Issue 12 - September 2013
ThePaddler ezine com .
International digital magazine for recreational paddlers
PATAGONIA River FUTALEUFU GREENLAND SUP EXPEDITION PYRANHA tour of EUROPE Chile/Argentina
From Croatia to Norway
Contents September 13
Peter Tranter firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: (01480) 465081 Mob: 07411 005824 www.thepaddler.co.uk
Anne Egan Tel: (01480) 465081 email@example.com
Cover: Chris Spelius
Futaleufú River, Patagonia, Chile. Photo: Sebastián Alvarez
Additional photo contributor credits: National Watersports Festival; Marc Goddard; Sebastián Alvarez; Marcio Pereira, Joan Vienot; Andrew Welker and Susannah Gent.
Not all contributors are professional writers and photographers, so don’t be put off writing because you have no experience! ThePaddler.co.uk ezine is all about paddler to paddler dialogue: a paddler’s magazine written by paddlers. Next issue is October 2013 with a deadline of submissions on September 20th. Technical Information: Contributions preferably as a Microsoft Word file with 1200-2000 words, emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. 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… RegularPaddler 8
48 62 72
Testing, testing Electric Water spraydecks and Yak PFDs.
National Watersports Festival 2013 From Hayling Island. By Tez Plavenieks
Issue 12 Chile and Argentina 20
Chile and Argentina Kayaking, canoeing, rafting and SUP all on the Futaleufú River, Patagonia. By Laurence Alverez-Roos
Save the Futaleufú The Futaleufú is under threat of damming and mining - how can paddlers save this beautiful river. By Patrick J Lynch
KayakPaddler Europe Pyranha Team Tour. By Matt Cooke
Darren Clarkson King interview By Peter Tranter Zet Raptor review By Phil Carr
Darren Clarkson King 62
Norway Sea kayaking the rugged Norwegian coastline to the North Cape part two. By Alice Courvoisier P&H Hammer review By Richard Cree
100 Brazil Sea kayaking the Rio Grande do Sul coast. By Leonardo Esch
Photo of the month for Sept 2013 Lake Garda, Italy By Robert Carroll 4
Eight of the very best Eight must see paddling videos.
114 ThePaddler’s Planet By Leslie Kolovich
116 Greenland Polar Bears and Paddleboards, By Justin Miles
134 Kody Kerbox Interview By Peter Tranter
142 Pennsylvania, USA Appalachian Mountains white water. By Ian Smith
152 Loco 7.10ft review By Tez Plavenieks
156 Wales and England Part two of Dave’s SUP weekend. By Dave White
Kody Kerbox interview 134
166 Caledonian dreaming Canoeing the west coast of Scotland. By Tim Gent
r r e e y t t B e n d r P a o r w T e r o Photo: Anne Egan
A dream realised…
Yes - it’s hard to believe but we are one year old already and what a year it has been!
To be truthful it is a dream that evolved and quite quickly has become something magical and tangible. On a personal note, one of the best aspects of having launched ThePaddler, has been the satisfaction of getting to know so many really great people who have so generously given their time and want to be involved in the growth of this ezine
ThePaddler is international in it’s outlook and reach and brings all types of paddlers from every corner of the earth to one virtual location to share their stories, knowledge and enthusiasm. It is exactly as we wished it to be.
Online digital magazine for the recreational paddler
We wish to extend our thanks and sincerest appreciation to all of the wonderful people, who, from last September have provided us with a wealth of excellent material to publish.To the amazing photographers both professional and casual, whose pictures take our breath away – please keep them coming.
And our thanks also to the companies who have faith in us, and back us in advertising their products and have made it possible for us to eat this last year.
It’s been a huge and exciting adventure so far, yet the journey has barely begun…
MONTENEGRO or BUST
Two features on the World’s second deepest canyon
The love of paddling is widespread and infectious. Paddlers may come from a diverse range of backgrounds but are like one enormous family united by the love of what they do on the water.
Preservation of our planet, raising and exploring the issues, working with legitimate organisations to highlight situations is a significant remit for ThePaddler.
After all, if we don’t look after and if necessary fight to protect our precious planet how will paddlers of the future be able to enjoy what we maybe take for granted now. The issues are often complex and answers not always simple but let’s ask the questions and help to seek the best solutions. A case in point being the Futaleufú; read the articles and decide how you may help to keep this beautiful river from being irreversibly changed forever. ‘Paddle for the Planet’ takes place on October 13th, a great opportunity for paddlers wherever you are to take to the water and express your desire to keep this planet beautiful for everyone. We’ll be on the Ouse in St Ives if anyone cares to join us. Our readership is rapidly expanding, we now have three subscribers:) Actually it is respectably heading towards 17,000 paddlers across the world.
Our Facebook pages is utilized by paddlers to communicate exciting opportunities to participate in this amazing activity. We have almost 3,000 ‘likes’ – join us now and link up with your paddling family near and far. Use it to let us know how you would like to see the title develop, it is work in progress… So whether you are in South America, North America, Down Under, Africa, the East, Middle East, Europe, here in the UK or across the water in the Emerald Isle please keep paddling, keep sharing and we’ll do all we can to spread your tales, recollections, advice and experience to fellow paddlers here, there and everywhere… A million thanks, here’s to tomorrow and as TVs Dr Frasier Crane would say, “I’m listening.”
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Red Bull International
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AWSI SUP Athlete of the year
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LIGHT IT UP AND EXPLODE
This year’s new colours for our freeride wonder jacket. XP 3-layer fabric • 4D cut • GlideSkin neck • Latex gaskets with Twin Wa aist neoprene ne cufffs fs • Breathable stretchy Twin
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Yak kindly sent us three buoyancy aids to try out…
Kurve 55N RRP: £70
Whether you're new to white water, or looking for a minimal play vest, the Kurve has the answer. Wider shoulder webbing for improved comfort. Neoprene chest panels for enhanced fit. ThePaddler view No zips – straight over you head, adjust your straps and away you go. Substantial yet not bulky PFD. Very good fit with two side adjusting straps on each side of garment and very easy to adjust shoulder webbing. Large front storage pocket. Great styling with blue and black panelling to front. Beautifully contoured for ease of movement. After a few hours I forgot I was wearing it.
Blaze RRP: £30
Packed with details normally found on higher price point products, the Blaze proves that an entry level buoyancy aid doesn't have to mean entry level features. ThePaddler view Simple straight forward design, nicely shaped to allow easy arm movement, small and neat. Not as comfortable as the Kurve on the female form. Quick and easy to don and to remove. Does what it says on the label. Front centred zip with adjustment to waist and shoulders for fit and comfort. Good value for money. Sizes Junior to XXL available.
Kallista Legacy. RRP: £50
The perfect first time recreational buoyancy aid? We think so! Unequalled adjustment, materials and fit for all day comfort. Zipped front seam pocket and inner key pocket with internal attachment points.
Testing, Electric Water spraydecks
http://www.electricwater.com.au By Mark Hirst
Doh it’s 10 degrees, windy and my boat is full of water again! I know my boat has no leaks as I have been testing it for the past week to the point where I filled it with water sat down with a beer or two and observed no leakage over one hour (not recommended).
I then took a good look at my spraydeck and decided it was time for a new one. Having previously used a bombproof deck in whilst borrowing a mate’s kit in New Zealand I had to send a quick email to ask him the brand of the deck as I had forgotten but I remember that I had been really impressed.
A few hours later he replied, the name of the company was Electric Water. Electric Water are based in Australia my friend also thoughtfully gave me there website address. He also added in brackets (The Bently of spraydecks). A detailed look at the website left me really impressed. The thing that really struck me straight away was the fact that all EW decks are custom made – no mass
ThePaddler view A more comfortable fit than the Blaze, the contours fitted more snugly and felt less bulky in the front panels. Separate adjustable side straps for more secure fit around waist. Nice looking PFD with stylish red and black panelled front. Well made and easy to adjust with easily accessible front pocket big enough for car keys, money cards etc. Front fastening.
made products here! Their website guides you through the fitting process. First you select the make and model of your kayak.Then your sitting position along with the tube size.The drop down screen unfortunately had no option for a Pyranha Shiva but a quick email from Cathrine at EW and she assured me that she could get the dimensions no worries from the Pyranha Australia importer. I was now all measured up for my deck. I had selected a Kevlar deck as I can use my deck daily for work.The stand out point on the EW website was the construction of the deck. EW have their own custom fabric produced to construct the deck with.
If you want y o tion. u rp sta r st
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A one page email on how to take good care of the deck and most of all the best way to get it on was soon sent through from Catharine at EW.
In early May I made my annual pilgrimage back to Iceland for the rafting season and could not wait to try my new deck.The info that Cathrine had given me was to use a sponge to dampen the latex on the inside of the deck and the wet the combing of my kayak. A short one min wrestle and I had my deck on (Not as much as a mission as I thought it was going to be).
18kms later on class 4-5 I got to the takeout.The moment of truth not only was my kayak dry the seat of my kayak was dry too. Even after a few rolls. I also noticed the neoprene on the inside of the deck was bone dry. I have now been using the deck for the past four months more than four times per week and I am still smiling. The deck also come with a Velcro waist band (optional) this allows you to get the tunnel to fit nice and snug around your torso ensuring that no water gets into your boat from around the waist.
When my deck arrived two weeks later a short note apologising about the delay of the deck due to damp weather conditions not allowing the glue to cure really impressed me. As I opened my new toy I was watching the news the tension was rising between the west and North Korea. If it did kick off, I now had something to hide under should bombing start. My new deck felt bombproof and some more.
e will b nd it ed a view t re uc od
est pad to
EW also donâ€™t use any stitching on the decks to cut down on leakage â€“ they have there own way of sealing the material together with no other than 5mm neoprene.
dle rs - e mail us: r eviews@t hepad dler ezin e
In this day and age to have a custom hand crafted product made especially for you is a rare thing. I have let others try the deck and they have been suitably impressed.Yes the deck is a bit more expensive than others but I know for a fact I will not be replacing it for a long time. Not only did I receive probably the best piece of kayaking kit I have seen for a long-time, I also received some excellent customer service.
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“The kayak tracked well and paddled really easily. This is a very responsive kayak. It's also very easy to handle and put on the roof rack due to the fixed balanced handles. The recommended retail of the bare kayak is around £300 so this is a very affordable option and sure to become a favourite amongst us kayak anglers." North Wales Kayak Fishing.co.uk. Full review: http://northwaleskayakfishing.co.uk/index.html
All Fatyak kayaks are manufactured in accordance to BS7852 in Somerset, England. ISO 9001,14001, 18001 accredited manufacturer.
NWF THE event of the
NWF? NWF used to stand for National Windsurfing Festiva l – actually in its de but year it was called the Fat Face Night Windsurf. Competi tors would battle it through rounds of rac ing during the day for a chance of a pla ce in the main even t during Saturday nig ht – windsurfing in the pitch black. In an effort to grow, the festival had no choice but to become more inclusive of other disciplines. Ha ving gone through a re-brand the event no w features stand up paddle boarding, ka yaking, kitesurfing bu t still retains windsurfi ng.
Allan Cross has been at the helm since the beginning and conti nues to do a sterling job even in the face of adversity. It’s no secret that 2013’s ‘do ’ was fraught with its share of ups and do wns. And yet, after witnessing the on wa ter action of the weekend, the camara derie and general good vibes, even he admits it was most definitely worth it.
F 2013 e year!
A few years ago water sports get togethers in the UK used to be a frequent occu rrence and were som ething that many of us looked fo rward to. September usually si gnals the start of autu mn (more or less) and these gather ings were a way to se e off the summer in style, catc h up with mates and prepare for the cold months of winte r. Nowadays, for various reasons, many of thes e regular bashes have disappea red leaving a massive void. National Watersports Festival held every ye ar on Hayling, is the last man standi ng and as such alway s has a healthy turnout of re vellers looking to go fu ll power. Tez Plavenieks report s from this yearâ€™s shin dig and dishes the goss on ho w it all went down.
The main attraction for the event is that it places the recreational participant at the centre of the whole spectacle. There are, of course, plenty of pro riders in attendance, all doing their bit, but the focus of the competition is the intermediate. Races are aimed at all comers and with simple to understand courses, with the least amount of rules, those that haven’t considered competition before can have their shot at the podium. NWF is also a place where those who fancy can take those first steps onto the water. There were beginner sessions right through the weekend with every one of them rammed to the hilt. The kayaking tasters in particular were chock ‘o’ block with newbie paddlers and it was nothing but smiles after each session.
For those who fancied drooling over brand spanking new kit then the trade marquee this year was bigger and better than ever. Touching, feeling and chatting about shiny new kit is usually too much of a temptation for those magpies amongst us. This year, with the option of potentially nabbing yourself a bargain, the constant stream of browsers never let up. Wandering around; there was also the chance to rub shoulders and chat with pros from the sports – something that you just wouldn’t get with something like football or Formula 1. These well respected riders are super friendly characters only too happy to chat at length about their passion, sponsors and dish out the stoke.
National Watersports Festival has always boasted the high energy and hugely fun Saturday night themed party and this year was no different. The bonus in 2013 was there were also goings on during Friday – nearly as packed out as Saturday. If Friday was a more relaxed affair (for some) then Saturday saw a feverous ramping up of the action on the dance floor. This year saw horror fancy dress with plenty of ghostly ghoullies and scary zombies all cutting a rug and taking it home!
The day after…
2013 – the best yet
With more on offer at this year’s event NWF 2013 was the biggest and best yet. There was something for everyone, regardless of which sport you subscribed to. It was also warming to see big numbers of punters trying something new. Plenty of windsurfers were getting on board with SUP and many had a shot at floating in a boat. The message that Allan Cross tries to get across is that it doesn’t matter what discipline is your preferred, get out on the water and have fun whatever – after all keeping the stoke fires burning is what it’s all about.
Sunday is always softly softly to start with. Many revellers are often nursing sore heads and this year was business as usual. However, keeping in the spirit, there was plenty of effort made by all and in no time the on water action was once again full throttle. Plenty of kayaking and stand up paddle board shenanigans were going down with the majority of demo equipment in contestant rotation on the water.
There’s still no confirmation of whether the event will happen in 2014, although this would be most welcome as the feedback from everyone – industry and punter alike – is that it would be sadly missed should it not put back in an appearance next year.
Special thanks has to go out to all the volunteers who helped make National Watersports Festival go off with a bang.
Hayling Island is a fabulous place to participant in a variety of different watersports and there’s no better advert for the island and all these activities than NWF.
The brands, exhibitors, on water crew, instructors, entertainment staff and bar lot worked tirelessly to make sure that everyone had a great time. BSUPA and Rich Marsh did a sterling job organising the SUP racing. Portsmouth Watersports were fabulous with the kayaking taster sessions. And let’s not forget Allan who worked his guts out to deliver what truly was the ‘event of the year’.
After speaking with Allan post Festival he said that he would be taking some time to reflect on this year’s bash and come to a decision as soon as possible. With all the positivity surrounding NWF the vibes are good and the right decision will be made – we’ll just have to wait and see.
Well done Allan and hopefully we’ll see NWF back on Hayling in 2014. For more about the event, videos and a whole raft of photos check out the NWF Facebook page www.facebook.com/WatersportsFestival
Tez Plavenieks is a freelance writer who loves windsurfing, SUP, surfing, snowboarding, drums, art and beer. If he’s not out sliding sideways then you’ll find him producing articles, stories and content revolving around his passions. Check out more at www.tezplavenieks.com
If your are looking for a paddling Mecca that will exceed your expectations by a long shot, then you should pack your bags, paddle and put the Futaleufú into your GPS guided map in your smart phone as your destination.
The Futaleufú Laurence Alvarez-Roos
From the lakes in Argentina and the RioTigre that form the headwaters of the Fu to the LagoYelcho in Chile.
It is the ease of access and short drives combined with the awesome river time that will spoil you to no end. If you are like so many paddlers that I have met recently, you are seriously calculating the driving time versus river time anytime you plan an outing. Often, you will say, hmm, I think I rather ride my mountain bike or I think I will take up kite boarding because I am tired of the shuttles and long drives. Well, the Fu will bring you back – back to loving life as a river person!
To compliment the scenery and paddling options are a stunning variety of places to stay and people to show you the way if you choose to include some professional guidance. From camping on a farmers land; in the unclaimed forest; staying in a campground (which doubles as a working farm); at an outfitter’s camp; a bed and breakfast lodge in town or a brand new five star posh lodge that is destined to open for the summer season 2013/14… you will find across the board welcoming smiles and eager hosts.
So, what are your choices? If you want to paddleboard, you should bring your own (preferably an inflatable for ease of transport) as no one is renting them (yet!).
his is where the The Futaleufú River comes to a rest before she lazily meanders to the Pacific Ocean near Chaiten – there are few places on the planet that offer such an amazing variety of paddling options. Whether you want to hard shell kayak, paddle a raft, inflatable kayak, sea kayak, SUP or paddle a canoe, you will find world-class waters for each stroke right in the heart of northern Patagonia.
What makes the Fu unique is that you can paddle on gin clear lakes, full of trout, flanked by numerous snowy peaks, which are replenished with countless white ribbon waterfalls and you will find three major streams to paddle and when the conditions are just right plus numerous steep creeks all within a 45-minute drive of wherever you are staying. The Rio Espolon (class 1-3), the Rio Azul (class 1-4) and the Futaleufú (1-5) are all part of the greater Fu river system.
If you want to kayak and do everything on your own, stay at Cara Del Indio camping in the lower corridor of the Fu (30 km from town). If you want to raft on the cheap, there are day trip options with numerous outfitters in the town. They all compete for the accidental tourists that are passing through town such as hitch hikers, those travelling on the rather spotty bus system or road tripping Patagonia by car, motorbike or bicycle. These folks stumble upon the option to raft and usually decide on the spot to give it a go.
