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Issue 6

ThePaddler ezine com International digital magazine for recreational paddlers


YUKON at the DOUBLE MISSING the SILVERBACK INTERVIEW with CORRAN Two accounts of the ‘Great River’

…or maybe not,! White Nile, Uganda

Corran Addison interview

Win a Wave Sport Ethos River Cruise Kayak

Contents March 13

Photo of the month for March 2013 Kayak surfers, Bude, Cornwall By Simon Hammond Editor

Peter Tranter Tel: (01480) 465081 Mob: 07411 005824 ThePaddlercouk /pub/peter-tranter/36/bb8/134

Advertising sales

Anne Egan Tel: (01480) 465081

Front cover: SUP on Lake Powell, Utah.

By Ned Johnson.

Huge thanks to: Keith Day, Nick Watt, Ned Johnson, Corran Addision, Len Webster, Mark Dixon, Sabina Delcassian, Dave Burne, Sam Ward, Max Bilbow, Andrew Regan, Simon Everett, Nigel Gill, Simon Hammond, Phil Carr and Terry Wright.

Not all contributors are professional writers and photographers, so don’t be put off writing because you have no experience! ezine is all about paddler to paddler dialogue: a paddler’s magazine written by paddlers. Next issue is April 2013 with a deadline of submissions on March 10th. Technical Information: Contributions preferably as a Microsoft Word file with 1200-2000 words, emailed to Images should be hi-resolution and emailed with the Word file or if preferred, a Dropbox folder will be created for you. ThePaddler ezine encourages contributions of any nature but reserves the right to edit to the space available. Opinions expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of the publishing parent company, 2b Graphic Design. The publishing of an advertisement in ThePaddler ezine does not necessarily mean that the parent company, 2b Graphic Design, endorse the company, item or service advertised. All material in ThePaddler ezine is strictly copyright and all rights are reserved. Reproduction without prior permission from the editor is forbidden.

Where we’ve been… 7

SUP Paddler


Lake Powell, Utah and Costa Rica Scouting new SUP locations from dry Utah to lush tropical Costa Rica. By Ned Johnson


26 28


Road trip to Devon Lucky guys testing new SUP kit on Devon’s glorious coastline. By Nick Watt

Euro SUP events calendar

A brief history of SUP Looking at the origins of SUP – Hawaii, Greece, Peru or perhaps East Anglia?. By Corran Addision

Issue 6 United States 12

Corran Addison 36

Interview with Corran Addison By Peter Tranter

45 OC Paddler 46


Yukon River, Canada An in-depth and detailed view of the ‘Great River’. By Len Webster

Canada 46

The Yukon territory Four Brits take on the Yukon River with an unguided expedition. By Mark Dixon

68 Kayak Paddler 68

Win a Wave Sport Ethos


Uganda - all you need to know Travel advice on how to reach this great country and its people. By Andrew Regan



Sicily 122


White Nile Uganda Reflections on the loss of the mighty Silverback Rapids after the dam construction. By Sabina Delcassian, Dave Burne, Sam Ward and Max Bilbow

Wave Sport Ethos review By Phil Carr

Uganda 70

Pike fishing 104

Fatyak Mahee review By Terry Wright

104 Kayak fishing An introduction on how to catch Pike. By Simon Everett

117 Salty Paddler

118 Coaching All year round kayak surfing. By Simon Hammond

Coaching 118

122 Sicilian Islands Exploring the seven Aeolian Islands and its volcanoes. By Nigel Gill

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Time for a change in DEFRA policy

In a recent email to River Access For All, DEFRA said: “There is no clear case law on whether a ‘common law right of navigation’ exists on unregulated rivers. This is widely accepted to be an unclear and unresolved issue.” That means, in the absence of any statute requiring it (which no-one has ever suggested), DEFRA seem to acknowledge there is no clear requirement for canoeists to ask the permission of riparian landowners or the owners of fishing rights in order to navigate our rivers.Yet their policy is for us to do it anyway!

Some landowners and angling groups believe they have a right of veto not only over navigation but also over any discussions on navigation but DEFRA now implies there is no clear justification for this.

So where does this leave DEFRA’s policy on the way forward? Clearly in need of a full review.

The first step must be to review all the evidence of what they law is. DEFRA have said, “We are aware of the work of the Revd. Dr Douglas Caffyn but have not sought or received advice on it nor formed a legal opinion on the validity of his research.”

