Issue 16 - February 2014
ThePaddler ThePaddler ezine com ezine com ..
International digital magazine for recreational paddlers International digital magazine for recreational paddlers
INDIA’S two FACES WW SUP creek TACTICS ANNABEL ANDERSON Kerala’s coastline and inland by SUP
Third in series by Ian Smith
Interview with World #1
Photo: Will Pruett paddles under a ‘rare’ snowbridge formation after a high snowfall year on the Middle Fork of the Kings River, California. Barny Young Editor
Peter Tranter firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: (01480) 465081 Mob: 07411 005824 www.thepaddler.co.uk
Anne Egan Tel: (01480) 465081 email@example.com
Covers Kayak: British Columbia by Andraž Krpic SUP: Kerala. Carine Camboulives by Pierre Bouras Salty: Alaska by Jeff Allen OC: Drôme Valley by Paul Villecourt
Additional contributor credits: Matt Thompson, Greg Spencer, Matt Corke, Tomass Marnics, Christian McLeod, Annette Carsing, Frode Wiggen, Steve Arns, Ric Moxon, Phil Mitchell, Martyn Butler, Anthony Flatters, Nick Ball, Paul Mcdonnell, Pierre Bouras, Carine Camboulives, Rob Mazzetti, Lisa Brochetti, Lindsey Tucci, Morgan Hoesterey, Peter Benson, Paul Villecourt, Julien Gontard, Philippe Bouvat, Martin Strunge and wilderness-canoe.co.uk
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 April 2014 with a deadline of submissions on March 5th. 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.
004 Eight of the Best
The best films from around the planet
006 Photo of the Month Flooded Salisbury
008 Testing, testing
new kit reviewed by Paul hyman and Dale Mears
014 Photo of the Year 2013
The best of four categories plus overall winner
David Rossetter on canoe poling
The boat that can be stored in your backpack
British Columbia whitewater by andraž Krpič
Dragorossi 88 by Phil Carr
Cevennes national Park by alex Kay
liquid logic Remix by george harrap
066 United Kingdom
Kayak flounder fishing by Simon Everett
074 Cold water safety part 3 golden Rule no.4 by Moulton avery
Kokatat hydrus 3l Meridian drysuit by Richard Cree
086 United States alaska by Jeff allen
Kerala coastline by Manu Bouvet
124 The Paddler’s Planet By Christian Wagley
136 Whitewater SUP
Tactics for creeking by ian Smith
146 Arctic Scandinavia
norway, Sweden & Finland by Tim & Susannah gent
Open Canoe Festival 2014 by greg Spencer
Open Canoe Festival trailer
Open Canoe Festival France
Patagonia. A dream to conquer
Mikel Sarasola Chile
Brent Deal Baja, Mexico
Water and People, EP. 4
Jules Domine United States and Canada
WWGP Entry 2014
Sam Ellis, The River Militia international
Remando en un Mar Vivo
antoni Murcia Baja, Mexico
2013 Year End Wrap Up
Riviera Paddle Surf international
Kayaking the Zambezi river
Mat Dumoulin Zambia
■ O% FINANCE AVAILABLE
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■ Carlisle Paddle RRP £748 OFFER PRICE £650
■ Carlisle Enchantment Paddle ■ RRP £853 OFFER PRICE £740 These are just examples, for package suggestions tailored to you please call/email!
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Palm Safety Tape £14.95 Yak Kallista Legacy £50
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Palm Stikine £599 Palm Roof Straps From £9.95
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Palm Hydro Adventure £74.95
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Up to 50% off Sweet helmets Peak Freeride £169
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Photo of the
Whilst North America froze with some of the lowest temperatures ever recorded on the continent, Europe wrestled with the aftermath of violent storms and floods.The United Kingdom suffered its wettest recorded month of January in over 100 years but it didnâ€™t stop Tim Gent from getting out and taking the opportunity to visit a flooded Salisbury with this beautiful shot of the cathedral. If you have an interesting paddling shot, please email to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright: Tim Gent. www.facebook.com/t.h.gent
NRSToaster Mitts www.nrs.com
By Paul hyman it was cold and windy enough to test the nRS Toaster Mitts, part of the package of equipment nRS sent us to review. i had good expectations of nRS having imported some freestyle kayaking shoes directly from them 10 years ago.
First impression was good.Two of us tried them and had warm hands. One of the group suffered from bad circulation (Raynaud's Disease) but still had toastie hands wearing them. Mitts are also good for the process of warming up cold hands rather than just keeping them warm – I always find that when you put cold hands into gloves, they stay cold for a longer time as the fingers are separated. Grip is good and it only takes a while to get used to the slightly clumsy feel of wearing a mitt. I’ve tried many mitts and gloves and found most to be quite useless or cumbersome. Some have been worse than useless as they impair your grip on the paddle. I once discarded a pair of expensive whitewater gloves and paddled bare handed to get better grip half way down a classic rapid in Scotland in a snowstorm.
If you want to get out in the winter but get fed up with the pain of cold hands I recommend them – they are the warmest and most effective I’ve tried.
Available in the UK from www.active360.co.uk at £37.50 + P&P Priced at $44.95 in the USA
Testing, Ocean Rodeo Soul Drysuit
http://oceanrodeo.com By Paul Hyman
active360 recently had the good fortune to be planning an SUP expedition in the Sermilik Fjord in East greenland (Polar Bears and Paddleboards project – see September 2013 issue 12).The fjord runs north to south and is fed a constant supply of icebergs calving off the helmheim glacier at the northern end. This huge glacier transports ice from the polar ice cap, which is never far from view. The late arrival of spring in 2013 meant more ice than usual in the fjord and on many parts of the journey we were carefully picking our way through icebergs and lumps of ice (the remains of bergs which had broken up). Summer weather in East Greenland can vary dramatically from a mild 10 °C to less than 2 °C with wind chill.The water temperature this August was measured at -2.8 °C, which could bring on hypothermia in a few minutes.
On the cold days it was a great help to have kit that was comfortable to paddle in and fully wind and waterproof. We decided that drysuits would be essential kit if the weather turned suddenly hostile and watching the forecasts avidly in the weeks before we set off, we could see that some days the temperatures were barely above freezing with winds blowing down from the Greenland ice cap adding to the wind chill factor. We took a look at everything on the market and discounted suits, which were either too heavy and not breathable. Unlike whitewater kayakers or kite surfers, SUP paddlers remain quite dry so the suit has to work for full immersion – but also for many hours of dry paddling and therefore we settled on Soul onepiece suits from Ocean Rodeo (OR). Although the suit looks like a two-piece jacket and pants – quite like a snowboarding suit, it is in fact a full one-piece drysuit. OR were great to work with and shipped the suits to us in days.
The OR suits are breathable so we could layer up underneath and reduce layers later in the day if the wind dropped, this meant no risk of overheating after
hours of paddling and no risk of chilling rapidly after a swim or when taking a food break. There were days when I wore my suit with just one thermal base layer and others when I needed two or three. On the warmest days with no wind we didn't wear drysuits at all but it was comforting to know they were with us in reserve as the weather was prone to change rapidly and a few knots of wind made a huge difference to the ‘feels like’ temperature. The wind also created chop and thus increased the probability of a swim in sub-zero water.
I found the cut comfortable for paddling, much more so than any of the kayaking drysuits I've used over the years. I’ve since used mine on the River Thames on the coldest days where I have demonstrated SUP rescues etc. and recently on an early New Year kayaking trip down to the London Eye. One thing that really impresses me is how quickly I forget I'm wearing the drysuit. The hood is also useful for warming up quickly – although like most hoods it reduces peripheral vision.
e will b nd it ed a view t re uc od
ter of in
est pad to
Active360 have demo suits available in London for anyone who wants to try before investing in some top end kit and we would be happy to take you out for a Thames paddle in one. Email: email@example.com Available in the UK from www.active360.co.uk
If you want y o tion. u rp sta r st
Itâ€™s too early to tell how it will wear but the suit is well made and should last for years if looked after by rinsing off salt water etc. Recommended for anyone who wants to SUP paddle right through the winter in a cold climate (or in Arctic waters at any time of the year), or for instructors who spend a long time on the water.
ThePaddle r ez ine te
dle rs - e mail us: r eviews@t hepad dler ezin e
View Ocean Rodeo video
NRS waist leash www.nrs.com
By Paul hyman Next to test was the NRS waist leash. This was the best allround leash we have tested to date with everything packing away into a waist pack. The leash has a quick release belt so is ideal for whitewater SUP. The 3.5m (138") leash also has a calf strap for use in surf so if you are buying one for the first time this package covers all options. A waist release is safer for river paddling in strong currents where there is a significant risk of being pinned against overhanging trees, moorings, barges etc.
The Thames tideway has many such hazards at certain stages of the tide and when the river is was running fast with floodwater. At the time of writing this review the lower Thames looks and paddles quite like a grade 3 rapid without rocks. In these conditions the ability to release yourself from your board quickly and effortlessly is important. NRS are specialists in whitewater kayaking equipment, so are well placed to understand the specific needs of paddlesports in strong currents.
This leash is very well made and therefore should last a long time. Unlike a calf leash you completely forget you are wearing it (to the extent that I felt the need to look around and check that it was still there) and the waist pack can also be used to carry keys etc.
Also it’s likely to be a requirement to use one of these to paddle the Thames below Putney and recommended on the upper tidal Thames from Putney to Teddington. The new rules are expected to come into force when a PLA working group agrees them next month. This was set up as a result of Active360’s long campaign and discussions to get SUP accepted as a safe sport on the Thames Tideway and to allow SUP downstream of Putney with restrictions around tide and the local experience of SUP paddlers.
Price is £43 from Active360 and other NRS retailers www.active360.co.uk
gorillapod Focus + Ballhead X http://joby.com By Dale Mears
gorillapods have been around for years now and people have been enjoying the benefits of not lugging a huge tripod around with them. i have been lucky enough to recently get a gorillapod Focus and Ball head X combo, Joby’s top spec gorillapod for Pro DSlR with up to a 5kg weight limit. What can i say; i wish i had owned one of these for years.
For paddle sports especially and those river trips where there’s a photo opportunity or two this is an amazing piece of kit. We have all been there, you reach a waterfall on the river, usually your hands are cold and you want to get that top shot to show off to your mates. You haven’t got a tripod because they are too heavy to carry or take up too much space in your boat. Or worse there is no space to position a tripod. The Gorillapod Focus is 29x9.2x9.2cm (11.4x3.6x3.6in) making it easy to store in your kayak whether in the back of your boat or even between your legs.
The Gorillapod has flexible wrappable legs that you can wrap around any object, tree branch, post, fence; you name it you can set your camera up on it! The Focus has machined aluminium sockets and high quality injection
moulded joints so you can rely on them rather than cheap knockoffs. I had a cheap version that’s legs used to fall off, not good with expensive camera gear.
The Focus comes with rubberised feet for grip and support (you can buy optional suction cups, wheels and spikes). As mentioned earlier the Focus will hold up to 5kgs meaning this is an ideal product for DSLR and professional video cameras.
You can mount your camera straight onto the 3/8” screw thread or you can opt for the Ballhead X too.The Ballhead X gives you that extra flexibility allowing you more movement once in place. Get your shot level, and lock into place.The Ballhead X also offers you a 360 degree panning option ideal for filming and 90 degree tilt.You really couldn’t miss a shot!
Set up time is also quick as the Ballhead comes with a quick release plate, simply screw into the base of your DSLR and you’re ready to go.
Joby really have produced a range of excellent products here that will save you time and of course prevent you from missing that shot!
LIMITLESS POSSIBILITIES FOR ADVENTURE Are you drawn to the excitement of whitewater, but want the freedom to paddle further? The Katana will take on rapids and glide over calm water. Available in two sizes; 10.4 and 9.7 – and two specifications; adjustable Contour Ergo and robust Action outfitting. KATANA
AVAILABLE IN EUROPE FROM PALM EQUIPMENT
New Peak UK PFDs www.peakuk.com
For 2014 Peak UK have introduced two new sea kayaking PFDs, the adventure Vest and the Explorer Zip.
Both these buoyancy aids incorporate their Olympic Gold cut with figure hugging shoulder adjustments and snag free concealed side adjusters, giving the paddler the best possible fit with minimum restriction.
Both PFDs have large front pockets with separate radio and flare pockets, a large back pocket for drinks bladder and removable shoulder pads with reflective piping and logos. Featuring the excellent build quality that Peak UK have become renowned for, the Adventure Vest and Explorer Zip are available now. Also available is the new and improved River Vest, which is a very good option for touring enthusiasts everywhere.
For more information visit your nearest Peak UK dealer!
lowepro Dryzone DF 20l http://www.lowepro.com By Dale Mears
i have used a wide range of camera bags and away from the water lowepro have always been my chosen manufacturer with a great range of products available for all occasions. however around water i didn’t have the option until now.
Lowepro’s new ‘Dryzone’ range has brought them into the water sports market with some fantastic new products. The Dryzone 20 litre duffel, Dryzone 40 litre backpack and the Dryzone 200 fully submergible backpack. I have been using the Dryzone DF 20l for a couple of weeks now and I’m really impressed with it. It has some great features for photographers and water sports enthusiasts who are regularly around water.
One question that I’m sure will be the first asked is this just another Watershed equivalent? Lowepro have given this duffel an IPX-6 rating and state that this bag is splash proof and submersion is not advised. Lowepro have tested the bag against high pressure water stream from all angles and they have proved it to be dry. I have used mine in my kayak a couple of times, sitting it between my legs and would have no qualms taking it
on the water if I knew there was no chance of swimming.The duffel features a roll down top similar to that of most dry bags and then clips at either side to prevent it opening. I guess the question is how much do you trust any roll top dry bag?
I took it to Trent Lock on a night time surf mission with Bren Orton and David Bain and it allowed me to get some great shots.
The real advantage I have found over any waterproof bag/duffel is that the padded liner isn’t an afterthought. Lowepro have really got this right and produced another good quality product. Some bags will protect your camera from bumps and knocks but there is a lot of movement of your kit inside. Size has had to take a backseat as the Lowepro bag is larger than others but you know that your camera is fully protected. The bag offers a fully padded, adjustable camera case that can be removed from the duffel if you want to use it as a bag itself or to pack. The duffel will hold a Pro DSLR with an attached 70-200mm lens according to Lowepro. I have been carrying my body with attached 70-300, a couple of extra lenses and two flash guns as well as other bits and bobs I like to carry. Not many bags of this size will let you carry this much gear.
The duffel comes in yellow with reflective logos making it easy to see whatever the conditions. If you want to carry more gear there are daisy chain loops that you can clip onto, I think I could clip on 16 karabiners in total a number I would never surely need. The front of the bag features a small handy zip pocket that you could keep small items in (not a waterproof pocket).
I think this duffel is great for those working around the water whether on the bank or in a canoe. I see it as ideal for those who regularly take trips in their Canadian canoe, on the beach with your SUP, coaching at activity centres, or those avid walkers who want to brave all conditions and want more protection for their gear than just a splash cover. I have been really impressed so far and look forward to using this bag a whole lot more in the coming months. I will have it at the National Student Rodeo for anyone wanting to come and have a look.
If you want something a little more serious check out the Dryzone 200 a fully submergible camera backpack.
Olly Sanders, Penrhyn Mawr, Anglesey, photo Karl Midlane
Kaikoura EXPLORATION WITHOUT LIMITS
Bold new colours for our flagship touring PFD. Solas reflective patches • Safety whistle • 3D anti ride-up waist belt Flex Formed Fit • Two way pocket zips for VHF radio aerial
Search online for Palm Equipment
BEST OC PhOTO: by Matt Thompson. PaDDlER: Greg Spencer. GALLOWAY, SCOTLAND
r Photo dle
BEST SalTy PhOTO: by Jeff Allen. CORNWALL, ENGLAND
BEST WW PhOTO: by Matt Corke. PaDDlER: Tomass Marnics. SIBERIA, RUSSIA
o of the Y ea
BEST SUP PhOTO: by Christian McLeod. PaDDlER: Annette Carsing. DONEGAL, IRELAND
BEST OVERall PhOTO: by Frode Wiggen. BERGSFJORDEN, SENJA, NORWAY
r Photo of the Ye ar dle
By Dave Rossetter –paddlesport instruct This article is all about the traditional skills of canoe poling
Back in September I looked at the four key areas for paddling a canoe:
Momentum angle Trim Tilt
The focus here was to look at key areas that allow you to perform regardless of the environment or task. In this article I want to focus in on one of the traditional skills of the canoe poling and how these areas impact on your performance.
The act of using a pole to propel the canoe. Generally poling is moving upstream. We also use the pole to descend down shallow sections of river – known as snubbing. This article will look at poling.
Moving upstream trim slightly towards the stern. Moving downstream Trim towards the bow.
The choice of materials for the pole really falls into three choices in the UK:
• • •
Carbon Kevlar Aluminium
My favoured choice is the aluminium ones. This is due to them not only being the cheapest but for giving the best performance in terms of:
• • •
Ease of end sinking Overall stiffness Durability
When to pole
Poling in the UK often only gets covered when paddlers are going through the Star Awards. However, I believe that the pole can be used to add so much more to the options of paddlers looking to journey when the conditions are not favourable for the paddle i.e. moving upwind close to the shore, moving against flow or just when it’s too shallow for the paddle. It can also give you a change of position in the canoe so when your knees are sore it’s time to stand!
Using the Pole
First option, which often gets overlooked is to use just half a pole. This gives you the ability to stay in your ideal position having considered your trim. (Figure 2)
Getting the canoe moving you need to ensure that the pole is placed behind you in contact with the ground. Short stabs then to propel forward.
When using the half-pole ensure that the closed end contacts the ground and not the open end.
