plan until we hit the Guatemalan border, which we were all dreading! I think we had scared ourselves with the internet before the trip on stories like people having been shot at the border, you are going to get robbed, never get out the car etc, etc. So when we arrived at the Mexico/Guatemala border, a crowd of Guatemalan men blocked the car and were demanding money left right and centre from us. These guys are the fixers who sort out your paperwork to get you through the border quicker and of course four gringos with kayaks in a hire car are easy targets to squeeze as much money out of you as they can.

Andy next to the death wall at Chichen itza

A crowd of Gu blocked the car


Planning portages on the Occisito

uatemalan men r and were

anding money left right and centre from us

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For me this

was very intimidating and looking at James and Tony’s face as well, they felt the same but Matt who’s had this experience before in his travels in India said I will deal with this and calmly stepped out of the car to start the negotiations. An hour later we finally had our passports stamped and about 40 dollars of negotiation fees we was on our way. Looking back at this for the fixers this is the norm they are not there to kill you they are just doing a job and as long as you stay calm, smile and haggle a fee then everybody’s happy but it does annoy you that the officials are sat there turning a blind eye to it all. Our first few days we stopped in a hotel in a town called Malacatan in Guatemala and even though this was a fairly pleasant town it became apparent that there is a lot of hired security around. Every bank or shop that sold high value goods had an armed guard on the door; taxis are how most people get around. The infrastructure is still not as good as it could be yet as there is a lot of rubbish around, buildings are roughly constructed with no regulations, roads are bad and the water supply is not drinkable – bottled water is the norm. Of course in the bigger cities it’s a lot better and almost normal but out in the sticks it’s almost third-world, people living in shacks with no electricity or water supply and eating off open fires. Saying that though we found the Guatemalan people very friendly towards us and they loved the phrase “we are from Grande Britannia,” which would always get a smile and thumbs up and even a handshake off the local police. So after three days of travelling it was time now for what we came for. A phone-call to Greg advised we start on the River Cabuz lower section a 12km class 3/4 run. I can only describe the lower Cabuz as a cross between French and Austria water, very Alpine and quite fast with some volume – a great first day paddling in 30 degrees. The second day it was off to the middle Cabuz. At 11km, this run is a river of two halves – the first half with fantastic pool drop action with boofs slides and boulder negotiating class 4/4+. The second half has a major tributary coming in and doubles the volume to make a big bouncy class 3/4 wave trainy none-stop 5km run out. After three nights in Malacatan it was time to move further east to a town called Reus where we would meet Greg and his friend Neils for a weekend of some deep jungle boating. We all met in a hotel that evening for beers and planning of the next two days. Unfortunately for James and Matt, sickness and diarrhoea was about to rear its ugly head. The next day Greg suggested the Occisito a deep jungle basalt gorge run at about grade 4/4+ low volume, tight and technical.

“we are from Grande Britannia,” They loved the phrase

which would always get a smile and thumbs up and even a handshake off the local police

James and Matt were not looking good that morning having spent most the night in the toilet but still found enough energy to come for a run. This started off with a 2-3km gorge, which required a boat lower down and assisted hand-line to get into it. Some great grade 3-4+ boating followed in a unique jungle setting with vines dangling and big spiders running across the gorge walls. The whole run was about 9-10km with a couple of portages where the whole river disappeared down cracks with siphons and undercuts – not a place you would want to be. It was great to paddle with Greg and Neils and we finished the run off with traditional man hugs and high fives American style – even James and Matt had perked up a bit.

The run started off great with some tight one-boat eddy-hopping down technical slides and drops. Spirits were high but after about 600m, the first of many portages started due to landslides off the 300m highsided jungle sides, which had choked it with wood. These portages got harder and harder having to haul boats up, around and through log jams and progress was slow especially in 30 degrees heat and 100% humidity. It was about 3pm by now in the afternoon and we had only done about two out of four kilometres – then the rain started and in a tight jungle creek you need to get out quick as we knew it was about to flash flood.

The next day Greg suggested that there was a new descent in the area called the Soledad a 4-5km tributary to the river Xab, a similar run to the Occisito. Of course we were all up for that except Tony who I think had suffered the day before with the heat and humidity and needed to re-hydrate and chill for the day and for what was about to come – he made the right decision.

It was great to paddle with Greg and Neils and we finished the run off with traditional man hugs and high fives American style

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We had to make a decision there and then to leave the boats and hike out!

So we scrambled up the gorge walls and secured the boats about 10m above the waterline. We then slipped; grappled and grovelled up a 300m steep sided jungle gorge and unfortunately we had to get out on the wrong side of the river, as the other side was too steep to climb. We eventually came out the jungle into a coffee plantation and Greg knew the general direction of the main road, which ended up being an 89km hike to a small village where all the plantation workers lived and waited for our driver to find us. We were not looking forward to the next day knowing that we needed to hike in and carry on with the new descent and that’s if we found our boats again. The trek back in didn’t seem that bad being more refreshed and we got to our boats within two hours. We geared up and put back in but after another 150m on the river – yet again another portage but this one would be an hour mission to get

hardest graft

It took us two hours of the

I have even done in my life to haul our boats 300m up out of the gorge

around. We had to make a hard choice again there and then – either struggle around the portage and carry on knowing that there was going to be more portaging further on or haul our boats out the same way we escaped the day before. I hate being beaten but the latter was the right choice. It took us two hours of the hardest graft I have even done in my life to haul our boats 300m up out of the gorge using ropes and pulleys until we were in the coffee plantation at the top. Exhausted, dehydrated and covered in mud and jungle fodder, we were very relived to get the boats out of there and started the hike out knowing it would be all over in a couple of hours.

the next place to go to would be the Lanquin area where you have the Cahabon River, listed as one of the

10 best jungle rivers in the world However, there was still a final sting in the tail. After hiking with boats for a couple of kilometres, I was at the front by about 100m and needed to rest a minute, so I dropped my boat and sat in it. As I waited for the guys to catch up I noticed a man approaching me from a wooded shack about 50m away – then I saw his gun! I didn’t move and tried not to make eye contact, he said something in Spanish to me then purposely looked down at his gun and took the safety catch off, here we go I thought game over just stay calm, STAY CALM! Just then Neils had caught up and saw the plantation security guard and started talking Spanish nervously to him, Neils then said he wants to see our hands and by now all of us had caught up and knew this was a serious situation. Greg having tons of experience with

locals on this sort of thing started to cool the situation and eventually got the armed guard to speak to the plantation owner on his mobile phone who knew who we were and why we were there. With the situation diffused the guard let us go and we were on our way out. After two days we had managed 2km of a new descent, about 17-18km of hiking and nearly being shot! I think although the Soledad had its moments – that will be its one and only descent. That evening back at the hotel Greg and Neils said their goodbyes and left us. His final words were, “Well done lads, we didn’t give up, we all pulled through and you are all expedition ready,” which we thought was a nice gesture from him. He also suggested the next place to go to would be the Lanquin area where you have the Cahabon River, listed as one of the 10 best jungle rivers in the world.

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The first day in this new area we paddled the Lanquin River – a good class 4 run with a serious class 5 section and again an Alpine style river being fast, big and powerful. The second day was a run on the famous Cahabon, a great river in a fantastic setting with wide, big volume but not as hard as we thought. The guide suggested that the biggest rapid (rock and roll 4+) was serious, however, we found a left to right line keeps you away from the nasties. The second rapid had some big bouncy wave trains followed by the threeledge drop rapid – a fun class 3.

Cross back into Mexico

At the start of the run there are three channels to take and Greg advised on the far left, as the centre and right channels go into some serious unrunnable sections. We put in and did some fantastic slides drops and technical lines all at about class 4-4+ with one or two log jam portages but then found ourselves somehow in the middle channel half way down with a serious 150m long class 5+ rapid with a 40 footer at the end. Maybe for the Bomb Flow boys but not for us, so a prudent portage was executed. I think James had had enough by now, still feeling under the weather from his stomach bug, he hiked back to the car. Myself Matt and Tony carried on for a while and found some more fantastic slides and a 4m fall with a perfect boofing ledge to hook off. By now time was ticking on and we knew we wouldn’t get the whole run done that day so it was time to get off. The next day we started where we had left off and again it was a slides and drops heaven with a great final drop out into the easier section of a 9-10m waterfall. This was a big horseshoe affair with a clean boof over on the right of a two-tier drop on the left. Matt absolutely nailed the line and landed on the right along with James and I who had opted for the double drop on the left.