It’s time to take legal advice on the evidence revealed by Revd. Dr Caffyn’s research. If DEFRA feel his research is in any way flawed we need to be told. Douglas Caffyn’s conclusion is that, “In common law there is a public right of navigation on all non-tidal rivers which are naturally physically navigable by small boats and on those rivers which have been made physically navigable at public expense.”

The website invites those that contest the public right of navigation to challenge these assertions and in particular to say which legislation or exercise of statutory authority ended the historic right of navigation. No such challenge has been received.

Peter Tranter Editor

If those that oppose this conclusion have evidence to support their view, they need to produce it so that DEFRA can take this into account. But if there is no evidence to support the notion that there never was a public right of navigation on rivers or that the historic public right of navigation has been ended by legislation or exercise of statutory power, DEFRAs policy and its interpretation of the law needs to be based on the evidence that does exist.

In the absence of a clear legal basis for their view that those navigating unregulated rivers require the permission of riparian landowners, the continuation of such a policy can only be based on prejudice and inertia.That is not an acceptable basis on which to deny the public responsible access to rivers and it’s time such a policy was ended. If you would like to add your voice to those pressing for the recognition of the public right of navigation on rivers in England and Wales, register as a supporter of River Access For All at: what_can_i_do.php#register

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

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By Nick Watt



In early February the SUP Store in Bournemouth along with some friends from north Devon and Cornwall all headed to Tushingham Sails in stunning south Devon for a trip to look at the new Starboard and Red Paddle Co showroom. We went through some of the 2013 kit which includes surf shapes, race boards and inflatables as well as paddles.


After plenty of looking, it was time to paddle! Paul loaded up the Tushingham van with 16 boards so we had plenty to play around on. South Devon offers a stunning variety of paddling opportunities from the most tranquil, peaceful estuaries through to the gnarliest open sea downwinders. All levels of SUP rider can enjoy their preferred type of paddling with tree-lined estuaries providing shelter from strong winds. Plymouth Sound and the Tamar estuary offer wide expanses of relatively sheltered waters and heading east from Plymouth there are estuaries of the Yealm, the Erme, the Avon, Salcombe and the Dart providing a huge variety of flatwater possibilities. The trips from Kingsbridge to Salcombe and Totnes to Dartmouth are wonderful on a sunny day and the Erme is particularly scenic. Whilst not boasting the regular Atlantic groundswell of the north coast, sometimes the surf can be excellent, particularly when a south-westerly swell is accompanied by light northerly through to south easterly winds. Bantham is the focal point but the main peak is always crowded when the surf is good, so not advisable for the novice SUP surfer. However, good waves are often found in the less crowded river mouth area and at high tide they’re mellow and easy which deters the masses of shortboarders, yet the waves remain good fun on a SUP board. There are numerous other surfing possibilities around the coast of varying quality which can be found with a little exploration; a good excuse for some coastal touring on a small day!

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Advanced paddlers

are provided with excellent downwind opportunities such as Stoke Beach to Bigbury in a Westerly/WNW or even all the way down to Thurlestone for the more adventurous. In a southerly, Hallsands to Streete Gate is a good route, provided the shorebreak isn’t too high! Experienced local riders have an abundance of exposed headlands and extremely rough waters to challenge their board handling skills. In April one of the best SUP races in the country takes place for another year, which is the ‘Head of the Dart’. This is a race and touring event which takes you through nine miles of the River Dart as part of the historic Head of the Dart race between

A huge thanks to Paul and Luke at Starboard for organising the day and making us all feel welcome.

Totnes and Dartmouth rowing clubs. This year’s race is 20th April. Race it or cruise it, it’s your choice but it’s an event which is definitely not to be missed! We had glorious sunshine, a light offshore wind and a small swell, therefore it was decided that we would hit Bigbury for some waves. The excitement on people faces on what board to pick was quite special, as we had the latest carbon waves shapes and well as race/distance boards. A board I had my eye on was the Red Air Surf Star 9’2 which is the latest surf shape from Red Paddle Co which is meant to be amazing. After everyone picked their stick we head out just in front of the estuary which had an empty line up as the crowds were further over at Bantham where the swell was slightly bigger. It was great to see people enjoy the waves and swapping boards around to try out all the kit. We were enjoying the race/distance boards such as the Starboard All-Star and Sprint in the surf which were so much fun. After a few hours of enjoying the swell, everyone was pretty surfed out, so it was time to head to the cafe for some tucker. The sun was still blazing and it was a delight sitting outside watching the sun go down over Bigbury bay. What a fantastic end to a great day of SUP’in in south Devon.