To use the whole pole it can be as simple as using the pole as a kayak paddle. Takes a bit of time to get the boat moving however, it can be very effective. (Figure 3)
tor at Glenmore Lodge
Two choices for stance when standing
Feet parallel which gives you the best position in terms of stability and the ability to use both sides of the canoe. Ensure that the feet are at least hip width.You may find though that you want to get them as wide as possible. This width really ensures that you can control the stability of the canoe as well as giving you a wide base for balance. (Figure 4)
The squared off stance allows you to steer more through your feet and control the angle and tilt of the canoe prior to pushing off the ground.
Second position is having the feet off-set. This gives you the ability to apply more power on the on-side, however, some paddlers feel less stable, which makes it harder to use both sides of the canoe.
The off-set position allows you to apply weight forward and back as required to change the trim.
While having your feet off-set you can choose how in-line and close to the side they are. The more inline and closer to the side there is more chance of you being off balance. However, as everything is in line then the potential for delivering more power is there. As with many things it is all about a compromise. (Figure 5)
Whatever stance you choose it is important to keep the knees soft/bent to allow you to absorb your movement and stay in balance. Keeping the knees soft allows you to change your height, which in turn adds pressure to your pole which in turns provides momentum without just using your arms.
Holding the pole
To get the best out of your poling and allow you to deliver the most amount of power then having a hand position that allows you to get the front hand outside the gunnel is important.
Front hand should be palm up with the pole on top of the hand. This ensures that the hand can get outside the canoe and provides the best position for delivering power. The lower hand should be palm down. This will give you support when you feel off balance as you can push off the pole.
The hands tend to be either side of the joint on a normal 12-foot pole. They are roughly shoulder width apart. (Figure 6)
When pushing off the ground you need to ensure that the pole is behind the feet with an angle of about 45 degrees. This will give the optimum
position for contact with the ground and forward propulsion. Too low an angle and far back will result in stooping and being off balance whilst too close to your feet gives very little forward power.
Top Tip: The direction of where the top of the pole is facing before you apply power to it is where you are heading. This control of angle will see you moving under control.
As previously mentioned, the first job is to sort out your angle then provide the power. This can be done by pressing down with the back hand and back with the top or front hand. Combining this with a slight bending of the knees moves the canoe.
Short stabs allows you to keep the pole in contact with the ground for longer which prevents the canoe going off course or having to do too much steering. Often polers provide too much power and walk up the pole which means once you have used that power you need to control/correct it. This leads to the environment taking over be it wind or current.
Using these short stabs means that your hands don’t need to move along the pole, which will help with gaining speed.
There will be a time when ‘walking’ up the pole with the hands will be appropriate – such as going up ledges. However, for the most part, I find that my hands stay fairly static on the pole.
Dave is the full time paddlesport instructor at Glenmore Lodge – Scotland’s National Outdoor Training Centre. He has been involved in the development of the new awards and provides expert advice throughout the industry on all things to do with coaching, safety, leadership and personal paddling. He is passionate about all things paddling and specialises in white water kayak and open canoe where he will most often be found. He is supported in his paddling adventures and coaching by Pyranha Kayaks, Mad River Canoes and Palm Equipment. http://www.glenmorelodge.org.uk/ http://www.pyranha.com/ http://www.palmequipmenteurope.com/ http://www.madrivercanoe.co.uk/
Time to practice
Figure 6 Short stabs allows you to keep the pole in contact with the ground for longer which prevents the canoe going off course or having to do too much steering
The next time you are out on flat sheltered water then have a shot. • Practice using the half-pole in close to shore and push yourself along • Stand up and use it as a kayak paddle • Stand up and push off the ground and experiment with controlling angle before moving
Then move onto either same skills moving upwind or: • On a short section of easy moving water, try using the halfpole to ascend against the moving water • On that same section stand and use the pole.
Then as your skill and confidence increases you can push the environment.Your last challenge is to use the knowledge gained moving against the flow is to try and snub down river. This is all about control/trim and controlling your angle by keeping the speed down.
Good luck and don’t leave home without your POLE!
above: A quiet spell in remote Meghalaya, far northeastern India: “Meghalaya felt like class IV rapids with class V consequences.” © Luc Mehl
Imagine a small, robust raft that unrolls from your backpack and inflates with the help of the breeze. Agile enough to throw at all the white water you dare, you can just as easily access wilderness areas where transporting or portaging hardshells is a drag. Fly overseas fully equipped without blowing your baggage allowance, or just cycle to the water then stow your bike on the bow for the ride back. It’s all possible with a packraft: a portable but durable miniraft that offers a whole new way of enjoying the water.
PaCK As Roman Dial, author of ‘Packrafting! An Introduction and How-to Guide’ puts it: a packraft ‘encourages amphibious travel’.
By Chris Scott
the misconceptions ThePaddler 23
or attacked by a grizzly
itâ€™s less robust than a hardshell creek boat
Clearly when speared, dragged over clam beds
A week on the ArdĂŠche Gorge and the Chassezac. All easily paddled with the Eurostar
The idea of portable rafts isn’t new, but in the 80s enterprising Alaskan adventure racers moved things forward. As with so much outdoor gear these days, the advent of lighter, tougher and cheaper materials has created new forms of recreation and adventure travel. A packraft is made from a woven base fabric coated in urethane. Once fully inflated, this fabric’s finite stretchability translates into a firm
Like any inflatable, a packraft bounces rather than slam into rocks, but clearly when speared, dragged over clam beds or attacked by a grizzly it’s less robust than a hardshell creek boat. And out to sea it won’t cut through the waves like a slick sea kayak longer than your car. A packraft’s unique benefits come in what you can’t easily do Far left: Alpacka Yak alongside a 670-gram Supai. A quarter of the Yak’s weight and volume but only suited to flatwater crossings. left: All the kit for a remote week out bush in northwestern Australia.
vessel that transforms paddling efficiency and response. Yes, a ‘squeezed-from-a-tube’ pool toy (see box) will also float, but so does a knotted bin bag. It’s this containment of high pressures, allied with sophisticated hull forms that produce a boat you can take to far flung places, load up and set off with confidence. The lightest packraft made by Supai weighs 700g and rolls up smaller than a pair of jeans, Feathercraft make tough, self-bailing packrafts, just like full-sized ‘Zambezi’ rafts. Alpacka produce over half a dozen models weighing two to three kilos. Add a spray deck for Class IV, or an airtight zip to store your gear inside the inflated hull for added stability.
with hardshells: take the bus to your local river and hitch or walk back; traverse the wild corners of the Scottish Highlands, trekking cross country over loch and river. Opportunities are only limited by your imagination: the Amazon, outback Alaska, obscure African waterways – all have been packrafted. A couple of years ago we hopped into a tiny Cessna to explore the crocinfested Fitzroy River in northern Australia (see issue 3 of ThePaddler ezine – click here). Everything we needed: boats, a week’s food and gear, fitted in regular backpacks and luckily they were the right sorts of crocs.
gear and techniques Canoeable rivers and lakes offer no obstacles to a packrafting novice. And while more stable, the same limitations of waves and more especially wind, make a relatively slow packraft ill suited to a three-week tour of the Western Isles. Flatwater cruising speed is about 3mph, or whatever a tailwind or current allows. Gear is the same as regular kayaking. I use the same paddles, PFDs and dry bags as for my IKs. If you use narrower hardshells and are short, you may want a longer paddle of say 215-220cm to get around a packraft’s relatively high and wide sides.
Sat at the back of a buoyant raft not much longer than you are tall, paddling will induce a left-right yawing motion at the bow, something often confused with ‘tracking’. A packraft with track straight across the water, but until you’ve mastered the knack it’ll do so in a series of shallow zig-zags. A pack across the bow reduces yawing, but in a packraft you’re not going to be imitating Donald Campbell streaking across Coniston Water.
Other than that, you’ll enjoy a packraft’s ability to flip through 180° with just a quick draw, as well as the stability and low centre of gravity. With thigh straps added, you can roll a packraft, though some think the risk of entrapment makes straps a bad idea. On the bright side, a 3-kilo miniraft that’s as buoyant as a cork tends to skim over nasty hydraulics rather than get buried by them. Intrigued? Then check out some of the resources below.
alpacka Rafts Handmade in Colorado, the best range of packrafts apaddleinmypack Chris Scott’s packrafting blog Feathercraft Baylee River Runner Feathercraft’s rugged white water packraft Packrafting Store Only EU outlet selling Alpackas and Supai, plus all the gear. packrafting.blogspot.com Alaska-based author and adventurer, Roman Dial Far left: Shooting Sluice Weir chute on the River Medway.
left: Bikerafting in Scotland. Bring the shuttle with you.
Supai on a chilly day below Ben More Coigach, NW Scotland.
The other tendency packrafts have is flipping backwards or ‘bandersnatching’ at the base of steep, sloping chutes. As the nose ploughs in and rebounds, water hammers down on the stern and over you go. As in a kayak, lunge forward as you launch and be ready with a brace. The elongated stern of post-2011 Alpackas greatly reduced bandersnatching and had the added effect of reducing yawing too.
A £20 Intex slackraft alongside a £600 Alpacka Yak
Although it looks similar, a packraft differs exponentially from the PVC beach toys you can buy for 20 quid at holiday resorts. The cheapest packraft will cost ten or 20 times that, but pumps up firm, paddles efficiently and won’t be burst by a sharp noise. PVC is a stretchy plastic film that can’t become taught like nylon or polyester fabric. Furthermore, these over wide ‘slackrafts’ as I call them, are actually designed for backward-facing rowing facing a flat stern while sat at a buoyant, rounded bow. Try kayak paddling forward and you’re either pushing that flat ‘stern’ like a halfsunk pallet, or you’re sat in the less buoyant stern, yawing dizzyingly at 1.3 mph. Luc Mehl drops off the Cascadas Micos in Mexico. Plenty more at thingstolucat.com © Todd Tumolo
But slackrafts are a cheap way of sampling the packraft experience. I’ve done multi-day trips with mates in slackrafts and on all occasions they’ve ended up detesting or destroying them. Usually both. But at least they got out there. ●
Rolling up at Saint Martin d’Ardeche
Retail I Rentals I Workshop Alpacka, Supai and Anfibo Packrafts and equipment for amphibious travel
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Kayak Paddler 032 Canada
British Columbia whitewater by Andraž Krpič
Dragorossi 88 by Phil Carr
Cevennes National Park by Alex Kay
Liquid Logic Remix by George Harrap
066 United Kingdom
Kayak flounder fishing by Simon Everett
Zet Raptor: Still the fastest, toughest, lightest, most responsive creekboat around Fastest hull in its class (won Teva Freeride World Champs 2012)
Closed cell foam seat = a warm bum and no private puddle
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To advertise email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44 (0)1480 465081
New boats and Demo boats available at: CIWW, Tees & Sues Canoes.
My encounters with the small hydro dams.
Calling the European Alps my home left me stunned by the amount of unpopulated nature and free-flowing rivers in British Columbia. European kayakers can only imagine how much of our good white-water has been lost to the dams. Yes, I know I use electrical power every day and I’m aware that there’s a need to compromise in contemporary world, but who can blame me for loving the untouched nature? BC still has plenty of it and I feel serenity and amazement every time I find myself far away from anything reminding me of human civilization, except for maybe an old deserted logging road, which often tends to present the only access to the rivers here.
By Andraž Krpič
Photos by Jordan Bastin
ent, from quite evid re a ted, ts c a p be reloca dams’ im aving to h le p While big o e fp ven lations o ent and e big popu nvironm e e ch less th u m to nges ms to be e d se huge cha re e th dams an climate, ing small rd a g re ll effects on a rn ce a sm ublic con re about general p uld we ca o sh y h t? gh s. W where, ri diversion dle of no id m a st into in creek not fit be o d s n io ake ivers tend to m ms and d and they Hydro da t n ose are e h T m . n enviro ayakers k r , fo le b the wild nna sing them ons unru me oppo e v a h m o river secti to ns st fr re are. Ju ugh reaso cons the good eno ly n also o s e m th a aren’t , small d w ie v f but they o t nd can ental poin systems a o c e r e environm v ons. ile ri populati ffect frag fiercely a ts on fish c e ht o f ff g e si g r n astati om ou fr n e d have dev id h em being Most of th that fact. e g n a h c ’t sn o recent e o view d e been tw v a h re e ish th dro cause hy nd Squam dying be Just arou sh fi ver ri g in in ater involv enough w Incidents e ese v a th le f o ’t many s didn ble, that companie ta me of o ti n a o t a ls . It is a power ls ir e e n n th a f h o c ortage of most produce re is no sh e th n e projects h ew inding a n-off, tim cilities. F fa g n ti is spring ru y ex needs nerated b g power in y t sf ti sa power ge een al impac nce betw r ecologic jo a r e m p e e right bala v e lea me d ing not to ere are so th t u b while try , ro ugh ging eno ds of hyd is challen h the tren it , but w C d B e in lv invo t only o n t, n e concerns pm nt develo power pla rld. o w e in th anywhere
gile ly affect fra e c r e fi o ls sa Small dam ems and can have yst river ecos
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few , when a morning ly ll Ju a l fu sm run a beauti ed to go back to a id o c g e s e d s t’ tr lf e le om So nd myse a few kil uddies a cated just lo ng ago , kayaker b lo m o u k to at not ed Skoo th m a w e n n k k e cre , started h. We company Squamis f te a o v e ri aking id p ts a ou lassic kay er inc., c e w o th P e r v e iv bo Run of R dam far a diversion a . g k e in re d c il bu ers small tion work f this very o n o ti c construc se n a e p ro ts I e with Eu ch projec g xperienc olving su v in out lettin s Having e b re a u g askin proced n e ty v st ri e u la c re a se be and cted befo probably being reje at would h orkers w w n expected e o , ic d very n e section a e th e st k a In y . a us k am it s get to th re they d to help u fo g e b too in t y ls p tr a c m atte ere all are lo s, who w ing, “we u y d sa e d m m n e o la of welc one of th st interest member in the be rk river. I re o w to re trying and we a ity.” couldn’t commun cause we e b , and our k a y a t to k anged so didn’t ge s been ch e a h w e d p n a e match it landsc At the couldn’t after the e , w in t r ta u th p , work find a day off fo struction my only n s a o c ter w a y It b w much re the ptions. ack befo b ver descri ri it e ld k o a e to th didn’t m sadly we a while so much. pped too ergex is a level dro reek. Inn c lu lu sh A ry of ersial Ash g is a sto e controv th yak s a k n l w a Interestin o m a loc ny that o a fr p n m o o ti c pposi n made, private t has bee r strong o n e e ft m A e . n re ise ag the end diversio comprom dates. At a se , y a it le n re u w able comm akers flo s of runn nted kay more day n e attle has v e b which gra t h t a grea left wit a re th e s w m rs e tions . It se kayake better rela an before r th fo t ls e se v le ple . water ase exam rporation n and a c nergy co e y n a been wo d an kayakers between
lved erns invo c n o c r e p some dee There are ro power d y h f o s d en with the tr
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. he world t in e r e h yw BC, but an in ly n o t no
Canada British Columbia
it almost seems
like we should applaud these corporations for their concerns for the local communities and kayakers, but who especially needs applauding are their PR departments. This situation inherently reminds me of how “philanthropic” financial institutions, like Rockefeller foundation since the 19th century, supported anthropological researches to better understand and communicate with indigenous people in faraway lands. Of course the agenda there was to avoid any resistance and to optimize conditions of exploitation of these lands.
After asking what do local communities, local environment and society in general gain with these interventions in nature, it is clear that something smells fishy. According to Hydropower Reform Coalition on a case of Washington State, about twice as much electricity could be made just by improving efficiency of existing dams, then as building new dams on potentially exploitable rivers. Energy corporations’ major argument pro building these is also providing jobs to locals. The fact is that most of workers on these projects aren’t locals
and the jobs are available only for a time of construction. I believe that local communities can lose a lot more in the long term by scarring their beautiful untouched nature and making it less attractive for tourism. Do locals get cheaper power after construction is done? Why do we all believe hydropower is green power? Who is making profit here? If energy corporations are making profit, they are making it by selling power to faraway lands (because BC has enough power in time of spring run-off and that’s the time when most excess energy is produced by small hydro dams) – and nobody but they themselves seem to be making profit of it. Learning all that makes it clear that somebody did a really good job in ‘educating’ locals, fishermen, environmentalists and us kayakers that in fact we are scoring a good deal. Should we really let ourselves be silenced for getting some treats? The big question is where does this trend lead? If private financial entities can buy rights to exploit land, water, oil and other resources almost anywhere, where does it end? Maybe run-of-river projects aren’t as high profile today. But imagine the world decades from now. Who knows what can happen?
Should we really let ourselves be silenced for getting some treats?
The big question is whe does this trend lea
have plenty of water now, but the climate is changing and the glaciers are melting fast. What does privatization of water sources lead to in times when water can’t be taken for granted anymore? I’m happy to see there is more and more concern and awareness about this issue. I love a short educational video Hydro Power Reform has published on the internet: Small Hydro Power. There has also been a noticeable revolt from the local kayaking community in the Southeast BC, though it has been largely limited to the rivers that are often used for recreational purposes. Cheers especially to the efforts of Steve Arns, Ric Moxon and other local kayakers for their swift and strong opposition to Innergex’s consideration of diverting one of south eastern BC’s most kayaked and overall most impressive runs around the Callaghan creek.
Cheers, especially to the efforts of Steve Arns, Ric Moxon and other local kayakers.