Looking for more service and guidance? There are various ‘outfitters’ that operate from river side base camps that host guests from short custom stays to eight-day long pre-set departures with a scheduled trip itinerary. These are: Expediciones Chile (with an office in town), H2OPatagonia, Earth River Expeditions, Futaleufú Explore and Bio Bio Expeditions. All of these outfitters have by now a ‘well established’ presence in the Fu Valley and there are differences (some subtle) that will allow you to make the right choice for you based on your paddling needs and the boundaries of your comfort zone. If you have a mix of kayaking and rafting needs, you can go with Expediciones Chile or Bio Bio Expeditions, as they cater for both.
The Fu Valley is green and lush flanked by deep pockets of old growth forests that offer an incredible variety of plants, trees and shrubs. The Valdivian Cold Rainforest is making a strong comeback after having been burned back by early human settlers 70-80 years ago. You will find that you can drink from many of the burbling brooks as they feed the Fu and that the lack of noxious plants or poisonous animals allows you to hit the backcountry with unrestricted enthusiasm. There are no sand flies, or hordes of nasty insects to spoil your camping-out pleasure. It is paradise! The main thing you need to be prepared for is the strong weather! When it rains, it pours!
Between the amazing white water on the big volume Fu you can choose sections between class 5 down to 2, or do a fishing float on class 1, you will find yourself doing various paddles over and over again just for fun. If you feel like exploring a smaller stream, then paddle the Azul. If you feel like teaching your children or a novice paddler, you take them to the Rio Espolon. If you are a budding class 3 kayaker and want to improve your skills and can’t wait for the next paddle season back home, then you paddle every day and with proper instruction and walk away ready to paddle class 4 confidently.
If you spend a few weeks, the sky can be the limit! If you are just starting, intermediate, need to polish your class V skills, or have retired from ‘hard’ class V and want to have more play boat style fun on class IV – then the Fu River system is your playground.
A typical day on the Fu as hosted by the guides at Bio Bio Expeditions. Wake up to the sound of birds chirping as your tent captain brings you tea or coffee and invites you to consider joining the 8:30 am yoga class. After an empowering yoga session you will enjoy a hearty breakfast and or fresh fruit, home made bio yogurt and mountain muesli. The espresso machine will caffeinate you or you may try the Yerba maté drunk from a traditional gourde with one of your guides.
Launch yourself out into the river and paddle till facial muscles are sore from smiling so much. Returning to camp you can either soak in the riverside hot tub sipping a glass of wine, take a sauna, get a professional massage or play the bar tender in the sunset bar delighting your fellow guests with pisco sours, local juices, beer on tap or Chilean wines. If you prefer to stay more active, you can choose to go for mountain biking, go flyfishing from a drift boat, go for a hike or take a kayak clinic. Return to camp for delightful predinner hors dâ€™ oeuvres, served while overlooking the peaceful and calm river. The dinner bell rings and you gather under the roof of the dinning Galpon for a fireside dinner feast that will leave you wondering if life can get any betterâ€Ś and what the chef may cook tomorrow night that could possible top this?
We sat under the big open sky by the fire ring and stargazed the Orion Nebula and the Southern Cross within a dazzling Milky Way that is unsurpassed in its brilliance! The friendly atmosphere created by the international crew of guides and local staff will make you feel at home and just plain happy to be with such experts who love what they do! The occasional salsa dancing party will also happen and you will learn new moves and limber up for the following paddling day! Tired, happy and relieved to fall into your comfy bed and pull the fluffy down comforter up, you fall asleep dreaming of your magical days in the Fu valley â€“ living the dream!
INFORMATION LOCATION: The Futaleufú River is a river in northern Patagonia fed by the lakes in the Los Alerces National Park in Chubut Province, Argentina, crossing the Andes Mountains and the international border into Chile and opening into the Yelcho Lake.The town of Futaleufú, Chile is close to the Argentine border and has a population of about 2,000. The main income for the community is fly fishing, white water rafting, and tourism.
Patagonia - Chile
WEATHER: Chile encompasses a wide range of climates (and micro climates). Its seasons are the reverse of those in Europe and North America, with, broadly speaking, winter falling in the June to September. period and summer in the December to March period.
PADDLING: Chile’s many rivers afford incomparable rafting and kayaking opportunities.The country’s top destinations, the mighty Río Bío Bío and the Río Futaleufú, entice visitors from around the globe. In addition to these challenging rivers, gentler alternatives exist on the Río Maipo close to Santiago, the Río Trancura near Pucón, and the Río Petrohue near Puerto Varas.The Maipo makes a good day-trip from Santiago, while excursions on the latter two are just half-day affairs and can usually be arranged on the spot, without advance reservations.
Chile’s white-water rapids also offer excellent kayaking and sea kayaking is becoming increasingly popular, generally in the calm, flat waters of Chile’s southern fjords, though people have been known to kayak around Cape Horn. Note that the Chilean navy is very sensitive about any foreign vessels (even kayaks) cruising in their waters, and if you’re planning a trip through military waters, you’d be wise to inform the Chilean consulate or embassy in your country beforehand.
GETTING THERE: Airfares depend on the season.You’ll pay the highest fares in the December to February and June to August periods, the southern and northern hemisphere’s summer holiday months, respectively. Fares drop slightly March to November – and you’ll get the best prices during the low seasons: April, May, September and October.
TRAVEL: Travelling in Chile is easy, comfortable and compared with Europe or North America, inexpensive. Most Chileans travel by bus, as it’s such a reliable, affordable option. However, internal flights are handy for covering long distances in a hurry.The country has a good road network and driving is a quick, relatively stress-free way of getting around. Chile’s rail network has fallen into decline and only limited services are available. South of Puerto Montt, ferry services provide a slow but scenic way of travelling as far as Puerto Natales.
FOOD: On the whole, eating out tends to be inexpensive. In local restaurants you can expect to pay around CH$3500–5500 for a main course. If you’re aiming to keep costs way down, rather than resort to the innumerable fast-food outlets, you could head for the municipal markets found in most towns; besides offering an abundance of cheap, fresh produce, they are usually dotted with food stalls.The best trick is to join the Chileans and make lunch your main meal of the day; many restaurants offer a fixed-price menu del día, always much better value than the à la carte options.
Chile’s seafood rank among the best in the world.To sample the freshest, head to one of the many marisquerías (fish restaurants), particularly those along the coasts of the Litoral Central and the Norte Chico.
Futaleufu Rafting Multi Sport with Bio Bio Expeditions Trips December - March Multi-sport trip in the heart of Patagonia! Activities include: whitewater rafting and kayaking the Class IV-V Futaleufu River, hiking and horseback riding, flyfishing, daily yoga classes and mountain biking! Stay at our deluxe riverside adventure camp with hot tub, sunset bar, massage, wine tasting, and more!
All level of kayakers welcome! http://www.bbxrafting.com
To advertise email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44 (0)1480 465081
Once it’s gone …it’s GONE! How paddlers can save the Futaleufú By Patrick J. Lynch, International Director Futaleufú Riverkeeper ThePaddler 35
Endesa is part of a large hydroelectric conglomerate with headquarters in
Italy and Spain
Running the Futaleufú is a
remarkable experience for someone who loves to paddle.You can’t beat the combination of whitewater, climate, location, and people who love the river and care about protecting it.And best of all, you can enjoy your time with the satisfaction of knowing your presence is fuelling an economy that needs more paddlers to keep the river from being destroyed.This last part is perhaps the most important.
oming to Patagonia and running the Fu has never been just about the quality of the paddling. When Bio Bio Expeditions and other outfitters started blending their trips into the fabric of the watershed, they started a process of reimagining the future of Futaleufú. They got people out on the river, recognizing the importance of having more Chileans understand what the fight is really about. Rather than local residents being forced to either leave or accept destructive mines by their homes, where the lights never go out and gravel trucks churn by steadily 24 hours a day, they could instead create businesses to tap in on the growing influx of adventure seekers. In Futaleufú, people want to protect their homes. They envision their kids growing up to be guides who train and work on the Fu – one of the most difficult rivers to master in the business - and then travel the world. Paddlers and other adventure seekers are working with the community because they have already seen many of the world’s mightiest rivers destroyed. The fight to save the Fu is emblematic of a larger struggle where communities go up against powerful corporate interests. The result of these battles is often predetermined; communities become divided, officials are bribed, and the dams or the mines win. But not with the Futaleufú. This one is a fight we can win.
That’s not to say the fight is an easy one. By the time experienced outfitters like Expediciones Chile, Earth River Expeditions, Bio Bio Expeditions and others first began running trips on the Futaleufú, most of the water rights to the river were already owned by a company called Endesa. Endesa is part of a large hydroelectric conglomerate with headquarters in Italy and Spain. They are infamous in Chile for destroying the country’s other world-renowned river, the Bio Bio. When Endesa flooded the Bio Bio, indigenous communities were forcibly relocated, the tourism sector collapsed, and artisanal fishermen at the river’s mouth saw their livelihoods disappear. If they are not stopped, Endesa’s three proposed dams will generate over 1,300 MW of power. That’s more than enough energy to fuel a new mining boom in the region. And while local leaders like the mayor and the town council are strongly opposed to Endesa’s plans, nothing is currently stopping the company from doing just that. If we want to keep the Futaleufú flowing and keep the mining companies out of the watershed, we need to build a strong network of paddlers, outfitters, and people whose livelihoods depend on the river.
Each year the tourism services in Futaleufú get better and better, fuelled by both public and private investment in a bet that we can keep the river flowing. The first generation of local kids who learned how to guide are now coming of age and starting their own businesses. This is a remarkable change from 20 years ago, where the river was feared and feared only. Now it plays a central part in the community. Guides are building homes for their families and getting involved in projects that give back to the community, like setting up a new guide school. In many other rural areas, people are forced to uproot themselves and look for work in one of Chile’s smog-covered hubs like Temuco or Santiago. Here people have hope of staying. But this can only happen with a protected Futaleufú River.
As more and more visitors arrive each year, other risks have to be addressed. These risks are manageable, and can be resolved in ways that benefit the community. One example is monitoring invasive species like the Didymo, which is spread when kayakers and fly fishermen fail to disinfect gear when moving from one water body to the next. A kayaker with Expediciones Chile and scientific adviser to Futaleufú Riverkeeper, Dr. William Horvath, recently sparked a government response to educate visitors about the steps they can take to protect the local ecosystems. Thanks to Dr. Horvath and his team, the government is set next month to release a new online database, open to the public, which maps invasives in the region. The database will allow paddlers and fly-fishing aficionados to develop routes that will help them avoid transporting invasive species to uninfected water bodies.
Here people have hope of staying. But this can only happen with a protected
FutaleufĂş River, Patagonia
www.futaleufuriverkeeper.org ThePaddler 42
PHOTO CREDITS: © SEBASTIÁN ALVAREZ WWW.EXCHILE.COM
The Futaleufú River is gaining recognition not just among paddlers but also with environmentalists. The Natural Resources Defense Council, one of the most powerful environmental groups in the U.S., recently featured the Futaleufú River in its independent OnEarth magazine, with half a million readers. Patagon Journal, a bilingual publication with subscribers around the world, just put the battle to save the Futaleufú on its cover. Locally, the fight has resulted in collaborative events like the annual FutaFest competition, anti-dam protests like Futaleufú Sin Represas (Futaleufú Without Dams), and a joint public-private effort led by Futaleufú Riverkeeper to designate the watershed as a Zone of Touristic Interest.
This place can be saved by paddlers. It can be saved by fly-fishing, mountaineering, canyoning, and new adventure sports that are still evolving and could look entirely different ten years from now. And it can be saved by attorneys with one foot in the river and one in the courts, navigating Chile’s regulatory framework to make sure the public’s calls for protection are heard by the political leaders who can do something about it.
We want to make sure people benefit in the long-run through conservation, rather than receive a few handouts or bribes in exchange for destroying the local environment and harming their health and livelihoods. So how can you help? Pack your bags. Visit. Tell people about what’s going on. Find us on Facebook and share updates with your friends. And consider supporting Futaleufú Riverkeeper in our fight to protect the watershed and the communities who depend on it. Every story needs a hero. Let’s make the Futaleufú something legendary.
PATRICK J. LYNCH, PLYNCH@FUTALEUFURIVERKEEPER.ORG
Save the Fu 2014!
Futaleufú Riverkeeper is announcing an exclusive trip to benefit the Futaleufú River, widely regarded as one of the top whitewater destinations in the world. The river has been featured in international publications, including National Geographic, Forbes, and most recently the Robb Report.
The trip will run from March 21st to 29th, 2014, and will be operated by our supporters at Earth River Expeditions. Above all this trip is designed so that you and your family or friends can experience a place that will give you longlasting memories and change how you view environmental conservation. For further information please visit: www.futaleufuriverkeeper.org/ savethefu2014/
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n endless summer odyssey
Our tour this year, organized by Liz Forshaw was to become the most successful Pyranha Team Tour to date. We had a great opportunity to utilise the Pyranha van and have an epic kayaking adventure all over Europe, visiting some of the most popular kayaking destinations. Tooled up with 18 boats, 10 paddles and whole bunch of toys, we cruised down from Pyranha to our first stop, the majestic Val Sesia Valley in Italy, a popular pilgrimage for many avid British white water paddlers. The drive was a familiar one for me, one I had not undergone for some years, and it was good to be back.
By Matt Cooke
Endless Summers Kayak School Team Pyranha,Teva, Robson and Lightning ThePaddler 49
Our purpose ThePaddler 50
for our first stop was to enter the Gene 17 Kayaking Festival
and assist with the running of the different events. Our main jobs for the event were river guiding and safety; our other mission was to work our way through all the class 4/5 runs in the area and test our fleet of Pyranha kayaks. With the weather crapping out for most of our time in Val Sesia, it gave us opportunity to get juicy runs on some of the classics, then when the sun finally came out, we caught high water sunshine runs on the Egua, Sorba and Sermenza. The water level dropped on the Friday and for us that meant Devilâ€™s slide was in. The run, first paddled by Shaun Baker back in the 90s is out the back of the saw mill as you drive up to the Sorba. Easily scoutable, an epic section starting with a right angle falls into a pool just above the slide. The slide is in two sections, falling over 100ft. For me, it felt like running a gauntlet just being happy to come out at the bottom unscathed. A fantastic must for the avid adrenaline seeker.
The Zrmanja has it all, beautiful, tropical flats, progressive rapids and even
Our entourage was also here to race. We were all a little out of practice but that did not stop us from giving our all. We scored third place in the team event, David was fifth in the endurance and I placed fifth in the sweet rumble. Italy had been a perfect start, we were all charging and stoked for the next stop. Our next stop took us to the Soca River in Slovenia. We managed to see more of the country this time, taking scouting missions to find more runs and even visiting Ljubljana to paddle at the famous Tarcen racecourse. Our mission was on the Soca and to assist Blaz Luznik from Positive Sport with a little boat x extreme race. The weather in Slovenia was worse that in Italy, constant rain with just one afternoon of sun. This meant the water levels were juicy. We ran the river in playboats then in our Pyranha Shivas and had to work hard all day to avoid getting swallowed. The race was set in the evening at the take out. The race itself was very short but extremely intense. Four off the ramp to start into a break out move, around a buoy, back
into the flow then a sprint to the finish. The finals finished around 10.30pm in the dark, looked amazing. The party was pretty much rained off but everyone had a great event. We had some time before leaving so we checked out the Kozak waterfalls. We decided to give the second drop a go, never been paddled before, looked sweet with all the rain they had been having. Our first D of the trip, a sweet 50-footer into a tight canyon open at either end. After the drop you can paddle out to the confluence to the Soca. With the rest of the week to kill before heading to Lienz, Austria, we made a call to mission further south and explore Croatia. What we didnâ€™t count on was our fuel card not working there as, sadly, there were no shell garages. This did not put us off as we had seen photos of what we were heading to see. We arrived in Krka National Park and saw the most beautiful series of waterfalls I have ever seen. Sadly, we were not given permission to paddle them. We were directed north to the Zrmanja River where there we met up with the guides from Raftrek Adventure who took us on a wild ride around central Croatia showing us all the sights and some shocking tales from the recent conflict with Bosnia.
It was time to say goodbye to our new, crazy white water comrades and head north setting a course for Lienz,Austria.
We suddenly felt
like we were no longer in Kansas. It turned out to be the most chilled out, beautiful place we had seen on tour. A white water utopia for any class of paddler – something for everyone. The water was 100% spring and the clearest run I have ever seen. A true fountain of youth. We only had two days here but it was a place we will do our best to include in next year’s tour. There are an abundance of rivers in the area that we just had no time to explore. The Zrmanja has it all, beautiful, tropical flats, progressive rapids and even two waterfalls.
We could have spent weeks in Croatia but we had a plan and it was time to say goodbye to our new, crazy white water comrades and head north setting a course for Lienz, Austria. We drove through the night and arrived in Austria greeted by the sunrise. We had only one day in Lienz, to assist with the La Ola rodeo. La Ola are our Austrian Pyranha dealers and it was great to get together and talk shop and had a fantastic day testing out the Jeds and having fun with the Teva cardboard race. The line up was small, only 21 men and three girls. Was great fun entering a rodeo, it has been years since my last one, session format too, my favourite. Scored an overall third in the men’s final that shocked everyone including myself. Stoked. Was nice to be standing on the podium with my old student, Pringle and buddy Martin Koll. Strait after prize giving, we jumped back in the van and drove strait to Augsburg to meet up with our German dealer Wolfgang and Tomas Funk from Kober paddles at the slalom course to run a summer fate style open day with gear sales, demos and coaching. My highlight of the day was David taking an eight-year-old lad who had never been in a boat before down the course in a duo. The kid’s face was a peach as he was slamming through holes and probably cursing his dad in German for making him do it. He was in good hands, David glided down the course delivering the young man back to his father who
was ecstatic. The boy could only say one thing, “Papa, could you buy me a kayak now instead of a football.” Priceless
Our official missions were now over until we hit Huningue but that was over a week away. We decided to fill that week with kayaking. We headed across and down through Switzerland to then go back to Italy for the Teva race, all in five days. Interlaken is situated in the foothills of the Jungfrau range and hosts the best rafting and canyoning in the world, you will not find a stronger team of guides anywhere else. Interlaken is a river guide’s dream and a place I have been to every year since 2005. Here you have glacial rivers next to an abundance of canyons and waterfalls. Not everyone’s cup of tea but the whole area is worth visiting just for the beauty.