Ever thought of gliding along the Thames at night, enjoying the flow of the river, the wildlife and the city lights? Join us in seeing London from a new and exciting perspective. Active360 is the only organisation dedicated to developing the sport of SUP (Stand Up Paddleboarding) in London. The story is just beginning and already we have introduced more than 1,000 people to the sport.

We offer lessons, coaching, parties and SUP trips on the Thames equipment demos and extended trips to coastal and other locations. We also stock a wide range of boards and paddles - to buy or hire at our new SUP store at Mike’s Dive Store London W4 5PY. Our experienced and friendly coaches are ASI (Academy of Surf Instructor) accredited and mostly from a kayaking background. We provide all equipment required including wetsuits where required. We help to keep people paddling at low cost by introducing them to local clubs and through our low cost board hire membership scheme. T: 07761 015360 This year we are setting up new ASI SUP Schools in Brighton and Mersea Island in Essex. We are also establishing SUP City - urban racing open to every level and whitewater SUP sessions.

We are off on expedition to the Arctic waters of Greenland this summer and we are planning to run trips to Greenland, Iceland and a range of other exciting locations from 2014. polarbearsandpaddleboards

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Scout The

Those moments right before you slip yo anticipation of wondering if the reality wi These are a few of my favourite things! A in the United States, this is the best part o

By Ned Johnsonm

Photos: Chuck Murlock and Greg Pflug

our craft into a new body of water, the ll match the expectations you’ve set. As an owner of a paddleboard company of my job, scouting new paddling trips.

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Sometimes it’s a freestyle kind of trip, sometimes it’s a bit more structured

along, I didn’t get an inside berth, so my quarters were out under the moon and stars… thank goodness for perfect weather – the star show every night was amazing. With absolutely no nearby light sources, the night sky lit up and twinkled like I had never seen.

Each Fall as our season winds down, my partner and I usually have one or two new trip experiences, sometimes these develop into group adventure tours. This past year we went to two new locations that both were pretty special.

The first trip I went along with my friend on one of his kayak adventure tours, I would be the sole paddleboarder on this trip. As Greg has been doing this for decades, the format (and food!) was structured and well thought out. The destination was Lake Powell, Utah, a water world version of the Grand Canyon. With over 2000 miles of shoreline, it’s one big water way. The mother ship was a 55-foot long double decker houseboat well equipped with all the modern furnishings and comforts. The kayaks were stacked on the back of the boat and I kept my board on the open 2nd deck. Since I was a tag

Once we were loaded and under way the dramatic views of giant canyon walls grew as we went further into Lake Powell. The first night we made our stop at a beach right off the main channel. As the week progressed and we continued to make our way, slot canyons were marked with a white blue channel marker if they had camping spots. These were giant sized alcoves where wind and time had eroded perfect stopping spots for boats such as ours. It’s from these beaches we would unload and paddle down the various channels of each canyon during the day. The size and enormity of the walls and rock formations was amazing. With five full days of paddling under our belts, I could really feel the miles we had put in… It’s not easy keeping up with a bunch of kayakers! This was a great trip all around. The food was yummy and each meal freshly prepared, Greg is an awesome cook and filled our bellies. Pretty important when you’re paddling every day.

thank goodness for perfect weather –

my quarters were out under the moon and stars…

the star show every night was amazing

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LAKE POWELL A water world version of the Grand Canyon

L-UTAH ThePaddler 17


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The rainy season in

The second trip was during the rainy sea crowds make for easier getting around w more of a freestyle trip.We had some id days were set in stone.


ason in Costa Rica. Better prices and no while scouting.This was going to be eas where we wanted to paddle but no

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NICOYA PENIN A true surfer’s paradise


After a long travel day that included plane, car, ferry, car again, we finally made it to the very tip of the Nicoya peninsula, Saint Theresa/Mal Pais. No chain hotels, no chain restaurants, this was a true surfer’s paradise, a tucked away small beach town that hasn’t been molested by commercial over development. The preferred mode of transportation was anything but cars, with all terrain vehicles and motorcycles the most prevalent, followed by bicycles and walking. The local places to eat were small cantinas that served amazing food always freshly prepared. The accommodations were large houses or hostels. We were fortunate to stay right on the beach with a pool and surf break in our backyard. Paddle surfing was certainly going to be on the to-do list but we really wanted to find some other paddling opportunities, something different. With the help of a local friend/outfitter, we secured some boards and directions. Turns out there are some really exotic rivers to explore. A bit of steel nerves helps as the occasional crocodile spotting on these backwaters isn’t uncommon. Right along with a plethora of flora, fauna, birds and wildlife. Aside from our river and surf paddling we also hiked up an amazing (scary!) waterfall. Several times we Rode our ATVs on a cut through jungle ‘road’ called a monkey trail, complete with three small river crossing. This route was the shortest way to get to the other side of the peninsula, where there was the very artsy and picturesque town of Montezuma. A big thanks to Greg at Adventures in Florida ( and Al and Benni at Costa Rica Surf and SUP.