If they can divert a river with such importance to us, kayakers will be shown to have
no real power at all
If they can divert a river with such importance to us, kayakers will be shown to have no real power at all. Join a Facebook page ‘Save the Callaghan’ and educate yourself to help with the cause. The Callaghan race saw the most competitors in its four-year history so far. Fifty-two competitors showed up, not just to compete, but also to show tribute to this amazing creek and help support the efforts to leave this creek free flowing. We can’t do much if we are few, but these numbers and the efforts of some people leave space for optimism. And so do efforts of especially first nations and some local communities who have to live with negative effects of exploitation, while they’re obviously not the ones getting richer. Even though it seems like fighting with mills, we owe it to our children and our planet to fight the fight. ●
Andraž Krpic A taste of Washington and BC kayaking 2013
‘Save the Callaghan’
Join a Facebook page
DRAGOROS ThePaddler 44
The Dragorossi 88 is the newest creek boat from the Italian kayak company. On first seeing the 88 I was quite impressed with its overall looks â€“ it simply looks right! So I was very excited to get the boat on onto a number of local grade 4 rivers. Paddler: Phil Mitchell. Photos: Martyn Butler
By Phil Carr
Over the course
of just over a month I tried the 88 on a range of different rivers, artificial whitewater courses and even out in the surf. So did the first impressions match how it performed?
When I first sat in the boat on water it felt good. Initial impressions were that it was a good size creek boat without being huge and was stable when edged and turned tightly. The back deck did feel quite high, as I was able to lean back just a little and rest my back against it. I tried a couple of rolls on the flat water to see whether or not this would prove to be an issue and found that it wasn’t at all. So putting that thought to bed I tried the boat on a little warm up set up I use that interlinks a number of left and right eddies on my local piece of whitewater. The hull has a good turn of speed and can be driven in/out of eddies with ease. It picks up speed well and holds it. These initial impressions were confirmed when I took the boat further down river and in to a bigger piece of white water. The 88 like most other creekers isn’t made to be a play machine but I did find that the 88 sits well on a wave and was stable whilst side surfing in a number of friendly stoppers. On finding a less than friendly stopper I found that the 88 was easy to roll, and easily able to pick up enough speed to escape the clutches of the stopper! The 88 feels very stable, it sits well in the water and really instils a sense of security. The volume is well distributed giving the kayak a balanced feel. The hull has a nice gentle rocker and doesn’t seem to present any nasty surprises, even when on the roughest of water. The 88 is very easy to boof and to land. The hull shape works really well on the landing to help dissipate the forces away from the paddler. This makes the 88 ideal for both river running and creeking and puts it into direct competition with the Dagger Mamba or Zet Raptor.
The hull has a nice gentle rocker and doesn’t seem to present any nasty surprises, even when on the
roughest of water
What Dragorossi say…
It’s the new Dragropes creek boat, ideal also for river running. It’s very fast and precise in the manoeuvres; great habitability also for heavy paddlers.
Al the outfitting system is completely new with new seat, footrest, backrest and knee braces – all fully adjustable.
It comes standard with hip pads, seat pad, drain plug, four carry handles, one metal bar, front and back foam wall+PE, slot for PeliCase or WaterShread drybag. The 88 is the ultimate extreme creeker.
Length: Width: Volume: Weight:
259 cm 65,5 cm 315 litres 20 kg
I’m always keen on looking at the
outfitting of a boat very carefully as it is this that can often ruin the feel of a boat. The outfitting in the 88 is solid. It isn’t revolutionary – it just works. It also means there is very little that could go wrong and doesn’t add a great deal of weight to the boat. Overall I like it and it functioned pretty well. The backrest isn’t the most comfortable I have used but it is easy to adjust thanks to the ratchet system. A piece of plastic helps keep the backband rigid and aids it to stay in place. The plastic both looks and feels like it may be the same plastic used in the boat. The seat padding although on the face of it looks very basic does work well and I had no issues with slipping around in the seat or any feeling of coldness being transferred through. The hip pads can be placed exactly where you need them with the help of the strap/Velcro system. Shims can also be added to help customize the fit. Safety wise the 88 is fitted with a total of four grab handles. One is located at the bow, another at the stern and the remaining two just behind the cockpit. They feel comfortable with a good solid feel. There is also a broach bar on the front deck, which is big enough to clip a karabiner into. A good full plate footrest system is provided, which has a good range of adjustment to accommodate paddlers of different heights. A couple of thumb screws hold the footrest bars in place and are easy to remove/re-install. Just in front of the seat is a large storage area that is perfect for even the largest of throw line or even a Pelicase as demonstrated by my Peli 1120, which slotted in nicely. I would suspect that even larger sized Pelicases would fit without obstructing the paddler. Two quick release straps are situated in the same area so that kit can be secured within the boat.
At approximately 20kg, the 88 is pretty light compared to most of other creek boats on the market. However, I did find the edges on the inner of the cockpit on this particular boat quite sharp. I certainly felt this on a long walk in during the first week I had the boat. A quick rub with some fine sand paper should solve this in little to no time.
Just in front of the seat is a large storage area that is perfect for even the largest of throwline or even a Pelicase as demonstrated by my Peli 1120, which
slotted in nicely
Over all the Dragorossi 88 is a fine boat that sits in a quite overcrowded market and could be overlooked. I would say that if you are looking for a river runner with creek potential or a creek boat that is also good at river running then the 88 is definitely worth looking at. It is a stable boat that can be pushed and always managed to deliver a smile.
Paul Ramsdale. River Dee. Image: Pete Astles
Incl. airport transfer and shuttle service, top equipment and accommodation for all budgets
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Boating season in the Cevennes National Park.
By Alex Kay
France in the south of
For two months during the spring of 2013, I was working as a maintenance assistant and making use of the spring water levels on the fantastic rivers of the Cevennes. With the national park only an hours drive away from where we were based it was only fair that we spent the majority of weekends loading up the van in search of some classic runs...
It is believed that Julius Caesar gave the name ‘Cevennes’ while conquering Gaul. Gaul was a region of western Europe during the Iron Age and Roman era, encompassing present day France, Luxembourg and Belgium, most of Switzerland, northern Italy, as well as the parts of the Netherlands and Germany on the west bank of the Rhine. Whilst crossing the Cevennes mountain range he saw seven courses spring forth; the Allier, Lot, Tarn, Gardon, Hérault, Ceze, and the Ardèche. The General baptised it ‘the Mountains of the Seven Veins’ (seven rivers) from which came the deformed name of ‘Cevennes’.
For our first trip our
route went via Aubenas, along the N102, to a quaint, petite village called Astet, and the Haute Ardèche (upper Ardèche) catchment.
The section we chose was only a few kilometres long but offered impressive granite slides and drops, and a boater-x style run. With the evident paddling conditions we were more than happy to be jumping out for a quick warm-up run back to the top! Losing daylight, energy and the feeling to our fingertips, we reluctantly packed up and headed home, impatiently waiting for our next adventure… Taking our usual journey north towards the central Cevennes, this time we headed towards the village of Florac and the River Mimente. We got there nice and early having only stopped for bare essentials... Pain au Choc of course. Located in the heart of a large basin of rivers, the Mimente is one of the hidden gems of the Cevennes, its beauty not visible from the road. An intimate section lay before us. Broken simply into three parts, the first a grade 3 gorge with one grade 5 drop, the middle being easy going and the final part offering continuous grade 4 contained within a steep sided gorge…. The initial gorge was absolutely stunning – luscious green forests either side of a crystal clear flow, its perfection only disturbed by the darkening of clouds above. Entry was granted by passing through a decrepit stonewall, beaten down by the river. No turning back we were in it for the long haul. Double dares, triple dares and “I bet you can’ts” enabled us to perform the most hilarious warm ups covering easier ground. Slowing round the final corner of the first gorge we eddied out, anticipating the grade 5 drop.
We took the time to thoroughly inspect and weigh up our options. The only line was river left, running over a very shallow lip. The possibility of grounding out, losing speed and dropping sideways was quite high and with a deep undercut, limited bank support and dirty towback, we concluded this a recipe for disaster. We chose wisely to portage acknowledging further fun to be had downstream.
Our assumptions were correct and the final gorge produced rapids thick and fast. By now the dark clouds had caught us up and walls engulfed us. Bare skeletons swayed below towering cliffs as we skipped between the boulders. Before we knew it the steep sides had fallen, replaced with brick walls of the road beside us. Our get out was in sight; we had survived to paddle another day!
The initial gorge was absolutely stunning â€“
luscious green forests either side of a crystal clear flow
I was Borne ready! Another day another river.
Kit bags and boats were heaved into the back of the van and with the foot on the gas we sped along towards La Borne, without doubt one of the most beautiful rivers of the Cevennes. The Borne, located in the northern Cevennes, is not the most difficult river in the area but one of the most isolated and it’s recommended that a spare paddle is taken for this trip. Boating in the Cevennes in spring and autumn, you will find that La Borne holds its water a little longer than the other rivers in the area. With the past weeks rain and snow melt from Mt. Tanargue, we had our hopes set high for another great days boating. The weather was looking bleak and the rain still had some time to pass, but either way we were gonna be getting wet! The drive there was in itself worth the day out. The guidebook told us that the landscape was extremely wild and shuttles will feel like they are in the middle of nowhere. As we journeyed along the D4 to Saint Laurent Les Bains the scenery was breathtaking. Stopping only to take some snaps, we drove high up into the mountains before descending to a remote campsite and our put in.
The first couple of kilometres flow between thick woodland on both sides. About 200m after the put-in we realised the effects that the high water levels had inflicted, avoiding debris and strainers tucking and weaving down the first easy rapids. We boosted quickly down the first 4km, in the mixture of it all with closely spaced class 4 rapids all-runnable on sight. Beyond the debris ridden first half the ground steepened and the view of the road slowly faded out of sight. The width of the river was undecided from here-on, squeezing closer together between wide pools, producing horizon line after horizon line and the most superb rapids.
Our chosen section was ‘la moyenne’ (the middle), given a grade of 3-4. With high water levels we were intrigued to see what this section had to offer, and whether it would fit the grade!
Time flies when you’re having fun. The final 3km was swiftly completed and with smiles on our faces we reached the take out. Make sure to take out at Nicoulaud bridge on the D573 or else you’ll have to paddle an extra 4km down to the Barrage de Roujanel.
Time flies when youâ€™re having fun. The final 3km was swiftly completed and with smiles on our faces we reached the take out.
The final weekend
of our maintenance season was spent having a cracking time on one of the most notorious rivers in the Cevennes. Only to mention its name gets the heart of any creek boater pumping. Its upper section holds some of the gnarliest runs in the area needing carefully chosen lines and balls the size of coconuts. We departed early, hoping to catch the previous nights rainfall.
The Tarn, situated in and being the main catchment of the central Cevennes is a classic and a must-run if in the area when it’s in. The middle section being the most commonly paddled, holds some exceptional class 4 rapids beautifully placed between large pools. Inspection of some of the more serious rapids, like the ex-portage at Cocures, is recommended. A dirt track off the D998 from La Pontese Bridge makes for easy scouting. One of the more famous rapids; ‘Machine a Laver’ (or Washing Machine) can be viewed from the bank, an easy walk down from the D998.
We put in a few kilometres above Cocures. The first rapids provided us with a gentle warm-up before the rhythm increased in the last third of the section. The first major rapid we encountered was Le Velodrome, river wide it offered many different lines down a large limestone shelf, the main line being a fantastic rock slide. Here we are exhausting the numerous lines Le Velodrome had to offer. A few 100m downstream was the washing machine, able to make any paddler put up a fight. The hole at the bottom was extremely retentive and my main line run went less
elegantly than I had hoped for! It is definitely worth setting safety river right here as this hole is famously sticky. The ex-portage at Cocures lay just around the next few corners, marked by the appearance of a old battered cabin on the left bank. After inspection we decided to run it together. The first half was a bit of a labyrinth between large boulders, with numerous pin potentials. The second was a steep drop, hiding an undercut on river right. Running the first right and the second left we cruised on down. Five hundred metres later we reached the take-out at La Pontese Bridge. From hereon our Cevennes adventures were over and our weekends a thing of the past. The Cevennes was drying up and summer was on its way. I was to spend the next four months guiding on the ArdĂŠche River and making new trips and new friends in the southern French Alps. â—?
The Strait of Bonifacio
By David Truzzi-Franconi
An open canoe adventure, wild camping in Corsica, crossing the Strait of Bonifacio and coasting Sardinia and back.
After driving 800-miles across France throughout the night in relays, fuelled by coffee and sour jelly snakes, we finally spilled out onto the pavement into the already stifling heat of the old port of Marseille. We were ravenous, thirsty and in bad need of a shave!
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By Greg Spencer
If approached over the ruggedly alpine Parc Naturel Régional du Vercors, and through the short tunnel at Col de Rousset, Paul Villecourt’s beloved Drôme valley offers one of the most stunning vistas in all of France. Leaving behind the Alpine Forest (legendary bastion of the French Resistance), we find towering walls of limestone basking in the Mediterranean sun, and a vertiginous drop down to the gently rolling southern foothills which stretch away, seemingly endlessly, into Provence.
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French Flag Wallpaper by GaryckArntzen
The best boat youâ€™ve probably
By George Harrap ThePaddler 61
Browsing the latest paddling magazine,
whether online or in print, it’s great to see such a range of kit available to the current whitewater crowd.There aren’t many bad boats on the market, with choice being mainly a combination of your ability, style and aspirations; as well as preference in outfitting. While the Burn III, Mamba, Raptor and Stomper dominate demo requests and Internet discussion, others are slipping under the radar.
I can appreciate the lack of questions on the suitability of a Nomad; if your paddling requires such a hardcore creeker you probably don’t need the approval of a keyboard warrior. The Remix, by Liquid Logic, doesn’t fit such an extreme niche though, so why isn’t it on more peoples shortlist? The likely answer is the misconception that the boat is too long and has insufficient rocker.
While I wouldn’t claim it’s going to replace your Jefe as the perfect steep creeker, for the majority of UK paddlers on grade 2-4 this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, a quick unscientific tally of boats in a certain glossy international magazine showed more pro paddlers using the Remix than any other model. This is mirrored in our own market, with groups of happy Remix paddlers in most UK whitewater hotspots, yet seemingly missing the mainstream.
a river runner for the masses
It is surprising given it wasn’t designed for the elite. Instead LL enlisted regional coaches to create a river runner for the masses, incorporating the fast carving character of an old school long boat. The result is a truly excellent shell and should appeal to all, independent of ability. It prompted one forum user to comment ‘every time I paddle a Remix I wonder why I haven’t actually bought one’. With comments such as this, as well as glowing reviews, it must be frustrating for Liquid Logics distributor, System X Europe, that there aren’t more of these fantastic boats on our rivers.
The current downfall of the Remix is a reflection on UK paddling as a whole, where relatively low volume runs are driving a movement for short, highly rockered boats. Examples such as the Jackson Hero or Pyranha Nano provide paddlers with playboat like manoeuvrability combined with forgiving volume, allowing paddlers to make quick adjustments and push their limits on our tight and twisting rivers. I’m sure this is driven, at least in part, by the mass of GoPro footage now available
online, eliminating the fear of the unknown and thus tempting us onto increasingly difficult water when levels are low.
While such boats offer advantages in these conditions, it isn’t such good news as the rivers rise. While the short waterline offers easy turning, the boats tend to be slow and have poor tracking, being easily pushed around by the flow. In contrast, the Remix isn’t a story of instant gratification. Its overall length and flatter profile combine to create a long waterline in constant contact with the flow, resulting in fantastic tracking at the expense of easy turning.
Forget your misconceptions
Some might grumble about the lack of a defined edge and it’s fair to say the Remix’s softer semi displacement hull differs from popular river running designs like the Mamba, where carving is achieved through an aggressive edge on a planning hull. However, forget your misconceptions about how your boat should look; embrace the Remix and you’ll be rewarded with a fantastically fun and forgiving boat.
While primary stability isn’t as good as a pure planing hull design, you’re safe to edge the boat hard without fear of passing a pivot point as can be the case with more aggressive edged designs. For those not looking to recreate an E.G. lean on your local drop this might not seem such an important trait, yet it also makes the Remix incredibly easy to roll. Club paddlers take note!
The one thing I’ve yet to mention is speed. For those in the know this will seem strange, as you would expect it to be top of the list during a word association game about the Remix. Anyone watching the likes of the Whitewater Grand Prix or Moriston River Race will be well aware of the boats race pedigree. I was keen, however, not to pitch the boat as a one trick pony and while speed is an attractive feature to the modern river runner, it’s not the be all and end all.
The speed comes from the boats length, narrow width and flat rocker, which also makes it a slightly wetter ride than your true creeker, with the nose being slightly more difficult to lift over features. You won’t care most of the time though, crashing through waves and holes at speed! Most important is the fact it’s stable while submerged, so you’ll be sure to resurface predictably and still on line. There’s no doubt that such characteristics are fantastic when river running and thus ideal for the grade 2-4 most UK paddlers enjoy on a weekend. They will also reward your efforts if you manage the annual pilgrimage to the likes of the French or Austrian Alps, where bigger volume classic river running allow the boat to really come into it’s own.
Paddler George Harrap, Photo by Anthony Flatters
Liquid Logic says…
The world works in cyclical ways and whitewater kayaks have progressed tons over the last several years. Change in the sport has taken us to unimaginable places and we have been proud to be driving that change. That said, as boats have become shorter, a fundamental concept is in danger of being lost. With the help of dozens of instructors, we designed the new Remix series to carve, to glide and to provide beginners, intermediates and experts with that age old rush that comes with speed. Perfect for novices and instructors excited about rolling and proper eddy turns, big water junkies wanting to safely push their limits or experienced racers looking to cashin, the Remix is a new concept altogether that combines the clear advantages of a relatively narrow and longer hull platform with modern chine placement to create an unrivaled comfortable, stable and responsive package. We’re not talking about a dud here that’s too long to turn or too wide to edge. We’re talking about a boat that travels smoothly and easily over the water and, thanks to extra width at the ends, provides reassuring stability. We’re talking about a boat that carves like a ski when put on edge, stays on the surface when running drops, has a fast hull for catching waves that others just can’t catch, rolls easily and inspires confidence. Like an updated classic tune with its new, funky, progressive backbeat, the Remix blends the soul of the past with the technology of present in a vision for the future.