Andy next to the big waterfalls of the Agua Azul in Mexico

The Agua Azul is famous for its electric blue water, long slides and

big waterfalls

For our last three days we decided to cross back into Mexico and stopped in Palenque, a highly recommended tourist town about an hour away from the Azuls. The Agua Azul is famous for its electric blue water, long slides and big waterfalls. It’s a magical place but also a tourist hot spot and you can expect hundreds of visitors at the weekend all viewing the falls and bathing in the pools.

A massive thank you to: James Flemming, Matthew Brook,Tony Becker, Greg S and positivity in making this trip possible. Submitted by: Andy Holt

Again it was a slides and drops heaven with a great final drop out into the easier section of a

9-10m waterfall We now had a couple of kilometres of flat before the big five. These are five drops from 35-50 footers and the last one dropping into the River Shumulja. You either portage the whole lot or do what you are happy with. However after inspecting them it would have been too much of a faff to run some and portage the rest due to the steep cliffs either side, so we walked the whole lot and put into the Shumulja, the paddle out which is an easy run of 10km with one rapid grade 4+. With a long day over it was time to head back to Palenque for our final night of steak, tequilas and beers. A visit to some Mayan ruins the next day at Chichen-itza (very impressive) on our way back to Cancun completed our time in Central America.

chwendinger and Neils Saubes for their energy, hard work ThePaddler 101

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INFORMATION WEATHER: Guatemala has a tropical climate. Temperatures vary greatly from area to area because of differences in altitude. The plains and lowlands have an average yearly temperature of about 80 °F (27 °C), with little seasonal change. Mountain valleys 4,000 to 6,000 feet (1,200 to 1,800 meters) high are usually comfortably mild. They have a yearly average temperature of 60 °F to 70 °F (16 °C to 21 °C). The higher valleys sometimes have frost, and average 40 °F (4 °C). It tends to rain hard about 4pm for a good few hours in the rainy season (June to Oct on the Pacific side and Nov to Feb Caribbean side). Make sure you are off any river prone to flash flooding (jungle runs) by then.

Guatemala Google Map

LOCATION: The northernmost of the Central American nations, Guatemala is the size of Tennessee. Its neighbours are Mexico on the north and west, and Belize, Honduras, and El Salvador on the east. The country consists of three main regions—the cool highlands with the heaviest population, the tropical area along the Pacific and Caribbean coasts, and the tropical jungle in the northern lowlands (known as the Petén)

INFRASTRUCTURE: Guatemala is still a developing country therefore it still doesn’t have full infrastructure in place yet only in major city’s so a lot of rivers are highly polluted with chemicals, sewage and rubbish especially the Pacific side. Expect one or two crew members to go down with sickness and diarrhoea at some stage of your trip. FOOD: If it’s good food you want then forget it! Local food is very bland and uninspiring but the beer is OK about 80 pence-150 bottle. Cost of hostels and cheap hotels are around £4-8 ($6-12) a night.

GETTING AROUND: Definitely hire a driver for shuttling from a local hotel if you are a one-car crew cost about £8-10 ($12-15) a day.They will take you anywhere and pick you up at the other end.Your car will be safer with them than left next to the river. If exploring a four wheel drive vehicle is advised especially in the Lanquin area (all dirt roads). Speaking good Spanish is a must especially crossing borders.You will be stopped a lot with military checks and police. We found them all OK but have the right documentation. GUIDEBOOKS: The entire area is lacking in coverage (hence this website and my desire to write a guidebook).There is a 2000-edition guidebook for Mexico called A Gringo's Guide to Mexican Whitewater by Tom Robey which includes the main jungle rivers in Chiapas. For Honduras there is a 1997 edition book called Honduras:The Undiscovered Country by Andrew Hibbard of Ríos Honduras, which describes 17 rivers (noted on the Honduras river table). In case you're interested in what others have written about the area's whitewater, check out this

CONTACT: Contact Greg Schwendinger at / for his local knowledge to all the Guatemalan rivers, as his resources are second to none and if you have any explorations planned he will probably join you. If its serious expedition style jungle boating you want and you are prepared for some hard graft then Guatemala has a lot to offer. If not go elsewhere.


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By Adventurer Richard Harpham

The Scottish Spare Seat expedition

The Scottish Spare Seat kayak expedition was a 125 miles journey starting on the west coast of Scotland near the Oban, paddling on the sea to Fort William before paddling through the Great Glenn Canoe Trail to Inverness. The inland section including Loch Ness was a competition run in conjunction with Offshore Magazine and gave people the opportunity to join in an adventure for a day. The team paddled a combination of canoes and double kayaks allowing inexperienced people to paddle and experience watersports and adventure. The original Spare Seat kayak expedition was across New York State 510 miles from Niagara Falls to the Statue of Liberty following the historic Erie Canal and the Hudson River (see June issue of ThePaddler).The communities along the route embraced the adventure with local people joining in the Spare Seat and also bringing their own boats and kayaks. In total over 300 people brought a seat and 29 different people paddled in the Spare Seat.The adventure was covered by lots of different media, was publicized to millions of people and won an International Marketing Award. The start of the adventure required strong technical paddling skills as it involved sea kayaking the large whirlpool off the North End of Jura called the Corryvreckan, paddling the ‘Grey Dogs’ tide race and then heading up to Oban. Outdoor instructor Ollie Jay of Active4 Seasons, experienced paddler Jamie Queen and myself set off to wild camp before tackling the infamous whirlpool the next day.

We camped on Scarba and enjoyed a camp cooked meatball pasta meal and a small fire. Heading into the jaws of the Corryvreckan we were full of anticipation, it was one week before the spring tide, so how strong would it be? We were paddling at slack water but the tide race switches in about 15 minutes. We edged along the north side of the channel and then did a big ferry glide to the north end of Jura, touched the rock and then heading back across and on up to Grey Dogs tide race and then onto to Oban. Conditions worsened later in the day to a Force 6 and we were treated to lumpy following seas as we surfed towards Oban. The day involved plenty of stunning wildlife including the Eagles on Scarba, seals and even some dolphins joining us.

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The weather remained changeable ThePaddler 106

with plenty of liquid sunshine so we were glad of our cags and kit. The paddling was tough with a 36-mile day ahead of us as well as fairly blustery conditions and a slight following sea.

On the second day the sun broke through as we headed into Loch Linhe and passed the Crenin Ferry before arriving at Fort William, the activity capital of the Highlands. After plenty of rolling waves and fairly cold weather we opted to stay at the Glenn Nevis Hostel, mainly to dry out kit and remove some of the salt. Our journey now saw us switch from sea kayaking to inland paddling on the Great Glenn Canoe Trail, formerly known as the Caledonian Canal. Wendy and her daughter Jenny who would paddle the first day of the trail joined the team. This popular canoe trail is visited by over 4,000 paddlers a year to experience some of the most beautiful loch and river paddling Scotland has to offer plus of course the infamous Loch Ness.

Wendy and Rich at Neptunes Staircase, Fort William

Wendy and Jennifer had not paddled much and were relative novices but they came equipped with a great ‘can do’ attitude and their infectious spirit. They were soon part of the team. The rest of the Spare Seaters for the inland section included Colin Day, Ashley Kenlock and two team members from Inspired Life (, Alex and Grace, both animal trainers at zoos. We set sail or started paddling with Wendy and Jennifer from the top of Neptune’s Staircase, the huge lock system at one end of the canal. The weather remained changeable and we were treated to showers and high winds. The first part of the Great Glenn Canoe Trail meanders through the valley before opening up into Loch. We had relegated our sea kayaks onto the trailer and switched to open canoes and one double to allow us to bring novice paddlers with us.