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INFORMATION LOCATION: Officially named the Republic of Costa Rica, this country is only 51,100 sq. km (19,730 sq. mi.) That’s about the size of the US states Vermont and New Hampshire combined. The capital city of San Jose with its population of 2.1 million people is less than half of the over 4.5 million living in this small nation. Located south of Nicaragua, and north of Panama, this part of the Central American isthmus has a central spine of mountains and volcanoes separated by two coastal plains. With mild climate in the central highlands to tropical and subtropical climates in the coastal areas, Costa Rica hosts a surprising diversity of terrain and microclimates in a small landmass.

Costa Rica,-66.463165&spn=1.064526,1.867676&t=m&z=10

VISAS: Citizens of other nationalities do not need a tourist visa to enter Costa Rica if they have a United States, a European Union country or a Canadian tourist visa, a visa for crew or a business visa (multiple entry). Note: Such visa must be stamped in the passport and be valid for at least three months. For nationalities who do not meet any of the above requirements, the tourist visa will depend on their nationality and they should apply for it at the Consulate of their jurisdiction.

GETTING THERE: Most flights to Costa Rica arrive through Juan Santamaría International Airport, which is located 10 minutes from San José in Alejuela. During the high season (December through April), the Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport, located in the province of Guanacaste near Liberia, becomes a popular hub for international charter flights. PADDLING: Offering the avid thrill-seeker a variety of Class I through Class V runs, the Sarapiquí, the Reventazón, the Pacuare and other popular rafting rivers are accessible through professional outfitters usually located in San José. In addition, the sea kayak has become increasingly popular for, among other reasons, its ability to move inconspicuously through the water and avoid disturbing the terrestrial and marine fauna. Stand Up Paddling is now also a rising recreational water sport. For SUP trips visit: or

BEACHES: Renowned for its magnificent beaches, Costa Rica offers tourists a remarkable white or black sand coastline, nestled against the backdrop of lush, emerald-green jungle. For those who do not surf, boogie boarding is the way to go. Find a shallow beach where the surf breaks early, and you can ride the powerful waves for more than 200 feet! If privacy is what you are looking for, discover one of the small, hidden beaches found both on the mainland and on the less developed islands around Costa Rica.

DIVERSITY: Due to its geographical location, Costa Rica bridges the northern and southern most points of the two American contents. This makes Costa Rica the meeting point of a variety of cultures and a density of plant and animal species said to be unlike any other country in the world. CURRENCY: The money in Costa Rican is called the colon.

DRIVING: As with many Central American countries, there are no street signs, often no street lights, no addresses, no numbering systems and with the exception of a portion of San Jose, the streets do not run perpendicular to one another. Traffic lanes often simply end, even on high speed highways, with less than 100 yards notice. Bridges often have no guardrails, especially after you leave San Jose. The drops can be a few feet or a few hundred feet. Be careful.

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uro SUP events

20th April Head of the Dart Dartmouth, United Kingdom

The Head of the Dart officially kicks off the British SUP race season. The nine mile race has historical roots as an annual rowing race that takes place between Totnes and Dartmouth. SUP was added to the event four years ago and is now a highly anticipated event throughout the UK SUP community.This race welcomes paddlers of all abilities.