SPECiFiCaTiOnS 69: Length: 8' 8" Width: 25.5" Weight: 44 lbs Cockpit Length: 34" Cockpit Width: 20" Paddler Weight: 130-240 lbs Volume: 69 gal
264 cm 65 cm 20 kg 86 cm 51 cm 59-109 kg 261 L
Ferry out towards the bridge at the
Paddler Nick Ball, Photo by Paul Mcdonnell
Paddler George Harrap, Photo by Anthony Flatters
start of the lower Oetz for instance and you’ll appreciate the speed, tracking and stability of your new best friend. To take this argument to the extreme you only have to look to expeditions on the mighty Stikine, surely the test piece of extreme kayaking. While footage has been sparse until this season, it’s always littered with the large Remix, as was the Congo expedition where Steve Fisher used the large version rather than anything his sponsors had to offer.
While marketed as a river runner and certainly most at home in this environment, it’s certainly capable of handling steeper water with an adjustment to your technique. Expect to roll towards a defined lip with no speed and haul out a snappy boof and you’ll be disappointed. If that’s your style then stick to the Jefe. Maintain speed and use a long sweeping stroke with good torso rotation, however, and it’ll be dry lines and smiles all round. The beauty of taking a Remix onto steeper water is that once you’ve perfected keeping the nose up, the boat accelerates out of the froth like nothing else, where traditional highly rockered boats would sit down and kill the speed on landing.
Whether you’ll be taking it on your local canoe club training ground, the steep ditches of Snowdonia or an international adventure, I’d encourage a demo from any of the great UK shops on a familiar run. Definitely play with the outfitting and trim, as you should with any potential new purchase. It makes a massive difference in the Remix given the low volume scooped tail, which is more prone to changing characteristics based on seat position. The boat comes in four sizes, including one designed specifically for kids, so combined with the fantastic Liquid Logic Bad Ass outfitting there’s literally no reason why you shouldn’t give one a go. I’m hoping to see many more of this extremely underrated whitewater kayak on UK rivers, as well as the guidebook!
Tel: 01753 655455
Email: email@example.com www.rapidkayaks.co.uk
Flounder fishing in aid of
â€˜Heroes on th Simon Everett reports on this annual event, which draws competitors to Poole, in Dorset, from all over the country.
Team HOW with their bag of eight flounders which put them all on the prize table
he Water UK’
The 4th Poole
kayak fishing flounder competition
took place in December and it always gets a good turn out from kayak anglers up and down the country who come to have the chance to catch a decent flounder and support a worthwhile charity at the same time. This year the event was raising funds for â€˜Heroes On the water UKâ€™ who are a registered charity that provide wounded, disabled and traumatised people with proven therapy in the form of kayak fishing sessions. The combination of self-propelled travel, water and fishing provides an equal opportunity for all involved. It has been proven to work where other forms of therapy have failed over the seven years it has been running in America. The UK chapter is making a big difference to our own veterans, and other people injured in the course of public service. For the first time HOW fielded a competitor in the competition and a team entry. Martin Payne is from Plymouth and was a Royal Marine until he felt the full force of an IED in Afghanistan. He has only been fishing since August and kayak fishing with HOW since
October. He has done the training HOW provide and can self rescue happily. The Flounder competition was a landmark occasion for Heroes On the Water because it was the first time they had a competition entrant, the first time Team HOW fished a competition and it was the first saltwater outing for a service user. The pressure was on! The mass launch was at 09.30, after breakfast from the volunteers at the catering tent, with fishing going on until 14.30 to give fishing over the most productive time between the two high waters â€“ Poole Harbour has a strange tidal flow in that they get a bounce at high water, the tide floods then there is a short period of the tide going out for about an hour, then the tide comes
Martin netting his first ever flounder, on his first sea trip and first competition. Well done chap!
Paul Fennel and Martin Payne from Heroes On the Water at the measuring table
The Flounder competition was a landmark occasion for heroes On the Water because it was the first time they had a
As the tide advanced the 28 competitors gathered with their kayaks ready for the mass launch
in again until the proper high water. We had a plan to fish a shallow bank that has a ragworm bed on it. When we got there many other entrants had the same idea, but there was room for Martin to drop his anchor and cast over the extensive worm bed. Others caught a couple of flounders around us, but we werenâ€™t getting so much as a bite. It was time to move and we headed over to a spot where I caught the winning fish last year. Our tactics were a little different to the others, we were fishing very light and fine with a few orange and yellow buoyant beads to lift the bunch of ragworms out of reach of crabs and allow them to sway in the tide. On ultra light tackle even the humble flounder has a chance to show its sporting qualities and the fine presentation is an advantage. We used the Dragonfly fish finder to locate a small channel between two banks that the flounders use as a corridor. We anchored in
heroes On the Water website: www.heroesonthewater-uk.org Follow Facebook page: HeroesOnTheWaterUK Twitter: HOW_UK
Many of the flounders caught were released to provide sport for other anglers. Adam Cain letting go his sixth place fish
shallow water about 20 yards from the channel and cast our baits to just over the edge of the bank. Within minutes the rods were rattling. Paul was first in with a decent fish and we were off the mark. Martin acquitted himself well, he had several bites but missed them, and then he landed his first flounder! What a momentous fish that was, his first sea fish, his first flounder and it was the first fish in competition by a HOW participant.
Father and son, Adrian Saunders and Finlay MaymanSaunders enjoy some quality, and successful, fishing time together
A message came over the VHF that there was just 30-minutes left to the weigh-in time. We paddled back to find out how we had done. Of the 28 entrants, 12 had caught fish with a few catching more than one, but it was the longest fish to win. The top spot went to Scott Ward with a fish of 446mm, out of interest it was weighed at 2lb 5oz, a good fish indeed. Second place was awarded to Ben Chapman with a flounder 435mm long. Ian ‘Dizzyfish’ Harris has fished this event for the previous three years without catching a fish, this year he caught three with the best, a flounder of 423mm, giving him third place. Team HOW did the best of the kayak fishing teams with eight flounders between us, Martin’s fish of 332mm was good enough for 9th place, Paul was 7th with 376 and I was just 1mm behind Ian with 422mm.
The event raised over £200 for Heroes On the Water and Poole bay Small Boat Angling Club presented a further cheque for £500 from donations from their members. Heartfelt thanks must go to Hobie for sponsoring the catering and prizes plus Wessex Tackle and Guns for other prizes. Heroes On the Water is a totally voluntary charity with all proceeds going directly to funding the kayak fishing sessions, if you or your club are having a fund raising event, or you could hold one, consider donating to them. They make a huge difference to the lives of people who have already given so much. ●
Ian Dizzyfish Harris with his brace of flounders. After three years of blanks he took third spot
The winner, Scott Ward with his fabulous Daiwa prizes
074 Cold water safety part 3 Golden Rule No.4 by Moulton Avery
Kokatat Hydrus 3L Meridian drysuit by Richard Cree
086 United States Alaska by Jeff Allen
To advertise email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44 (0)1480 465081
ThE gOlDE RUlES OF COl WaTER SaFETy
By Moulton A
on heat and cold stress who gave executive director of the Center f years and is the founder and direc gOlDEn RUlES 1 and 2, click
En OlD R# Ty
This is the third in a four-part series on cold water safety by Moulton Avery – an expert e his first public lecture on hypothermia in 1974. He was for Environmental Physiology in Washington, DC for 10 ctor of the National Center for Cold Water Safety. For k here… gOlDEn RUlE 4, click here…
On January 15th, 2011, a very experienced and skilled whitewater paddler by the name of Ian Walsh drowned while paddling the Ogwen River in Wales, UK. The UK Rivers Guidebook describes the Ogwen as a “true classic Grade 4 trip”, one best undertaken at high water after a heavy rain.
Walsh was paddling with his long-time kayaking friend Phil Davidson and both men were familiar with the river and looking forward to making the five-mile run. For protection, they were equipped with helmets, drysuits and PFDs.
Davidson reported capsizing and rolling up several times during the descent. Walsh doubtless would have done the same – except for a small but ultimately critical oversight: the zipper on his drysuit wasn’t properly closed. That’s precisely the kind of problem that swim-testing is designed to reveal.
What is swim-testing?
Swim-testing is like a pilot’s preflight inspection – a last minute safety-check to make sure that your thermal protection is working properly and that you’re wearing enough to keep you warm. Swim-testing is also is a great way to develop an expert ‘feel’ for exactly how much gear you need to wear at different water temperatures.
Swim-test your gear every time you go out ThePaddler 75
How to swim-test: ▪
Put on your thermal protection, get in the water, and splash around.
Try holding your nose to see how it feels to get your head dunked.
Sit, float, tread water, or swim – whatever works best for you.
How long you stay in the water is up to you – it’s your gear that you’re testing.
Valuable things that you can discover via swim-testing
The following mistakes really do happen. Sometimes they’re amusing, sometimes they’re merely unpleasant, but every once in a while, they can be fatal. ▪ ▪
Your drysuit has a torn gasket. You forgot to close the ‘relief zipper’ on your drysuit. You forgot to properly close the main zipper on your drysuit. You should have paid more attention to the instructions on how to seal your two-piece drysuit.
All by itself, your drysuit provides about as much insulation as a shower curtain and you need to find some nice warm stuff to wear underneath it. The gear you’re wearing on this particular outing is totally inadequate to keep you warm in the water. You didn’t burp your drysuit enough, so you feel like a blimp in the water. You burped your drysuit way too much and squashed all that fluffy pile insulation down to the thickness of a penny and now it doesn’t feel warm any more.
▪ ▪ ▪
You were sadly mistaken when you thought that a ‘paddling jacket’ was the same thing as a ‘drytop’. Your neoprene gloves or the wrist seals on your drysuit are a wee bit too snug. They reduce the flow of warm blood to your hands – which are quickly becoming very cold. You need to get a neo hood, a neo hat – or both – to protect your head and neck from that chilly water. The 3mm Farmer John and drytop combo that was just fine and dandy at 65F, is not nearly enough to keep you warm at 48F. The wetsuit you got on sale is too large. You’re trying to compensate by wearing a thick polypro top and bottom underneath it, but whenever you move, very cold water flushes in and out, causing you to squeal like a little piglet.
Pete Astles. Dorset. Image: Paul Ramsdale
More valuable things you can learn
Feeling like a blimp in the water
Explorer Suit & Explorer Zip Pfd
8\HSP[` 7LYMVYTHUJL +LZPNU
What if I don’t want to swim-test? Perhaps you should consider reading the last section a second time… Swim-testing is fast and easy, and it’s no big deal when you’re dressed for the water temperature. If you’re unwilling to swim-test, it’s usually because you’re worried that your gear won’t keep you warm and/or dry when you’re in the water. Why some paddlers blow off swim-tests: ▪ They never heard of swim-testing. ▪ They spaced out and simply forgot to do it. ▪ They don’t happen to have any cold water gear with them at the moment. ▪ Their gear is brand new and they’re too nervous to try it out. ▪ Their nasty, old, worn-out gear is shot-to-hell, and they have a strong gut-feeling that it won’t keep them warm – even during the swim-test. ▪ Their gear is just perfect for the air temperature, but way too skimpy for the water temperature. ▪ It’s cold and windy at the launch site and they don’t want to get in the water because they’re worried about getting cold and wet. ▪ The water is so skanky with scum, oil slicks and dead fish that it’s a major commitment to just put their boat in the water.
On very rare occasions, such as when faced with ultra-skanky water or a perhaps a seal launch, you may find it difficult or impossible to swimtest. That’s understandable. If you’re already very familiar with your gear because you’ve thoroughly field-tested it, just double-check the zippers, seals etc. as best you can. If you can roll, do so as soon as you’re on the water, and next time, try to pick a better launch site. The real issue for most paddlers is not whether they swim-test every single time they paddle. It’s that they never swim-test their gear and consequently have no idea whether it’s working properly and will protect them if they wind up in the water. ●
Support the National Center for Cold Water Safety. You can make a
contribution online at www.coldwatersafety.org
Cold Water Safety – Golden Rule number 5:
Imagine the worst that can happen and plan for it next month.
© 2013 National Center for Cold Water Safety. This information is protected by copyright and cannot be reproduced without permission.
IAnOVATED IAnOVATED WETSUIT The only wetsuit with a breath powered hand heating system The war with cold hands is over. No more cold hands. Exhale warm breath on to your hands whilst paddling and stay comfortable in the sub 5°C conditions all afternoon. In 0 to 5°C (-10°C to 0°C wind chill) just one or two puffs every other minute down this system is all that is needed! The breath tubes substantially run inside the wetsuit not only insulating the breath’s warmth but also boosting it. If you fall in, the water that gets into the tubes blows out warm! Now the cold problem has been eliminated completely. Cut away the underneath of your mitten so nothing disturbs your bare hands grip on the paddle. Or you can wear thinner gloves. You can set it that all five fingers inflate before the breath exits through the seams and around the wrist. The mouth piece is there for whenever you need it. Free head movement even when it's in your mouth. Can set loop size so you can grab it with your mouth. The tube and mouth piece loop is a squeeze tight fit that pulls apart if snagged or needs to be fed through a buoyancy aid. The hand heating system is built in to a 5/4mm semi dry with a horizontal rear entry dry zip. Exterior in smooth skin (pictured) or nylon lined. Hand heating system is detachable, plugs provided.
K O K ATAT h y DRU S 3l MERi Di an
dry suit with relief zipper and socks incorporating Kokatatâ€™s new fabric Review by Richard Cree Photos by Peter Benson
For paddlers looking for a dry suit on a
budget, the Kokatat hydrus 3l Meridian falls into that category.The Meridian
incorporates all the features of the gORETEX® but at a lower price, being
constructed with Kokatat’s newest
generation of fabric technology: hydrus 3l.
So we handed it over to Richard, a paddler who
knows a thing or two about dry suits to see what his opinion would be.
Richard Cree is one of the founders of the West
Coast Paddlers, a 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 Scottish Canoe Association
board and a contributor to many shows and
symposiums over those years. Although mostly a
sea kayaker, he has been spotted coaching from his playboat or using a canoe to journey. He currently
offers private guiding/coaching in a variety of environments and is a P&H team paddler.
Over to you Richard…
On FiRST hOlDing ThE SUiT I was impressed by the weight or rather I should say the lack of it. It is noticeably lighter than other suits I have been fortunate enough to use and to be honest this had me wondering how strong it would be. I am not known for the care and attention I lavish on my equipment and I am sure I would be a worthy test for this or any other dry suit!
Out of the bag, the brand new dry suits are lovely with the water sitting on the surface – like morning dew on grass and as soon as you move it beads away leaving the suit dry. I know that eventually this coating will eventually wear off – the only question is how long it will take?
It’s great that a neoprene blanket protects both the latex neck and wrist seals; unusually this extra cover causes no problems with getting it on or off. I liked the way the leg seals around the ankle using the Velcro closure, this keeps out all but the most determined water, helping to reduce the age old problem of bringing water in to your kayak as you launch.
This is the first suit I have used with the new Tizip zip, it looks like a normal BDM dry suit zip but is made from plastic. So far it has been great, although it did need lubricating before use but once I had liberally applied the supplied silicon gel lubricant it slackened off and worked, as you would expect. I had no difficulty getting in to or out of the suit by myself,
a benefit of chest diagonal zip suits, the zip is a touch fiddly to do up and to check it’s closed due to the way the skirt is assembled
There is a handy left chest pocket, with a key fob but not sure how much use this is as most keys are now electronic and the pocket certainly isn’t waterproof.
The air temperature was 7°C blowing force 5. I wore a single base layer and onesie and was comfortably warm, whilst I spent the day hammering (rockhopping in the surf) lots of high cadence high effort paddling without over heating.When we stopped for lunch, the wind had increased and although we were sat still, I
didn’t find myself getting cold.The afternoon was more of the same; in fact probably more effort was required, as the waves had increased.To my surprise when I exited the suit I didn’t suffer from any excess sweat moisture, which can cause a very quick cool down. Today I was bone dry – very comfortable.
The second outing of the suit was on my usual Wednesday night fitness paddle. Air temperature had dropped to 2°C, and the usual format of the evening is to meet at 7pm, paddle as fast as you can for an hour, then go to the pub. I didn’t wear my buoyancy aid, and I used only one base layer. The suit fitted very comfortably, posed no problems and no restrictions in my movement.
At the start of the evening, I could feel myself overheating after 10 minutes of hard paddling but the suit started to do its job by breathing and the feeling rescinded. On exiting the boat I discovered I was a little sweaty, not much to worry about but dampness was evident.
The third outing was a rescue session and I spent the three hours in and out of the water wearing one base layer and my onesie beneath the suit. Air temperature was 10°C with the water a tad warmer at 11°C. I started with a selection of rolls, and moved on to the self and assisted rescues. I had no water ingress whatsoever and was totally dry even after all my clambering about! These kind of wet sessions usually leave me a bit damp, however, not today as the suit did its job superbly and breathed impeccably!
The suit supplied to me was the large size and though I am not a big guy and would usually buy a medium, the larger size still fitted very well. I found the wrist and neck seals very tight and solved this by cutting them, however, I am not sure how they are going to stretch.
As you would expect from Kokatat and for £649, the suit is constructed very well with neat stitching and tidy cuts. All the seams are taped and the workmanship is excellent, plus the fabric breathes well.