Mid-week we blasted down to the Aiasse River in Italy for the Teva mountain games. This event was a small affair hosting a limited number of top paddlers. Over two days we ran the team and individual races on the California section and then the king of the falls competition on the slides below. Probably the toughest racecourse I have ever done, even took a swim during the team race out of a hole everybody was avoiding. I did not mean to go in. The king of the falls race was my style of racing, short and steep ending in a sizable multi move slide. Bain and myself took fifth and sixth overall.
Back to Switzerland
With another quick turn around, we drove straight up through Switzerland to Basel then onto Huningue, a small place just on the outskirts of Basel, an unlikely place to find a white water course. We were there to meet our French dealer, Norbert who owns Canadian Canoe Shop across from the course. Norbert put us up at the shop and put us to work for the weekend coaching and demoing our fleet of boats. We both had a blast; it’s a great course for learning white water, filled every weekend by German and French weekend warriors.
On the Sunday evening, we hightailed out of there heading for Briancon and Lâ€™agentire. I noticed Chamonix was on route so we decided to stop there for a few nights for a change of scenery. We met up with my oldest friend Dougal Tavener, a pro kayaker turned glacier guide now based in Chamonix. After a nice night catching up, we were out early to the local mountains for a days leading and top roping. David and myself were happy with some 5c-6c routes for the day whilst Dougal
Colossal holes, waves that dwarfed kayakers and eyes that popped out of paddlers heads frantically trying
to find a line
and his climbing partner were warming up on 7c. This guy can climb. Used to be junior C1 slalom champion back in the day and paddling for Peak and Riot but always had climbing in his heart. We had a wicked time, now we were ready to hit Lâ€™agantiere and student week.
Driving had been grinding me down as I was the only driver for the tour but each time we got in the van to leave somewhere, we were both so high on adrenaline, a great natural stimulant that can keep you going for days knowing that your going somewhere even better than the last. Itâ€™s strange how some journeys that are around five hours seem to last forever and some that are over nine can seem so short. I got this feeling many times this summer with the abundance of journeys we were undertaking. Our week in Briancon was cut short due to the weather conditions. The rivers in France were at a 50-year high. Most of the university students were stuck at the camp unable to paddle on anything other than on the lake. Those who did venture out returned with a tales of woe. We spent three days coaching those who were left on site. The slalom course running next to camp was huge. Colossal holes, waves that dwarfed kayakers and eyes that popped out of paddlers heads frantically trying to find a
line down that did not result in heinous down time and a swim that would equal the distance of the English channel. Not cool for chase boaters, that durance was shifting with large trees floating through, not to dissimilar to what I imagine a tsunami to look like. We spent a good bit of time repairing kayaks and replacing broken parts. Once the word got out, people were coming over in droves to see what we could do for their battered boats. We had fun; it was a good chance for us to have a rest before embarking on our fourth and final mission of the Tour, Norway. As soon as the student race was over, we packed up started the drive North. The race was spectacular. A â€˜grand prixâ€™ style mass start from the top of the slalom course to the large peninsula just beyond the bottom.
It was great to watch and we only had one swimmer who decided to do it in a C1. I know, I thought the same thing. I honestly thought he was a goner; he disappeared for 20 seconds before surfacing, still deep in the woods with no immediate rescue on hand. Luckily for him, we had a solid safety crew on the bank and some pretty hand chase boaters including Bain. He wasted no time; recovered banana man then recovered his boat eventually after 2km of chasing.
It was a cool race, great footage. The novice events were all held on the lake, sun was shining and spirits were high. They all then went onto drink their body weight in beer and enjoy the rest of the party. The next morning, we said our goodbyes, packed the van and set the satellite navigation for Oslo.
For reasons unbeknown to us, we were a driver short, which meant I was to embark on a personal and potentially World record stint of driving. I have driven a long way in my life up to now but this was a daunting thought as it was to be over 24 hours of drive time and we had 30 hours to do it in. This was one of those long driving sections that felt much shorter due to the emotions you feel about the destination, the drive was a lot of fun. Maybe the ton of coffee, Red Bulls, sherbet, Haribos, plums and water helped too. After a sixhour snooze in Denmark, we headed over the insanely scary bridges to Copenhagen then strait up to Oslo to pick up Anton Immler. Anton is a Swedish pro kayaker who travels the world in search of the best white water. He has superseded this goal and continues to push the boundaries of what is possible on the river. Having Anton on board mean only one thing, our big boy pants were going to have to come out for the duration of our stay in Norway. We wasted no time. Arriving at the Brandseth race course, we have a few hours sleep then put on at the top and blasted down our first class 5 followed straight after by a high water run down the Myrkdal. It had happened, we were deep into the forest and very far from Kansas but we were so happy. I could talk for days about what happened next when the Substantial Media lads asked to join the van for three weeks. We wasted no time, had no team days off just the odd days from injury of fatigue from the sheer volume of kayaking that we were getting done.
We paddled two, sometimes three rivers in one day. The daylight always on our side. We covered the main beaten kayaking path around Voss to Valdall to Soja with many plan deviations along the way. I would certainly recommend taking some ferries across the fjords. Fjords are a natural wonder, covering a vast area of Southern Norway. Inland seas and flocks of sea gulls over a 100miles from the coast. No swell, just fresh sea air, fishing boats and stunning natural beauty. Our tour was to be violently cut short after a second expedition to the Rauma River a few hours east of Trondheim. The Lower Rauma has nine rapids of notable size ending in the notorious ‘Flemming’s Drop’ finishing the run with a peaceful, well deserved paddle out over a few kilometres to the takeout bridge. For us, the second decent down this section was to end very differently. As it was my first time down this section, I was keen to do all nine drops and paddle out to complete the run. The water was much lower than the previous trip, this meant that rapids 1-8 were much more manageable but number nine was looking substantially less cushioned than the previous inspection a week earlier. Flemming put in first above the lead-in rapid for nine. He floated down an almost class 6 sequence then re-positioned for the lip. The line was almost perfect, Flemming dropped in just above the kicker but hit it slightly off causing him to spin around resulting in a heavy landing, ripping him from his kayak. Luckily, he was OK.
This left me with a dilemma.
I knew it looked low but Flemming was OK. I had a green light feeling inside me. I put in. I had rehearsed the line like it was a slalom course; I was as happy and confident as I could be. I went for the crux and drifted over a curler sending me left of my intended course. I thought I would get away with it, tucking and committing to the landing 80-foot below. What happened in the next few seconds would change my life for the next four months. Something was waiting for me! Iâ€™m still not sure what but it was most likely a rock slab.. Whatever it was managed to break three ribs and fracture my L1 vertebra. The euphoric paddle out to the bridge What happened in the next few turned out seconds would change my life for the to be the most next four months. painful wild spinal extraction I had ever seen. The rescue was executed with military precision and I was in the helicopter just 40-minuets after covering 2km of class 2, one class 4 portage and a further 200m in the river getting towed and carried. I am so thankful I was wearing a dry suit. I managed to get the boys to take it off me before the helicopter arrived, as I didnâ€™t want it cut. It was an expensive bit of kit. I was OK after an operation in Trondheim screwing my back together and I was off home with Bain to start the long rehabilitation.
Something was waiting for me!
My summary of the tour defines my perception of a professional kayaker experiences. Its not a glamorous life in the eyes of the Western World but to us these places and our experiences are much more valuable than material possessions that have no true value. We will never be self made millionaires as we are not willing to step on other people to reach that next level, we have all we need right here on the ground, in the rivers, the hills, mountains and sky.
All this would not be possible with help from companies like
Pyranha, Robson,Teva and NRS, who have invested in us to bring back the goods, we strive never to disappoint. We thank you all for giving us this opportunity to be ourselves and share our passions. We hope next yearâ€™s tour will be even more successful. The Tour film will be premiering at Pyranha Fest 2013 in Bala on the 21st of September. There will be a full list of rivers paddled in the film. Going to be a good party.
See you all there, peace.
INFORMATION ÇORUH RIVER,TURKEY: The Çoruh is one of the world’s fastestflowing rivers, cutting through breathtaking gorges in the remote and dramatically beautiful Kaçkar Mountains of far northeastern Turkey. Wildlife abounds, from bears to mountain goats to wild boar – as well as fascinating historical ruins, including castles dating from the time of the Byzantine Empire.
Euro WW rivers
NOCE RIVER, ITALY: Fed by melting Alpine glaciers, the Noce tumbles through the wild, remote Val di Sole (Sun Valley) in the Dolomites of northern Italy. It offers some of the most exciting whitewater rafting in Europe, including a spectacular series of Class V rapids as it roars through the gorges of Mostizzolo.
SOCA RIVER, SLOVENIA: The Soca River in Slovenia is a 140 km long river flowing through the western part of the country and then running over to north-eastern Italy. The river starts off from the Trenta Valley of the Julian Alps, Slovenia. Moving forward, the river enters a valley surrounded by a ring of mountains. The river then runs through some other cities such as Bovec, Nova Gorica, Kobarid,Tolmin and Gorizia. Finally, the Soca completes its journey as it enters the Adriatic Sea.
TRYWERYN,WALES: A dam released river in Wales, river Tryweryn is the ideal place for all ww enthusiasts. Being a dam released river, the river is flowing all the year round and is accessible all through the year. Based in Bala, the river begins from Llyn Tryweryn located in the Snowdonia National Park and travels for about 19 km, finally meeting up with River Dee at Bala. One of the chief tributaries of Dee, this river gets all of its water from the dam.
ZRMANJA RIVE, CROATIA: The Zrmanja River, located in northern Dalmatia, is a popular river in Croatia. The river has its source in the southern section of the Velebit Mountain. It then travels downwards and surrounds the southern end of Velebit. The Zrmanja River again bends westwards, and arrives at Obrovac. Then again, after travelling a few kilometres, the waterway runs into the Adriatic Sea.
ENNS RIVER, AUSTRIA: The Enns River in Austria is a southern tributary of River Danube.The 254 km long water body starts off from the Radstädter Tauern Mountains, located in Salzburg, an Austrian state. The river then heads towards the valley positioned between the Northern Limestone Alps and Central Eastern Alps.The Enns River moves further northwards between Admont and Hieflau, passing along a gorge named Gesause and then it enters the Ennstaler Alpen. As it travels north, the river arrives at Upper Austria, towards the mouth of Laubabach.
RIVER ARDECHE, FRANCE: River Ardeche in France, situated in the south-central France, is a 120 km long river. Falling to the right of River Rhone, this water body rises from the Massif Central, close to the village of Astet. It then falls into River Rhone near to the Pont-SaintEspirit, which is positioned at the north-west side of Orange.
SAANE RIVER, SWITZERLAND: The Saane River is one of the biggest rivers in Switzerland and is also a famous tributary of the River Aare. It measures up to a length of 128 km.The river has its source in the Sanetschhorn, which is situated in the western region of Bernese Oberland.
We interview the man whose reputation as big as the mountains he kayaks down. He remains the only paddler to have kayaked all the rivers that flow from Everest along with K2, all alongside being a writer, adventurer, expedition provider, river consultant, mentor and inspirational speaker.
Darren Clarkson King ThePaddler 63
Where and what was your first paddle?
It’s been a long time. I think the canal in Mirfield with a Fiberglass boat – lifejacket – walking cag and my Dad’s wool jumper. I remember I struggled to paddle in a straight line.
Where was your first descent?
That’s hard to tell, perhaps it was some Yorkshire ditch but I remember my first Himalayan one. It was the fall season of 2000 – Budhi Ganga River over near the India/Nepal border. I remember thinking on one of the many safety boating trips I was undertaking – we have fine recreational adventurous activities but we rarely get the chance for genuine new discovery that qualifies as adventure, as Columbus did. Days later I stocked up on medical supplies in Nepalgunj all the time thinking about my impending trip to this uncharted river. As a matter of fact it felt like I was in the backend of no place, heading for a solo self support trip (not even porters) further up the backside of the back end of no place. And all the time there is the possibility that it might have bugger all water in or perhaps too much water. It was a strange turn of events that led to me wandering the streets of Nepalgunj between my meals at Hotel Batika in the first place.
After travelling all over the planet – which is your most memorable experience up to now?
I’m from Batley – a small town in industrial Yorkshire. I followed the set pathway; school, university, job and I’ve been kayaking for far too many years, running Class 5 for almost 20. It began as a hobby at Scouts and club level, and if I had been told I could make a living from it and have a full and rounded life I would never have believed them.
Every experience on the river is special. Dawn raids on the Fairy Glen, watching as the sun grows in the sky as you paddle in to the gorge is pretty special. Remembering the birth from the canyon at Tanzilla slot on the Stikine always brings vivid dreams. Although I guess if I had to pick one it would be the eddy at the bottom of the Arun Gorges, Nepal in 2012. I planned and filled a void in my personal history of exploration. I did what none had done before; I paddled both the rivers that flow from Everest in Nepal (Dudh/Arun) solo. This was a back to back combo trip no support team, just me and this last eddy was the end of the journey – emotions were strong, all my energy was gone, I couldn’t even get out of my boat.
Which drives you the most – interacting with the various peoples or the thrill of ww paddling?
Self-development plays a massive part of paddling for me. The river can teach you more about yourself than you will ever know. It shows you a certain truth and it open up the lies you tell yourself.
Where did the fascination of kayaking down the World’s tallest mountains stem from?
I guess Everest always has a draw, it is at the heart of all expeditions – we all know the history, we are brought up on these stories of expeditions. It seemed a natural progression. I think it’s symbolic of the way we advance in our own skill set.
What is the biggest accomplishment in your career?
Been able to still enjoy kayaking the same now as I did when I first started. From the simple flat to the raging rapids, each stoke is special. I’m still growing and looking for the next thing that will keep the fire in my belly.
What would be your ultimate achievement?
Does meditation and self control help with your extreme expeditions?
It helps every day; I always try and keep my baseline function settled so I can plan and act with a full and centred consciousness.
Any advice for those starting out in extreme kayaking?
The word extreme gets banded about lots. I don’t believe what I do is extreme – it’s just a passion and for fun. In basic terms I am still just a Yorkshire bloke who boats lots. What Felix Baumgartner does is extreme, jumping from the edge of space he reached a top speed of 843.6 mph. Then we have Babu Sunawar who went from kayaking to paraglider – flying from Everest and then Kilimanjaro.
Do you always paddle solo?
No and I don’t advocate it for many reasons. I enjoy solo boating for the freedom it gives me, it take me places in my mind and heart that a group dynamic cannot. Having said this paddling with a group especially leading and guiding on trips, opens so many doors to people’s perceptions of the possible.
I guess to say focused and still loving the river is all that matters. I have a plan at the moment to climb Everest and then paddle down the Dudh Kosi, achieving this would be pretty centred and is a pinnacle.
Have you ever been scared and if not – what would it take?
I don’t quite understand the notion of been scared when paddling. If I were scared I simple wouldn’t do it. I speak plenty about this in my work and online – It is natural to have mind games, everyone has, but the ability to develop from these is key. For me I know fear is only a construct of the mind. We can control the minds actions. All we are and all we will ever know is the mind.
The word extreme gets banded about lots. I don’t believe what I do is extreme – it’s just a passion and for fun. In basic terms I am still just a
Yorkshire bloke who boats lots
Watch Darren’s waterfall madness at http://youtu.be/Eo4HnBxPRAA Which paddlers out there are currently pushing the extreme ww boundaries?
Lots that most of your readers will possibly never have heard of but mostly those who are just starting out – pushing their belief and selfdevelopment – that matters more than named boats ‘hucking’.
What are your goals for the next 12 months?
Mostly I am training for the summit trip; I also have some work to do on another book.
Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
Still in boats in the Himalayas – although I doubt I will have a real job, guess I should retire by then…
Yeah a few, but too few to mention (but I did waste a few years doing a proper job!)
I’m a paddler and going on vacation, where would you recommend?
All depends what your budget it, what is your skill base etc. I once did a week in Morocco for less than 300 including flights (solo) but you could join a commercial group – we run trips mostly in Asia, but look around find the right provider who will let you grow. The Euro zone is always nice, but Asia has some amazing people and brilliant rivers and something for everyone.
OK Darren let’s finish with something short and snappy… If you could paddle with anyone in the world dead or alive who would it be?
I have friends that have been lost to the river, one more run on the Glen with Mute and Jason would be amazing. To paddle with the pioneer Walt Blackadar would be amazing – he opened the world up to big volume kayaking.
Which one sportsman or woman has inspired you?
In kayaking, plenty but as a multi sportsman Babu as previously mentioned.
Pick two celebrities to be your parents
Do I have to? I don’t really go in for all the celebrity stuff, but it would be cool to have Evel Knievel as my Dad and I quite like Yoko Ono for a mum, best thing she ever did breaking up The Beatles!
What’s on your TiVo recorder?
What’s a TiVo? (Does a Google search) – no I don’t have a TV.
Favourite iPod track?
I don’t have an iPod. I have a CD Walkman (I think) – and records you must remember them – the sound track to Om Shani Om is always a pleaser.
What would you do with $100,000?
That sort of cash would allow the Everest trip with ease and some change, but if I had the funds already in place – guess I don’t need it – so have it back – give it to someone that needs it. Money is not important enough to hoard it.
Cats or dogs? Woof woof.
Facebook or Twitter Both.
An ideal night out for you is? Riverside bivvy spot – fire – clear sky.
What one luxury item would you take with you on a desert island? Good coffee.
What do you get really angry about?
The horror that one human can impose on another.
If we came to your house for dinner, what would you prepare for us? Right now, not a lot – rice and some veg, hell I could do you dhal bhat (Nepali food).
Any broken bones? A few ribs, toes, fingers.
If you could be a superhero for one day, what superpower would you choose and why? Hong Kong Phooey or perhaps, Jamie and the Magic Torch.
What three words would you use to describe you? Passionate self-believer.