Details will be posted at:

18th May Blue Chip Battle of the Thames Surbiton, United Kingdom

A 10k “Battle of the Thames” race on the River Thames. This event is full of energy and enthusiasm and offers a really unique take on paddling the Thames, just a few miles from Westminster. Last year saw a really great turn out and it is only expected to grow in 2013. Details will be posted at:

25th May The SUP Race Cup St. Maxime, France

The SUP Race CUP, also known as The International Mediterranean Trophy, is one of the most difficult combined races on the European calendar. With two races over the course of the weekend, a 7k and 15k respectively, many of Europe’s top paddlers treat the event as a full sprint along the French coast. Last year the event featured many top paddlers including: Eric Terrien, Gaetene Sene, Casper Steinfath and Bart de Zwart. Details will be posted at:

1st June Lost Mills International Brombachsee, Germany The Lost Mills International caused quite a stir in 2012 in beautiful Bavaria, Germany. With $20,000 in cash and prizes, the race drew a stacked field of paddlers from Europe and around the world.The main event is a 13.75km race across two lakes, with an intense 100m run in between each.To make matters worse, last year the race leader averaged an even 10kph pace throughout the entire 13.75km distance. It is fast and not for the faint of heart. Details will be posted at:

15th June Bray Lake SUP Festival Bray, United Kingdom

New to the British and International Race Calendar, the Bray Lake SUP Festival is forming up to have all the components of a great event. With an aim to attract new paddlers and competitors, highlights will include an SUP Duathlon, featuring a 5k paddle / 5k run as well as a 16 mile adventure paddle. Sprints, board demos, live music and an evening party will really help to celebrate all things SUP. Details will be posted at:

6th July Paddle Round the Pier SUP Marathon Brighton, United Kingdom

Without any debate, the Paddle Round the Pier SUP Marathon in Brighton is by far the most difficult endurance race in the British season. As with any marathon, the endurance and stamina needed to compete in this event is critical. Finishing times in 2012 ranged between five and seven hours. No matter how you look at it, that is a long time to stand on a board whilst paddling on the south coast of England. Details will be posted at:

4-8th Sept SUP 11 City Tour Leeuwarden, Netherlands

If you can imagine paddling approximately 26 miles a day for five consecutive days in the canals of the northern most province of the Netherlands, you might begin to comprehend the commitment and mental strength needed to complete the 11 City Tour. With over one hundred years of history, the tour began as an ice skating race linking 11 cities in Friesland. Founded by Anne-Marie Reichman in 2009, the SUP version of 11 City Tour now has a reputation for being the most difficult SUP race on earth as the total 220km distance is not to be taken lightly. In 2012, warm and sunny weather helped the top three paddlers complete the combined five day distance in under 24 hours, the fastest time ever logged. Notably, Bart de Zwart remains undefeated after four consecutive years of competing in this epic event. Details will be posted at:

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

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A brief history of

SUP tand



Stand up paddling originated in Hawaii surely? Well, maybe or maybe not as Corran Addison looks at other alternatives‌

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In 1778, Captain James Cook

sailed into the Hawaiian islands and became the first Europeans to witness the Hawaiian people surfing. He'e nalu as it is called in the native Hawaiian tongue was done either in canoes or on special, ritually carved boards from the Koa tree. The village chief got the biggest board, sometimes as big as 5m long, while lesser village personages were content with smaller 2-3m boards. Because of its sheer size, a paddle was often used to power out and onto the waves. It’s hard to really know when modern stand up paddling really begun. To do so you’d have to define exactly what it is and even now we’re not really sure. Two things seem to be constant: that we stand while paddling and that we use a long paddle to propel the craft forwards. So when Dave Kalama decided to grab a paddle to play with while shooting for Oxbow on huge longboards just a decade ago, one wonders whether he was thinking back to the days of fishermen, thousands of years ago, or just back to the beach boys of the Waikiki tourist trade in the 1960s. Whatever he was thinking, it worked and after making a longer paddle specifically for the standing position, the modern sport as its practiced today was born. For 3,000 years Peruvian fishermen have used a craft called a ‘Caballitos de Totora’, a small craft made of reeds that is so called because of their instability resulting in it being like riding a horse. They used a long bamboo shaft somewhat like an elongated kayak paddle and after a days

fishing they would surf the waves in just for fun. In fact, it’s quite possible that this is the true root of all surfing, let alone stand up surfing. Likewise in many African countries, warriors would stand on a dugout type canoe called a Pirogues, using their spears as paddles to propel themselves silently into enemy positions. Stand up paddle surfing (SUP), or in the Hawaiian language Hoe he'e nalu, definitely has its Polynesian roots. Surf instructors in Waikiki like Duke Kahanamoku, Leroy and Bobby

AhChoy, would take a paddle and stand on their boards to get a better view of the surfers in the water and incoming swells, and from time to time would surf the waves in themselves using the paddle to steer the board – and so beach boy surfing was born.