To conclude, I wasn’t sure what to expect with this being the cheaper Kokatat suit but I found I had nothing to worry about – the Kokatat Hydrus 3L Meridian dry suit is excellent in every respect. Sizes Technical Info
S, M, L, XL, XXL Hydrus 3L waterproof, breathable fabric Self-draining punch-through neck and wrist neoprene over-cuffs Self-draining, zippered chest pocket with key lanyard Competition cut underarm, latex neck and wrist gaskets Watersports entry and relief zippers Adjustable bungee draw cord at waist Self-draining seat and knee patches Dual-adjustable overskirt incorporates ‘hook and loop’ compatible neoprene ‘Hook and loop’ adjustable neoprene over-cuffs at ankle Integrated Hydrus™ socks; factory sealed seams
Suit supplied for test by: SySTEMX EUROPE http://www.systemxeurope.com Email: email@example.com Tel: +44 (0) 1189 773 709 Fax: +44 (0) 1189 773 775 Prices: UK £649.99 EU €812.49 approx US $775.00
We offer the UKâ€™s widest range of BCU coaching, performance & safety qualifications. All delivered by the UKâ€™s most experienced and most qualified instructional team. www.glenmorelodge.org.uk bespoke dates, tailored courses, off-site training, group bookings and non residential prices all available upon request
I have been visiting Alaska for several years now, this has By Jeff been on a commercial basis, guiding groups of sea Allen kayakers out of Whittier, which is a very unique little town nestled at the base of the Chugach mountain range and at the head of a fjord on Prince William Sound. This yearâ€™s trip was going to be slightly different as we were going to be joined on the expedition by a chap who was very keen to conduct a wilderness journey on his stand up paddleboard.
astfrontier ThePaddler 87
SUP boards are not what
I would consider to be a suitable expedition craft, maybe suitable for a jaunt in the tropics, or in an area with a little more moderate conditions than the frontier state of Alaska. Any crafts suitability for purpose is also very much dictated about the man (or women) in charge of it and where I may have considered that the paddleboard was not suitable for a ten-day wilderness expedition, I certainly had different thoughts on the paddler.
I have known Nick Healey for about 15 years or so now, most people who enter the water in Cornwall, probably know about Nick – Cornwall’s very own Laird Hamilton. Nick is a super skilled and gutsy all round waterman, an accomplished big wave surfer, paddle boarder, kite surfer, windsurfer, sailor and he is also the current captain of the Porthtowan Surf Boat team, who were the European champions in 2013. Where Nick and the ocean are concerned, there is a definite unification. His craft was a Fanatic inflatable 14’0” adventure board. He felt and I knew, that he had the ability to keep up an average speed of three knots, six-hours a day, which is what I request from any expedition team member for this trip. We discussed his plans about equipment – how and where he would carry all of his own gear. His intention was to glue down pad eyes to facilitate strapping to the board all of his equipment which was going to be stored in a series of robust dry bags, coupled with a large waterproof ruck sack which he could sit on to rest his legs if necessary. We discussed safety issues, such as repairs and rescues if needed; it seemed to me that Nick had already done most of the required preparation. I was happy to crack on with the expedition.
The journey to Anchorage was
a long but uneventful one, the jet lag was significant, but I had allowed two days of recovery time, which we needed, I had never felt the effects of jet lag quite so much as I had this time around. Interspersed between bouts of drugged like sleep, we gradually prepared ourselves for the expedition, hiring a 4x4 locally, we made several journeys into the city to purchase equipment and vitals for the eight-days we would be spending out in the sound.
Nick set about gluing down his pad eyes and strapping his gear onto the board, it all looked good on the lawn of the B&B, but I still wondered how effective it would be on the water. We loaded the board onto the roof of the car and headed down to the nearest beach, Nick jumped aboard and paddled out. All looked good, there was a stiff breeze blowing and a fair bit of current off the point, but the loaded board paddled well. Levi Hogan our kayak outfitter, is a super friendly guy who resides in a small settlement just outside of Anchorage. The kayaks were in immaculate condition, he had also brought along paddles, decks and PFDs for the other members of the group, and some bear spray and flares for myself. He looked across at Nick pumping up his SUP board and I could read the thoughts going through his mind, they were written in electric neon blue right across his fore head. ‘What the hell!’
Prince William Sound
If anyone was ever thinking of conducting a wilderness expedition on an SUP board, Prince William Sound is probably one of the best destinations to head for. Located on the east side of the Kenai Peninsula in the Gulf of Alaska, the waters are well protected from Pacific Ocean swell, yet there is still enough fetch within the sound that you do still get conditions from the wind, which can be fearsome at times. In the month of March, 1964, the area was hit by a massive earthquake, measuring 9.2 on the Richter scale which resulted in an enormous tsunami, in fact the effects of the tsunami have left an indelible mark all around the sound. Where the wave action, confined in the bowl of the sound, washed up the shoreline, it destroyed much of the tree growth, and now you can see many dead trees, interspersed with younger new growth, sometimes these signs reach quite incredible heights up the mountain side, it’s hard to believe that the ocean can lie calm one minute and the next, throwing itself up the side of a mountain. We set off out into the fjord, it’s a long haul down to the mouth of the fjord where it opens up into the Sound, we wouldn’t venture too far from Whittier on day one of our trip, just in case there were any problems. Nick had agreed that if things didn’t work out so well with his board, he would transfer across to a sea kayak, any potential problems needed to be discovered early on in the journey.
He looked across at Nick pumping up his SUP board and I could read the thoughts going through his mind, they were written in electric neon blue right across his fore head.
â€˜What the hell!â€™
Ten‘need to know’ Alaskan facts 1. There are more than 3,000 rivers and three million lakes in Alaska. 2. Dog mushing is the official state sport.The Alaska Legislature adopted it in 1972. 3. More than half the world’s active glaciers are in Alaska – an estimated 100,000 glaciers!
4. 17 of the 20 highest peaks in the United States are located in Alaska. 5. The first settlement was established by Russian whalers and fur traders on Kodiak Island in 1784.
6. If New York City had the same population density as Alaska, only 16 people would be living in Manhattan.
7. In 1867 United States Secretary of State William H. Seward offered Russia $7,200,000, or two cents per acre, for Alaska.
8. Alaska is as big as England, France, Italy and Spain combined.
9. Southwest Alaska is popular for its tundra landscapes and large populations of marine mammals.
10: Nearly one-third of Alaska lies within the Arctic Circle.
We paddled down the fjord; on the northern shore standing high above sea level were the faces of two glaciers looming down over us. When we had arrived in the town we had watched a black bear ambling up above the tree line, making his way to higher ground, just a small speck of black, slowly moving higher and higher. Bears are a feature of Alaska, if you have a problem with bears; you’re best off sorting it out before you go. Bears are the local residents, Black, Brown (Grizzly) and Polar, although the latter are found further north. In Alaska I have only ever seen bear from a distance, each time the bear choosing to move away from us, rather than us from them. There is a lot of hunting of bears in Alaska, both black and brown and it may be that just the sound of human activity acts as a deterrent, though to many hunters, that is not their opinion, they seemed to think that in some cases, especially if hungry, the sound and smell of human activity is more of an attraction than a deterrent. This trip we saw plenty of signs of Black Bears - scrapes, scat and areas where it looked as though they had possibly rested. Once I saw some tracks of a Grizzly, the paw print was the size of a large dinner plate and when I spoke to a local bear hunter, he informed me that the print would have belonged to a bear of at least 12-foot in height when standing! Thankfully, grizzlies in the sound are very rare. Our first night’s camp was at the opening to a small bay looking up at the Tebenkof Glacier. We landed on the small stony beach, pulled our kayaks high above the tide line and set about lighting a fire and preparing food for the evening meal. If you want to avoid bear encounters, you have to be disciplined, especially where food is concerned, your cooking area needs to be separate from your sleeping and socializing area, you need to empty all food from the kayaks on a daily basis, you never take food, or anything that smells of food to your tent, and your provisions are hung high above the reach of hungry bears, suspended from a branch. Bears are intelligent creatures, they have a wicked sense of smell, Black Bears are very good climbers and although Grizzlies don’t climb so well, possessing immense power, we joked that where the black bear would climb the tree for his food, the Grizzly would just knock the tree down to get to it. The following day we headed off down to the Black Stone Glacier, which is a tidewater glacier laying at the head of a long fjord, surrounded by mountains. A glacier that calves straight into the sea, which is not only descending but also often exploding outwards, is an obvious hazard. I will normally stop about 500 metres short of the glacier and view from this distance, this is often due to the congestion of ice in the water, and how Nick’s inflatable board would cope with the razor sharp ice chunks remained to be seen. We had discussed options on rescues should such an event occur, we knew that the gear, being contained in robust airtight bags, would not sink, but the waters are extremely cold. The air temperature however was abnormally hot, the best summer since 1934, which was making Nick, extremely uncomfortable in his dry suit, partly due to the heat, but also due to the suit itself being made of an un-breathable neoprene.
He informed me that the print would have belonged to a bear of at least 12-foot in height when standing! Thankfully, grizzlies in the sound
are very rare
As it was, our journey
to the glacier was accident free, though amazing due to the many tons of ice that we witnessed dropping into the ocean. It was the next day that events unfurled.
Stopping beneath a waterfall and refilling our water bags and bottles, a small wave washed Nick’s board up beneath a small rocky outcropping, a sharp pointed piece of rock, succeeded where ice had failed. ‘Sh*t!’ Nick shouted, spinning around on his board, locating the hole on the side rail of the board, that his finger was the perfect sized tool for plugging. Now his only problem was how to manoeuvre from here. He couldn’t paddle away, as that would mean removing his finger from the hole and then he would be in the water in a matter of seconds, there was no where he could land, short of climbing the cliff, so I hooked on a tow line and we made our way back along the coast to a beach, which we had passed about a half a mile before, twenty minutes later and we were hauling out onto a small gravel beach and Nick set about effecting a repair. We decided to stay here for the day, fellow paddlers Lucas and Tom set off on a fishing trip and Kathy and I took a snooze in the sun. We were woken by a ‘whoosh’ the distinctive sound of a whale’s blowhole, punctured the silence. I sat up and looked out into the bay, just north of our position and about 200 metres away from our campsite on Willard Island were a pod of three Humpbacks.
We jumped into our kayaks and headed out into the bay and for the next two hours we followed this small family of whales and sat there as the sun lowered itself towards the horizon. The waters of the bay were glassy calm and the whales as they broke the surface were an incredible sight, set against the backdrop of mountains and glacier. By the time we got back to the beach Nick had repaired his board, lit the fire and had the evening meal on the go, what a great end to an eventful day. We left the Blackstone Bay area early the following day and two miles out we came across another pod of Humpback whales and paddled with them for several hours. On one occasion, what seemed to be the largest whale in the pod, broke the surface just in front of Nick, the whales back arched and the tail flukes came up just in front of his board. Had it a little more propulsion I’m sure Nick would have surfed the wave it had formed. We were all surprised at just how close to the foreshore the whales would swim, at times they were just metres away from the cliff face.
as we paddled on towards Culross Passage ThePaddler 98
we encountered much of the Salmon fishing fleet. This time of year is a great time to paddle in the sound, the Salmon are running and there’s always some extra food for the pot. The region is full of wildlife, Bald Eagles, Sea Otters, Killer Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises; as well as Humpbacks, there are also Salmon Sharks, which although shy, can be seen as they break the surface in pursuit of the Salmon.
Nick had proven that in the right hands a stand up paddleboard is quite capable of conducting a
Our next campsite was situated on the south side of Applegate Island; we shared this area with a resident Black bear. I had seen him walking steadily away from my group as we approached the year before, this year we didn’t see him, but we saw lots of signs. I took the opportunity at this campsite to go through some bush-craft camp building techniques with Nick. We made a bed from the lichen and moss, which grew on the nearby dead falls and strung up a tarp, utilizing a natural dip in the ground to shelter us from the wind. The mozzies were beginning to bite so we lit a fire and added in a bit of green to help smoke the shelter out and then settled down for the night. Two days later we managed to find a smallconstricted entrance into a tiny inlet, with numerous islands dotted around the entrance. The tide was compressed between the islands and was pouring across a shallow shelf, creating a small white water experience for the group. Nick had a go at ferry gliding, a paddleboard loaded down with equipment was a challenge and it turned into a bit of a damp affair. We entered into the lagoon and then set up a short lunch stop while we waited for the tide to turn and then followed the flow back out of the lagoon and set up camp on the western end of Culross Bay. The camp was set up tight to the shoreline and for the first time in the two weeks of our time in Alaska it started to rain. This was our final night in the sound and tomorrow we would be heading back to Whittier. Nick had proven that in the right hands a stand up paddleboard is quite capable of conducting a wilderness expedition, but possibly not an inflatable one for this type of environment/expedition, as most of the beaches and shoreline are made up of rocks and driftwood. What was made clear amid the group was the best part of any expedition doesn’t reside so much in the actual paddling, but more in the whole wilderness existence. Journeying through the sound is a memorable experience, whether it is by sea kayak or standing on a paddleboard – it is one that is never forgotten. ●
L A C I D A R Y ACKSO PAUL J
TES KAI BA
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SUP Paddler 102 India
Kerala coastline by Manu Bouvet
124 The Paddlerâ€™s Planet By Christian Wagley
136 Whitewater SUP
Tactics for creeking by Ian Smith
Despite having one of the longest coastlines in the world,
india has yet to exploit its potential for watersports.This extremely vast country offers optimal conditions for SUP, be it for a leisurely cruise as well as world-class surfing conditions. Carine Camboulives and Manu Bouvet invite you on a trip to discover these two very distinct environments. Photographed by Pierre Bouras/Bic Sport.
From our first trip to Kerala, South India, over 10 years ago, I had left with the conviction that I would one day return, knowing very well how little of these promises stand the test of time. Back then, we had, during a month long journey, followed the coast of Kerala, heading north east and making our way up the Tamil Nadu region. We found good conditions for windsurfing and a few beach breaks, the colour of Masala tea (brown from all the rain that time of year). Beyond the conditions, we were fascinated by the flow in which such a dense and mixed population manages to coexist. The kaleidoscope of colours, spices and aromas that fills the air in this part of India, seems to ignite in a culinary firework, to our greatest delight!
Several years later, and with two adorable little girls at our side, our passion for SUP renders our return to India unquestionable. SUP is the ideal tool with which to experience India along its waters and to discover its most beautiful waves.
Manu Bouvet gets the reward of many hours of travel on an empty and perfect right hander
They have never before seen a stand up paddleboard and we ourselves have never seen a â€˜houseboatâ€™.
The backwaters For over a century, in Kerala, south west India, exotic local barges have navigated the backwaters, this network of lagoons parallel to the Arabian Sea, away from the Malabar Coast. We embark on one of these barges and set out on one of the most amazing SUP experiences we could ever imagine.
Sinju, our captain, stands at the bow of his kettuvallam. In Malayam, the spoken language of Kerala, kettu means, ‘held by ropes’ and vallam means, ‘boat’. We embark quite late and Sinju worries about the falling tide, which will soon prevent us from leaving. The large bags we hastily stack behind his command post intrigue his crewmen, as well as himself. They have never before seen a stand up paddleboard and we ourselves have never seen a ‘houseboat’. Ours for the next four days is emblematic of these big, singularly crafted boats with unique history. Used since the early 20th century to transport rice and spices, the kettuvallam found them docked in the 70s with the development of highways. From then on deemed unnecessary, these barges would surely have been vowed to extinction had it not been for the ingenuity of some of the witnesses of the ever-growing tourism in this region, coming up with the idea of turning them into cruise boats. The comparison is not an easy one with our own stand up paddleboards, if only that they were also created with the idea of turning something old into new.
Downtimes aboard the houseboat
Our houseboat slowly leaves its home port in lake Vembanad, south of Cochin, between the tea Plantation Mountains and the Indian Ocean, just in time before the tide has entirely receded. It is the middle of May, just before the start of the monsoon (expected June 1st), and the hottest month of the year. The sky is clear and a thin veil tries in vain to soften the burning heat of the sun. We travel at a very slow pace during the entire journey. The houseboats are long, large and heavy and perfectly adapted to the calm backwaters. For once, we need not worry about our two daughters, seven-year old Lou and 16month old Shadé: no rough crossings, no seasickness and most importantly – no fear of them going overboard. Shadé, who has started walking already, continues her progress aboard the boat. This cruise is undoubtedly set out to be a smooth one. Before heading to bed the crew serves us one of those dinners that have been delighting us since our arrival. It is 10 years later and the flavours of Kerala have not aged a bit.
What an extraordinary way to meet people and not just be a plain spectator to these scenes of daily life
The Backw playground Manu, Carin enjoyi
waters are an ideal for flat water SUP. ne and baby Shadé ing every moment
Our journey on the backwaters is one of pure contemplation and perfectly satisfying to the inactive traveller. But it has to take on a different and more active aspect for us, once we set our boards on the water, which we do as soon as we wake up the next morning. Tied down along a canal, under a huge mango tree falling under the weight of still unripe fruit, I set Lou out on the water as the sun slowly rises. I am overcome by the peacefulness that surrounds us. On the opposite bank a man bathes his cow while a group of women washes their clothes and looks over indifferently. An Epinal print of an everlasting India, far from that of the vast cities of exponential sizes, boosted by an economic growth envied by the rest of the world. I realize that what I am seeing that morning has always been here, and remains untouched, little or nothing in our surroundings are indicative of this day and age... that is until Lou makes her way on her stand up paddle. I am not sure whether it is the never before seen vehicle or the fact that a blond little girl is standing on top of it, but all eyes turn her way and smiles light up. I jump on my board to join her and go over to meet this crowd of locals, going about their business along the banks. What an extraordinary way to meet people and not just be a plain spectator to these scenes of daily life. These are the moments I had hoped to live on this journey along the backwaters. Carine is calling me from our boat. She rigs me with a baby carrier in which she comfortably installs Shadé, who is delighted at the prospect of a morning cruise. The four of us paddle along until we run into a temple on the riverbank. A few worshippers welcome us as we approach and one of them, rapidly and with great precision, applies a mark on each of our foreheads. It is a vegetable powder, usually sandalwood, applied as protection on what the Hindus call the ‘third eye’ or ‘sixth chakra’.