Thanks for your time Darren:)
ThePaddler ezine com International digital magazine for recreational paddlers
Celebrate one year of ThePaddler
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To enter the draw and be in with a chance to win, simply email anne@thePaddler.co.uk. telling us the name of the river in South America that is currently under threat of being dammed and share with us in no more than 25 words what ‘paddling’ means to your life. The editorial team will select ten of the best entries and your prize will be shipped directly to you from Aquapac to anywhere on the planet. The selected entries will be published in the October 2013 issue. Terms and conditions apply: please visit www.thepaddler.co.uk for full details. The results will be announced on October 10th 2013.
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Zet are based in the Czech Republic and are a technical and design collaboration of the production engineer/kayak producer Zelezny, extreme kayaker Honza Lasko and the Czech whitewater slalom paddler Viktor Legat. On first look the Raptor looks quite basic, and although the outfitting isn't as whizz bang as the offerings from Liquid Logic, Dagger et al it is both very easy to set up and it works. The plastic described as a "unique" foam holder in the blurb is part of the plastic that would normally be cut away when the cockpit is prepped, but Zet have used this to create a system that holds the front foam pillar in place without having to introduce any additional parts (and therefore weight). It's a pretty good idea that works but it does look rather agricultural. There is also little to go wrong. The hip pads a fixed in place using hook/loop and the backrest is adjusted via two ratchet straps located at the front of the cockpit. The backrest is one of the best I have used. Itâ€™s a great shape with a good balance of support and give. The seat itself is pretty comfy although it doesnâ€™t look like it would be. Rather than being plastic the seat is made from closed cell foam that has a textured surface that helps your backside stay put. The fact is foam also has the
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advantage of being nice and warm. Once set up the outfitting comfortable and allows you to get a good feel for how the boat is performing/acting. Therefore it does its job well. It is really important to try the outfitting out and spend some time with it rather than dismissing it as being too primitive.
Minimum number of bolts and holes in the kayak
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It is really important to try the outfitting out and spend some time with it rather than dismissing it
What is quite interesting is that Zet
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Through the use of â€˜Zelezny Technology,â€™ Zet have made the Raptor both strong and light. Plastic has been directed away from low risk areas of the kayak to those areas that are more prone to direct hits and harsh punishment. I have repaired a Zet that had suffered a fair old beating from running solo down a series of high grade rapids and it has faired pretty well considering the beating it received. Where the Raptor really stands out is in the design/shape of the hull. Zet have produced a big water boat that still retains high levels of manoeuvrability and
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Primary and secondary stability is good and even when charging on edge the Raptor feels relatively stable and is easy to roll. The Raptor likes big water and feels really nice when running whitewater and falls. The boat feels responsive and tracks well. Zet also have a couple of other boats that share a similar design to the Raptor. The Veloc is designed for smaller paddlers and the Director is for larger paddlers and big water. All have the same superb characteristics. In summary the Zet Raptor is a fast, stable, and comfortable creek boat that will easily fulfill the needs of a range of different paddlers from creekers to river runners. All in all the Zet seem to have the balance about right. Well worth checking out.
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2 By Alice Courvoisier Six weeks after leaving Trondheim, we have reached the end of the Vestfjord, which separates mainland Norway from the Lofoten and Vesterålen archipelagos. We are about halfway through our planned journey to the North Cape. It is the beginning of May, and spring is arriving in the Arctic.
The route to TromsŒ In the morning, for the first time, I am woken by heat as the sun shines brightly over the tent. Today, we are crossing the Vestfjord, which despite a mixed reputation, is flat as a mirror. En route, we land on the south-eastern corner of Barøya to explore the imposing wreck of a fishing vessel. The rusting boat is stood on the reddish rocks, its structure seems strangely intact, as if it is simply moored here, ready to leave again at the turn of the tide. To port, snowy summits recede behind one another as we head towards the southern entrance to Tjelsundet. The next day, a nine hour paddle taking advantage of the north-going tide brings us to the city of Harstad. We stay there for a few days, washing, resupplying, and visiting museums, grateful for the warm hospitality and invaluable advice of local sea kayakers. We resume our journey on a beautiful evening. Snowy peaks to the south-east are bathed in soft, pink tones; behind them subdued, violet clouds stretch along the horizon; in the foreground, a pastel blue sea reflects the evening sky. The tones are peaceful, nearly soothing. As I paddle, my blade sheds sparkling, pink droplets of water. When we land around midnight, the sun is still there, its golden disk illuminating the northwestern horizon. While we set up camp, it slips away very slowly under the sea, and by the time we are ready for bed, the sky has brightened up again in preparation for sunrise. It is early May at 67o North, twilight and dawn will soon become one. We take four days to reach Tromsø via the inside route. The sheltered sounds we are travelling through are more populated, with roads and houses on both sides. Vigdis, a sea kayaking instructor we are in touch with, invites us for breakfast at her mother's who lives about 40km from Tromsø.
ThePaddler 84 The small kitchen table is covered with a number of delicacies to sample: dried lamb; various cheeses; home-made traditional cakes; smoked salmon, fished in local waters and prepared by an old neighbour according to a secret recipe; bread and jam, all accompanied with freshly brewed coffee; a very welcome feast, which we gratefully enjoy. The day is beautiful and, surprisingly, even the gentle easterly breeze is warm. We reach the flat waters of Balsfjorden and catch the first glimpse of the city's buildings in the distance. Ruth rolls a few times just to keep cool, and so do I, relishing the cold water trickling down my neck. As we approach Tromsø, the warm atmosphere, filled with noises of incredible intensity, begins to vibrate. Seagulls squawk; the eiderducks' hooting and cooing is reverberated by the surrounding mountains; people shout from a beach nearby; motor boats, cars and aeroplanes pass by.
Families have pitched their tents and lit fires on Grindøya, a small island to the east of Tromsø; we are Saturday 15th May, the beginning of a long bank holiday weekend. In the evening, we paddle past the airport and reach a boat house where Vigdis’s smiling friend Hilde meets us. She's only wearing a vest and three-quarter length trousers, and I feel ridiculously overdressed in my dry-suit and wellies. Hilde brought us drinks and sandwiches, and patiently waits as we get changed and sort our kit out; in the bay we've just left, two kids manoeuvre a makeshift raft with long poles. The bulk of our equipment will remain in the boat house for a few days while we stay with the sister of a kayaking friend from York, enjoying the unusual heat and the National Day festivities, until we are ready to head further north, towards more exposed waters and the Cape.
Above: Easter sunset in the skjeargard
The frequent drizzle, the dark, glistening scree slopes touching the sea, and a familiar looking beck remind Ruth of the
Onwards towards Finnmark The few days following our departure from Tromsø are overcast, cold and damp. We travel over greenish waters under leaden skies. The frequent drizzle, the dark, glistening scree slopes touching the sea, and a familiar looking beck remind Ruth of the Lake District. Grey hues dominate the scenery and at times, a wet mist surrounds us, blurring the horizon and shrinking space. The sombre mountains, partly hidden in grey veils, are shrouded in mysteries; shapes are guessed rather than seen, shifts in the clouds give the illusion of movement, and a space is left where trolls and fairies might appear. Sandy beaches are rarer and replaced by rocky shores or stretches of smooth pebbles. More often now, we camp by lone, empty houses or deserted hamlets where pathways cleared of large stones allow for easier landings. The wind remains light and conditions
settled, so we cross Ullsfjorden and the Lyngenfjord without mishap. At times, the sea is so calm that we see puffins from a distance, tiny, bath-toy figures that stand out sharply against a green-grey gloss. As we round the northern tip of the Lyngen peninsula, we spot rusty debris, torn on sharp rocks at the foot of an inhospitable, black crag. Only part of the boat is recognisable, testifying to an ongoing battle against the elements.
The sun returns when we reach Skjervøy, where we resupply before heading across Kvænangen towards the Loppa peninsula. That night we are camping north of 70° latitude and, less than a month before midsummer, we are truly in the land of the midnight sun. Darkness, even dawn and dusk, have become alien concepts; on clear days, the sun is omnipresent, relentless.
A sound en route to Tromso
Sunset near Tromso.
Foldfjorden itself We decide to round the north-west corner of Loppa overnight. By 9pm, the vivid daylight has been replaced by a warm, golden radiance. Wet boulders shine along the shoreline; the cliff faces, partly covered in snow, have been painted pink by the low-lying sun. There is traffic in the distance, a yacht, a fishing boat, a cargo ship, black silhouettes outlined against a hazy, dark yellow horizon. Following the high water mark, a red fox trots gaily, intently sniffing the ground, appearing and disappearing amongst the rocks, oblivious of the two human figures watching nearby. Later, as we turn south-east down Søndre Bergsfjorden to follow a V-shaped route skirting round the southern side of Silda, a small island off Loppa, a unexpected headwind slows our progress down to a wet crawl. This sudden change wakes us from our nocturnal reverie, as we have to fight our way forward until we find an acceptable spot to pitch the tent. It has gone 3am when we go to bed; in the north-east, the sun is on the rise again. The wind remains powerful over the following days, forcing us off the water for long hours. Eventually, on a calm afternoon, we enter Stjernsundet, an avenue of lightblue water lined with majestic brown cliffs. We land on a beach of black sand by an empty cabin. I find two rusting stoves and an old Singer sewing machine half buried in the grass nearby. In the evening, we scramble up a mosscovered scree slope to take in the view. We are now following the coast of Finnmark and the landscape has changed. The sharp peaks have given way to brown cliffs and high plateaux; the labyrinths of low-lying islets that bordered the coastline between Trondheim and Tromsø have been replaced by wide sounds separating large, indented islands; snow is still very present, highlighting the relief of the rocky faces. Close to the beach, we spot two reindeer grazing amongst young birches in leaf; their footprints mingle with those of oyster-catchers in the sand.
Patience The weather stays variable and our progress irregular. On June 1st, we have reached the approach to Kvalsund; ahead the coastline is exposed all the way to the North Cape. We start the day by playing a few hands of cards in the tent as eastwards squalls speed by. When we launch tentatively in the afternoon, the wind is bitterly cold and even with our skegs down we have to work hard to prevent weather-cocking. My muscles tense with the effort, but I relish the challenge brought by the stormy conditions undaunted, wholly absorbed by the scenery. The sun appears, disappears, re-appears, Nature’s own spotlight. Through gaps in the clouds, it sweeps land and sea with powerful shafts of light, emphasizing details in turn: a waterfall, a bright green valley, a white line of snow, an unexpected feature in the rocks, a shapely wave about to break. A rainbow forms in the east, along a
shower curtain, it gets brighter and brighter before slowly fading away, leaving traces of colours to dry on the hillside. Lit by sunshine, soaked by rain and spray, freshened by the breeze, we are integral parts of this living landscape, a yellow dot and a blue dot tossed up and down by the waves. In the evening, we land at high tide on a tiny shingle beach next to a stream. The land is barren, a desert of rock, moss and low bushes enlivened by tiny, pink mountain azaleas; reindeer are grazing in the distance, we can hear the ring of their leader's bell. In the morning, we hurry to leave at high tide to avoid a difficult scramble on rocks. Ruth heads towards the stream to collect water and a while later, I see her limp back towards the tent with a twisted, swelling ankle. She bandages it, takes a few painkillers and copes silently. Two days later, we reach a sandy beach near Havøysund and the next morning, in agreement with the forecast, the wind picks up. Our tent is successively light and dark, hot and cool as cloud patches drift overhead; it rains intermittently. The following three days blur into one. I am lucky to escape the confines of the tent and explore our close surroundings, but Ruth, hindered by her painful ankle, is stuck by the beach. Cards prove our main distraction.
The sun appears, disappears, re-appears, Nature’s own spotlight.Through gaps in the clouds, it sweeps land and sea with powerful
shafts of light
In spite of the conditions, the landscape loses none of its appeal. One evening, we watch spellbound as crepuscular rays emerge from dark storm clouds, like powerful searchlights from an alien spacecraft. Short wanderings up moss covered grey rubble take me to the hills surrounding our camping spot, rarely, it seems, do I feel solid rock under my feet. I first go east towards a wide ridge called Boalonjárga, and follow it northwards until I overlook the sea. As the horizon opens up in front of me, I have the feeling of standing on a map. Below me, the windstreaked sea is a tangle of dark and light silver strips that merge seamlessly into one another in response to the whims of the sky. Barren, dark islands emerge from grey waters. The island of Havøya stretches to the north-west; bright-coloured houses cluster by the narrow sound that separates it from the mainland and provides boats with a reliable shelter; a green grass slope leads gently towards its highest point, only wind turbines stand tall there, trees do not grow at 71° N. To the east, behind Måsøya, the seagull's isle, I spot the rugged cliffs of Magerøya, the meagre isle, where the North Cape lies.
The ride is exhilarating; we are accom
Waiting for the weather.
Lying on a smooth, flat rock to protect myself from the wind, I watch intently as longer sunny spells reveal treasures of colours and nuances; the sea's hues become bluer, then tinted with subtle traces of ochre; various shade of greens and rusty browns appear along the hillside; the grey rocks themselves have turned whiter, almost luminescent. The sun still shines when I walk back toward the camp. A few reindeer are grazing on the steep slopes enclosing the valley. Below, close to the beach, our red tent and yellow and blue kayaks stand out against the green tussock grass that surrounds them. A thin dark stream, winds its way towards the sea. From a distance, the emerald waters of the bay look deceptively peaceful.
For once in a long time, I do not sleep well. I listen to the wind, to raindrops hitting the flysheet, to the waves breaking on the shore. The weather isn't improving and I ponder gloomily the perspective of spending a fourth day stuck on this desolate beach. In the end, we decide to head for HavĂ¸ysund a few kilometres away to check the weather forecast. We launch around noon in a dark green sea. A few people are out fishing; their small motorboats appear and disappear in the swell. We moor the kayaks in one of the small harbours and find the public library. It is rather small, located in a basement under a convenience store, but it is well furnished and has computers with good
mpanied by flocks of cormorants, puffins and razorbills
accompanied by flocks of cormorants, puffins and razorbills. Wave crests shine in the squally light, which outlines the relief of this everchanging liquid landscape. We finally reach a place called Gråkollen on the east coast of Magerøya. It is 9pm and very cold. There are clear traces of ancient habitations amongst the tussock grass close to the beach; reindeer with their calves had been grazing nearby but fled as we approached.
Midnight paddle for Ruth.
internet access. With apprehension, I search for an area marine forecast: it states that the calmest weather will be tomorrow night, then the wind is due to pick up again. We're back outside, heading for the kayaks, each waiting for the other to break the silence. In the end, we decide to go for it and set of nervously eastwards. The waves and swell are the biggest I have paddled in so far and regularly hide my surroundings behind dark, liquid walls. Intimidated at first, I slowly relax. The waves are not breaking and looking at the mainland to the right, I can see that we are making progress. We cover the 10km crossing to Måsøya in less than two hours and decide to carry on and head for Magerøya, another 10km to the east. The ride is exhilarating; we are
Apprehension and excitement keep Ruth awake at night. In the morning, there are sleet showers when the forecast had given hopes of sunshine. We slowly get ready and, as we paddle out of our sheltered bay, the head of a lone seal pops up between the waves. We make decent progress and arrive in sight of Gjesvær within two hours. Tourist boats circumnavigate the Gjesværstappan bird reserve, three small distinctively cake-shaped islands. The sheltered sea is deceptively calm, rays of sunshine are finally piercing the clouds and I feel secure, trying to believe that in a few hours, we will have safely rounded the North Cape. Surely, it cannot be that easy? We set our course north-east. Squadrons of puffins and razorbills fly in tight formation around us, while others confer in small groups on the water. The amplitude of the swell increases steadily as we progress northwards; there are overfalls far off in the distance. As we travel past the next headland, from the top of the waves, we distinctly see a sandy beach. We recognise it as our planed lunch spot, which, we realise, will remain beyond reach since the north-easterly swell sends huge waves crashing on rocks by the shore.
Honningsvag It slowly dawns on us that, should we decide to carry on, we will not be able to land until we reach Skarsvåg, 20 kilometres away. In the current conditions, it seems that only a harbour will offer a safe enough landing spot. As we digest this new fact, two freak waves break unexpectedly close to our left with an enormous roar. This sends the adrenaline rushing and we rapidly paddle further out. Kayaking was enjoyable in the morning, now it has become downright scary. Ruth notices my unease, “We don't need to carry on, we can go back,” she says, half hoping I'd agree. “We should still try though,” I reply, reluctant to give up despite the knot forming in my stomach and the uncontrollable fear rising inside. We give the cliffs a widening berth and paddle uphill, downhill, uphill... and so on. There is little wind, no evidence of more waves breaking, no spume, just moving mounds of dark water. The cloud cover gives a pinkish glow to the afternoon light. The next headland is
Knivskjelodden, at 71°11'08'', it reaches further north but is much less dramatic than the North Cape itself. It appears and disappears following the rhythm of the waves. Our feeling of isolation increases when a fishing boat that was keeping pace with us finally turns around and vanishes off towards Gjesvær. We seem to progress dangerously slowly. I want this stretch done with and paddle as fast as I can sustain, shouting at Ruth to hurry, soaking myself with sweat. I keep steering northwards, away from the cliffs. “Ruth, please, let's go further north!” I plead regularly, panic in my voice, and paddle even faster. She fears I'm off to Svalbard and struggles to reason with me; my reaction worries her more than the sea state. Once past Knivskjelodden, a pair of gannets fly close by, as if to salute us. I am relieved and extremely happy to see to see these birds, as if receiving the unexpected visit from an old friend. They remind me of Flamborough Head, our favourite and oft visited kayaking spot on the Yorkshire coast. Their familiar presence reassures
Kayaking was enjoyable in the morning, now it has become downright scary.