Urquart Castle on Loch Ness

The waves on the lochs were gusting force 5 and Olly opted to raft the canoes and use a sail for part of the crossing. Richard and Wendy in the double enjoyed a long surf down the loch with plenty of smiles and laughter. Ollie as always was a source of much fun with various games both on and off the water. This culminated in the headstand challenge on the front of the canoe whilst rafted up moving down the Loch. At one point he was also standup paddle canoeing and rail riding demonstrating great balance and skill. At the end of each day we shuttled back to get the second vehicle to allow us to provide support for the paddlers joining us on different days. We arrived at South Laggan Lock and grabbed a hot drink in the conveniently positioned Eagle Barge Inn and sheltered from the driving rain.

We had relegated our sea kayaks onto the trailer and switched to

open canoes

and one double to allow us to bring novice paddlers with us.

Main photo: River Ness portage Launching at Oban in the rain

Team feed

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William and Ash, Loch Ness

At the end of day two on the Great Glenn Canoe Trail, Rich, Ollie and Jamie opted to repeat the final section but this time taking the River Oich to down to the locks at

Fort Augustus

Lunch in the rain by the Grey Dogs

Our destination for the night was the brilliant Great Glenn Hostel where we camped on the front paddock. The team responded by knocking up another great meal to feed the troops. The Laggan Corridor after the locks is a beautiful paddle flanked by rich coloured trees. It opens up onto Loch Oich, which involved more blustery conditions as made the crossing to the north end and grabbed lunch on the canal bank. The routine was now established with stoves at the ready, wraps and rolls and plenty to refuel with. At the end of day two on the Great Glenn Canoe Trail, Rich, Ollie and Jamie opted to repeat the final section but this time taking the River Oich to down to the locks at Fort Augustus. The river is graded as 1-2 with a couple of sections of small rapids to play in. It was a bit of a break from the buffeting we had experienced on the Lochs albeit, wind powered in the right direction. We enjoyed the flow and playing in the moving water and the whitewater section.

Rougher seas

At Fort Augustus we stayed in the local hostel and the next day we were meeting our next lot of Spare Seaters, Maggie a Scottish paddler and former international sailor and five young people who were interviewing the team and trying paddling as part of a feature for National Geographic Kids magazine. Whilst part of the team shuttled vehicles up to Drumnadrochit the rest of us organized an impromptu come and try it session and some races. Late morning we were ready to paddle off from the shores of Loch Ness

in search of Nessie. The wind whipped up after our lunch break and we were faced with two-foot waves and some interesting conditions with gusts reaching Force 6. The canoes rafted up again and played various I-Spy and memory games while Sam paddled one of the single kayaks and Maggie and Rich surfed in the double. We eventually arrived at Drumnadrochit and headed to another local hostel, the Bearnock Country Centre , again offered great communal facilities for cooking which made life much easier with the size of our team. The final day on Loch Ness was a mixture of sunny skies and more blustery winds providing the final sting in the tail. We were all glad to be sat at the north end on the beach (appropriately called Loch End) near the lighthouse looking back down the loch with a sense of achievement. Sam took the opportunity to do a bit of wild swimming whilst the rest of us shivered in mutual support. We headed around the beach next to Bona Lighthouse and headed towards Inverness. The colours on the hills and trees continuing to take our breath away. In particular the trees flanking the shallow lochs were draped in mid green lichen, which was stunning like a candyfloss coating. We were also treated to our second Osprey on the trip. We approached a large weir signaling the River Ness and our final passage to Inverness. As with so many trips the variety and change of conditions always seems like a real boost, and in this case moving water. The first weir and drop looked a bit lumpy with heavy kit, a mix of paddling experience and even William the dog. We skirted to the left and portaged over a narrow channel, floating the canoes and wading. We mounted up and paddled on finding a few small drops and wave trains to enjoy. One larger weir led to some of the group tracking and lining the boats down the side whilst Richard and Ashley paddled the main chute and waves. It was a fitting end to an incredible trip with stunning scenery, a great team and so many fantastic moments to savour. We had started on the East Coast and paddled almost 130 miles, included 8 people in the team and 8 ‘Spare Seaters’ in total who came in search of a little adventure. We loaded our kit and headed south to Aviemore where the final icing on the cake was staying in the remote Reindeer Cottage in Aviemore. It was brilliant to enjoy some time together to swap stories.

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Sam with moody skies at Drum,

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For more information about the Great Glenn Canoe Trail then visit:

Richard Harpham is a human powered adventurer who has completed over 6,800 miles of human powered adventure by bike, canoe and kayak. Thanks to‌

Ollie Jay is a professional outdoor instructor, qualified teacher who runs Active 4 Seasons based in Northumberland with the Farne Islands and the River Tweed in his back yard.

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“According to the seed that’s sown, So is the fruit you reap there from, Doer of good will gather good, Doer of evil, evil reaps, Down is the seed and thou shalt taste The fruit thereof.”



By Phil Carr

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Sometimes when you get in a

boat and launch onto the water you make an instant connection. My experience with the new Jackson Karma was quite unusual as once I was in the Karma and on the water I took an instant dislike to it! I had time to get it set up correctly before taking it onto the water. On picking up the boat I noticed it was pretty light. This was a surprise given the fact that it looks really big. I was expecting something more akin to the Dagger Mamba and Wave Sport Recon but the Karma was noticeably lighter. On closer inspection it's quite easy to see where the weight has been saved. There is very little in the way of metal in the Karma with the minimal number of bolts and no full plate footrest brackets or supports. The outfitting is simple and relies upon lightweight and tough hardware and the vast majority of it is plastic. Most of the outfitting adjustment is dependent on rope and cleats. This is both very simple and effective and although unconventional in kayaking, it has been used for years in the sailing world. The footrest system seems very basic and as this was the first time I had tried out the system I wasn't too hopeful about how it would perform. It reminded me too much of a system that I think Pyranha first used around 25+ years ago. However, once on the water I found that it works rather well and I quite like the idea of being able to pull the footrest towards you when I was sat in the boat.

Locked in

As I like to be really locked into a boat I was able to get in with the footrest out of the way, get comfy and then lock myself in. The system is also so much quicker and less fiddly than any other full plate footrest system I have tried with no risk of losing bolts or suffering from water ingress due to holes in the hull. The grab handles which have a really nice shape are bolted to the hull but the bolts holes are moulded in and don’t allow water to find its way in. The seat rail is welded into the boat that also acts as a stiffener for the hull, this feature is starting to become quite common in a number of the newer designs that are being released. This allows the hull to be thinner and therefore lighter without any major loss in strength/stiffness. When you stand on the hull you can tell that the seat rail definitely helps with the over stiffness of the Karma. Setting up the Karma was super simple. The rope and cleat system works well and I moved the seat forward a couple of holes which only required one nut to be removed. The lack of holes in the hull is really good and certainly makes sense. With the boats I own I

also add some sealant under all of the bolts and screws to help keep water out. I must admit that I struggled to get my deck on. The shape of the cockpit is pretty wide at the back and it took the help of another couple of local paddlers to get my deck on the first time. And although the cockpit shape had left me frustrated trying to get my deck on the rim, it did provide a really good seal with my IR Klingon Empire deck. The decks I have are sized as ‘big’, but I suspect for ease of use a bigger size would be a better choice for the Karma. I wouldn’t want to be sat in an eddy struggling to get the deck on. The hip pads within the Karma are easy to adjust with a number of shims supplied with the outfitting pack. These are added to the hip pads via a small pocket in each. The seat on the Karma did feel pretty big but with the addition of a couple of shims in each side I was able to quickly get a good fit. The backrest was very supportive and very easy to adjust thanks to the rope/cleat system but due to its size also made putting on my deck a little awkward. When the deck was on the backrest could be felt and seen pushing against the neoprene. I'm not sure whether this would lead to damage to the neoprene in the long term.