Modern roots

However, the modern roots of stand up paddling dates well back before these inventive and playful surfers from Hawaii. In Tel Aviv, lifeguards have been using a stand up board called a ‘Hassakeh’ since the first decades of the 20th century, an idea they borrowed from fishermen that dates back hundreds of years. Almost five feet wide, and using a double bladed paddle, the lifeguard can paddle quickly out to a distressed person and haul them on board, while the standing position gave them a full view the entire time. While not designed for this, they were known for surfing the waves in while practicing rescue techniques. Closer to home, photographer Peter Henry Emerson captured in 1886 a photo of a man stand up paddling through the marshes of East Anglia in the UK. The photo is called ‘Quanting the Marsh Hay.’ It is possible that this is the first photographic record of SUP. But all through surfing’s post Gidgit boom of the 1960s and then again in the 1980s, surfing with a paddle was all but ignored, or for that matter, unknown. Dave’s first foray with a paddle that lazy afternoon was followed shortly by Brian Keaulana, Rick Thomas, Archie Kalepa and Laird Hamilton who started SUP as an alternative way to train while the surf was down. As the years went on they found themselves entering events such as the Moloka’i to O’ahu Paddleboard Race M kaha’s Big Board Surfing Classic.

Photographer Peter Henry Emerson captured in 1886 a photo of a man stand up paddling through the marshes of East Anglia in the United Kingdom. It is possible that this is the first photographic record of SUP.


Dressing lightly

SUP 1940, Basque country

1886 east Anglia. Quanting the Marsh Hay

19th century Greece

Australia 1937

Joao Roberto Hafers

Shorty Bronkhorst and friend, Durban, South Africa,1950

The photo is called ‘Quanting the Marsh Hay.’

Osmar Goncalves

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Tom Blake and Duke

With its growing popularity at Makaha Beach, Brian Keaulana decided to add ‘beach boy surfing’ to the world-recognized ‘Buffalo Big Board Contest’ in 2003. The response was overwhelming, with over 49 participants entering the stand up division, which included many of Hawaii's elite watermen and past world champion surfers, using Pohaku beach boy paddles. A photo of Laird Hamilton was snatched up by the surfing media and in a matter of months the first stand up boom had begun. That being said, two Brazilian surfers Osmar Goncalves and Joao Roberto Hafers might well have been stand up surfing before the Hawaiian dynamic duo had their photos plastered in surfing magazines. Riding a board called a Tabua Havaiana (Hawaiian plank) shaped by Julio Putz, these two excitable surfers were definitely unwitting pioneers. They just were not in the right place at the

A very rare photo of John “Pops” AhChoy taken by British surfer James Davis in 1980.

Waikiki Beach with Diamond Head

in the background. Oahu, Hawaii

right time to get photos of their exploits published where an eager population dying for something new to surfing would see them. Another radical surfer turned wave ski surfer, Fletcher Burton from California, could also be credited as being an early pioneer in stand up surfing. Paddling onto waves back in the early 1990s with his kayak paddle seated on the wave ski, he would jump to his feet once on the wave and surf the wave the way advanced stand up surfers do today. However, the negative stigma attached to seated surfers (Goat Boater) meant that no surfer was likely to take note of his style and ability to ride different kinds of waves once up and going. Had he been taken seriously, stand up surfing might well be 10 years ahead of where it is now. Bobby and Leroy AhChoy are possibly the first true original beach boy surfers. Injured in a car

accident that restricted him from swimming, or even kneeling, Bobby would stand up, cigarettes lashed to his arm, camera about his neck and paddle into the surf zone shouting hints to others. His brother Leroy and father John would also stand up from time to time. They in turn introduced this quaint pastime to John Zapotocky. In 1980 James Davis, a British surfer who made a living as a travel photographer, was in Hawaii taking some shots and caught this guy stand up paddle surfing, with a builders hat on his head, knee pads and all. The attire is a little strange, but he was definitely stand up surfing. With a photographic library of over 100,000 shots (and these are not digital, all film) James needed a bit of time to find the shots, but he has come up trumps. This is one of the only photos of John “Pops” AhChoy.