Ruth notices my unease
I am relieved and extremely happy to see to see these birds, as if receiving the unexpected visit
from an old friend
me: maybe it's a good sign, maybe rounding Nordkapp is no more difficult than our local paddle after all? I relax slightly. The famous cape is now visible in the distance with its 300-metre cliffs plunging straight towards the sea. We see the metal globe that marks its top and the breakers at its base. Buses filled with tourists are coming up along the road. As we eventually round the Cape we catch sight of
Last camp before reaching Mageroya
Nordkapphornet sprouting from its side, a prominent rock formation sacred to the SĂĄmi people. The waves do not abate until we reach the entrance of Risfjorden, which leads to SkarsvĂĽg, so we keep concentration levels high. As sunny spells succeed brief showers, we are treated to a sequence of magnificent rainbows. Ahead of us, golden cliffs shine through sunlit curtains of rain. Gradually, we relax, and laugh, and cry, and chat more casually. Tiredness suddenly overwhelms me and my legs struggle to function. I am wet with sweat and cold and the little harbour seems very far still. Ruth copes courageously with sore feet and an aching right wrist; she had felt like the bones were coming out of their sockets in the morning, before the adrenaline kicked in. Then we arrive. Some men are preparing to go out fishing while others just returned. The cars nearby have German and Polish number plates.
Epilogue Early the following day, bright sunlight is pouring through the window, heedless of the thin curtains, preventing me from returning to sleep. Or perhaps it is the coffee I drank until the small morning hours that now keeps me awake? The previous evening, local paddler Magnus had driven us to his home in Honningsvåg, and cooked us dinner. Then we chatted for hours, about Norway, about sea kayaking, about the North Cape, while the intense Arctic light shone relentlessly outside. Ruth celebrated our arrival here by drinking a miniature Bowmore, which we'd dubbed the “Nordkapp whisky”, a gift from my mother on her last visit to York, Magnus drew from his own reserves of Glenfiddich, and I swallowed mugs of coffee whilst eating most of the large chocolate bar he bought for us. The North Cape was given its famous name by Englishman Richard Chancellor as his ship passed the cliffs in 1553 whilst in search of a north-east passage to China. Since then, like any point at the edge of a map, it has come to symbolise the quintessential goal, a destination, which, if it isn't reached, leaves an after-taste of unfinished business. A few days ago, we would never have guessed that our quest was to be over so suddenly. We have reached Honningsvåg, the exit port of Magerøya, after a single day of kayaking along the island's cliffs and the aim that kept us going for over two months is no more. We have been lucky. Kayaking along Finnmark's exposed coastline and around the Cape meant
It is important to stress this journey would not have been possible without the selfless help of many, our families, our friends in York, Denmark and Norway, fellow sea kayakers and local people in Scandinavia. Ruth and I will always remember their selfless generosity with profound gratitude.
If you are interested in reading the full story (and in learning a bit more of the truth), please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for a free copy.
treading the limits of what we had been ready to undertake and, in that sense, we had not been disappointed. Although our technical abilities hadn't been tested, I had certainly hit a mental barrier. Nothing in our past experience had prepared us for the size of swell we faced, or for the overwhelming feeling of remoteness and inaccessibility. For the first time, we paddled in conditions that neither of us could quite assess nor felt comfortable with. We hadn't come to Norway with conquerors' mindsets, yet we had been acutely aware that on this occasion, the sea gods could have dealt with us as they pleased. It had been a humbling, awe-inspiring experience. Upon reaching Skarsvåg we hadn't felt elated, but relieved and deeply grateful for the sea had let us pass. We knew then that this was the right place to end our journey north.
A man in famously baggy trousers once chanted “ It’s Hammer Time” I reckon it was good advice!
By Richard Cree
We recently purchased a Hammer
to give the more experienced club members something to play in, we took a bit of a gamble not finding much reading on the subject other than the usual stats, “wow” we were pleasantly surprised.
he hammer has many features most noticeable is its huge rocker, four hatches, full plate footrest, deck lines and elastics, space to rest your split paddles, toggles and grab handles, white water outfitting, adjustable skeg and it’s made from bomb proof plastic! First thoughts looking at the hull, to be honest were a little disappointing so much rocker how slow was it going to be? Had we made the wrong decision in purchasing it? Thankfully I was wrong very wrong! The maiden voyage had us heading out from a beach on Islay in to the wind, force 6 gusting 7, the hammer behaved impeccably, although in the short shallow waves the bow was pretty splashy but not to bouncy, directional control was helped using the skeg, it remained down in various positions for the rest of the trip only going back in to its housing as we played together around the rocks.
Unfortunately I forgot about the skeg and gave it a few good bangs and to its credit I didn’t manage to harm it in any way. With all that rocker and not a huge waterline length I was worried about speed would I manage to keep up with the group? Fortunately it was fine, not fast but more than adequate, let’s face it’ you’re not buying a Hammer with speed records at the forefront of your mind! It’s as quick as anything else in to the wind with a fairly average paddler supplying the power and down wind maybe quicker as you will want to catch and surf every wave! Our new Hammers next outing was to Portencross a local play spot, combine a little tide with a little wind and some big lumps of rock and you get ideal conditions for ‘Hammering’. These new waves were significantly steeper than what we experienced on Islay, almost too steep as you sat at the top looking down in to the rock filled trough – no need to worry the hammer just takes it in its stride!
The P&H Hammer is a radical new kayak primed to take ‘play the sea’ and river exploration to a whole new level.
Influences from the P&H Delphin and the Pyranha Fusion and aspects of whitewater kayak design feature in the Hammer; giving both sea and white-water paddlers the opportunity to have some serious fun. The Hammer’s dynamically angled planning hull, bow volume and narrowed stern keep it fast and light on a wave and super manoeuvrable around tight rock outcrops and in coastal swell.
Cargo capacity and flat-water speed make the Hammer ideal for self-contained river exploration. A drop-down skeg helps with tracking on flat-water sections and four storage compartments make it easy to haul enough gear for major trips. The ultimate ocean play boat. A river exploration machine. Rock hopping, source-to-sea trips, surfing, and coastal exploration--the Hammer is versatile enough to do it all.
Combine a little tide with a little wind and some big lumps of rock and you get ideal conditions
Length: Width: Weight: Weight range: Cockpit: Volume: Front Hatch: Day Hatch: Rear Hatch: Mini Hatch:
407cm 60.5cm 28kg 65-110kg 84x42 cm 320 litres 51 litres 35 litres 65 litres 4 litres
What P&H say…
Straight down the face,
throw in a turn and your bouncing off the back of the wave through the foam wearing the biggest smile, having had the best ride of the day. When rock-hopping near the edge or playing on pour overs, the Hammer as you would expect is extremely manoeuvrable. It sits high on the foam pile giving an air of confidence, making contact with the rock much less than you would expect. Even when sliding fast I found it very easy to release from the wave with a simple rudder or combination stroke. Although when you apply a bit of edge your line tightens up and the Hammer goes where you want even managing bottom turns on a beach break.
The Hammer feels like a big boat and although it’s comfortable and the outfitting allows you to get snug I would love to try a slightly lower volume version. The Hammer has been well thought out in terms of rescue. It rolls equally well on flat water as well as when its side surfing down a wave, self rescues were not any harder than doing them in a more contemporary sea kayak and during assisted rescues the rescuer had no difficulty emptying the water from the cockpit or manoeuvring the kayak so as I could enter. We keep seeing pictures of this boat on flat water and hearing people talk about how easily it turns, have they missed the point? I would question the sanity of anyone who buys a Hammer and doesn’t go rock-hopping or surfing, it is an out and out sea kayak designed and built for playing.
Richard Cree is one of the founders of the newly formed West Coast Paddlers Sea Kayak Club based on the west of Scotland. With a paddling career that spans nearly 30 years, he has been the RCO for Strathclyde West, a member of the SCA board and a contributor at many shows and symposiums over the years. Although mostly a sea kayaker he has been spotted coaching from his play boat or using a canoe to journey. He currently offers private guiding / coaching in a variety of environments and is a P&H team paddler. At the end of your day if your cheeks don’t hurt from smiling and your head isn’t full of the sea you have being doing something wrong. To date we have had six people try our Hammer, two of which have decided to purchase their own, and the others perhaps not as experienced all loved the play potential, its forgivingness and its desire to please you. In Summary, I loved it. It wouldn’t be my only boat but when the wind is blowing, the swell is up and you have a date with the edge I wouldn’t want anything else!
ILLUSTRATION BY GARYCK ARNTZEN HTTP://GARYCKARNTZEN.DEVIANTART.COM
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"They say that when God designed the Brazilian coast, He started from the north going down to the south and was very generous, creating beautiful places with bays, inlets and islands.When he reached the state of Rio Grande do Sul, the ns southernmost one, he was exhausted e lat P ion and made a straight line... ". R. to E cio r a nglis h: Clarisse Ricci, Photos: M
TER PADDLING) ThePaddler 101
This is an anecdote often told when it comes to Brazil's geography. Our state's coast is almost a straight line: a single beach 622 km long with few interruptions. In its northern part (located near the parallel 30째 S) the coastal plain is squeezed between the Atlantic sandy barrier and the mountains, which reach more than a 1,000 metres. In this plain there are a variety of over 40 lagoons supplied by water running from the top of the mountains. Despite many of them being interconnected, they flow to the open ocean through a single channel.
Human occupation in this region is still mainly concentrated in ocean beach cities, and the lagoons' surroundings are basically constituted by private recreational properties and by agriculture or livestock farms.
Southern Brazil's climate displays strong temperature variations, reaching below zero temperatures during winter cold fronts and surpassing 30 degrees Celsius during summer hot spells. Recreational sea kayaking is, as yet, an incipient activity in Brazil, with very few practitioners, something hard to explain in a country with more than 8,000 kilometres of coastline and a multitude of rivers to paddle. This reality is reflected by a still limited supply of equipment.
In this context we decided to gather a group of friends who like to paddle and promote this healthy outdoor activity in what became known as our Remada de Inverno (Winter Paddling). Though winter conditions are less inviting than summer for canoeing, cold and wind also discourage tourists, fishermen, hunters and speedboat users, whose absence allows for animals and plants to recover the natural environment, thus stimulating nature sighting activities. We seek to stimulate fellowship among paddler friends through a cooperative and collaborative activity without support vehicles â€“ after all, we have ocean kayaks with full load capacity and autonomy â€“ and without any competitive character. There are no registration fees or any commercial relationships; it is essentially a two or three days paddling among friends, something quite rare in events involving outdoors activities in Brazil.
The Winter Paddling had its first expedition in 2011; the second took place in 2012, and the third in 2013. In these three occasions, the route was planned between the cities of Maquin茅 and Os贸rio, and adapted according to the weather conditions. Owing to the lack of natural barriers and since the lagoons are shallow and not subjected to tidal action, the wind is the main limiting factor that guides decision-making concerning the route. On the first expedition, there was a lot of rain on the days preceding the paddling, so the lagoons were full, with water levels above the normal bed and a strong stream flow, while the wind was oscillating its direction between the northern and southern quadrants. On the expedition edition, the south wind was again a decisive factor that led us to modify the initial plan.
s oE Leonard
Marcio R Pereira
The 2013 Winter Paddling
Our initial plan was to depart from Peixoto lagoon (located near Osório), paddle through the lagoons of Pinguela, Palmital and Malvas, take the João Pedro channel and finally camp on the shores of Lagoa dos Quadros (Quadros lagoon), a gorgeous beach with plenty of shady trees. On the second day, we had planned to paddle through Lagoa dos Quadros, ending up on the Maquiné River.
The 14 of us met up in the city of Osório, our starting point, in a day that was cold and very windy owing to the passage of a cold front. The wind speed, measured with an anemometer, reached 68 km/h gusts. Since our original route would have left us too much exposed, we were forced to adopt our alternative plan: a route that was shorter but more sheltered from the wind. Instead of paddling all the way to Lagoa dos Quadros, we drove to Recanto, a scenic property of one of us (Leonardo Esch) over the Maquiné riverside, where we could start paddling by the river and move along the sheltered shore of the lagoon.
Even in the shelter of the shore, the wind was strong enough to overturn two kayaks (one single and one double) in the region where the river meets the lagoon – though without any major consequences. We paddled to a beautiful beach full of shady trees and found a splendid camping spot under the delightful sunshine of a crisp winter's day. With everybody's help, the kayaks were transported and unloaded, and the turmoil of paddling and cooking equipment, tents, sleeping bags and food slowly settled down in the lively and laid-back atmosphere of the Winter Paddling. All 12 kayaks were placed side by side, and the wet clothes and equipment were put to dry on our communitarian clothes line.
We enjoyed the lovely afternoon chatting about kayaks and trips; one of us took some rest while others were already moving around to gather dry branches for a campfire. In these events, we follow the minimal impact guidelines, taking away all our waste and even scavenging any rubbish we find on the way.The campfire is a get-together element, particularly when camping in cold weather: its warmth creates a cosy atmosphere and its heat provides the energy source to prepare our meal. Even nowadays, small bonfires are part of the countryside culture in our state – and thus part of our own culture as well. Considering we are still few practitioners and the low frequency of such outdoor activities during the winter, the overall impact of our campfires is minimal; in short time any scars left by the fire are completely vanished.
On our Winter Paddling, meals are shared and each person contributes with some dish and drink of their own choice.The most appreciated combination, however, is the traditional gaúcho barbecue (the original version of what became known abroad as Brazilian barbecue) accompanied by wine. By the time our meal was ready, the wind had completely stopped blowing and we ate and drank under a clear starry sky, in the cold air of a winter's night.We had planned our Winter Paddling to coincide with a full moon, and as the moon was at its closest approach to the Earth – a phenomenon known as super full moon – it was so bright that it was possible to read a book under moonlight!
After this fun get-together, we took advantage of the moment to make some decisions on the next day activities and finally everyone went to their tents to get some rest.
As we woke up the next day at dawn, we were presented with a few clouds being slowly coloured pink and orange by the rising sun. Fortunately, there was no wind and the water was so still it looked like a mirror. Little by little, we got out of our tents and started to prepare breakfast and later to dismantle the camp. Again, the colourful turmoil of miscellaneous equipment was slowly organized until it disappeared into the kayaks' watertight compartments. One more friend joined us in the morning of this day, totalling 15 paddlers in 13 kayaks.
Lagoa dos Quadros
We left our beautiful camping spot, paddling through mirror looking water towards large sand dunes on the eastern shore of Lagoa dos Quadros. There we landed by the feet of the dunes and climbed up to get a high view of the stunning seaside landscape. From the top, we could see the lagoon, now peaceful and calm, and a small rocky island where we would paddle to next. At the horizon lay the beautiful mountain ridge, which reaches 1,000 metres.
Camaraderie and fellowship
Back in the kayaks, we headed straight to the rocky island, crossing nine kilometres of calm waters disturbed only by the wakes of the kayaks and by a light breeze that transformed the water surface into a liquid carpet. Arriving at the island, we settled down on the rocks to have lunch.Wind started blowing again, but to a lesser intensity than on the previous day. It was just perfect to ride some waves and add a bit of excitement to the final crossing, on our way back to Recanto, along the MaquinĂŠ River.
All in all, despite having to adapt our original plan to the weather conditions, we had a wonderful time. It wasn't a lengthy paddle, but it was held in a beautiful region of Southern Brazil and it was definitely rich in camaraderie and fellowship among friends that come from ten different locations of our country. www.leonardoesch.blogspot.com
INFORMATION LOCATION: Brazil covers nearly half of South America and is the continent's largest nation. It extends 2,965 mi (4,772 km) north-south, 2,691 mi (4,331 km) east-west, and borders every nation on the continent except Chile and Ecuador. Brazil may be divided into the Brazilian Highlands, or plateau, in the south and the Amazon River Basin in the north. Over a third of Brazil is drained by the Amazon and its more than 200 tributaries. Southern Brazil is drained by the Plata system – the Paraguay, Uruguay, and Paraná rivers.
LANGUAGE: Portuguese is the national language. English is more prevalent in the tourist hot spots but learn a bit of Portuguese and you’ll go far.
WEATHER: The vast size of the country means that the Brazilian climate can vary greatly from region to region. The coastal cities of Rio de Janeiro, Recife and Salvador are hot and sticky for most of the year while plateau cities such as Sao Paulo, Brasilia and Belo Horizonte are milder. The southern cities of Curitiba and Porto Alegre can get quite cold during the winter.
Rainy seasons occur from January to April in the north, April to July in the northeast and November to March in the Rio and São Paulo area. The driest part of the country is the northeast, where rainfall is irregular and the evaporation rate very high.
CURRENCY: The Brazil currency is called the real and its sign is “R$.” If you are planning a trip to Brazil, you should know what their currency is. Its ISO code is BRL, and the real is subdivided into 100 centavos or hundredths.
CULTURE: Brazil is a true melting pot. Brazilians, and their culture, are a mix of the Portuguese settlers, Brazilian native peoples, African slaves and Caribbean peoples.This has lead to a unique culture that took all of that and made it into something completely new.This is seen in everything and everywhere.
VISAS: Brazil has a reciprocal visa policy with all countries, meaning that whenever prices and restrictions are applied to Brazilian visiting a country, Brazil adopts the same measures for that country's visitors.
BIODIVERSITY: Brazil is considered one of the most biodiverse places in the world because its rainforests are home to more than 1,000 bird species, 3,000 fish species and many mammals and reptiles such as alligators, freshwater dolphins and manatees.The rainforests in Brazil are being cut at a rate of up to four percent per year due to logging, ranching and slash and burn agriculture. Pollution of the Amazon River and its tributaries is also a threat to the rainforests.
GEOGRAPHY: The main land characteristic of Brazil is the extensive Amazon rain forest in the north, and the hilly and low mountainous region in the south. Brazil contains almost 60% of the Amazon rain forest.The south of Brazil has most of the agricultural population of Brazil, as well as the agricultural base.The highest peak is Pico da Neblina, at 9735 feet in Guiana's highlands.The entire Atlantic coast is home to several mountain ranges, some reaching up to 9500 feet in height.The chief rivers in Brazil are the Amazon, Parana, Igacu and the Negro, Xingu, Madeira,Tapajos and Sao Francisco rivers.