Jackson Kayak’s 4th generation creek boat in the past nine years takes a big leap forwards. The Karma takes a turn towards speed, stability, and carving. Fast, stable, and forgiving, with predictable turning, boofing, and a bow that rises over anything in its way.This boat is available in three sizes – the Karma Small, Karma Medium and the Karma Large. Karma S: Weight: Length: Width: Height: Volume: Weight Range: Cockpit:

40 lbs 8′ 25″ 13.5″ 72 gal 80-155 lbs 32.5″ x 19″

Karma M: Weight: Length: Width: Height : Volume: Weight Range: Cockpit:

45 lbs 8’6 26″ 14.5″ 86 gal 140-220 lbs 35” x 20.25”

Karma L: Weight: Length: Width: Height: Volume: 1 Weight Range: Cockpit

50 lbs 9′ 28″ 15″ 03 gal 185-300 lbs 36.5″ x 21.5″

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What Jackson Kayaks say…

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At 210lbs I sit at the lower end of the weight range for the large Karma. Looking at the boat on dry land you can see that the 103 gallon volume isn't concentrated in one particular area - there is quite simply lots of volume in all areas! On the water the boat feels pretty big and sits higher in the water than the Mamba and Recon, it therefore bobs around a bit and feels very different to them. I did not like this at all and for the first 30-40 minutes in the boat I wasn’t really that impressed. In all honesty I was ready to call it a day and hand it back. However after moving the seat forward another notch and an hour or so of water time I began to really like the Karma. After 20 hours plus of paddling the Karma my opinion remains the same – I really like it. For such a big boat it's a pretty fast. It has a relatively long water line that certainly helps. The Karma shares the same planing hull design as the Zen but has more rocker and volume at the bow than its river running sibling. The hull is very interesting as it has an unusual

configuration of multiple edges. These offer good levels of primary and secondary stability as well as giving the boat something to grab the water with as you make a tight turn and carve. The Karma has good acceleration and it can pick up waves easily and surf really well. Get it bang on and it will just sit on the wave with no need for paddle correction. A little lean forward, back, left or right moves the Karma. This shows how well configured those edges are.

The Karma rides really high in the water and simply barrels through everything you put before it. Getting up to speed only takes a few paddle strokes and the speed is maintained well. To get the most out of the speed I reckon you need to put the boat on edge and drive it through the turns. Doing so produces a nice quick turn with no hint of the rails being grabbed by the water. On larger volume rivers the Karma was a dream to paddle. It boofs incredibly well, resurfaces quickly and feels very stable in funny water. After a very shaky start I am utterly convinced about the quality, design and performance of the Jackson Karma. Overall I think the Karma will be worth looking at by everyone who wants a creek boat that is a little bit different and quirky. However, I would recommend checking out a couple of different sizes if you can.

speed is maintained well

come supplied with a GoPro mount attachment, this essentially is a threaded hole that allows you to bolt a modified GoPro mount directly to the bow of the boat. It seemed rude not to try it out. As expected it works well but I would recommend carrying a screwdriver to make sure the mount is totally secure. The mount is also close enough to the grab handles to have a reasonably sized leash between the boat and the camera.

The Karma rides really high in the water and simply barrels through everything you put before it. Getting up to speed only takes a few paddle strokes and the

The new 2013 Jackson Kayak range

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ThePaddler 120

Tickled pink by


otega By our very own Anne Egan

“We’re not doing anything this Sunday?” came the voice from the other end of what doubles as our office. ‘No’, I answered ominously, sensing a day at the seaside was about to be proposed. Now don’t get me wrong, there is pretty much no place I would rather be especially when the sun shines than at the coast, sand in my toes and lapping up the sounds and smells of the ocean. Once there I always love it, but it’s the two hours of driving each way that’s rather tedious. All that said, the next challenge was to persuade our teenage son of the merits of sea air and a day with Ma and Pa in the water. No objections raised we loaded our old but loved RAV4 with the usual ten thousand bags of stuff we ‘might’ need, two scruffy little pooches, with all their paraphernalia – we were off, it was going to be a grand day. The icing on the cake was we had a new toy to test out for ThePaddler ezine, a vibrant bright pink Tootega Pulse 85. ‘Love at first sight’ best described my first impression, when I collected this boat from Jonnie at Tootega’s production unit earlier that week. The Pulse is one of the Sit on Top kayaks Tootega construct and it comes in two sizes the smaller 85 and slightly longer 95. Weighing 14 kg this boat is reasonably easy to lift onto your car, although I confess to having a high car and short body I happily accepted Jonnie’s offer to load it on my car. At the beach we found it an easy kayak to carry, made even easier by the moulded integrated hand grips, two at the front and one at the back, very comfortable to hold and lift.

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All three of us were keen to try the boat first. I left it to Peter and Aidan to launch into the very gentle sea. Before I had a chance to locate my camera I had missed the opportunity to catch the elegant moment in which Peter found himself submerged under the Pulse as opposed to aloft it. In his haste to escape from our son armed with the water pistol he completely misjudged where his bottom should have been! A surge in the water upended him into the water much to the amusement of all on the beach. Milliseconds later, only a tad embarrassed he was paddling out to sea recovering his dignity and getting to know this sweet little vessel.

Of average build and height at 6’ and 13 stone Peter found the Pulse comfortable to sit in and his feet were supported by the moulded footrests,

Frosty and Bobo not really interested Aidan sitting right on top! which offer three different positions/lengths. Steering was extremely light and he was able to quickly change course to avoid being capsized by a rampaging son determined to see him dumped in the sea again. One happy paddler, now for the 14-year old – a more critical customer. Never one to do things quite the way they are intended. Aidan used the kayak to truly sit on, as in managed to perch on the back of the boat with feet in the seat area but hey, it was still no problem to paddle. Not content with just that way he also knelt in and paddled it. Not to be outdone by the only other SUP paddler we saw, Aidan decided to test out the capacity of the Pulse as an SUP board and managed it successfully – a testament to its stability.

Having managed all nature of tricks on/in the Pulse and remaining bone dry, he was another very happy paddler who did not want to surrender the boat to his mother who was waiting patiently for her turn. Next came the second embarrassing moment of the day, not captured on camera thankfully – when trying to be as clever and agile as a 14-year old, I thought it would be fun to climb on the kayak with him. Bad idea, whilst Aidan had managed this easily. In my case it didn’t work and tipped both of us very unceremoniously into the sea, much to his disgust. Well at least now it was my turn. It was a joy and a doddle to paddle, the lightest boat I have ever sat in, the feeling of being in the seat higher for me was great, I felt more in control and yet completely free.

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The Pulse

Other little extras on the Pulse include a waterproof 6” hatch, in front of the seat area, which is ideal for smaller items, of course you would still put your electronics in a waterproof bag first. There is a very large storage pit is behind the seat area and there is a handy paddle keeper on one side of the boat which I found very useful. Your paddle is secure and completely out of the way while you take your photographs, munch on your sandwiches or whatever else you feel like doing. When my time was up I had a big smile on my face and for the second time in a fortnight I had discovered something I adored using on the water. My first proper impression of sit on tops is that they are fantastically enjoyable, very accessible and something the whole family can share. Our two dogs, Frosty and Bobo only tried it on dry land, they haven’t quite found their sea legs yet. When it comes to water I think maybe their true nature is more feline than canine! There was one casualty for the day, a much loved iPhone – the moral of this story being no matter how much you are desperate to jump on your SOT check your pockets first. Ah well we live and learn.

Moulded footrests.

comes with a folding removable black canvas seat, which I had tried at the factory; we didn’t put it on for the beach but interestingly didn’t miss it. For more extended periods of proper paddling as opposed to a few hours of family fun on the beach it would be a benefit.

Jonnie fitting the removable seat.

Great boat to have fun with as Aidan tries to sink dad again.

Waterproof hatch.

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My thanks to Jonnie for the guided tour of the factory and a lovely cup of tea and to Steve and James and all their team who work really hard to make your beautiful kayaks. What I sensed from being shown and talked through the processes was the immense pride they take in their products as well as the really high standard of customer care. For all the technical details and full spec please have a look at:

Happy paddling everyone

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Canadian Wilderness

RTMTempo ThePaddler 126

A well known pedigree

For years the Scupper Pro has been heralded as the 'paddlers' sit-on-top and for some reason OK have decided to drop it from their portfolio. Never fear though RTM Europe's largest manufacturer of SOT's is proudly continuing to produce theTempo. ByTerry Wright (

I was lucky enough to have the chance to paddle the Tempo.With its well known pedigree I was looking forward to what promised to be an interesting paddle.The first thing I was pleased with was the fact that it only weighs 24kg. Now that made me a very happy old paddler, this is the lightest kayak I have handled and it felt great.