It is the eye of self-knowledge centred right above the eyebrows. After being blessed, we penetrate the open-air temple, made of several small alcoves where offerings are placed at the feet of the multiple deity represented there. Today’s ceremony celebrates the first day of the monsoon cycle or rainy season, putting an end to several months of drought. We pray that it will bring fertility to the fields. The worshippers are chanting prayers; the sounds, colours and smells are a journey within the journey. Lou is in awe of Ganesh, the god of intelligence, with his four arms and elephant face. We leave the temple taking care not to turn our backs to the deity and slowly go about our way. There is no motive to be hasty here, neither on the water nor on land. Life unravels in such slow motion and with a certain nonchalance that seems to defy the course of time. I notice, as I often do when I travel, that slow pace has much more to reveal than speed. Being so close to the coast and standing over the water like we do on a stand up board, turn this cruise into a beautiful way to discover the coastline, and miss nothing along the way. The start of the monsoon is also the start of the low touristy season. There are few houseboats left, many are out of the water for repair and maintenance. Built almost entirely from natural materials, the houseboats have a very low environmental impact. A great advantage considering the ecological condition of the backwaters, often criticized for the pollution of its water, where almost all of the local household waste is dumped. Indeed the water here is not inviting and is advised against for swimming, although locals here bathe in it daily. Carine cannot resist the urge to freshen up a bit and Pierre, our photographer, joyfully dives in with his camera housing. They are both still in great health to this day, maybe it’s from not swallowing the water...
atop of my stand up, as all I could distinguish through the milky white light were shapes and contours, a fisherman calls out to me from his outrigger canoe.
A few paddles later and I am sitting on my board conversing with this elder man, with a thin white moustache. We slowly paddle together into the dusk and I understand that he is taking off to go fish for the night. I watch him speed up until I see him motion me to start racing. I happily play along, but can feel him struggling to keep up, and as a respect to his older age I decide that I should slow down, when suddenly he catches up and I am now the one making an effort to stay level with him. He stops suddenly out of breath and shows me his heart with his hand. After a short moment of worry we find ourselves sitting next to each other once again and finally we arrive back at the houseboat. With a sparkle in his eye, he reaches below his bench and pulls out a small bottle of local rum, pours a generous glass that he downs in one go before lighting up a cigarette!
“I am 74 years old and I need a little pick me up to last the night on my canoe” he tells Sinju, who translates for me. I am amazed and still trying to catch my breath! The backwaters are like an open-air theatre between land and water, where daily life scenes are constantly played out. Their perfect aesthetics could be mistaken for a made up setting, a staging that the spectator would never tire of admiring. If he is unafraid, like Carine, Lou, Shadé and I, to jump in the water and stand up on a board, then he becomes himself an actor in this real life play. The most beautiful one there is.
Social life in Kerala is very lively and colourful
The backwaters are like an open-air theatre b are constantly played out.Their perfect aesthe Carine and Manu take the time to exchange with one of the many women doing their laundry in the canals
between land and water, where daily life scenes etics could be mistaken for a made up setting.
The ocean If this chapter of our trip is smooth and leisurely, sailing comfortably to the rhythms of the tide, it certainly awakens our desire for more adventure. The rest of our trip has all the ingredients to satisfy it: uncertainty, the unknown, insecurity and the need for freedom.
territory. Hence the over-zealousness of all sorts. However, the Somali pirates who regularly attack the ships in this region, know there is nothing to expect from the government; the thousands of crewmen put aboard these ships by the merchant navy are not worth a rupee in ransom...
Obtaining from the Indian administration the permit to visit the island we have set out for is discouraging to say the least. In comparison it makes any French administrative quest seem like a pleasurable moment. Our destination had in fact become, a few years ago, an al Qa’ida ‘hideout’, and the Indian government was asked from then on to take back the control over its
To embark for these islands, one has to resist the song of the sirens – not the one Ulysses and his men had to fear – but the overwhelming warnings against everything and everyone. I cannot seem to get used to this constant quest for security in which our societies seem to confine themselves. We see precaution as a virtue while on the contrary it is mostly an excuse for
“Two fingers to precaution! Indian ferry or not, pirates or not, al Qa’ida or not, we are going... or at least we are trying!”
giving up, ultimate pretext to take no risks, attempt or undertake anything new, in plain, not to live at all! It is for that matter one of the big issues around watersports, because of its risky nature!
inaccessible to non-Indian visitors) and I will not let these warnings deter me. “Two fingers to precaution! Indian ferry or not, pirates or not, al Qa’ida or not, we are going... or at least we are trying!”
Patrice Franceschi has perfectly illustrated this, “No other choice: you must agree to uncertainty, insecurity: it is the price to pay to regain part of our freedom” (from his essay ‘Et si l’aventure, c’etait l’esprit d’aventure’ – ‘What if adventure itself was the spirit of adventure’).
Knowing when this ferry is leaving is not easy, but getting to know when it comes back is a plain mystery: “When is the return?” I ask to the person in charge. He answers me by bobbing his head in this typical Indian manner that always delights me, and that can mean pretty much anything. “Monsoon starting, maybe no boat if bad weather,” he says after a while.
In this adventurous state of mind, we embark on the ferry on our way overseas. For too long I have dreamt of these islands (two thirds are
An empty wave peeling along a coconut fringed island is one of the reason why we keep travelling
paid by physical risk, â€œThe cultural wealth of knowing the world,
accepted insecurity and attachment to independence, is priceless.â€?
Carine, Manu and Lou ta
We believe we are on a quest for waves but we come back touched by
one single image,
a sound, and an atmosphere
Leaving without knowing when you’ll return has to be the true way of travelling. Gerard Chaliand, traveller and poet, suggests an answer to this by saying, “The cultural wealth of knowing the world, paid by physical risk, accepted insecurity and attachment to independence, is priceless.” I
ake the best out of the magnificent sunset light in Kerala
quest for waves but we come back touched by one single image, a sound, and an atmosphere. I am sitting on my SUP; Carine passes by me heading towards the peak. We’ve been here long enough to have forgotten about what day it is. We are now used to watching the wave peel in perfection, just for us. When the swell is big, the wave takes on a different aspect, take off is impressive and the lip throws wide on shallow water. Lou goes back to shore after a small frightful episode on her SUP. She doesn’t quite realize how close she gets to the rocks. She’s back on the beach with her sister Shadé, who’s being spoiled by Rashidu, our dedicated ‘helper’ since our arrival. A few moments later I look up towards the pier and see Lou who is at the back of Rashidu’s motorcycle with Shadé sandwiched between the two of them. “Daddy” she shouts with a huge grin on her face, “we’re going to have tea at Rashidu’s house”. Carine’s delighted smile is her best answer, and they disappear into the small path leading to the medina.
share his set of values and count on them to elevate us above this massive thirst for security. But what was I finding at all corners of the world? Why do I always want to see further? Over time I realize that the treasures of travelling are not the ones we think. We believe we are on a
Carine sharing the shallow water with the ‘locals’
Manu and Lou in crystal clear outter island waters
The loading of the ferry through the break was one of the most spectacular experience we ever had!
We carry on surfing this perfect right-hander, k like princesses by all of Rashidu’s aunts, sisters, Lou getting her first feel of SUP surfing!
Lou and Carine in paradise!
months after our return, I remember this moment of completeness most vividly.
A time where all seems to fall into place, where everyone is living entirely in the moment, without any apprehensions or restraint towards the location and the people around us. What matters most is the emotion, not the action or the surroundings. It is her spirit that I felt I had pierced through for a brief instant that day. To experience this I had shed enough of my fears, fantasies and clichés, which, even when maintained in a state of clinical death, can come alive again when experiencing such cultural and geographical distance. We carry on surfing this perfect right-hander, knowing that our daughters are being spoiled like princesses by all of Rashidu’s aunts, sisters, cousins and neighbours. The offshore breeze carries smells of burning trash from the shore. Goats rummage through it looking for something to eat, next to cows quietly grazing under the coconut trees. From time to time, children will gather under the shade of the big tree that hangs over the end of the wave. Along with the animals, they are the only few spectators of our sessions, making the long ferry hours and past fears now seem totally ridiculous.
We must awaken the spirit of adventure that lies in us in order to experience strong emotions like these and to go towards a better understanding of the world. Olivier Frébourg has great advice in this regard, “Let go of everything! Nowadays, adventure is the sky and the sea resisting against virtual world’s slavery!” ●
Story by Manu Bouvet Photos by Pierre Bouras
Manu and Carine would like to thank www.keralatourism.org for all their help and assistance.
They flew by Qatar Airways who fly scheduled daily flights from London to Kochi starting at £400.
knowing that our daughters are being spoiled cousins and neighbours. The ‘SUP family’ aboard the ferry, ‘en route’ for discovery.
Kali River â€“ Adventure for good causes By Andrew Theobald, Phoenix Canoe Club
After 18 months of meticulous preparation involving trips to the Rivers Wye, Tryweryn, Usk and Teifi (to name a few), various fundraising events and grants, 37 members of the Phoenix Canoe Club, Barnet Network Scouts and Barnet Explorer Scouts set off from Heathrow for a two week trip to India, with the highlight being a six day expedition down the Kali River.
To read further visit:
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Using the fundamentals of nature to guide us to a healthier planet 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,
By Christian Wagley
Paddlers are very familiar with the fundamentals – proper position, balance, and paddle stroke, whether you’re on a stand up paddleboard or in a whitewater kayak. If you don’t follow the fundamentals of good paddling, your efficiency goes down, you work harder than you have to, and what should be fun can seem more like hard work. That applies not just to paddling but also to almost everything we do. Master the fundamentals, and work, life and relationships all go better.
The natural world has its own set of fundamentals, too, such as those from the world of ecology. One of the major ones is “Where we are Standing Up that of carrying capacity – which is the maximum population for the Planet!” size of a particular species that an ecosystem can support. So consider the coastal bays where many of us paddle.There are many types of habitats for marine life – sand bottoms, sea grass, kelp beds, rocky areas, and more.
Larger animals like predatory fish and birds eat smaller fish, which eat other smaller animals and plants, and so on down to the tiniest microscopic plankton that float in the water. At every stage of that food chain there are certain habitats that each of those organisms needs to live and ultimately reproduce to sustain its kind.
As pollution has destroyed many of the coastal habitats those organisms need, the populations of many of our favourite animals have declined. With that there is the temptation to bring those animals back by taking a shortcut around nature.
Instead of restoring the habitat that animals need, perhaps we can just breed those animals and release them, avoiding the long and difficult task of restoring the habitats these animals need. We can’t.
That’s because the fundamentals of ecology can bend a bit, but they do not break. Take the example of a lake that is
populated by 50 fish.The carrying capacity of the lake is 100 fish. Let’s say we release 100 new fish into the lake, and so at that moment of release there are now 150 fish in a lake that only has enough habitats for 100 fish. So what happens to the extra 50 fish? They will succumb to starvation or disease in the days and weeks ahead.
The lake is an inanimate body that operates not by emotion but rather by those fundamentals – it does not care how many fish humans release into its waters – it will always limit the population of fish to the lake’s carrying capacity. Only restoring missing habitats damaged by man’s activities can increase that carrying capacity.
Where I live along the shores of the Gulf of Mexico our bays were once lush with underwater meadows of sea grass that supported nearly 300 species of plants and animals. Most of those grass beds have been lost to pollution and dredging, and along with that has gone our most popular sport fish. While some call for the breeding and release of fish to make up for that loss, the savvy fisherman knows that only by restoring the habitats those fish need can we get more fish.
There is no amount of engineering or technology that can properly take a shortcut around the fundamental rules of nature, though we often spend millions of dollars trying to do so. The same goes for paddling. If your paddle stroke isn’t fundamentally sound, buying the most expensive carbon fibre paddle isn’t going to make you a better paddler.
So we must protect the natural systems we have. Enjoy them but leave them untrammelled and work for the restoration of whole systems and habitats, rather than individual parts. Only by respecting the rules of nature can we create the healthier and better world that we envision.
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ThePaddler ezine interviews the woman from New Zealand who really has taken the world of stand up paddleboarding by storm in just over three years! Interview by Peter Tranter Photos by Ben Thouard
to double W
double, double â€˜Battle
Step forward the one very un
World Champion and
e of the Paddle’ Champion
nique annabel anderson
B Firstly, what boards are you using?
Starboard. A range of prototype boards I built with my shaper last year as we constantly challenge and evolve the design process, an Ace for rough conditions and a 7’7 and 7’4 Carbon Pro Wave surfboard.
Where and what was your first surf and what got you hooked?
I rode my first wave a couple of years ago when I first came back to NZ for the Southern summer (I was a late starter in the surf department). It’s fair to say that searching for waves is fairly high on the priority list these days.
efore we start – just let our readers know a little about you, family, background where you come from etc. My brother was the one who got the natural talent; I was the one who had to put in the hard yards. We grew up pushing each other to the limit no matter what it was. It was in the latter years as we both found our athletic niches (my brother was an international free skier in his late teens) that we developed a mutual respect for what each other have gone on to do. Many people have often asked how much of an influence our parents were on us. We grew up with many opportunities and sport was just what we did. It made up a huge part of our life. It was like it was in our DNA, and while I can recall overhearing other people telling our parents that they should focus us into certain sport, which they didn’t. Instead we both scrimped and saved to do what we loved to do and moved whatever mountains were necessary to do it. It didn’t come easy and I can’t recall my parents sitting on the sidelines too often. It wasn’t because they didn’t want to be there, it was the simple fact that they were usually a long way away from where I was. And when I’d stretched out my university career as long as possible and realised that my body was well and truly broken, it dawned on my that I’d have to go and use my brain for a while.To think that I would re-enter the realm of elite sport at the age of 30 was almost impossible to fathom. As they say, stranger things have happened.
What and where was your first competition? Hamburg World Cup 2010.
How does SUP give you satisfaction?
I paddle for the same reasons I do lots of other things. To go and get lost in the moment and to immerse myself in my surroundings. I love to be on or in the water and out in the fresh air.
2013 has been a huge year for you – do you still have an ultimate achievement?
Ironically, 2013 was almost a carbon copy of 2012. In 2012 I won the Oleron event outright (plus several others), as well Battle of the Paddle and the Stand Up World Series. Going back and doing it all again in 2013 was more difficult that winning the first time. I try to focus on the present; otherwise I’d be completely overwhelmed. I’ve embarked on this journey single handled at a time when I could never have envisaged being an athlete at the highest level again. Overcoming the inherent challenges that go with this territory, being female, earning less than the men (both in prize money and contractual assistance), travelling by myself, organising gear logistics across continents and language barriers and overcoming the feeling of being ostracised from the outset as I was the ‘outsider’ who didn’t ‘surf’ are my ultimate achievements. The ‘results’ I have achieved will be something to look back on in years to come.
I try to focus on the present; otherwise I’d be completely
Are you naturally competitive?
Some people would say that I am – I don’t like to put labels on myself. I’m me, if you put me on a start line; something intuitive starts to fire up.
Can you talk about your training? Greatest inspiration? Who/what kept you motivated?
People seem to be intrigued by the latest, greatest, get fit quick programmes this is a frequent question that I’m asked. I don’t like to think of what I do as training as for me it’s a way of life. Going and doing things on a daily basis is something I’ve done my whole life and will continue to do so. I try to do things in harmony with the weather to optimize the activity for the conditions. I love to be outside with fresh air pumping through my veins. In most circumstances I’d choose to do this over many other things. I am my own source of inspiration as if I cannot motivate myself I should be doing something that does. It’s not sustainable to be ‘up’ all of the time. There are hard days and there are horrible weeks. There are times when you’re fighting through the pain and frustration of being injured or sick. I’ve had periods when spent the best part of a year in plaster, on crutches, in and out of surgery and re-learning how to walk, let alone run. My motivation comes from being able to do what I love to do… and that’s not necessarily a competition. It’s going and doing all the things I love to do.
You lived in London for quite a while – didn’t that cramp your love of the outdoors and how did you compensate?
When people found out I was heading to London, they thought I was bonkers and out of my tree. What they failed to consider is that I thrive on throwing myself into the unknown and foreign situations where there’s no choice but to sink or swim. London was no different. It was the height of the recession, it was the depths of the worst winter in 30-years with snow on the ground for six weeks. I was earning seven pounds an hour on the emergency tax rate (a far cry from the glamour of my previous role back in NZ). I rode a borrowed mountain bike with no front brake or ran to save money on daily transport and found an appreciation for the historic architecture of London that I
would never have seen had I ridden the tube every day. I fell in love with the river, the commons and the beautiful running trails that wound their way through the wooded enclaves of the greater London area. In no way did living in London cramp my love for the outdoors, if anything it simply made it stronger.
In competition – who would you say is your closest competitor?
My closest competitor is always myself. It’s not likely the answer you’re hunting for, but I am my own biggest competition in everything. I’m always trying to perfect something I have not mastered. When it comes to competition I cannot control the performance of others, only myself. Sometimes things will go well, sometimes not so well. There are many talented and gifted individuals out there but to focus on others would be to lose concentration on the one thing I can affect, which is me.
What advantages are there to being a Starboard rider?