The Lin Linville ville River lies tuck tucked ed a away way in the Linville Linville Gorge Wilder Wilderness ness and has long been called â€œThe Grand Can Canyon yon of the East.â€? The fforbidding orbidding nature of the terrain terrain has made resource extraction impossible, and ffor or some, lik like e TTyy Cald Caldwell, well, that is a calling like like none other. other. Land only Mother Nature can touch. Who could possibly pass that up? Standard Full Cut Flow Distribution: www.systemxeurope.com .systemxeurope.com
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h e c i i l y s B e ov L ol K Photo: Joan Vienot
For more information on how you can participate wherever you may be on the Planet visit www.supradioshow.com/wpftp Stay tuned for my weekly podcast of The Paddler’s Planet with my guest host Christian Wagley on www.supradioshow.com,
Paddlers and wildlife meet along the shore By Christian Wagley
ne of the things that many of us enjoy about paddling is that it brings us closer to the beautiful places and wildlife that we love.That closeness comes with a special responsibility to paddle lightly.
“Where we are Standing Up It’s obvious that paddleboards, canoes, and kayaks are much more environmentally-friendly than powerboats, avoiding for the Planet!” the noise, emissions, and leaking oil and fuel that motorized craft bring to our waterways. Ironically though, in some ways paddlers can actually cause more disturbances because we tend to recreate closer to shore than powerboats.
The shoreline is that dynamic and undulating place where waves come shore, trees and vegetation soften the edge, birds and wildlife nest and forage, and fish find plenty of food in the shallows. Because of all that life and activity, it’s where we tend to do most of our paddling.That brings people and wildlife together in the same place.
The principles of ethical paddling will be on display this fall at World Paddle for the Planet – October 10-13 on Lake Powell, a rare coastal dune lake in Panama City Beach, Florida. Join us for four days of education, celebration, a film festival, and a 24hour paddling fundraiser for Mother Ocean. Learn more at: www.worldpaddlefortheplanet.com
Animals live on the edge of existence, constantly struggling to get enough food, avoid predators and other perils, and to reproduce. When disturbed, they take flight to swim or fly away, which is an expenditure of energy. Now they have to make that up by acquiring more calories. For animals, getting enough food is hard work, and sometimes there just isn’t enough. Malnourished animals are more susceptible to disease or predation and it is difficult to undertake the energy-intensive act of reproduction.
The first step toward being a responsible, wildlife-friendly paddler is to know where you’re paddling and adjust behaviour accordingly. Do research online, review charts, and most importantly—talk to locals who paddle and know that area. It’s okay to hoot and holler on an urban paddle where there is little wildlife, but in wilder places we want to paddle lightly and quietly and give wildlife a wide berth.
I once had somebody warn me about the many very large and fearless alligators in a bayou I was about to paddle for the first time. With those big reptiles in mind, I stayed a bit away from shore, and when I saw those ten-foot alligators sunning along the water’s edge I was glad I did. I still got to enjoy and appreciate the wildlife, but from a safe distance.
Birds are the most common animals we see along the shore. As we approach we should notice how their behaviour changes, and if we see them watching us closely we might be getting too close. Keep a responsible distance and reach for a good pair of water-resistant binoculars so you can observe from a bit farther away.
Schooling fish are fun to see, but avoid blasting through the middle of them just to watch them scatter. Again, observe from a responsible distance and watch them twist and turn in magical ways. Keeping a respectful distance from wildlife can make us better paddlers who are more sensitive to the subtleties of the natural world.
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Polar Bears and Pad
In August 2013, a team of ten paddlers completed a world first: to SUP approximately 100km of the Sermilik Fjord on the east coast of Greenland in an audacious bid to reach the Helheim Glacier, one of the largest glaciers on the planet.
The team at the farthest point of their journey in the Sermilik Fjord.
When people think of SUP they tend to think of catching waves on surf beaches, paddling around the Florida Keys or exploring a city by river, so the words ‘polar bears’ and ‘paddleboards’ don’t seem to go together – but they did for a team taking on an ‘Arctic’ paddleboarding expedition! Taking inflatable SUPs to paddle between icebergs in an area just outside of the Arctic circle may seem like a crazy idea, but a multi-national team of ten have just returned from the first (known) such paddleboarding expedition in Greenland.
Main photo: Julez Ball Inset photo: Charlie, Mo and Paul
The ambitious ‘Polar Bears and Paddleboards’ project was initially thought up by Paul Hyman of London and Brighton based paddleboarding company ‘Active 360’ and professional adventurer Justin Miles who is the face of the UK wide ‘Schools Explorer’ education initiative. A wine-fuelled brainstorming session after a paddle on the Thames one evening gave rise to the idea of taking paddleboarding to new and remote destinations to demonstrate the versatility of the sport. Over the following months, surprisingly, a team of crazy likeminded SUPers came together to breathe life in to the project and ‘make it happen’.
The objectives of the project were to use an attention-grabbing expedition as a focal point to promote and develop the sport of stand-up paddleboarding, to encourage people to get active outdoors, to support selected charities and to generate material for Justin’s ‘Schools Explorer’ project. As the destination the team chose the Sermilik Fjord on the east coast of Greenland in the hope that the relatively sheltered waters would make for good paddling and some stunning images with a few icebergs serving as a dramatic backdrop. What they actually encountered when they arrived was totally off the scale!
Justin Miles, on behalf of the team continues the story…
Justin Miles, on behalf of the team continues the story… ThePaddler 120
“When we arrived at Kulusuk we had to camp in the town overnight whilst waiting for the boat which would transport us, and our 46 bags of luggage including paddleboards and filming equipment to the entrance to the Semilik Fjord. Whilst we were there we encountered many locals who were telling us that the fjord didn’t just have a few icebergs – it was ram-packed!” The following morning, the boats arrived to take the team out to the mouth of the fjord to begin the expedition. These boats, under the control of experienced helmsmen race through a hair-raising course, weaving between the icebergs at breakneck speeds. Just in case the worst should happen, the boats are double-hulled to give additional support should they strike an iceberg and they are fully equipped with immersion suits, life-rafts and other emergency equipment. “We were dropped off on land just inside the entrance to the fjord late in the afternoon, so after a quick gathering of thoughts we decided to use the rest of the afternoon to set up camp, collect water, repack our bags in ‘expedition order’, run through safety drills and of course pump up the boards” The inflatable paddleboards that the team took, were supplied by one of the key supporters of the expedition: TV personality, ‘adventure junkie’ and leader of the scout movement – Bear Grylls. Bear, a keen Mo, Phil Paul and Justin
We experienced, for the first time, the Phil and Charlie heading towards more tightly packed ice.
paddleboarder himself, has been working with leading SUP manufacturer Coreban to develop a new inflatable expedition paddleboard. The first outing and true test of the boards was through the ‘Polar Bears and Paddleboards’ expedition. “Setting up the Coreban BG boards is a fast and simple process. Ten minutes of pumping followed by securing the fins in place and you’re off. In less than 15 minutes per board we had them set up and ready to go. “We weren’t intending to paddle on that first day, but the sun was shining and hot, the water in the fjord was like glass and the temptation to paddle was just too strong. The excited buzz on the beach soon faded as we drifted out on the icy water between the icebergs and we experienced, for the first time, the true beauty, eeriness and total awesomeness of where we were.”
Experienced helmsmen race through a hair-raising course, weaving between the icebergs at
Film maker Justin 'hanks' Hankinson on a SUP for the first time
where we were
e true beauty, eeriness and total awesomeness of
with Charlie Head
Flag illustrations by Garyck Arntzen
Justin with Phil wearing a mosquito net
One of the conundrums that the team faced was the choice of apparel for the expedition. With possible conditions which included boiling hot sun, rain, sleet, high winds and the ever present threat of falling in to the freezing water the team had to take clothing to suit every situation.
“On the first morning, after discussions which must have made us sound like a bunch of teenage girls deciding what to wear on a night out, we eventually decided that we would start the day in our Ocean Rodeo dry suits. After re-packing the 46 bags (supplied by Berghaus) on to the support boat driven by local Inuit hunters Lars and his father Imica we launched in to the bay and set off for the first day of our journey.
“By the end of the day we were all absolutely baking hot. Lars, the boatman had indicated that he knew of a good place to camp which had running water and was sheltered should the wind pick up overnight. Late in the afternoon we rounded a small headland to be confronted with the spectacular sight of a white sandy beach with a waterfall tumbling from the rocks behind. We couldn’t believe our eyes; this was more like Hawaii than what we expected to find in Greenland
“Once again, lugging the 46 bags off of the boat (I give reference to that number of bags a lot – when you have to carry 46 bags everywhere it tends to be quite memorable!) left us even hotter and sweating buckets. Some of the team headed off on the boat with Lars and Imica to witness a seal hunt and the rest of us did something very different.
“Words just aren’t enough to describe what we saw and how we felt on that first day. It was just absolutely awesome! The icebergs were an amazing array of shapes, sizes and colours from pure white to various shades of blue “Julez and Phil were the first in. Phil ran in to the water and even black and there were lots of them! dressed only in shorts with Julez hot on his heels sporting her ‘South Africa’ bikini. A few minutes later I joined them “Even though the water was very cold, the sun was - in shorts, not a bikini - as did Mo, Paul and Jaime. blazing hot, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky; we were all covered in factor 50 sun cream and still we were getting “It felt totally unreal to be swimming with icebergs and burned skin and chapped lips. By half way through the actually enjoying it. The shallow beach in this cove morning we were all struggling with the heat and made for slightly warmer water than in the main fjord stripping our dry suits off. so we were able to stay in the water and have fun with the small icebergs in the cove. Paul actually tried to “The silence in the fjord was interrupted by intermittent paddle one, but every time he stood up the ‘berg would chatter from the team and the thunderous roars of roll and throw him back in to the water. icebergs cracking and splitting which echoed terrifyingly around the fjord like canon fire. “That evening, during our meal of rehydrated stuff in various flavours, we had the most irritating battle with “We took lunch on the boards, drifting around in the most clouds of mosquitoes. The little blighters were everywhere, bizarre and surreal location in the world. By this time, poking their proboscis in to any patch of exposed skin, we’d all stripped off and were wearing our Oakley board sticking themselves to our food and even flying in to our shorts and tops, apart from Jaime who insisted in dressing mouths as they opened to accept another spoon full of like a ‘human seal’ in his trusty old surfing wetsuit and nutrition (calling it ‘food’ does it far too much justice!).” we bobbed around on paddleboards among a mass of icebergs with the sun glaring down as we nibbled our snacks and sipped soup – it just didn’t seem ‘real’.
actually enjoying it
It felt totally unreal to be swimming with icebergs and
A scientific diving party in the fjord had measured the water temperature at a staggering minus 2.8 degrees.
Left: Mo doing a headstand
Mosquitoes are prolific during the summer months in Greenland and can make life uncomfortable, even if you are prepared. There are lots of insect repellents available through outdoor shops, chemists and supermarkets and head veils are a very good addition to your kit list. You could also consider ‘smoking’ repellents to keep the insects out of tents and away from communal areas. “The following morning, after a breakfast of porridge mixed with various ‘stuff’, including dead mosquitoes, we were quite sad to leave our perfect white sand beach and head north.” “The further we travelled, the more condensed the ice became and picking routes through was, at times, quite a challenge. Because the icebergs crack up, split, roll and huge chunks fall off you have to make sure that you leave a wide birth but at times that was quite difficult because the ‘alleys’ were so tight. At one point, one huge ‘berg split and dropped a chunk of ice about the size of a decent sized house in to the water not far from us which created quite a wave which in turn set off a chain reaction of other icebergs splitting and rolling. “When we reached the remote village of Tiniteqilaaq we were given word by the villagers and by a passing party of kayakers that the possibilities of continuing the journey were looking bleak because the ice was so tightly packed ahead of us. “Exploring the village of Tiniteqilaaq was fascinating. We looked around the town, played soccer with the local kids, looked at the fly-covered fish hanging up to dry, saw dead seals anchored to the bottom in the water to keep them fresh for dog food, played with the husky pups and we saw the skin from a freshly killed polar bear hanging up to dry on the banister of one of the huts – just like we may hang a rug out to air back home in the UK. “We camped on a small island opposite the town that night, melting icebergs to supply the water for rehydrating our food and building a small fire from driftwood as company for the guys doing ‘polar bear watch.” Polar bears have been known to hunt humans for food, so having adequate systems to monitor any approaching bears and systems for how to scare them off are essential. As well as the ‘polar bear watch’ which took place all night every night, the team were drilled in what to do if a bear approached and they were armed with flares used to scare the bears and, as a last resort, a rifle. “Pressing on, we found that the reports were quite true. The ice was becoming more tightly packed and our progress was slowed tremendously. We managed to travel about 10 kilometres beyond the town when we took the decision, for safety sake, to halt progress and ‘plant our flag’. We could have tried to pick our way slowly forward, but we felt that by stopping where we did the expedition was still a success and we hadn’t taken any unnecessary risks. “We took photographs, lots of photographs and our documentary maker Justin ‘Hanks’ Hankinson shot some brilliant footage from a cliff top, then we turned and headed back the way we’d come”
Justin, Brad, Jaime, Julez, Phil giving an idea of the scale of some of the icebergs
killed polar bear
We saw the skin from a freshly
hanging up to dry on the bannister of one of the huts â€“ just like we may hang a rug out to air back home in the UK
Left to right: Phil, Paul, Mo, Julez, Justin, Jaime, and Stuart Sermilik Fjord
Three husky pups at Tiniteqilaaq. The pups had their first SUP session when they hitched a lift on Paul Hymans board
Mo stretching out before a long day of paddling
Late Greenlandic winter The general opinion from the local inhabitants was that the excessive ice in the Sermilik fjord was largely due to the Greenlandic winter ending several weeks later than usual. The team also met a team of glaciologists from Cambridge University who were there monitoring the Helheim glacier at the head of the fjord. Due to a shift in the gulf stream, slightly warmer water than usual is being forced through the Sermilik fjord which is undercutting the face of the Helheim glacier and causing it to retreat by an astonishing and quite alarming rate of 25 meters every day, depositing it’s chunks of ice in to the fjord.
“The journey home was quite sad in many ways. We’d worked on this project for around two years and now the biggest part of it was drawing to a close. There was a mixture of emotions from the team as we re-traced our path. “On the journey back we stopped to explore an abandoned village. The villagers had all been relocated to larger settlements by the government to make healthcare and education provision a simpler and more economical process (it may make it easier and more cost effective for the government, but this type of activity is killing the traditional Greenlandic way of life). The village looked very much like the people had literally just walked out; the houses still contained the remnants of everyday life from cutlery and crockery to clothes. The school house was still there and full of books and the church was still there in pristine condition. “When we arrived back at our pick-up point we had to de-rig all of our equipment and re-pack everything for the journey home, which was done with a great degree of reluctance.” When the team came to deflate their Coreban BG boards, they found that despite being subjected to boiling hot sun, freezing water, having been bumped, bashed and dragged across ice and having been loaded with over 200 kilos per board when transporting the luggage from the boat to the shore they hadn’t lost any air pressure at all. “With everything packed and loaded on to the boats we toasted our success and friendship with a swig of whiskey from Charlie Head’s hip-flask.” The ‘Polar Bears and Paddleboards project is far from over and we will be bringing you news about their SUP events around the UK, the work of the team in promoting the sport and, of course, their next adventure!
INFORMATION LOCATION: Greenland is a located between the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. It is technically a part of the North American continent but historically it has been more linked with European countries like Denmark and Norway.Today, Greenland is considered an independent territory within the Kingdom of Denmark. As such, Greenland is dependent on Denmark for the majority of its gross domestic product.
By area, Greenland is distinctive in that it is the world's largest island with an area of 836,330 square miles (2,166,086 sq km). It is not however a continent. Due to its large area and small population of 57,600 people, Greenland is also the most sparsely populated country in the world.
Paul dressed in his Ocean Rodeo dry suit at the start of a chilly morning.
FURTHER EXPEDITION INFO: You can find out more about ‘Polar Bears and Paddleboards’ on the website www.polarbearsand paddleboards.com ‘Polar Bears and Paddleboards’ team members: Justin Miles: www.justforthechallenge.com Paul Hyman: http://active360.co.uk/ Phil Sayers: http://active360.co.uk/ Mohammad Nilforooshan: http://active360.co.uk/ Stuart Howells: http://active360.co.uk/ Jaime Silva Juliette Ball of Development Through Sport Brad Symmington, Coreban UK Charlie Head http://www.oceansup.org/ Justin Hankinson (film maker) The charities supported are: Momentum. Canals and Rivers Trust. Development Through Sport (South Africa). Logistic support was supplied by Norwegian based ‘Newland’.
WEATHER: Greenland has an arctic to subarctic climate with cool summers and very cold winters.The capital Nuuk has an average January low temperature of 14°F (-10°C) and an average July high of just 50°F (9.9°C).
ICE SHEET: Greenland’s huge ice sheet is the second largest on the planet after Antarctica and in places is over two miles thick.The country is covered with so much ice, it has the potential to significantly raise sea levels if the sheet were to melt.
WEST COAST: Ease of access has allowed the west coast to become relatively populated and developed, and recently industrial activities have become significant here. Long ago, migrants from other Arctic regions across Siberia, Alaska and Canada settled in the west first, and European colonists found their way here long before ‘discovering’ other parts of the island. It is home to 51,000 of Greenland’s inhabitants, and here one finds the capital Nuuk.
EAST COAST: The east coast of Greenland is very remote and wild. To the west, the Inland Ice bars any overland connection to the populous and developed west coast. To the east and out to sea the East Greenland Current flows along the entire coast, dragging vast quantities of icebergs and dense Polar ice with it, effectively blocking access to all but the most determined seafarers
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Maui HAWAII From
Need we ask anymore on a young gun to watch within the new generation of SUP surfers and racers? Well, Kody Kerbox of course we do – so read on… Photos: Andrew Welker and Naish.
here and what was your first surf and what got you hooked?
I was too young to remember it, but I was twoyears old and my dad put me on the front of his long board. Since then I have spent many hours doing a variety of things in the ocean. From about the age of 9-13, I stepped away from the water and explored interests in several different land sports, before being drawn back to the ocean with a new found passion. It has been my main focus in life ever sinceâ€Ś
Where was your first competition?
My first stand up paddle competition was a Maliko down wind race when I was 13. My first SUP surf competition was the Dukeâ€™s Ocean Fest in Waikiki on Oahu, Hawaii. I ended up achieving second place to Slater Trout in the Junior Division.