A couple of mile from home is the Grand Union Canal an ideal place to put a few miles in, I had heard that the SPro was a 'snug' boat, being 6ft and 15 stone before the paddling gear I was wondering if I would fit. For the upstream leg I thought I would try a high backed seat just for support.

But before I get her wet I thought I would show you around.The rear tankwell is covered with elasticated cargo netting. It is not designed for crate storage but I guess guys that paddle this lean boat don't overload their kayak anyway. There is still plenty of room for secure storage.

Just in front of the tankwell is a pair of the now obligatory capped tube rod holders.These are great quality and have a neat little extra of a loop for clipping a leash to.

Then there is the seat. 'suited to the slimmer paddler' they say. We will soon find out.You will notice there are no scupper holes in the seat area, which is set slightly higher than the footwell area.

Then we come to something SPro owners have wanted as standardâ&#x20AC;Ś a pair of carrying handles.

straight and true

Tracking was superb the Tempo paddled

but was easy to get on edge and that is when you feel the secondary stability cut in. It does not take long for a paddler to feel very secure in this boat.

And of course the paddle keeper, just the one on the right hand side.

Now the footwells, footpegs and of course the drinks holder. There are a couple of flat areas on the centre console suitable for mounting accessories.

The front well is covered with a solid cover held in place by two buckle straps.

The seals on the lid are soft rubber beading top and bottom, which should ensure a watertight seal.

Then comes the question so often asked. 'Will a C-Tug fit in?' Well look for yourselves. The supports were left on just the wheels removed and there is loads of room.

Then at the front end we have the carry handle, which is matched on the stern along with a useful towing eye offering an option for the forward fixing of an anchor trolley.

There are loads of D rings around the boat for clipping to, there is the standard grab rope all around the hull too.

So I dropped the Tempo into the water and she looks good time for a few profile pictures.

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ThePaddler 128

So onto the boat

The very first thing you feel is â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Oh no this doesn't feel stable!' Now let me explain the Tempo is a narrow boat much like a lot of sit in kayaks. Those of you who paddle a sink will know that first nervous tippiness. The Tempo is indeed tippy especially when you have been paddling a couple of very stable SoTs for the last six months. Now I have an Easky 15' and I had the same first sensation with that I also knew that within minutes you sense of balance kicks in and you will be ok. This is exactly what happened and I quickly realised what all the fuss had been about.

The Tempo is a very sleek boat a fraction over 26ins wide and as soon as you start to paddle you see her pedigree. This is a fast boat and I was beginning to see why this hull had so many fans. With the seat in I was slightly forward and my legs (33" inside leg) used all the footwell but I was comfy. The just over two-mile paddle literally flew by. I forgot my GPS so could not get my paddle speed but it was definitely quicker than previous trips. I was impressed.

Tracking was superb the Tempo paddled straight and true but was easy to get on edge and that is when you feel the secondary stability cut in. It does not take long for a paddler to feel very secure in this boat.

On the return paddle I decide to go bareback and take the seat out. I was pleasantly surprised at just how well my nether regions fitted into the seat bowl. More than that I felt the support from the back edge was great very comfy indeed. Taking the seat out meant that my feet were now one peg short of the full length of the well and I felt fine.

The return paddle was into a head wind but apart from cold fingers you would not notice any significant loss of speed. I have really enjoyed this paddle.

So how did the Tempo cope with my weight?

The footwells did have a small amount of water in them. Thinking about it though, other than by the scupper, I think most of the other water probably came with me lifting my feet in. From the rear peg you can see how the floor rises to the seat area, it would take a lot of water ingress before it would wet your bum.The seat well itself was bone dry.

So overall what did I think?

The Tempo is a very nice boat. Despite the reservations previous comments had given me it coped well with my size. I am 6' 1" and fully kitted with a trolley on board the total load would have been about 100kgs.

Having said that, if you are bigger than me make sure you have a try for fit first, but suddenly the potential number of paddlers suited to this boat has dramatically increased. So come on lads we can have this baby and not have to look on in envy.

The initial tippiness may make the inexperienced paddler wary but stick with it for a few minutes it will be time well spent. The secondary stability will soon give you confidence. I would hazard a guess that this is the fastest plastic siton-top kayak on the market, mind you its little sister the Disco is an inch narrower and may just be faster. The only plastic kayak I have paddled that can compare with the Tempo is my Venture sink and to be honest when it comes to speed and tracking there is not a lot between them. This is a nice kayak I should never have doubted it with the pedigree it has.

Specifications Length : Width : Depth : Weight : Max. Capacity

450cm (14ft 10ins) 67cm (26 ins) 33cm (10 ins) 24kg 170kg

Manufactured In Europe

Sit-on-Top Kayaks Angling Kayaks Stand Up Paddleboards

Kayaks from ÂŁ325 SUPs from ÂŁ599

Dealerships available in certain areas around the UK Trade Suppliers fast delivery 01543 411 333 See the review of the RTM Abaco in the April issue and the K-Largo in the June edition of ThePaddler.

The Conoflex Jedi Series of boat rods are all suitable for kayak fishing

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Below are the basic st Length: 12'


Last year, during August, I visited some fishing friends in Florida and enjoyed some exciting and varied fishing. I was also given the opportunity to try out various makes and models of kayaks that were somewhat new to me. I’d always been curious of the Hobie kayaks and eagerly grasped the opportunity to sample what was on offer. It was the Hobie Outback that proved the biggest surprise. Here was a kayak that was similar in size to what I already owned, yet it proved itself to be a far superior product. It was massively stable, spacious, had great rigging potential whilst being unreasonably fast. I spent several hours fishing from the Outback and in that relatively short space of time I’d decided that this was the kayak for me. A month after I returned from Florida I took delivery of an Outback from the Hobiecat Centre located in Poole, Dorset.

There is one big difference from this Hobie kayak when comparing it to other offerings on the market, the Mirage Drive. The drive itself is fully adjustable to cater for a wide variation in the height of the user. Fitting the Mirage Drive is simplicity itself; it’s a ‘click and go’ system, fitment and removal taking a matter of seconds. As simple as it is, the pedal driven flippers work extremely well. As you pedal the drive is converted into flipper movement, approximately 180 degrees side to side. Ideally the full or majority of the pedal range is used to provide the most effective propulsion.


It was late summer last year that I was presented with an opportunity to replace my fishing kayak. To many that may offer some easy choices but for me it was proving rather difficult. I really liked what I had, was it actually possible to improve on it?

Normally it requires about 18” of water for efficient use, however, it can still be used to good effect in shallower water by limiting the pedal travel (fluttering the pedals) and minimising the flapping of the flippers. I pedalled effectively in 6-8” of water using this method. Speed is reduced dramatically, though forward progress is maintained. With a pedal pushed fully forward the flippers are positioned hard up against the kayak and the pedal drive has minimal effect of the draft of the kayak. If required the kayak can be paddled in shallow water and if deemed necessary the Mirage Drive can be removed in seconds and stored within the kayak. Without effort the boat can be pedalled at 3-5 mph. This pace can be maintained for long periods of time; even a light headwind had very little effect on the achievable speed. The standard fins perform well, though upgraded fins are also available. If you require additional speed and efficiency it’s an upgrade worth considering.

Sure, nothing is perfect! Care has to be taken when venturing into shallow water to prevent damage to the fins, particularly the supporting masts. A two piece paddle comes as standard and is more than adequate for occasional use. Ok, it’s not a high end carbon fibre paddle, though it is ultimately only there as either a backup propulsion system or to be used as required.

Having the ability to propel yourself along virtually hands free is quite something. For the lure fisherman in particular this really has to be experienced to fully appreciate it. In Florida I’d struggled to fish close to structure, the wind and tide pushing me into or away from the structure, minimising my fishing time before I was forced to pick up a paddle to move away into a better fishing position. I looked on at the Hobie anglers with growing envy, they were happily fishing away, pedaling occasionally to maintain or change their drift. Their fishing time remained virtually uninterrupted whereas I was probably losing 30-50% of my fishing time paddling to stay clear of the structure. Ok, over to the kayak in more detail. The overall quality of the moulding is very good, far better than any similar kayak that I’ve experienced to date. It’s a wide kayak at 33”, though its weight is about on par

tatistics for the Hobie Outback: 1"

Width: 33"

Weight: 62 lbs. (Add 6.6 lbs. for pedalling mechanism)

Capacity: 400 lbs.