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But the credit of father of modern stand up surfing has to go to John Zapotocky. John first went to Hawaii in 1940 and instantly fell in love with the ocean. He made his life there from that day on and started beach boy surfing in the 40s, after seeing Duke Kahanamoku and the other beach boys like the AhChoy brothers on stand-up boards, he took to it and has been surfing with a paddle ever since. All through those old days he was a regular athlete, including swimming, diving, paddleboard and canoe racing. He became such an icon amongst the beach boys that they gave him the nickname of ‘Pearl Diver’. John is the oldest SUP surfer in the world, and the oldest regular surfer in Waikiki. John still goes out stand up surfing in Waikiki a few times a week and is an icon to the modern-day surfers and watermen. He keeps his board in one of the racks on the beach in Waikiki where he has for 60 years. With the help of younger surfers who carry his board down to the water, he paddles out today as he always has, quite at home in the waves. But despite the traditional fishing roots of SUP in South America, and in various Arabian countries and their modern spin offs used for lifeguard rescue and surfing, the modern version of beach boy surfing remained a Hawaiian thing until Vietnam veteran, Rick Thomas brought one back to California in 2000. It caught on instantly. You could argue that from that, his SUP influence has spread all over the world. Bob Long from Mission Surf has suggested that there are six degrees of separation between anyone in California who has learned to SUP and Rick Thomas. SUP was a much-needed breath of fresh air into an industry that was stuck in its glory days of the 1960s. Stolid, stale and elitist, surfing had become a highly commercialized multi million dollar machine, where everyone from Kansas to California were wearing surf clothing, speaking surf talk, but not welcome into the surf line-up. ‘Locals’ shun anyone not born within a five-mile radius of a given break from the surf, and beginners (being as beginners are in any sport) were branded ‘kooks’, and equally driven out from the beaches. Stand Up Surfing had instant appeal to all kinds of surfers. It allowed you to paddle to far away and little known breaks that were uncrowded, increased the number of waves a surfer can have in a session and the range of conditions that can be surfed. In fact, very quickly Stand Up Paddlers realized that the ‘surf’ could be taken out of it, and recreational and racing SUP was discovered as a sport all unto itself. All across the USA, and now Europe and Australia, landlocked people started to use Stand Up Boards as a replacement option to the canoe or kayak.

Stand Up Paddlers realized that the ‘surf’ could be taken out of it, and

recreational and racing

was discovered as a spo

Providing a great core workout, as well as increased visibility both above and into the water, stand up paddling as a recreational craft has now etched its place into surfing lore, and by 2009 was the single fastest growing area of paddlesports in North America. As a true indication that stand up paddling has ‘arrived’, as of October 3, 2008, the US Coast Guard has classified SUPs as vessels like an canoe and kayak and as a result SUP riders are obliged to wear a personal floatation device when paddling in certain areas outside of the surf zone.


ort all unto itself


the single fastest growing area of paddlesports in

North America

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Interview with


World Champion

20 year competitive career

Innovative kayak designer World record holder

Owner of CorranSUP

Good captain and lousy second mate‌

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here and what was your first paddle?

I started kayaking in South Africa in 1975 with my father. The very first time was on a dam called Settlers Dam in Grahamstown in what was then the Cape Province. Later that same year we ran the Fish River and the following year, the Orange River in the Orange Free State. I was hooked from the very beginning.

What and where was your very first competition?

I competed in a slalom race in 1982 – a local race on the Bushman’s River. I remember it well because I was given some significant advice that I’ve lived by ever since. It was a timed slalom race, with hand held stopwatches and I was second by 1/100 of a second. With a hand held watch there is no way to know who really won – the other kid or me. But my friend who my father had somehow roped into driving me to this event said to me, “It’s not good enough to just beat them because your victory will always be in question. You have to smash them and leave no doubt.” Almost 10 years later to the day I won the South African Olympic team trials for slalom by 22 seconds (in a sport usually won by tenths of a second), beating several international paddlers with a comfortable margin.

What were your competition highlights?

1992 Barcelona Olympic team trials and the subsequent Games are definitely at the very top. Obviously my three-World Championship medals in freestyle, though they were all mired in controversy, as I was battling with judges over accepting and scoring moves I was doing that no one else could and thus were not judged. The 1993 USA team trials won with a significant margin stands out and then the Canadian trials, which I won with more than twice the next paddler’s score.

It’s not good enough to just beat them because your victory will always

be in question.