Can you talk about your training? Greatest inspiration? Who/what kept you motivated?
I grew up competing in short and long board competitions on the island of Maui where I was born and raised with two younger brothers. I love to do anything and everything in the water, but recently put all my time and effort into the exploding sport of Stand up Paddling. After joining the Stand up World tour in 2011, I have continued to push my interest in the sport not only through surfing, but in racing as well. I am currently having fun competing professionally on tour and racing all over the world.
My training consists of flat water and downwind paddles, surfing (on any kind of board), beach workouts, swimming and some gym workouts. I try to make all the training I do as fun as possible by going with friends. That always keeps things entertaining and makes working hard a little easier. At least you know someone else is suffering as well. Luckily for me, most of my friends are the best paddlers in the world (Connor Baxter, Kai Lenny, Zane Schweitzer) and this is key, because not only are they pushing me, but inspiring and motivating me all at the same time. Every time I train with them it is competitive, and we all hate losing. So I am always pushed to my limits trying to beat them. I got into stand up surfing when I saw Kai win his first World tour event at Sunset Beach, and I got motivated to race when I saw Connor win the Battle of the Paddle in 2011. So ever since getting into this sport I have been motivated to keep up with them.
How does SUP give you satisfaction?
Stand up paddling gives me satisfaction mostly because it is so much fun! I enjoy catching more waves, riding them longer, and paddling back out to the peak faster. The most satisfying thing for me is riding waves, so I make sure everything I do will help me surf better.
We know you surf a variety of boards plus wind surfing, foil surfing but could you explain to our readers what tow-surf is?
Tow Surfing is the most luxurious way to ride waves. You get ‘towed’ by a jet ski as if you were wakeboarding, but you do it on a heavy surfboard with foot straps designed for going fast. It was originally used as a tool to surf waves too big to paddle into. But now surfers are pushing the limits of what is possible. So we are
seeing tow surfing slowly die out unfortunately. Tow surfing was my favourite thing to do long before I got into short boarding. It’s so nice because you are going five times as fast, catch fifty times more waves, there is no paddling, or hassling for waves (usually) and if you are lucky enough to have a dad like mine, you don’t have to take turns.
Only early doors but what is the biggest accomplishment in your career to date?
My biggest accomplishment has been making the final in the first Stand Up World tour event of 2013 at Sunset Beach. Ever since I began stand up surfing, I dreamed of being in a final with Kai. I saw myself in the final with him at every event I competed in, so I was pretty stoked when it finally happened. Now I want to beat him!
What would be your ultimate achievement?
The ultimate achievement for me would be to win a world title on the Stand Up World tour. I want to do well in racing too, but surfing will always be number one!
Are you naturally competitive?
Yes, I am very naturally competitive. I am so competitive that if I think I will not win, I would rather not try. I feel this has been holding me back. If I put 110% into something and lose, I feel like the world is ending. So I have always held a little back to keep myself from that devastation. This year I have been working really hard on getting over that, and learning how to use it to help me win, instead of holding me back. All these competitive sports are so mentally challenging, but it is hard to be mentally strong. Thatâ€™s what I am trying to work on right now.
Beside yourself, which young men out there are currently shaping and pushing the boundaries of SUP?
Kai Lenny, Connor Baxter, Zane Schweitzer, Slater Trout, Mo Freitas, and Noa Ginella are some of the top young guns coming out of Hawaii, but there are many more all over the world!
What advantages are there to being a Naish rider?
The biggest advantage is being on the best equipment in the world. When you are putting everything into competing at the highest level, you need to have confidence in your gear, and being on Naish equipment gives you that confidence.
Watch Kody Kerbox and his morning routine. http://youtu.be/47SOAitaDQo
In SUP competition – who would you say is your closest competitor?
I would have to say Zane Schweitzer. We always seem to have some good battles in the waves and in racing. It has been great competing with him over the last few years, and I look forward to many more in the future!
What's next in the next 12 months for you in the growing sport of SUP?
I want to keep competing full time on the World Tour, and start following more of the World Series events. As well as most of the other major SUP competitions around the globe. Besides that I want to keep surfing new waves, and try to catch some more big ones in Hawaii!
Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
Hopefully in a nice house on Maui, with a family and a good job that keeps me in the water!
I’m into SUP and going on vacation, where would you recommend?
The great thing about SUP is you can do it anywhere in the world! Lakes, rivers, ponds, pools, oceans, you name it! There are so many great places it would be hard to recommend just one… But I guess it is hard to beat Maui’s Maliko downwind run.
Thanks for your tim
Kody let’s finish with something short and snappy…
If you could paddle with anyone in the world dead or alive who would it be? Albert Einstein. I feel like that would be an interesting paddle session.
Pick two celebrities to be your parents
Kelly Slater and Stephanie Gilmore would be cool, but I would never trade my parents for anyone!
What’s on your TiVo recorder? I don’t have cable… Netflix has taken over!
Done – John John’s new surf movie.
Favourite iPod track?
Right now it’s ”I Love It” by Icona Pop.
If you won $20 million on the lottery, what would you do with it? Invest in property and businesses. Then go toy shopping…
Cats or dogs? Dogs.
Facebook or Twitter? Instagram.
What would I find in your refrigerator right now?
Nothing… I had to eat everything in it because I will be gone for six weeks!
What one luxury item would you take with you on a desert island? A king sized bed.
What do you get really angry about? Other people being disrespectful.
If you were an animal, what would you be? A shark!
If you could be a superhero for one day, what superpower would you choose and why? I would want the ability to fly; I don’t think you could find a greater feeling.
I used to really like football, and the Philadelphia Eagles were my favourite team!
What three words would you use to describe you? Excited, optimistic and honest – those are the things I try to be.
No worries. Stoked to do it! ThePaddler 141
By Ian Smith
On the TOP The game of whitewater is one of uncertainty, the natural arena of rivers as dynamic as any setting on earth. Even the lifestyle built around these rivers is one of adjustable truth. If you’ve ever been told a line is “good to go” and ended up thrashed in a hole, you know what I mean. Perhaps the most variable aspect of this business is the concept of ‘river time’. Meeting your friends at a designated time and place is subject to this phenomenon that often means a lazy start, but in extreme cases, a complete no-show at a remote location that you’ve travelled hours to get to.
My neck hair stood on end as Rob and I docked our boards and walked off onto big slabs of rock just a few yards from Swallow Falls.
The lines are as grey as deciding whether or not to run a drop that is just outside your comfort zone. Despite the fear, disappointment, or annoyance these uncertainties cause, they are the essential ingredients for the adventure we all crave. On one paddling trip with my friend Rob Mazzetti, all of these obscurities seemed to align at once. On this trip, we were planning to make an SUP descent of the Top Yough, the class IV natural flow section with a maximum gradient of well over 100 feet per mile. We had gotten a late start that morning and would be arriving with minimal time to complete the run. The Top begins with a massive feature and would be the hardest and most dangerous whitewater we had ever paddled.
We are standup paddleboarders and particularly enjoy the steep, creeky runs of the Appalachian Mountains near our homes in Pennsylvania. In the beginning of 2012, we were finally starting to paddle creeks and rivers that, previously, we weren’t sure were possible on SUPs. As our skills and knowledge of whitewater progressed, our ambitions shifted towards the Top and Upper sections of the Youghiogheny River in Maryland.
These sections, along with the lower ‘Yough,’ are sacred ground for the immense number of paddlers that frequent this fabled river.
Considering our lack of knowledge about the run and the quickly fading daylight, we were relying on finding an experienced paddler we could trust to show us down the river. Our friend, Wheeler, was that paddler. Whether or not we could convince him to come along, or find him for that matter, was just another river life quandary. As we passed Friendsville, Maryland on our way to the put-in at Swallow Falls State Park, however, we came upon a group of boaters in
the car ahead. A moment later we got a phone call and heard Wheeler on the other end. “I am in the car ahead of you guys!” He had recognized the standup paddleboards on our roof. Earlier that day, Rob had let him know we were coming with plans to run the Top for the first time but he was on the river and we weren’t able to finalize a game-plan. Though he can be as elusive as a yeti, and often as bearded, his timing in clutch situations is something that can be oddly relied upon. Still, we had to convince him to join us on the Top.
It came into view and when the awe and beauty subsided, I immediately thought,“no way.”
We followed them back to Wheeler’s car at the Upper put-in and began making our case. He had just finished paddling the Upper Yough, a committing and incredibly arduous 10-mile run that, alone, makes for an epic day. On top of that, he had done a dawn-patrol lap on the Top beforehand when water levels were better. His already intense day, the dropping water level, and fading daylight didn’t bode well, but the celebratory beer sweating in Wheeler’s palm made it feel outright hopeless. Fortunately for us, we had two things going for us. The first being Rob’s incredible salesmanship and ability to make even a low-flow descent with questionably capable SUPers seem like a terrific idea. The second and probably more convincing point was that Wheeler knew we had driven three hours to get there and that we might try to paddle it alone. He couldn’t have that on his conscious and, with that, we were able to convince him to run the river with us. We ran shuttle and Wheeler took us for a hike to check out the first drop of the run, Swallow Falls. It is a short distance from the road and you could hear the roar of the beast amplifying with every step. It came into view and when the awe and beauty subsided, I immediately thought, “no way.” Wheeler said a better scout could be done once we put-on from the other side but from this angle it looked impossible to run on an SUP without substantial risk of a rocky beat-down. We hiked back up, put on our gear and set off. Daylight was fading and our every move had to be considered and carried out quickly if we were to make it through the gorge before nightfall. Wheeler secured his skirt while Rob and I jumped onto our ULI boards. After less warm up than anyone in their right mind would like, we came to the gaping horizon line where the river drops away with no sign of coming back. My neck hair stood on end as Rob and I docked our boards and walked off onto big slabs of rock just a few yards from Swallow Falls. We eagerly made our way to the lip of the cascade, peering down at the water ricocheting off barren features and erupting in sporadic arcs. Wheeler wearily climbed out of his kayak to join us for the scout. He described the best line for us to take if we decided to go for it. A narrow green tongue guides the way down the 30-foot slide, but a curling, off-angle hydraulic blocks a clean entrance. If you don’t punch the curler you end up sliding down a shallow line that ends in a vertical drop onto a slab of rock that’s about as moist as an aboveground swimming pool deck. If you punch it and get too far right, you risk a collision with a nasty pinning rock halfway down. Rob and I had never seen, let alone paddled, anything like it.
Wheeler, back in his boat, yelled,
After watching Wheeler’s smooth line and inspired by Rob’s pioneering confidence, I narrowly convinced myself to go as well.
“watch my line!” His yellow kayak seemed an extension of his body and soul as he smoothly negotiated the curler and with incredible speed was at the bottom of the mammoth drop. Still convinced I was portaging, I turned to Rob who simply said, “alright,” and headed back to his board. I could tell from his movement that he intended to hit the drop. He hiked upstream, jumped onto his board and turned toward the precipice.
I stood at the lip holding a go-pro and watched in disbelief as he made a perfect approach, crouching as low as possible with a wide surf stance on the thin board. He reached back with his paddle, bracing hard against the falls as if it were a massive wave. Nearly at the bottom and still on his feet, he hit the vertical section. Suspended for a moment in mid-air, it looked as though he was about to stomp the biggest drop we had ever seen on the first attempt. When he hit the base of the falls, however, he collapsed from the speed and came off the board. He popped up immediately, completely unscathed and elated at how well the first try had gone. After watching wheeler’s smooth line and inspired by Rob’s pioneering confidence, I narrowly convinced myself to go as well. Feeling very alone at the top of the drop, I shoved my board off into the final eddy above Swallow. I couldn’t see anyone or hear anything but the roar of cascading water. Pulling out of the eddy was difficult on my trembling legs. It isn’t a difficult move but the mental turmoil of the unknown took over, gripping my body like a vice. I never imagined a fear of heights would affect my standup paddleboarding but I was rigid, dwelling on how far I was about to descend. I pulled out of the eddy paddling hard but failed to punch the curler with enough speed. The water forced me off my line and on a collision course
with a funky shallow area just below the vertical section of the falls. I lost balance but stayed on my board, careening down the face on my back, legs flailing in front of me helplessly. With incredible force I slammed into a ledge near the bottom but was uninjured. I looked back at the tremendous sight of Swallow Falls, punch-drunk from the experience, before the reality of the fading light commanded that we move hastily down-river. Though we didn’t stick the drop, it left us with the confidence that Swallow Falls and rapids like it can be done on an SUP.
The last golden hues of sunlight reflected off the conifer forest and steep gorge walls as we made our way downstream through a labyrinth of boulder gardens and whitewater of incredible beauty. We passed Maryland’s steepest waterfall, Muddy Creek Falls, but the challenging, technical drops commanded most of our focus. The tight manoeuvres and steep continuous drops were exactly what we were hoping the river would be. Wheeler made good use of the many great boffs while guiding us through some of the best rapids we had ever ran. About three-fourths through the run, we came to the second crux, a rapid called Suck Hole. We had heard horror stories about the deadly sieve that exists here and despite Wheeler’s assurance that it was not a concern at lower flows, I was still highly on edge. Wheeler tried to reassure us by setting safety in the eddy where the sieve exists but I couldn’t see the rapid from above and we didn’t have time to scout. I nervously followed his line, dropping first into a massive hole and through a narrow slot that accelerated me past Wheeler and the sieve in an instant. I was off balance but planted a back-stab brace, righting myself and sticking the drop. I was ecstatic but the celebration ended quickly when I realized the rapid wasn’t over!
I was ecstatic but the celebration ended quickly when I realized
Wheeler made good use of the many great boofs while guiding us through some of the best rapids we had ever ran.
the rapid wasnâ€™t over!
Moving blindly through massive boulders I hesitated, washed up on a rock, and fell into the water.
I got back onto my board immediately but it was too late to catch an eddy. I was committed to the final drop of Suck Hole, still not able to see exactly what was coming. A moment later I saw that I was faced with a must make slot nearly as wide as my board. Just above the slot was a churning hole where the flow collided with a dangerous looking boulder. Hitting the boulder was clearly not an option so I focused intently on making it through the aerated water. Still on my knees, I paddled hard, avoiding all but the edge of the rockâ€™s face and plunged over. I was shoved to the bottom of the river but emerged content with being through the infamous Suck Hole. We continued downstream through more amazing rapids and beautiful scenery, eventually floating lazily in a short flat section near the end. From here, I felt my nerves drop away and took in the beauty of the river and the company of two great friends on, what was for us, an epic descent into the unknown. Surfing through rapids on SUP boards may not be the easiest way to descend a river, but they have become the harbinger of our passion and our means of exploring these incredible places.
We reached the takeout as a final flicker of daylight seared an end to the adventure and gave way to a clear and starry night.
Watch Ian Smith and Rob Mazzetti Standup Paddle Swallow Falls on the Youghiogheny River on YouTube at:
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Loco 7.10ft surf SUP
For paddlers looking for ultimate wave shredding performance the only way to go is learning how to ride short surf SUPs. Looking at all the world’s top paddlers and they’re usually on sticks less than 8ft. Short surf SUPs give the manoeuvrability and performance levels that allow riders to rip critical sections to bits, punt airs, slash and slide.
I took Loco’s wave slaying 7.10ft and put it through its paces over the course of a few lump walloping sessions. Read on to see how it stacked up.
Out of the box
Loco sent me their ‘naked’ version, which I have to say, I prefer as the weight saving properties of not having a full deck pad allows for tighter turns and earlier take offs – basically all round enhanced performance. Coming in a sexy looking wood finish with the option for setting up multiple fin configurations – twin, thruster, quad
mertime dding review
or single – with Loco’s 7.10ft you’re poised for battle against any type of liquid wall that Mother Nature bowls your way. Even though the 7.10ft is a short SUP it still looks, at least on land, relatively stable. The width and generous volume should instil confidence in all paddlers stepping down from mid-sized 8ft+ SUPs.
Loco SUPs are supplied with K4 Fins as standard which is great news for anyone looking at a new Loco stick. The option for setting up your shred plank just the way you like it is a massive plus and offers a whole heap of versatility depending on riding style.
sections or chucked into spray throwing tail slides. Even as the waves started to dissipate and recede, their steep nature stayed all the way through the duration of that first session and as long as speed didn’t become an issue the Loco 7.10ft danced and lit up like a firecracker.
I prefer thruster
set ups as this suits my riding. I chose a 13” for the middle box with 11”s on the side for the majority of the test. Worthy of note; changing your fin set ups regularly will give differing riding sensations. Paddlers should experiment as much as possible to find the correct fin configuration for them.
Into the froth
The offset carry handle makes for a comfortable journey from car to water and the lightweight compact nature also helps with the process of getting to the put in. Jumping onto the 7.10ft for the first time I was gobsmacked at how stable this board is. Having tried similar short SUPs in the past I expected to be using lots of brace strokes to keep upright and yet this wasn’t the case here. Loco have done a sterling job in producing a short stand up paddle surfing board that’s suitable for intermediates and up. Although the board is rock solid, riders will still need to play about with the paddling sweet spot and pinpoint exactly where this is. Getting over the first hump of white water, I found myself in the wrong place and was unceremoniously dumped in the drink. After dusting myself down I soon located where I needed to be and made it out back without further incident.
The first session
During my first rides I was faced with shoulder high sets that were semi clean. A light cross shore wind was blowing causing an annoying step in the wave as you took off. This meant a fair degree of pumping was needed to unstick the board and push it onto the unbroken face. Once up to speed the Loco 7.10ft loosens up a treat. Positioning on take off needs to be carefully considered and fat waves aren’t to this boards liking. However, give it a bit of vert to play with and the Loco turns into a race track demon that loves nothing better than being slung into pitching
Unfortunately, summer being the way it is in the UK, overhead waves have been in short supply through July and August. This has unfortunately meant that the 7.10ft hasn’t been up against any serious opponents. Although booming conditions have been lacking there have still been plenty of fun days. During every SUP session the Loco has remained a confidence inspiring bit of kit. Even with choppy water states it retains its composure. As with all performance orientated SUP surfing sticks, positioning is everything. Taking off on the pitching peak of a wave, no matter how small, is the only way to make it onto the green. Once up and running it zips and darts about like a hyperactive Jack Russell. Although this is to be confirmed, I would expect that a quad set up would serve riders better as waves increase in size. Drive and grip would be increased meaning the speed could be held onto without spin out. For everything else, thrusters fit the bill perfectly.