By Rob Appleby

for a kayak of this size. The Mirage Drive is actually quite light and can be removed and fitted in seconds. It’s highly unlikely to be fitted whilst loading or unloading the kayak so this weight is purely present when the kayak is rigged. The weight capacity is excellent, fully dressed in a dry suit I weigh in at around 200lb so there’s clearly a lot of spare capacity! Looking at the topside, the kayak is clearly aimed at the angler. It sports four moulded rod holders as well as recessed areas and drink holders around the cockpit area.The rudder controls are hand operated and adjacent to the seat.There are two large 8” circular hatches, one situated directly forward of the seat whilst the other is in the rear tank well area just forward of the

rudder.The forward 8” hatch sports a removable tackle tray with lid, though this can be upgraded to a deeper ‘bucket’ type insert. Both hatches offer a positive twist and turn to lock mechanism, which is highly effective and is easy to use.

The front hatch is of a generous size an easily permits good sized dry bags, etc. to be stored with ease. A removable insert can be purchased as an optional extra and this would potentially be ideal for storing smaller fish or as additional storage compartment.The front hatch is quickly and easily secured using a bungee. I recently carried out some capsize drills and all the hatches proved to be watertight with no problems of water ingress being experienced.The high stability of the kayak enables the front hatch to be safely accessed with the minimum of fuss whilst afloat, something that’s not always readily achievable on many other kayaks.

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This takes me onto the seat

and what a great seat it is! At a glance it looks rather thin, perhaps a little flimsy, though I was soon proved to be very wrong.The seat is secured to the kayak using two lockable inserts. A Velcro flap covers the securing clips with the seat in position.There are two sets of insert holes on the kayak providing further adjustment if required to suit the individual. The seat is positioned as required and tightened into position, the two front straps are secured to kayak strong points and the seat back is kept upright by securing a lightweight bungee cord. It really is simplicity itself. There’s no requirement to remove the seat for transportation or storage and the seatback can be folded forward and secured in the down position using an existing bungee cord.The seat back is self-inflating and the firmness can be quickly adjusted to suit the user. The seat base itself is a honeycomb affair is provides a decent cushion.The Outback is certainly classed as a dry ride and still remains comfortable after several hours afloat. A rudder is fitted as standard. This is purely down to the kayak being designed with the Mirage Drive being the primary mode of propulsion. With a conventional paddle a kayak can be steered using the paddle, however the Mirage Drive is purely a propulsion system so a rudder is required to provide directional

control. The rudder setup itself is quite ingenious and a pleasure to use. There are two pull-operated toggles, one for lowering and one for raising the rudder. When lowered, the ‘down’ toggle is secured in the lowered position with a cleat to prevent inadvertent lifting of the rudder when underway. The steering control is left of the seat and is a simple lever affair. Turn it left and the kayak will steer left, turn right and the kayak turns right, what more could you ask for! The rudder itself is highly responsive and the kayak can be make extremely tight turns when pedaling under power. With the rudder in the stowed

position the blade can be tucked and secured under the rear tankwell bungee cord for transportation.

The Outback and its Mirage Drive is a cracking combination, fast, stable and very roomy. However, it has another ace up its sleeve! The Outback, like all of the Hobie kayaks, has been designed with sailing in mind from the outset. The sail kit can be purchased as an extra and mounts directly into the sail mount which is situated directly behind the front hatch. Rigging the sail takes a couple of minutes and with a few basic DIY skills the sail can be made to furl if required. Outriggers can be purchased and fitted if you require additional stability, something that I’d consider quite worthwhile for sailing. I was a little concerned about the high sides of the Outback, would this design make re-entry excessively difficult? I took the Outback afloat and threw myself out of the kayak. The kayak failed to flip so I flipped it over myself. Righting the kayak was straightforward and reentering the kayak proved to be easy enough. In fact I was surprised as the amount of secondary stability that was present considering the high primary stability and hull shape. It’s not a kayak that’s easy to capsize! However, it’s always sensible to practice re-entry on a new kayak prior to taking it any distance from land. I’ve used the Outback extensively over the past few months and there’s very little negative that I can honestly say about it. Its width and weight add a little difficultly in manhandling the kayak, that said, a friend of mine who’s over 80-years old has no real issue loading it onto the roof of his 4x4. Hatch seals should be regularly lubricated to ensure efficient operation.

I’ve modified my Outback quite extensively, rigging it for sailing, fishing and photography. Track systems for accessories have been added, along with additional rod holders, electronics, navigation lights and more. Overall, it’s a superb fishing platform, however, the efficiency of the Mirage Drive permits longer distance to be covered with ease. Add a sail and you open up many more possibilities.

Paddle, pedal or sail, it really does open up a world of possibilities.

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To advertise email: or call +44 (0)1480 465081

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Salty Paddler

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ThePaddler 136

It was getting dark.The daylight was slipping behind me. Ahead was just the sound of a wave gently swooshing into the blackness of a very deep cave and the voice of Derek calling me to paddle my sea kayak towards him. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d turned up at Greve de Lecq bay in Jersey, Channel Islands UK (not to be confused with New Jersey).

Hidden island Sea kayaking

Jersey the caves on the north coast of

By Trudie Trox who paddled with Jersey Kayak Adventures

The Cathedral Cave at Greve de Lecq

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smugglerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s cave

Derek told of it, being a

running under the Parish Church half a mile away

It wasn’t quite like Left: Exploring the caves on foot and below: Trudie, Île Agois at Greve de Lecq.

It wasn’t quite like this at the start. I was booked on a sea kayaking trip with Jersey Kayak Adventures along the northern coastline of Jersey. What I hadn’t expected was to find myself sitting in the most awesome sea cave I’d ever been in – so deep that the legend, Derek told of it, being a smuggler’s cave running under the Parish Church half a mile away, seemed to have some truth in it.

Right from the start I realised this was not just a gentle paddle around the bay at the seaside. Sure, there was the beach café selling some seriously good food and ice cream and a beach full of dads busily constructing huge sand castles, while their children lazed about listening to their iPods. Within minutes of going afloat (after a detailed safety briefing and instruction) Derek, our trained guide, was giving personal coaching tips and a guided history of Jersey. Then we began to see the 'jumpers'. People, who were just, well, throwing themselves off the cliff face into the sea. Jersey’s national sport is jumping. “If it was in the Olympics we'd get gold.” said Derek. Just watching them throw themselves off rocks maybe 10 metres up was stomach churning and made me wonder whether the locals had some sort of death wish or

were related to the small animals called lemmings, which are reputed to leap off cliff tops into oblivion. Strangely, everyone seemed to come up smiling and keen to do it again. Then it was our turn to be adventurous. Our little group of kayakers – who hadn't met till 30 minutes ago – were already starting to feel like explorers as we cruised between the rocky granite channel at Rouge Nez and a rock called the Rhino. Look carefully at the rock and it does start to look like a rhino's head, but I couldn’t see the red nose on the headland, which originated from the French word Rouge (red) and Viking word Nez (nose).

Then we began to see the 'jumpers'. People, who were just, well,

throwing themselves

off the cliff face into the sea

Creux Gabourel. One of the few caves with a beach to land on.

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ThePaddler 140

Drifting on the

sea we listened to the description of the bird life around us before Derek suddenly announced, “Follow me” and vanished into a foreboding hole in the cliff face. Time to remember the old ski school advice, “Always follow close behind your instructor.” I thought, and followed him in. I felt a blast of air on my face. Suddenly the cave opened up around me. In front of me sat Derek under a beam of sunlight. Looking up I now saw that I was sitting in a cave with not one but two entrances. One at sea level, the other eight metres above me. I sat quietly taking it all in. The stillness and gentle sound of the waves slopping against the rock face made Greve de Lecq beach seem a very long way away. As I looked into the darkness the water seemed to be emerald green in colour. I was sitting in a kayak in a blue hole cave, one where light is entering through another underwater entrance and shining upwards.