The biggest advantage of being a Starboard rider is working directly with Brian Szymanski and John Becker. Between them, they are two of the greatest brains the SUP industry will ever know. Many people are not aware of Brian’s pedigree as one of the all time great short board shapers or that he has held multiple records for the Catalina Channel (prone). John Becker has been the design inspiration behind some of the biggest selling SUP boards to date. The combination of working with both of these two great brains is not so much the boards we shape, but what I learn during the process by simply being around them. They’re always pushing a boundary or two, challenging a design and are totally dedicated to shaping the fastest sleds possible.
Besides SUP any other watersport disciplines interest you?
I’ve always been around water, just not on the ocean. Growing up with rivers and lakes meant my early days were filled with jet boats and waterskiing. Migrating to Auckland when I graduated university meant taking to the water of the City of Sails and my love affair with the ocean was well and truly born. I’d always wanted to surf, and this chapter of life is granting me that opportunity. Other water sports are definitely in the wings so watch this space – we’re only at the very beginning of this oceanic journey.
Have you ever been scared and if not – what would it take?
There are plenty of situations that have scared me. I used to live on a knife-edge of fear the majority of the time I was skiing. I was addicted to the buzz I got from speed, but I had little respect for the ‘red line’ and often diced with chance and paid the price. I live with the longterm consequences of that every day. There’s times when big waves and the power of the ocean are damned scary, but the more I put myself into those situations, the more I become comfortable. You never lose the ‘fear’ but I’m learning how to harness it and use it.
What has been your best ever day on the water?
This day keeps evolving. I’ll have an ‘all time’ day and then another one will come along and eclipse it. They happen fairly regularly and I try not to single them out, rather savour the moment, drop it in the memory bank and look forward to creating the next one, which is not too far away.
Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
If someone asked me 20 years ago where I would see myself now, I would never have been able to give them an answer. Some people have a life force, a vocation that defines their life path and how that will play out. My life force has been
Want to know how Annabel Anderson builds her body strength - see this series of videos by SUPguide
different. It’s been about adventure being 150%, what I’ve been doing at any given point in time. In 20 years you’ll find me just as excited as I am now about what I’m doing. There will be some similarities to what there has always been. There will always be fun, games, action and adventure on a daily basis. I’ll let the universe decide what shape that path takes, relish the unknown and be excited about what is about to happen next.
I’m into SUP and going on vacation, where would you recommend?
Good company, great weather, fun waves and warm water. With these three ingredients it does not really matter where in the world you maybe. Make the most of the moment and share it with the people you love to play with.
What accomplishment in your life are you most proud of?
I try not to let any single moment define my life. There are things, which may be failures in the eyes of others that I’m proud of what I have learned out of those experiences. In many ways, I don’t think it’s the ‘accomplishments’ in the eyes of others that I’m most proud of, but of how the challenges and dark points have made me resilient and strong to face whatever is being thrown at me. One such example is when I was house bound for over six months with a broken leg and acute glandular fever, unable to walk, study or see my friends and having to haul myself back to function as a normal human being was likely as rewarding as any podium or victory ever will be.
OK Annabel letâ€™s finish with somethin
Thanks for your time and all the v
ng short and snappy…
very best for 2014:)
if you could paddle with anyone in the world dead or alive who would it be?
I’d have to think about that one…. Definitely not a quick fire answer!
Pick two celebrities to be your parents James Bond and GI Jane.
Which famous person would you most like to see play you in a film? Kate Bosworth.
Favourite iPod track? Anything from U2.
if you won $20 million on the lottery, what would you do with it? Spend a third, save a third, donate a third.
Cats or dogs? Both.
Facebook or Twitter? Instagram.
What would i find in your refrigerator right now?
The leftovers from the festive season and a nightly army of guests invited around to help eat it. On a more standard week of the year eggs, vegetables, nut butters, honey, coffee and an assortment of condiments.
if we came to your house for dinner, what would you prepare for us?
Something that had been hunted from the hills or caught from the sea with vegetables picked straight from the garden. There’ll be my mum’s world famous whole grain mustard and plenty of other home made delights fresh from the preserving pantry.
What one luxury item would you take with you on a desert island? A kindle.
What do you get really angry about? Rubbish and waste in the ocean.
Too many to recount but a tie between a badly broken left leg and my right knee which is going strong on about nine rounds of surgery and regenerating itself to the disbelief of many.
if you could be a wild animal – what would it be? Gazelle.
Fill in the blanks: i am ______?
I am me. Accept me for what makes me myself, not what you want me to be.
R E T A W E T I WH 3
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When Rob Mazzetti and i first obtained a paddleboard, our cumulative knowledge about whitewater consisted of roughly what you can learn on the bus briefing of a commercial rafting trip. In spite of our less than spectacular credentials, we immediately strived to take the SUP board through rapids near our homes in Pennsylvania. Although most people we spoke to about our ambitions considered it irrational, to us it was a natural propensity. What could be better than surfing down a stream and exploring the canyons and gorges of our mountains from the freedom of a paddleboard?
At the time, whitewater SUP was in its infancy. The only media we could find about the fledgling sport were a handful of videos from Corran Addison and Charlie MacArthur, most of which showed them paddling medium to high volume rivers that looked nothing like the rockstrewn, low-volume creeks we had set our sights on in Pennsylvania. Regardless, we found ourselves with our only paddleboard on the banks of a small Appalachian stream committed to the idea.
When confronted with a new experience, I tend to be a calculated, often sceptical person and as we scouted the first rapid, I saw a minefield of looming disaster. A labyrinth of rocks and boulders, most covered by only a few inches of water lay before us. To make it through successfully would require connecting several manoeuvres with little room for error. The rapid was class-II, and drawing on my exhaustive whitewater acumen, I knew with certainty that a fall would be painful and possibly fatal.
Fortunately, my friend and paddling partner, Rob Mazzetti, believes in a literal sense that he is capable of flying someday. No, not in an aircraft or mechanical suit of sorts, think Peter Pan. His understanding is that belief can extend the boundaries of physical capability and therefore, standup paddling through the rapids would be, in his words, “good to go.” And, of
Photo by l
course, it was. We took turns running the rapid, learning from our mistakes and did so throughout the summer. My conservative approach combined with Rob’s innovative manifestations landed us somewhere in between, allowing us to stay safe while exploring our limits and developing tactics to overcome the difficulties we encountered.
Crouching surf stance
Initially, one of our biggest obstacles in paddling low-volume whitewater creeks was striking the fins of the board on shallow rocks. The most common result was ‘super-manning’ face first into the stream, usually followed by a painful swim through the rest of the rapid. Fortunately, Rob was already thinking of ways to move past this hurdle. I had been paddling with a square-stance, feet side-by-side, but Rob realized that by transitioning to a crouching surf stance, he was able to punch the board forward by putting weight on the front foot, thereby reducing or eliminating the impact on the fins. With the correct transition of weight from front to back, he converted low-flow rock collisions from disasters to manageable occurrences that have proven critical in nearly every creeking SUP run we now do. The enveloping lesson was to constantly move our feet to adjust for the characteristics of the water. Stagnancy in foot position invariably leads to instability and unpreparedness for obstacles.
Stagnancy in foot position invariably leads to instability and unpreparedness
The concept of shifting weight to the extreme front and rear of the board opened the floodgates for new manoeuvres and methodology for running whitewater. As we began running more difficult, steeper rapids, we adapted the stance and weight-shifting motion as a viable means of landing steeper drops. Even slides and waterfalls, we found, could be paddled with the fins still in place on the board. On a trip to the Youghiogheny River this tactic came to fruition when Rob was able to boof over the shallow lip of Swallow Tail Falls, a formidable six-foot vertical drop, landing flat and paddling away from the boil at the base of the falls effectively. “For waterfalls, I get low. The lower the better,” Rob states as one of his keys to successfully running waterfalls and steep drops. Additionally, we learned to favour quad-fin setups that allowed the board to pass over rock reefs, shallow waterfalls and slides without throwing off balance or getting the board stuck in most cases. Additionally, Rob emphasizes the importance of good paddling technique to ensure you can guide the board in the right direction at critical moments. “It’s very important to have your J-stroke or cross bow dialled in and second nature when charging into a rapid. People often forget to J-stroke right at the entrance to a rapid and get turned sideways and off line right away,” he explains. Another vital practice that we learned is keeping the paddle blade in the water. Hesitance is the worst possible state of mind when you are immersed in a rapid. Keep paddling and use bracing or feathering strokes to help maintain balance and make minute adjustments to your angle and line. “If you find yourself in a tricky current that is difficult to balance on, get low and keep your paddle behind you in the water and flat to give a nice brace,” Rob suggests.
As our whitewater knowledge expanded, however, we realized that finding inconspicuous lines through a rapid and carving through them was a gratifying and ultimately more
Photo by lindsey Tu
Another issue that
is omnipresent in low-volume whitewater is the relentless pace of the current and the need to transition from one move to another while maintaining control. In the beginning, running rapids on our board meant taking the most direct line without catching eddies or ferrying in challenging spots. As our whitewater knowledge expanded, however, we realized that finding inconspicuous lines through a rapid and carving through them was a gratifying and ultimately more effective strategy. In difficult whitewater, we found these lines not just fun, but mandatory for safely making it through certain rapids. There are a few essential concepts for connecting moves in fast water while remaining upright.
The first is the pivot turn
Shifting weight to the back foot and near the tail of the board allows you to pick up the nose and change direction in one fluid motion. You have to be careful not to submerge the tail too far and hit the bottom and also be ready to put weight on the front foot to regain your balance and paddling position. Being on the tail significantly reduces surface area and buoyancy so it is essential to do so in the least turbulent water possible. It is often necessary to make impromptu pivot turns in the middle of a complex rapid or immediately after landing a drop so learning to do so under a variety of conditions is essential.
Utilizing the rails of the board
In the same way ice skaters, skiers and snowboarders use their edges to turn, stop, and control their movement; the rails of an SUP are equally valuable. Continuous whitewater demands that you are able to catch and escape small eddies and adjust your line in fast currents using upstream ferries. These skills require that you weight the downstream edge, lifting the upstream rail to allow water to pass underneath the board. The higher your speed, the more dramatically you have to lean into the rails to prevent the deck from getting swamped. Using the rails of the board is also effective for setting an appropriate angle for ferries and drops, squeezing through tight slots, and engaging radical turns.
a final methodology is the importance of an alert, downstream gaze
If you are staring at the water passing beneath you, you wonâ€™t be prepared to manoeuvre around obstacles that you are approaching. As you begin paddling more technical rapids, your eyes should be evaluating the river and anticipating several moves ahead, rather than what is beneath you. Feeling the water under your feet and adjusting your stance intuitively allows your eyes to stay ahead, scanning the movement of the water and planning your exact route. This also enables you to be aware of any unexpected hazards such as strainers or undercut rocks that are commonplace in narrow creeks and pose serious risk. If you identify something you need to avoid, immediately set your gaze on the safest alternative. If there is an eddy available, put your entire focus and power into catching it so you can evaluate the situation and alert any paddlers behind you of the danger.
ucci ThePaddler 141
With these adaptations, we were able to take our boards on steeper and tighter streams with more technical rapids. With every section of stream we explored, new experiences moulded our ideas about how stand-up paddling on mountain streams could evolve. Rob started calling our backcountry adventures â€˜Creek Surfingâ€™ and, as we continued to expand on our unique relationship with stand-up paddling these diminutive but spectacular waterways, the title became more and more appropriate.
Rob describes creek surfing as an intimate connection with the stream. It is not just making it through a rapid, but interacting with it and tapping into its energy. Whether it is squeezing through tiny slots where almost no other craft can go, or
Sure, we could have learned to kayak or taken a canoe on our journeys. Instead, we chose
a different path
surfing standing waves in the solitude of mountain valleys, the freedom is impossible to deny. Sure, we could have learned to kayak or taken a canoe on our journeys. Instead, we chose a different path; one that we felt we could call our own, even if that meant injury, insult, and uncertainty. There are streams, rivers, and oceans all offering a canvas for stand-up paddlers to carve new lines and explore the frontiers that beckon our exploration.
author: ian Smith
email@example.com www.surfsupadventures.com http://ianmichalsmith.tumblr.com/
Rob Mazzetti - Swallow Tail Falls, Youghiogheny River. Photo by Morgan hoesterey
5IJ T J T XPS L
OC Paddler 146 Arctic Scandinavia
Norway, Sweden & Finland by Tim & Susannah Gent
Open Canoe Festival 2014 by Greg Spencer
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IN SEARCH OF…
Langas, in northern Sweden
ARCTIC SCANDINAVIA BY TIM AND SUSANNAH GENT
ravel north above the Arctic Circle, along the road that skirts the wondrous indented Norwegian coast, and deception hangs innocently in the clear bright air. With its smooth and well-kept tarmac surface, modern signs and not infrequent towns, villages and isolated houses, this road can easily fool a traveller into feeling that this feathery continental fringe is part of mainstream Europe. There are even small hay meadows up here.
Turn right at Alta though, heading up alongside that glorious river onto the plateau around Kautokeino, and any such elusions evaporate. Gone are the fields, the bus stops and road signs. Gone are the ponies and cows, the gleaming
Japanese and German 4x4s. In fact, apart from the windswept Sámi settlement of Kautokeino and the occasional bleached timber reindeer corral, gone are almost any sign of human existence. Even the vegetation has changed, a lot, and the low scrub and stunted birch hint at the appallingly low temperatures that rule up here through an ever-dark winter.
As our van rolled onwards amidst the emptiness and into Finland, nothing much altered. Peering out, slightly stunned at the magnitude of this apparent wilderness, part of the culture/landscape shock may have been due to lingering doubts. Had we made the right decision in turning south at all? So far our deeply satisfying trip to the farthest reaches of Scandinavia had been dominated by the coast – and what a coast. After crossing from
To canoe on this coast is almost a chance to reconnect with a past shore – one not yet diminished by
man’s greed and carelessness
We’d then put into practice what we’d driven all this way to do – slipping our canoe into pristine water, paddling as far from any sign of civilisation as we could, finding our own slice of emptiness and putting up a tent.
Shifting display of colour
To canoe on this coast is almost a chance to reconnect with a past shore – one not yet diminished by man’s greed and carelessness. Still, fathomless fjords, ringed by majestic mountains and sandy beaches, the calm of the turquoise water broken only by pods of hunting dolphins and
countless shoals of hungry mackerel and pollock. Unbelievably beautiful sunsets, followed, almost immediately, by equally stirring sunrises, the sea and sky a constantly shifting display of colour and reflected northern light. Pause a moment, rest a paddle against the gunwale and peer over the side. Vast pulsating lion’s mane jellyfish, heading… somewhere, shoulder their way amidst vast clouds of smaller cousins - moon-jellies and tiny electric-rainbow-edged box jellyfish. As a barely perceptible tide picks you up, sweeping the canoe very gently along the shore, your gaze travels down across the urchin-encrusted flank of a plunging underwater cliff-face, to where vast lugubrious cod haunt the shadowy depths, ready to pounce on anything even vaguely edible. Overhead, terns pirouette and dive, while eagles patrol high above across the vast almost 24-hour blue arc of the sky. All pretty special, and a cure surely for all manner of crowd and bustle-induced ailments.
Almost ready to set off - Ballesvika, Senja, Norway
Dover to Dunkerque, dealing as fast as we could with the highway horrors of northern central Europe, we’d crossed the stunning Ostersund Bridge into Sweden. Cruising up the wonderful central E45, our van had burst over the mountains onto the Norwegian shore just north of Mo i Rana.
Wending our way
between the shallows, drifting over deep dark sections in which huge grayling flitted between the fronds of long sinuous weed
glorious stretch of empty coast
Not surprisingly, we took to this Nordic balm with enthusiasm. For the Brits with ancestral origins along the northern coastal fringe, this is almost like coming home. A happy and familiar paddle and tent-pitching pattern was soon reestablished as we moved our way slowly north, taking whatever left turn off that main road that looked promising, hunting down another glorious stretch of empty coast and repeating the prescription. Efjorden near Narvik, Ballesvika and Bergsfjorden on Senja, then reindeer-rich Øksfjorden beyond Badderen. All this fun couldn’t go on forever of course, and just north of Alta, perched with our tipi on a rocky outcrop overlooking Årøysundet, filled comfortably with very fresh baked cod and fried chips, we had to decide where to head next.
Despite the obvious allure of reaching Europe’s nearly northernmost point, repeated reports of the sad slide into busy commercialism that surrounds any visit to Nordkapp made the drive in that direction sound increasingly unattractive. Much as we fancied continuing right along the top of Norway to Grese Jakobselv, tight on the Russian border, the cost of fuel (and we’d already worked our way through quite a lot) was also fairly off-putting. What now then – more of this alluring coast, or a change of scene? As you know, we opted for a turn inland – and rather more of a change than we’d expected.
Even having visited Arctic Scandinavia before, and believing naively as a result that we knew something of this northern landscape, the striking and sudden transition from modern
Working my way through the shallows on the Ounasjoki, Finland
coastal Norway to, well, almost timeless Finnish tundra and forest was a little disorientating. And then the benefits started to seep in as we realised that this was exactly what we’d travelled all this way to find. Sat on the shingle at the edge of the river Ounasjoki, a small open fire bright in the near midnight dusk before me, I found, to my surprise, that I didn’t actually miss the coast at all. Tipping a fresh log a little deeper into the embers I looked up to enjoy the stubborn rosy glimmer of the sun, hidden now below the far hill, but still reflected pale and iridescent off the buckled water before me. Easing into an even more comfortable lean against a pine log, I turned back to a little more spoon whittling.