Loco’s 7.10ft is a cracking bit of performance SUP surfing kit. Bags of performance and sexy looks make it a great board to own. The multiple fin placements add a high level of versatility that means wave slaying antics of all styles will be catered for. Stability is impressive and based on the conditions I used it in, this would make an awesome little summer shred board for mid weight riders. Heavyweights would do better when waves clean up and get more powerful. Our feather light tester loved the manoeuvrability of the 7.10ft but found it performed best for them with smaller fins still. Loco’s 7.4ft will offer even more performance for the light weights among us while larger SUPers will do better with the Loco 8.4ft.
Is a freelance writer who loves windsurfing, SUP, surfing, snowboarding, drums, art and beer. If he’s not out sliding sideways then you’ll find him producing articles, stories and content revolving around his passions.
Following a personal quest
It is part two and the continuation of Dave Whiteâ€™s SUP weekend as he paddles into Wales and middle England. ThePaddler 157
that seemed to have an uncanny sense of timing or a loathing of us taking over his room once again set off my morning alarm. Either way it was time to bid farewell to Ben and Gump and to follow a personal quest I’ve had for a while.
One of those first reference calls I made to extend this trip was to Simon Moore, he’s like a dog with a bone, give him a task and he won’t stop until it’s done. All I said was “can you find me an Aqueduct” and he came back with two.
What I did forget was his fear of heights, add the fact he’d not yet been on a SUP and I guess you could say it was a little cruel of me to send him across with Reece and Wouter. 500m across the Pontcysylite Aqueduct may have only got him half way but that was already a paddle stroke too far and it was to be his last for the day. He claimed to be still quaking in his boots some three days later. With one of the aqueduct walls being only four inches thick and 14 inches high I not 100% sure this an ideal SUPing location but it sure felt good, so good in fact the local kayak instructor asked to have a go in the safety of the canal. Before we had chance to say “we’re off to discover more”, he’d taken all our SUPs and had his clients giving it a go. When we finally left his last words “I’ve got to get into this” were still floating in the air. I’ve yet to find the name for our next spot, but then as we found it by chance I guess it should remain a bit of a mystery. We were just looking to get a couple of extra shots of the Pontcysylite Aqueduct from below when I looked along the river Dee that runs beneath it. Do you ever get that feeling you’re in the right place at the wrong time? Somehow I just want to paddle back this way in the autumn when the leaves are turning, at least the image I leave here with is a lot safer than the one I had arrived with.
Fear of heights
I’ve had this image in my head for years of windsurfing across an aqueduct, though having found what I was looking for I’m glad it’d stayed in my imagination, as 125ft is a long way to fall, something our new guide was keen to point out.
When Thomas Telford finished Pontcysyllte Aqueduct in 1805, it was the tallest canal boat crossing in the world. Still taking canal boat passengers on the ride of their lives. But now it's on the world map.
On 27 June 2009, UNESCO made this masterpiece of civil engineering a World Heritage Site - along with 11 miles of canal including Chirk Aqueduct and the Horseshoe Falls at Llantysilio, near Llangollen. Now it's officially one of the greatest heritage sites in the world, and on a par with places like the Pyramids, the Taj Mahal and the Acropolis.
Runs under the Chirk Aqueduct
Although somewhat overshadowed by Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, the beautifully proportioned Chirk Aqueduct (previous page) ranks as a major work in its own right. Built between 1796 and 1801 at a cost of £20,898 and comprising of ten arched piers each with a span of 40 feet, the aqueduct carries the canal 70 feet above the River Ceiriog for a distance of 710 feet. Outwardly similar to the traditional clay-lined aqueducts, an entirely new concept was used at Chirk. The bed of the trough is formed by a series of cast iron plates, bolted together, to form a continuous watertight trough, with the side walls built of locally quarried stone. The canal is, of course, the picturesque Llangollen Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal.
Stepping back into the canal, we paddled on, but with each change in direction there was yet another stunning vista before us, that was, until the light went out. We did as the signs suggested but with only an iPhone as a flashlight I’m sure no oncomer would have seen it, so we pressed on into the dark. The lack of light accentuated the echos of our paddle strokes making it feel eerie, though at over 450m long it did give some real meaning to the saying “there’s light at the end of the tunnel”. Upon our exit we were immediately crossing the Chirk Aqueduct and while not as spectacular as Pontcysylite, the arches stretching both above and below of the Viaduct running in parallel, added drama to the scene to create the perfect climax and close the day of play.
Was the home of Patrick Lichfield the Fifth Earl of Lichfield (queens cousin once removed) He was selected to take the official photographs of the wedding of the Prince and Princess of Wales in 1981, and subsequently became one of the UK's best-known photographers. From 1999 onwards he was a pioneer of digital photography at a professional standard. He was chosen by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh to take official pictures of her Golden Jubilee in 2002.
In 1960, Patrick Lichfield inherited Shugborough from his grandfather the Fourth Earl of Lichfield, Thomas Edward Anson. It had been his grandfatherâ€™s desire to open the house to the public and a landmark agreement was reached to do just this in 1966.
The National Trust took ownership of the property while Staffordshire County Council committed to lease, conserve and maintain the property for 99 years. It is thanks to this lease that the house, utilitarian buildings and gardens are as we see them today.
With no rabbit to wake us on our final day and having lost both Simon and Wouter to the paddle in the sky, our day started slowly. Unlike the river Trent, we were about to dip our toes in. We start and finish our final leg of this story at the Essex Bridge, not because it was the inspiration for Tolkien’s mythical MiddleEarth in Lord of the Rings, it’s just the only waterway I know where you can paddle as far as you like and yet get back to the van without retracing your steps or battling the flow of water. That may seem impossible when I inform you we were travelling at six knots down the River Trent without the effort of paddling, but as the boys from Boardwise were to show us, there were many places along the nine miles where we could jump out and paddle back along the canal. To be honest this is almost too good to be true, with arms still aching from the previous days we were happy to let the river take the strain while we took in the views. This is a SUP guide’s paradise as each twist in the river brings a new story to be told. You really don’t get more diverse backdrops than the Queen’s official photographer Lord Litchfield’s stately home and the Drakelow power station. I’ll leave you with a confession and a promise. I was relieved to hear Doug say, “think this is far enough, let’s get out” only to see he’s organized a lift to take us back. I promise this won’t be my last trip on the river Trent, but next time I’m taking the canal back.
Essex Bridge is a Grade I listed packhorse bridge over the River Trent near Great Haywood, Staffordshire, England. Spanning the Trent 100 metres downstream of its confluence with the River Sow, it was built in 1550 by the then Earl of Essex a favourite of Queen Elizabeth I. The Earl lived nearby at Chartley Castle. It is now the longest remaining packhorse bridge in England with fourteen of its original forty round span arches and has been described as “perhaps the least altered old bridge in the county.” Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Essex_Bridge,_Staffordshire
The Staffordshire surroundings can thus lay claim to inspiring Tolkien's early fantasy writings. During his leave in Great Haywood, in January and February 1917, Tolkien started to write the 'Book of Lost Tales'. This book was the basis of a much more famous publication and indeed the book which describes the early history of Tolkien's mythical Middle-Earth – the Silmarillion.
The Staffordshire connection can also be found in Tolkien's writings after a careful reading of these Tales. In ‘The Tale of the Sun And The Moon’, there is reference to the village of Tavrobel. Christopher Tolkien, JRR's son and literary executor, says this village is based on Great Haywood. In evidence, Tavrobel has a bridge where two rivers (the Gruir and the Afros) meet. In Great Haywood, the Trent and the Sow meet at its ‘Essex’ bridge. Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/stoke/features/2003/01/tolkien.shtml
DREAMING The west coast of Scotland
Wading out through warm shallows, I jump aboard at the edge of deep water. The canoe dips and surges ahead. Attention should probably be focussed out beyond the bow, but then I know the loch is mirror smooth and utterly empty. My eyes are already on that water, or rather deep within it. Even before the paddle dips, the shingle begins to drop away below, and my gaze follows a shimmering slope down to waving beds of sunlit kelp and bladder wrack. As the blade bites, the bottom falls still further – eight feet, ten, twenty – but still the curve of each boulder is clear, the gleam bright from every pale white ribbon of sand. A pollock flees, its frantic departure marked by a flickering golden flash, and I float in silence over this other world as if airborne. Ironically, given the amount of time Susannah and I now spend drifting about over this everaltering marine show, it was actually all the bumpy stuff on land that first drew us north of the border, up and along the stunning west coast. In fact, lured by the celebrated Scottish uplands, and with little on our minds but to clamber as far from sea level as possible, that early visit was canoeless.
Staring down from our first summit, initially quite pleased with the morning’s efforts, this error was revealed as soon as we saw the coast stretched out below. Heavily indented, it disappeared away over the horizon, a summer sun glinting off one extraordinarily beautiful loch after another. We certainly don’t leave the canoe behind any more. Nor are we usually away for that long either. After strapping our Prospector to the top of our red VW van and throwing a tent in the back, we head north at least a couple of times a year. Partly to avoid the infamous midges (yes I’m afraid they really can be that bad), we tend to make our sorties in spring and autumn. Winter visits are good too, and twice before now we’ve woken to see the first light of a new year through the flap of a tent, a weak sun reflected in pale tones off the cold dark water.
Photographs by Tim and Susannah Gent https://www.facebook.com/T.H.Gent ThePaddler 167
Loch Etive in April.
Did you know: The Romans first tried to invade Scotland, an area they knew as Caledonia, in around AD 80. ThePaddler 168
Looking out over the north channel of Loch Moidart to Eilean Shona.
At a recent celebratory gathering a fellow partygoer asked what it was that pushed us so often up along almost the full length of Britain.
‘Isn’t it rather a long way?’ I replied by pointing out that the west coast had everything – mountains, a stunning coast packed with wildlife and space. Looking back, and recalling that this inquisitor’s key interests turned out to be designer clothes and making money, I doubt my reasoning actually made a great deal of sense. Never mind. Of course the area is beautiful, but then that’s well known. What never ceases to amaze me is the consistency and extent of that splendour. Experience has taught that even the most stunning and lauded landscapes inevitably
hold a few less interesting bits, some arguably a touch dull. Despite nudging our van down almost every left turn between the Clyde and Tongue, I’ve still yet to find any up here. Each new crest in the road reveals a different yet equally stunning peak-studded horizon, every fresh glen seems to nurture a bright burn that leads unfailingly it seems to yet another magical loch. For anyone in search of space and wilderness, perhaps even holding a hope for attractive space and wilderness, these are very fine hunting grounds. For the paddler, this stretch of sinuous coastal splendour must stand as close to perfection as can be found. You might spend days, even weeks, travelling across more distant lands without encountering anything better.
For the paddler, this stretch of sinuous coastal splendour must stand as
close to perfection
as can be found
Close pressed mountains
fall direct into that gin-clear sea, their flanks lit here by a hesitant sun, cast into shadow there by shifting broken cloud. Eagles really do float high over these steep plunging slopes, their hunterâ€™s gaze cast far across deer-studded heather, or over glittering lochs speckled with sunbathing seals and otters diving ever hopefully for mussels, oysters or crabs. Remnants of ancient oak woodland cling tight to the loch edge, curled around each little bay and cove. As you paddle, close to the shore, a constant battle for attention pulls your gaze first deep into the swirling depths, then over the top of those straggling trees, up across higher ground, between the twisted pines, to reach the grey age-shattered peaks overhead. And then, should you ever tire of the mainland, there are the islands, wave after wave of them. Inhabited examples range in size from small bare outcrops of rock, shingle and moss, some little larger than the visiting Caledonian MacBrayne ferry, to Cuilin-crested Skye or the majestic undulating sweep of Lewis, Harris, Benbecula and the Uists, spread like some massive breakwater before the full force of the Atlantic. Each isle is subtly different. Flora and fauna has been moulded by specific geology and position, individual history and culture forged in the swirl and confusion of tide, greed and ancient aggression. Canoeing out here is rich in sensation. Pull ashore in a sandy bay to marvel at the profusion and variety of its dune-sheltered flowers. Ponder in silence at the threshold of a collapsed cottage, abandoned not so long ago in the face of some almost unimaginable callousness. Paddle on along a sheltered section of pristine coast to land and climb away from the shore, clambering up and over broken cliffs to a craggy headland. As the sun eases at the end of a perfect day towards an islandspecked horizon, you stand, perhaps alongside more substantial ruins, and gaze out as the tide thunders over shallow ground ahead. Gannets dive deep into the calmer water flanking this turmoil, where the backs of a small pod of dolphins break the surface periodically as they head for fresh feeding grounds beyond. Actually, along with all this rugged landscape and shoreline, dotted and overlooked by varied and fascinating wildlife, is something else. Almost as special as the space itself, is the opportunity to use it.
Watching an eagle from the west shore of Eilean Shona.
Canoeing out here is rich in sensation
Whilst, almost inevitably
there are still a few detractors, the Land Reform (Scotland) Act of 2003 is now, well, part of the law of the land. Iâ€™m not certain of the advantage to tourism as a whole, but it definitely benefits many individual tourists, and I suspect the overall impact must have been positive. Scots should be very proud, and this glorious example of mature access legislation has transformed the way the Scottish hills, lochs and rivers can be used. For anyone with a love of wild places the change has been incredibly constructive.
For those like myself who, having found some space and wilderness to enjoy wish to take things one step further, to set out and spend as much time living within it as possible, this law has been nothing short of life changing. Iâ€™m not sure I could even be a canoe-camper without Scotland, at least not the sort that could camp in a way that would provide any real satisfaction. Until only a few years ago, most western Europeans could only experience this sort of
camping and paddling freedom by heading for Scandinavia or another continent. Now we can take the much more convenient and significantly cheaper option of heading up the M6.
The west coast always offered a rich canoeing cake. This wondrous piece of legislation means that proper wild canoe camping is now an icing spread thick and tasty on top. Just turn up, pick your spot, and as long as nobody else is inconvenienced or the landscape harmed, set up your temporary hotel room. Many lochs offer fine two- or three-star accommodation. Four-star options are also easy to find. The pleasure of discovery is all yours. So, canoeing, camping, and of course we still have the mountains. Not surprisingly, at least in my books, the best fun can be found in combining all three. Given the chance to help, to do the job of carrying both people and loads for which it was first designed, the canoe can only shine.
For those setting out in the usual way for example to wander the splendid ru
Just turn up, pick your spot, and as long as nobody else is inconvenienced or the landscape harmed, set up your
temporary hotel room
First light of 2013 over Loch Sunnart.
ugged uplands of the Knoydart, a very pretty walk along the south shore of Loch Hourn lies before them. It is also quite a long one though, and if a slipped disc or hernia are to be avoided, the range of camping and climbing kit that can be lugged out and along the coastal path to the hills has to be limited and carefully chosen. No such restrictions are imposed on the cheery canoeist. After enjoying the shimmering tide-shifted waters of the loch itself, the paddler can arrive on the edge of Barrisdale Bay, at the very foot of Ladhar Bheinn, knees still intact, the canoe ready to deposit an only slightly smaller mountain of tentage, food
the chance to set foot in all sorts of impressive and otherwise fairly inaccessible places is made easier
with your canoe,
some very much easier
and other camping goodies. All is soon in place to enjoy the hills from the comfort of your spacious canvas walled home. Many a good Munroe, or one of the often equally fine if slightly more modest eminences, can be reached so much more easily by canoe. In fact, the chance to set foot in all sorts of impressive and otherwise fairly inaccessible places is made easier with your canoe, some very much easier. And unlike the prospects for pedestrian explorer, many of those smaller islands can be included - at least the ones close to the mainland or one of the larger isles – and assuming a good calm day is available of course. Particular water-encircled favourites to date have included Eilean Shona, sat square and in apparent comfort in the quite astonishingly beautiful Loch Moidart, Isay situated beyond the northern edge of Skye’s Loch Dunvegan and Wiay just to the east of Benbecula. Deep-set and sheltered sea lochs, jewel-like islands, lofty overlooking peaks, wildlife, and history, and all available with a freedom of access matched only rarely elsewhere in the world. Hard to beat. All that is needed then is a little time to head north and make the most of all that’s on offer. From our experience, each day should be good.
Towards the end of one typically
fulfilling early autumn example, the sun starts to dip a little low. Before you moved on that morning, an early clamber to the top of a relatively modest mountain had been very fulfilling, offering surprisingly good views out over the loch to distant summits, a few already visited. You’ve now found a rather special campsite, set roughly halfway down the loch on the north shore, snug behind a low stand of oak, a stream bubbling cheerfully alongside. With the images of those fine upland views still playing in your thoughts, you stand on a sand and shingle shore, the sun warm on your back. Now it is the pleasing sight of well-pitched tent that provides the enjoyment, a small wood fire smoking happily amongst the pebbles at the top of the beach nearby. Turning, you drop a canvas bag full of rather tangled fishing tackle it into your canoe, just in front of the centre thwart. You’ve spotted the young cormorants diving repeatedly out in the loch. It’s pretty obvious where the shoal lies, and judging by the concentration of sleek dark hungry birds, it must be quite a size. A silver Mepps trolled perhaps ten-foot down on the end of a hand-line has every chance of fooling at least a couple of mackerel. By the time you return, the fire should have burnt down to a good deep bed of glowing embers. Stepping forward, a guiding hand on the nearest gunwale, your attention should probably be out on the loch ahead, but the surface is mirror smooth and utterly empty. Your eyes are already on the water, or rather deep within it…
Returning from a camping trip on Loch Etive.
Canoe, kayak, SUP, sea kayaking magazine. The International digital magazine for recreational paddlers, canoeists, kayakers, stand up paddle...
Published on Sep 17, 2013
Canoe, kayak, SUP, sea kayaking magazine. The International digital magazine for recreational paddlers, canoeists, kayakers, stand up paddle...