I was sitting in a kayak in a blue hole cave, one where light is entering through another

underwater entrance

and shining upwards

Blow holes are a feature along the north coast

I thought these only existed in the Mediterranean and Caribbean. “Well Jersey tourism did advertise Jersey as Britain's South Sea island years ago,” replied Derek. Passing beneath the cliffs we were getting close to the wildlife. “Shags” announced Derek. These elegant black and greenish coloured birds looked a bit ungainly on cliff face but once they dived beneath the water they shot about like little rockets beneath our kayaks in search of fish.

How huge it was

Another cave and this time I could sense that the other seven kayakers were all intent upon dashing in. But first the guide was going ahead to check it was safe in case there were any sudden swells and also to make sure, we did not stray too deep into the darkness of the cave. As we paddled into the cave it dawned on me, just how huge it was. The roof arched maybe 10 metres above our heads and was so wide we could easily turn our kayaks around if we wanted. No way was I leaving until I’d explored further into the darkness. I wanted to be an explorer. To my right the walls were encrusted in sea life. As I looked closer it seemed that the walls were constructed like a weathered dry stone wall full of rocks and mortar creating a path into the blackness. This had all the makings of a real smugglers cave. That is until Derek pointed out that in a few hours the sea would have risen by some 10 metres and I’d then be banging my head on the distant ceiling of the cave. Squinting on my return into daylight, our exploration of the coast continued as we wound our way between sea stacks and channels and discovered natural arches and incredible lagoon blue ponds. Without a local guide we'd have missed these fantastic hidden spots. Then on to Île Agois and a tiny inaccessible bay that left me feeling as if we were on a remote unexplored coast with views of distant islands on the horizon. This really was a voyage to discover a hidden Jersey. Returning to Greve de Lecq I felt like an explorer returning from an expedition. The ice cream definitely tasted good!

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You'll need to watch out for swell if exploring the caves.

Creux Gabourel has evidence of an ancient raised beach at the top of the cave roof.

North west coast caves are much less often visited due to swell. Bouley Bay cave.

Plemont, double entry cave

of up t

Jersey has some of the high

and of different

Patrick Haberland explores one of the many caves east of Greve de Lecq Sanna Forsstrรถm explores one of the huge north coast caves.

Expect to see some amazing colours

Entry into Devils hole

to 12.5m

hest tide ranges in the world

d with it the chance to see a mass t sea kayaking environments.

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ThePaddler 144

INFORMATION COASTLINE: Though only 45-square miles (118 sq. km) the island offers a huge range of activities and experiences to suit all interests.

It’s the sea that dominates the landscape, however, with stunning views of the surrounding Atlantic Ocean to be had from virtually every point on the island. The coastline itself is just as compelling, with majestic cliffs, exposed bays, sandy beaches and rocky coves all easily accessible by road or on foot.


The power of the sea is keenly felt by the Islanders. In fact, due to its unique position in the Bay of St Malo, Jersey grows and shrinks twice a day as the tide ebbs and flows in excess of 40 feet (12 m) – one of the highest tidal ranges in the world.

Jersey Kayak Adventures owner Derek Hairon

Google Map

LOCATION: Part of the Channel Islands, Jersey is in the Bay of Mont St Michel in the English Channel. Though only 12 miles from the French coast, Jersey is English speaking with a rich history.

HISTORY: The island is independent of the British parliament but loyal to the English monarch who is its Duke of Normandy. For many the only thing they know about Jersey is that it is home to the Jersey Cow, Jersey Royal New Potatoes (a very early growing variety) and the TV series ‘Bergerac’.

JERSEY KAYAK ADVENTURES: Jersey Kayak Adventures operate guided kayak tours and courses around the coast of Jersey, Channel Islands, UK. The company also has trips to offshore islands with qualified British Canoe Union (BCU) coaches. For the more experienced kayaker they offer a range of sea kayaking trips and courses as well as BCU courses and assessments from BCU 1-4 Star sea kayak as well as navigation and custom sea kayak coaching. They have a range of both sit inside traditional style and modern userfriendly sit-on-top sea kayaks to suit all abilities and ages. All equipment is provided. The founder of Jersey Kayak Adventures is Derek Hairon, a BCU level 5 sea kayak coach with over 37 years sea kayaking experience. He made the first circumnavigation of Ireland by sea kayak and has kayaked in the Faeroes and Aland Islands plus sea kayak expeditions in Alaska and Nova Scotia. Derek is the author of ‘Sit-on-top Kayaking. A Beginner’s Manual’ and the forthcoming Channel Island and South East England sea kayaking guidebook. Both published by Pesda Press Jersey Kayak Adventures Ltd. Tel. +44 (0)7797 853 033, or +44 (0) 1534 853138

Watch the video >

Taran 16

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Welcome to the future

Oban Sea Kayak Guides

By Colin McWilliams Six months in and I’m no longer looking for reasons to paddle theTaran-16. The boat is that good I just find myself sitting in it. It seems to get itself onto the roof bars, onto the water, fill itself with my kit and all of a sudden there I am.

Two Taran-16s will be strapped onto the roof of our van as we head out from Oban to the Shetland Isles this year. Gill has just bought hers because of the fun I’ve had paddling mine.

So, given that the mere idea of ditching a traditionally shaped sea kayak for a contemporary fast touring sea kayak design would have had me laughing all the way back to the shoreline six months ago… what’s changed?

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ThePaddler 148


Back in

Geoff Turner of Kari-Tek, was driving back to Scotland from Anglesey. My phone rang, “I’ve got you a Taran-16 on the trailer, Colin. You can collect it when we arrive for the Etive Tour, just paddle it and give me some feedback. It’s still in the plastic packing.” The conversation was longer but you get the gist.

Saturday, December 15th 2012, day of said Etive Tour.West Coast of Scotland,Taynuilt Pier, rain, lots of rain but, no snow. Thankful for small mercies and still wondering why I’d agreed to leave my faithful old Explorer at home I took the Stanley knife to the Taran-16’s protective overcoat. As the bubble wrap peeled away it was as though the sun had begun to shine. Naked, the Taran-16 looks good. The finish is superb! No less than paddlers have come to expect from Mike Webb’s Rockpool stable of course. Still that didn’t stop me from basking in the moment, or smiling as everyone else turned to admire Rockpool’s Tiny Taran. I let the moment linger. The warm glow didn’t fade, despite the prospect of having to prep and pack a boat, about which, the sum total of my knowledge was: wow that really – looks – good! Prepping should always start with fitting. Fitting starts with footrest adjustment.

My legs are very short. I have difficulty finding off the peg sea kayaks with footrests that can be adjusted short enough to suit my little legs.This result in a loss of connectivity, leading to the loss of power transfer and edge control a correctly fitted sea kayak delivers. My admiration meter spiked when I found the Taran-16’s footrest adjustment range more than catered for my tiny legs. And just to keep the record straight I’ve had longer legged, six-foot friends paddle the Taran-16 since: no footrest issues there either. Cream on the cake: the actual footrest adjustment procedure is the best I’ve come across.You adjust from the sitting position, there’s no twisting or turning.You just gently push the adjustment arm up, pull or push the footrest into position and let the arm fall back into place.The footrest is then locked… simple.

Despite my short stature, liberal smearings of sand and fine gravel left behind by untidy salt water fairies, the T-16 has yet to have me returning to the beach to readjust.Trouble free foot rest adjustment while afloat, even when the wind is merrily pushing me in any direction but the one I want to be going in. If someone has thought that much about the footrests, you’ve got to respect how much thought has gone into the boat in total. The December Etive trip is an overnight affair; in 2011 the Loch had frozen as we slept. 2012, Gill and I were taking no chances as far as kit was concerned.The Taran-16’s Tardis like stowing capacity proved to be more than up to the job.

The biggest bag I put through my front hatch when camping contains our tent (Hilliberg: Stakia). Saturday, December 15th 2012, the Stakia dropped easily through 8”/20cm hatch into the 110 litres of stowage space below.