We’d wanted to escape civilisation, and in heading into the heart of Finland, we’d certainly managed to achieve that. Turning towards our tent, sat just up on the bank at the edge of what I knew was a simply vast forest, I pondered on how far in that direction you might have to follow the drifting wood smoke before meeting the next home. Under another stunning blue sky, we dropped back down the river the next morning, wending our way between the shallows, drifting over deep dark sections in which huge grayling flitted between the fronds of long sinuous weed. At one point, with the whole breadth of this wide river broken by the rounded backs of exposed rocks, we’d been forced to climb out and manhandle the canoe. A way was found amongst the narrow ribbons of flowing water - just.
ThePaddler 152 The one that got away
Immediately below this natural barrier, spotting the potential of the deep aerated water beyond, I pulled out a rod and managed to hook, and then lose, what was possibly the biggest grayling I’d yet fooled. No matter, the beauty of the spot more than made up for the loss (and I later went on to land another ‘biggest’ grayling, this one hooked in Sweden). During our short introduction, Finland had certainly gained a hold, and we meandered about for as many days as we could, paddling up an unspoilt river here, across a stunning lake there. In the evening we’d swim or fish, or both. On one fine afternoon we made our way up onto the fells to marvel at the swathes of forest, broken only by water, the sky reflected blue off the nearest lake. So taken were we with this intriguing and friendly land, that when we eventually made our way back into Sweden, we
found ourselves making an almost instant return, if a slightly odd one.
After driving across the border river of Muonionjoki at Kolari, we’d launched, not much later, a few miles upstream on the Swedish side. Paddling steadily across this wide smooth river, Finland was reached an hour and four minutes later – not because of that width, but the rather bizarre time-warping result of our first canoe time-zone crossing. Our return to Sweden (managed in an even stranger minus 56 minutes) led back to a slight campsite problem and a rather peculiar night under canvas. Despite being quite lengthy, our untroubled stretch of Muonionjoki was bound at either end by long, lively and shallow rapids, neither of which we fancied dealing with that late in the day. Unfortunately, despite quite a lot of shore
Even in August that big round fiery thing up there only dips below the horizon for a couple of hours
or so each night
Eventually though we did find enough space to pin out our big blue tarp. So, with a simple pinebranch platform lashed together and propped on stones to provide a level sleeping area, and a vital mosquito net in place to stop ourselves being vampired dry overnight, we could finally settle down and try to sleep. Now all we had to deal with was the heat.
If contemplation of Arctic summers conjures up images of chill frosty mornings and lingering banks of stubborn snow and ice, Nordic reality will come as quite a shock. True, in prolonged overcast, weather temperatures can certainly hover somewhere in what we might call the cool
range, and snow definitely loiters on the northern sides of mountains, but as soon as the clouds clear, and with the sun not setting at all for a couple of months, things can warm up fast. Even in August that big round fiery thing up there only dips below the horizon for a couple of hours or so each night. Temperatures can sit well above 20ËšC for days at a time. And then we had inadvertently driven north into what one happy Finn suggested was the warmest summer heâ€™d seen in 40 years. All extremely uplifting stuff, but stretched out under the white side of our tarp that evening, the warmth from a low sun seemingly doubled by a wobbly reflection off the river, we lay wide awake, our down bags rejected at our feet. Sleep came at about midnight as the sky finally turned a deep stove-enamel orange.
Late at night in northern Sweden
from which to choose a campsite, even two countries, the banks running along either side were steep, narrow and covered in bushes. Certainly no room for our tipi here.
Fresh Norwegian cod
Cooking dinner at an island campsite on our way north through Sweden
Tea's on its way
Our neighbour at Årøysundet, northern Norway Just arrived, and collecting wood on the River Laisälven, Sweden
Finland Ounasjoki River
ThePaddler 158 Unparalleled beauty
For the canoeist, and particularly the canoecamper, Sweden, with its unspoilt rivers, lakes and coast is almost too good to believe. As an example of what’s on offer, the municipality of Arjeplog has hills, mountains, forest, fish-filled rivers and 8,727 lakes of almost unparalleled beauty. In an area about the size of Belgium, this almost pristine environment holds a population of little more than 3,500 – and no, I didn't forget a zero. And in terms of what’s on offer in Arctic Sweden, Arjeplog is only a tempting southern starter, set almost exactly over that invisible 66°34’ circle. Move further north and if the experience improves, that’s only because there are even fewer people and even more empty space. The opportunities to set out with a tent stowed at the base of your canoe, to find somewhere that can temporarily be called your own, are almost limitless.
And as if this entire wilderness isn’t impressive enough, there’s the Scandinavian attitude towards access and camping. In Sweden, this approach is wrapped up in something called Allemansrätten, literally ‘all man’s right’. This glorious institution, pretty much enshrined within Sweden’s very identity, is actually quite hard for a Briton to take in at first. After all the restrictions and unfairness pervading most of the UK (Scotland standing alone as the proud exception), this Nordic stance offers just about the most mature response to land and the access rights of its inhabitants to be found anywhere in the world. Heady stuff.
Outdoor Recreation act
This attitude is mirrored in Finland, where it is called Jokamiehenoikeus, and Norway, where Allemannsrett was codified in 1957 with the implementation of the Outdoor Recreation Act. In
This almost pristine environment holds a population of little more than 3,500 – and no, I didn't
forget a zero
An expedition north-west from Jokkmokk provides a good example. Setting out up an isolated river one afternoon, the flow, apparent as a continuous blue line on our map, just disappeared, petering out gently amidst a truly vast swath of huge water-rounded boulders. An hour, and a lot of scrambled reconnaissance later, it was clear that we wouldn’t travel any further up this shrunken summer watercourse, at least not without a lot of extremely tough portaging.
Enjoying every minute
We turned back, to spend another three hours searching again for a suitable gap to pitch a tent along the tree-pressed and often marshy shore of the river, the lake beyond and its numerous islands. Hard and frustrating work? Not a chance. We enjoyed every enticing minute of the hunt, and our final spot, found as the light faded before a rare and short-lived storm, was a real gem. With the tipi pitched on our own private beach of fine yellow sand, a fire crackling merrily nearby, we set out on foot to explore. This entailed surprising a beach party (an invitation only reindeer affair), finding the washed up remains of some heavily gnawed birch beaver snacks, and then wandering into the woods to collect blueberries – lots and lots of very tasty blueberries.
A late evening sunset off the coast of Senja, Norway
brief, as long as you’re a reasonably sensible canoeist, walker or camper, you can go just about anywhere you wish, do just about what you like, and pitch a tent where it takes your fancy. All in all then, the makings of a perfect canoe-camping visit. It has to be admitted that it isn’t always easy, and our attempts to find a campsite alongside the Muonionjoki illustrate that. The thing is, it really is wild up there. But then because of that, any effort is repaid many times over.
Mind you, we first had to fight our way past wild redcurrants, golden-ripe hjortron (cloudberries), juniper, lingonberry and some incredibly tasty strawberries. The whole place, in fact much of Arctic Scandinavia, was covered. Almost every morning during our trip we’d managed to rise from a lake or riverside canvas residence, stretch, take in another unspoilt birch or pine-studded vista, and then potter off a few yards into the woods to collect our blueberry breakfast enhancement. Other, more mobile, wildlife was also pretty impressive. Along the way, as well as the numerous reindeer sightings, we also enjoyed a meeting with a young and very tall elk, shared a cliff-edge campsite with a family of mink and came across a pair of wild foxes that needed to take a very close look at these strange two-legged southern animals.
In all this getting to know the local wildlife, I will have to admit that the infamous northern Scandinavian mosquito was as equally keen to get up close and personal to us. Fortunately we had bottles of strong insect repellent with which to beat them over the head (most contents proved relatively ineffective). On a more positive note, you only had to stand still in any wood for a minute or two for the local birds to creep in to take a closer look too, and they didn’t bite. And if you worked your way further into the woods, uphill until the trees gave up the struggle (quite soon), the rugged uplands were mossie free - something the local reindeer had worked out millennia ago. Not only are those uplands wonderfully impressive, but a little height also offered a proper chance to gaze out over the surrounding expanse of forest, hills, lakes and rivers.
Strawberry Fjords Forever - Øksfjorden, Norway
We made our way up into the mountains twice on foot during this visit, first, as mentioned, in Finland, reaching the top of Pallaskero on the edge of the Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park, and then up amongst the snow-fringed peaks at the north-western end of the Stora Sjöfallets National Park in Sweden. On both occasions the prize was the same – a breathtaking chance to take a really good look out over this extraordinary area. Those unimpeded views took in tens of miles in every direction, views in which any human presence was almost invisible. Compared to the rest of Europe, this is a landscape that has altered little since the last glaciation. A very special place then. Admittedly, It isn’t that easy to reach, at least not if you want to take your own canoe and camping kit, but if you can spare the time and fuel costs, it is very much worth the effort. With all that space, teeming wildlife, occasional but invariably friendly people and glorious access legislation, there can be few places in the world that offer quite such an opportunity to someone with a love of the outside - especially someone with a tent and canoe. ●
The FULL range of Esquif boats now in stock
Story by Greg Spencer Photos by Paul Villecourt, Julien Gontard, Philippe Bo
OCF1 Europe’s Premier Open-Canoe Event for
“Destiny grants us o in order to give us
ouvat, Martin Strunge and wilderness-canoe.co.uk
2014: the 5th Open Canoe Festival
our wishes, but in its own way, something beyond our wishesâ€? Johann Wolfgang von goethe
What did Paul Villecourt unleash with his inaugural Open Canoe Festival? a monster! Once unleashed, it grew... and grew more... and this Easter, we reach the fifth year of this premier occasion for 'touring' canoeists to meet up, learn, share experiences and party as guests of open canoeingâ€™s most gracious host.
Adventurers looking to explore one of the hidden jewels of France: our host's beloved
in four short years of astonishing growth the production of the OCF has become a massive undertaking. Following the success of 2013, some of us worried about the feasibility of a repeat performance, as the effort involved is simply enormous! Fortunately, Paul has accepted the inevitable: the show must go on!!! The result? Well just take a look at the all-new website: those of us who take to the roads are in for a treat!
As ever, the 2014 OCF will be for everyday 'touring' canoeists: for adventurers looking to explore one of the hidden jewels of France - our host's beloved River Drôme. This is a consistently engaging but singularly forgiving river that offers unremitting interest from above our usual put-in at Pont de Saint Croix to below the common getout in the charming Aouste-sur-Sye.
As in previous years, opportunities for independent descents will be complimented by workshops laid on the by the OCF 'team'. This grows for 2014 with the addition of Falk Bruder and Franziska ‘Franzi’ Pokorny. Falk is a veteran of more than 40,000kms of canoeing on more than 600 lakes and rivers in at least 26 countries worldwide. Franzi is an American Canoe Association legend: supremely elegant on the water, and recently returned from a self-guided, 22 days (481 km) expedition on the Snake River system in the Yukon Territory of north-west Canada.
Tripping and journeying
Of course, the iconic TenTipi will be back – this time seating some 550 visitors. Behind the scenes, the team is working furiously to live up to ever-higher expectations for the concert, festive meals, campfire, local produce tasting and general merriment – and to find a suitable raft of 'partners' needed to stage an event on this scale!
Falk and Franzi fit squarely within the OCF tradition: faithful to the focus on 'tripping and journeying', as exemplified by the return of some familiar workshop-leaders with stunning experience of expedition in the UK, Scandinavia, Canada and beyond – including Armelle Van Hauwaert and Peter Stokx of 'Canad.be', UK coach Matt Thompson of 'Wilderness-Canoe', and ACA Instructor-Trainer Heinz Götze of 'Open-canoe.de'.
Independent descents are at the heart of every Open Canoe Festival. Partner organisations provide access at various points, and also a much-appreciated shuttle service. Complete beginners might find the river challenging, but hire companies operate on the Drôme – a river more than suitable for even modestly experienced 'improver' or 'intermediate' canoeists.
Around the fringes of the OCF, others will again be offering workshops on expedition-related matters: the art of the bivouac, fire-lighting, camp-cooking. Partner 'Canoë Diffusion' will again be offering exemplary opportunities to try Esquif demo-boats: both traditional tandems and 'white water' solos and tandems – and whilst not a huge part of the event, other exhibitors will also be showcasing their wares.
‘tripping and journeying’
Falk and Franzi fit squarely within the OCF tradition: faithful to the focus on
ThePaddler 166 Is there anything at the OCF for the 'advanced' canoeist? Well, that's up to the 'advanced' canoeist! If you were not going to appreciate great atmosphere, beautiful scenery and a stunning opportunity for sharing knowledge and experience... you'd be coming to the wrong place! If such things appeal, then why not? The new website includes details of the more significant tributaries of the Drôme: the Archiane, the Bez, the Roanne and the Gervanne. For those up for the challenge, exploration promises rich rewards... and as many prior participants have discovered, the Drôme is a perfect stepping stone to more famous canoeistcountry further west and south, from the Allier through the Ardèche to the Orb. Take your pick of many jewels! A final thought. Interest in the 2012 and 2013 events reached massive proportions, leading Paul to limit registrations. For 2014, he's planning to accommodate 550 visitors: only marginally up on last year's numbers – so if you're interested, register early if you wish to avoid disappointment. If you do manage to book up... we look forward to seeing you in April:)
France Dr么me Valley
Drôme, sweet Drôme!
Hidden between the Vercors Mountains and Provence, the Drôme is one of the rare French rivers, which can paddled all year long. From Die to the Rhône Valley, the river offers 60km of easy and scenic paddling through vineyards and mountains. In spring, many beautiful tributaries attract paddlers from Europe’s four corners.
Warning: The descriptions contained in this topo are given for information only. Rivers are changing all the time.The author is not responsible for the possible description mistakes.
The Drôme is an easy river where canoe rentals are available with or without river guide (be careful anyway). Only experienced paddlers should run Drôme tributaries.
The Drôme can be paddled between Die and Crest: 30km of class 2, small 3 with good water levels. Between Crest and the Rhône Valley: 17 Km of class 2. After Crest, some little dams should be scouted (1km after Crest and 1km before the Rhône). average flow: 30m3/s. Summer flow: less than 10m3/sec.
Easy river. Some waves with a good water level.The Drôme River is really appreciated by European tourists (many canoe rentals available). Beautiful landscapes.
Located 20 minutes from Die, near Châtillon-en-Diois. The Archiane is one of the most beautiful rivers of France! The river is only running in spring with the Vercors snowmelt and the landscapes are amazing. The water gauge is located near ‘Menée’, close to a tiny power station. 50cm is the minimum level with 65/70 being perfect and 80 more pushy! The road follows the river.
Sections: archiane/Menée: 3.5km of class 4. A pure jewel! The first 500 metres are the most technical and then the rapids never stop. Just pay attention to the small dam (visible from the road). Easy to run with a normal water level.
Menée/Mensac: 3.5km of class 3. Many tree branches. Nice but less Alpine than the first part. You can paddle the Bez River after the confluence and stop near Chatillon-en-Diois campsite.
Near Châtillon-en-Diois. Commonly paddled after its confluence with the Archiane. 5km of class 3 until Châtillon then 5km of class 2 till the Drôme.The first part is nice. Expect many branches. Some big pipes may be present in a quarry in the third part (portage).
Drôme left side tributary. Confluence near Vercheny (10km above Saillans).You can access to the Gorges via Espenel Bridge (follow ‘St-Nazaire-le-Désert’ direction).
Beautiful and scenic class 2/3 (4-) river. Pay attention to the fact this river doesn't rise the same way as the Drôme left side tributaries (no snowmelt). Sections: St-Nazaire-le-Désert till the unrunnable section located 100 metres above the Gorges Bridge (bridge located 300 metres before a small road climbing to ‘Rimon et Savel’).The unrunnable section is obvious from the road, not from the river… Caution! 14km section. Class 2/3.The first part is easy in a wider valley.Then the river flows into a nice canyon, very easy, class 2/3 (branches and curves). Unrunnable rapid/bridge till the Drôme river (most commonly paddled section). 7km of class 3.The first 3km are rocky then the landscape is amazing and the river easier.
Drôme right side tributary. Confluence at Mirabel-et-Blacons (5km above Crest). Only runnable in Spring and Autumn/Fall, and only after rain. Class 2/3 (4).The first part is very remote and beautiful. Fantastic put-in below a 50m waterfall (‘Chutes de la Druise’, 4km after ‘Plan de Baix’). 20 minutes hike to reach the put-in.The first 300m are the hardest (class 4). Then the river is quite narrow and full of branches – be careful! 7km of class 2/3 till Beaufort-sur-Gervanne. Then 10km till the confluence. Many dams to portage (on private property). Be nice to the locals! For some reasons, fishermen would like to keep this river for themselves.
Open Canoe Festival 2014
18th-21st April Mirabel-et-Blacons River Dr么me, France https://www.facebook.com/OpenCanoeFestival Email : firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.opencanoefestival.com
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The land of mountains some sweet rivers too!
By Steve Brooks
Spring and summer is a special and colourful time in the German speaking Alps. Flowers hang from balconies of houses and hofs (traditional farm houses), high alpine meadows bloom and the ringing of cow bells set in some of the most scenic and dramatic mountains in the world is just another highlight.
Enterat your own
RISK As the river disappeared under a chockstone, created by 30-foot wide boulder wedged between the canyon walls, the size of our undertaking had become completely clear. Beyond this point we’d be totally committed to the river corridor with no possible escape, and what lay downstream was uncharted territory. I cracked a fake smile as Ben turned to me and said, “only the penitent man shall pass.”
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The roar of the river took on a new menacing feel as a cool light rain began to set in. Ryan took a long, drawn out look of the overall scope of the canyon, probing the area for a possible route out. His expression said it all!
Checking coordinates at the Chalkstone Photo: Evan Ross ThePaddler 163
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