Tent up first, down last has been my camping regime for as long as I can remember when journeying by sea kayak. However the most efficient way to fit my tent into my old boat has always been to pack it directly in front of the forward bulkhead. Do you see the dilemma? I want the tent out first but it always has kit packed in front of it. I want to put the tent in last but it needs to be stowed into the sea kayak behind a lot of my kit. I’ve never been 100% happy with this but living with compromise is part and parcel of sea kayaking.Well, not any more it seems.

The lack of day hatch in the Taran-16 provides a 108 litre warehouse behind the rear bulkhead.This is more than enough room to pack my kit first thanks to the large oval rear hatch.Yet still leave space a plenty to fit my tent in last.Tent in last, tent out first, yahoo! I don’t miss the day hatch at all. In fact I much prefer having the front deck pod but let’s go back to Loch Etive at its mid-December best.

Our tent poles were consumed with surprising ease. Extra sleeping mats, clothes, cakes and food continued to disappear into the Taran-16 until all that was left was the two extra bags of peat fire blocks Jim couldn’t fit into his boat - front hatch, still oodles of room. And Geoff’s family sized, weighing an expletive ton, tent

poles – cockpit between the legs. Looking around I found myself good to go while almost everyone else was still packing. Despite starting last with an unfamiliar boat wrapped in plastic, I’d packed more than I’d brought, in less time than it usually took me to pack my regular boat. Geoff’s expletive tent poles had the brand new Taran16 weighing in heavier than a 16-year old Sumo Wrestler. Carrying the boat onto the water was a lot easier than expected though.You can get your hand comfortably underneath the Taran-16’s contemporary bow, this allows you to hold the boat close to your body without worrying about cold damp hands slipping forward and up along the curvature of the hull. A nifty stern carrying handle negates any chance of hand slip at the back or the stern hull shape offers an equally positive and comfortable carrying option. Small points, but unexpected and very welcome positives on a cold winter’s day.

I float a boat before I get into it by straddling the cockpit and dropping my butt into the seat before drawing my legs inside. At about 76cm the interior cockpit length of the Taran-16 is 6cm shorter than that of my regular sea kayak. Looking at the T-16’s hull, my assumption was I would experience a degree of initial instability when doing this. I didn’t. I've had no instability 'events' at all in fact. The shorter cockpit length is not an issue for me; bear in mind my little legs, but to date no comments from my taller buddies either. Also, I've yet to my drop my butt into the cockpit to find myself suspended above the seat, sat on top of the back strap.

If someone has thought that much about the footrests, you’ve got to respect how

much thought

has gone into the boat in total

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My advice if you are thinking of purchasing a sea kayak:

get into the boat and paddle it, don’t just read the specs, look at the hull and make assumptions. Try before you buy, check out Kari-Tek’s demo days.

With a light wind behind me the Taran-16 moved easily through the water. I chatted with Gill and Pete as paddlers pushed ahead of us. I took photographs with my paddle floating in the water beside me. Once we were firmly established at the back of the field, I mooched off to do my own thing without using the rudder. Despite its Sumo Wrestler weight, the T-16 maintained a Ninja like agility on the water. Whether it was to correct or turn, the Taran-16 edged well in every respect. The sitting position provides good connectivity, power transfer and degree of edge control. The hull shape responds quickly and accurately across the board from small adjustments to full on 360 degree turns. Crossing against a light stern quartering wind and swell I found I still didn’t need the rudder. Turning to run: no rudder needed, executing 360 degree spot turns into and away from the wind: no appreciable distance lost to drift. I was about level with the back of a fairly strung out group when I began to move forward.

The Taran-16 is fast. When Gill and I have paddled together on subsequent trips, if I am in the Taran-16, I pull away easily. This is not unusual, it happens when I paddle my regular boat although the speed at which we part is noticeably slower. When Gill is paddling the Taran-16 however and I am in my regular boat, Gill leaves me behind. If we sprint against each other, with Gill in the T-16, Gill pulls away from me noticeably over the first 200-300 metres and I cannot catch her. The day on Loch Etive was a bit of an eye opener. The Taran-16 allowed me to move to the front of the pack very easily. When I finally did drop the rudder to concentrate solely on my forward paddling I finished at the campsite way ahead of the leading paddlers, bagged the best spot for our tent and waited to take photographs of everyone else as they arrived at the beach.

The next day was pretty much the same, only we were paddling back into wind. In calm water the Taran-16 turned 360 degrees in its own length, out in the light wind I could smoothly move the Taran-16 its own width sideways using draw strokes on the move. The acceleration and optimum travelling

speed the hull delivers allowed me to cut through the group, move from back to front, move off to the side, drop back, catch up again and finish ahead feeling no more tired than if I had puddled my way back down the loch in my regular boat. It was the most fun I’d had paddling all year. The only faults I found were small cheese: water pooled around the rear hatch because of a lack of drainage off the deck and the deck pod is about an inch too short and half an inch too shallow to get my parachute flares out easily, the flares do fit and they come out without major fiddle but I can be finicky. Water used to pool in the seat but a couple of carefully drilled drain holes took care of that.

Since December 15th the Tiny Taran-16 is my boat of choice for day tripping and journeying. When packed for single or multi day trips I have found no issues with either initial or secondary stability in winds gusting up to F5. In fact I prefer the amount of secondary stability offered by the Taran-16’s hull shape and the ease with which it glides from one edge to the other. Paddled empty the T-16 feels a little light on the water to me but this is no different to any other boat I have

paddled. I always carry a standard amount of kit in my boat and never paddle any boat empty. Paddling forwards into Force 3-5 quartering or headwind, the Taran-16 has outpaced every other touring sea kayak in the group. With the wind at my back, the T-16 runs spot on. When I’ve dropped the rudder to make distance or surf swell it’s a dream.

Lismore Lighthouse is an open cross 9K journey. Gill paddled rudder down, I chose to go rudder up. She was waiting patiently for me to arrive. As we started back, I made the mistake of stopping to take a few extra photos; I couldn’t catch Gill until she hauled up into wind to give way to the Lismore vehicle ferry. Conditions had picked up a little, we held position before turning to manoeuvre and pass behind the ferry. I was left with only an echoing, “wheee - heeee,” for company as Gill turned to surf through about a metre’s worth of mixed swell and wake. We loaded the twin Taran-16s back onto the van at Big Ganavan

in plenty of time to drive into Oban for ice-cream.

The ‘R’ word raises as many eyebrows in the UK as it does grimaces, sneers and other gestures of disparagement. A lot of people condemn sea kayak rudders and I ‘used to be’ one of them. Key words, ‘used to be.’ Why should paddlers not think of a rudder in a similar way to which they think of a skeg? A skeg is definitely not a crutch. We should definitely not be totally dependent upon our skegs every time we take to the water. There are times when we choose to use our skeg, as the tool it is, to enable us to get the best out of our boats given the prevailing weather and sea state.

tripping and journeying the Taran-16 is my boat of choice for day

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Similarly there are times when using a rudder will enable a paddler to get the best out of their boat given the prevailing weather and sea state. A paddler should definitely not be totally dependent upon a rudder every time they take to the water. A rudder is definitely not a crutch. Since last December, choosing when to use the T-16’s rudder as a tool to assist my paddling performance has allowed me to make distance into and across quartering F4/5 winds more efficiently, the same can be said for running and surfing swell.The rudder allows me to make distance quicker, finish the day feeling fresher and leaves me better equipped to recover for the following day. Call it a paradigm shift, an epiphany or

just a plain old learning curve; I’m no longer antirudder thanks to the Taran-16.

It’s definitely not a beginner’s boat. But it is not marketed as a beginner’s boat. It will perform best for intermediate and advanced sea kayakers who have already established their skill sets. It’s not a racing sea kayak either, nor is it a racing trainer…

The Taran-16 is the future of sea kayak touring in absolute boat loads.

Welcome to the future.

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Go Canoeing Tour (Half Day) There is no finer way to explore the beauty that is Langstone Harbour than from the comfort and stability of a canoe. Our Half-Day tour requires no previous experience and is open to all. There are chances to see our friendly neighbourhood seals and all manner of beautiful bird life we have in the harbour.

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ThePaddler 10 July 2013  

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