You have to smash them and leave no doubt

But one that really stands out was at the end of my most successful season where I won 11 of the 14 events I competed in and took second in two others (ending in the Worlds where I was 6th, again with controversy). One of the events where I came second at the end of the year resulted in Eric Jackson and I being the last ones standing, where eventually he edged me out for the win. At the prize ceremony the event organizer said, “and

that my competitors thought couldn’t be beaten

in second place, the man who I thought couldn't be beaten: Corran Addison.” The loss of the contest against (an amazing athlete like EJ) all of a sudden was insignificant. Although I’d just lost, I suddenly realized that I was ‘that guy’ that my competitors thought couldn’t be beaten. I was ‘that guy’ that other competitors cringed at when they saw me pull up at an event, and it was then that I realized that I’d accomplished what I’d set out to do as a competitor. I stayed on top for anther decade – winning and losing, but always with the knowledge that I had a psychological edge over the other competitors because of this. At the very end of my career, one of the last events I competed in, after ‘officially retiring’ I finished 12th in the men’s pro category. The guy that finished 11th came up to me and announced in front of everyone, “I don’t care if I'm 11th, I just wanted to beat Corran Addison once!” Even though that was basically the end of my competitive career, it was a cool way to go out.

Leading on to your design career, which do you consider is your best kayak design? Best or most innovative are really two different things. The Fury was probably the most innovative because it was the most ‘uncertain’. I was shooting in the dark and trying to do a lot of things at once cut two feet or more length off the established norms, develop the planing hull and the techniques needed to paddle such a short boat

AND a planing hulled boat all at once. The boat itself wasn't a commercial success for a number of reasons, but as an innovative design it stands out as a landmark. The Glide and Disco are two boats that I’m really proud of. Both were ground breaking, and commercial successes. The Riot days were my most productive from a design perspective and my R+D budget was almost unlimited (arguably too large given the companies revenues). The Glide went through 13 prototypes in two years and was a highly controversial boat at the 1997 World Championships as it gave the paddler such a significant advantage over the rest that there was a rule change made the day before the event in an attempt to level the field. At the time I was devastated because the title of World Champion was all but a forgone conclusion, but in hindsight it was a real compliment: I'd created a design so ground breaking that the rest of the field had no chance at all of even being remotely competitive. The Disco, whilst not as innovative as the Fury or the Glide, is significant in that it was the first boat of the style that is still in vogue today. I'd already designed the 007 before it and there were only a few other boats of that length out there like the Pinball and the Attak. However, these other boats lacked the combination of short length AND the loose planing hull of the Disco, which when combined completely changed the way we kayak. Today all freestyle kayaks are essentially an evolution of the Disco.

Corran Addison

‘that guy’

Although I’d just lost, I suddenly realized that I was

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How did you progress from ww kayaking into SUP?

I didn't. After I retired from competition, I got more into surfing. I’d always surfed, but not a lot. Surfing became my main focus and by 2005 I was hardly kayaking at all. I had a surf school and a surfboard building company called Imagine and that’s what I did. I literally fell into SUP by pure chance from surfing when I was out on a sub-zero day in New Hampshire with my buddy Jullien Fillion (the designer who turned the Liquid Force brand around). He’d been telling me about SUP and when I saw it, I thought it was the stupidest thing I’d ever seen. He had a 9'8" Jimmi Lewis and we went out on this. After about an hour he was blue with cold because the air temp was about -7C, however, because I was in the water that was closer to 5C, so I was OK. He asked me if I’d switch for a few minutes so he could warm up and after my first wave I was hooked. I rushed back and shaped myself a 7'11" that week (this was when the shortest SUP I’d ever heard of was 9').

Is there anyone in particular in the sporting world that has influenced you?

Richard Fox, the multiple World slalom champion. Norbert Sattler (1972 Olympic silver medalist and 1973 gold medalist) and Jerome Truran (1981 silver medalist in downriver), all amazing white water kayakers and all of whom coached and influenced me significantly. Mary Lou Retton, the 1982 Olympic gold medalist gymnast, and Daly Thompson, the Decathlon Olympic gold medalist were both the reason why I wanted to go to the Olympics and were people who I looked at as an example of what an athlete should be.

What is the biggest accomplishment in your career?

Does survival count as an accomplishment? I survived 20 years of running some of the most extreme rivers and rapids in the world including several records that stood for over a decade, and I walked away almost unscathed. I also had a successful competitive career that lasted two decades, and at the same time had a career in kayak design that was as successful as my extreme and competitive ones. Not bad I think. Most people get one or the other... who gets to be the best in the world at three?

What would be your ultimate achievement?

I think that I’ve built three very successful brands. Savage Designs, Riot, Imagine. All three were iconic in their day and were brands by which others were measured. I think that’s pretty cool.

Your latest project now is Corran SUP - how's it going?

It’s going well. My focus is very different from the others I've built. The goal with the others was to build something big and significant and then sell and make a killing. After I sold Imagine for $2 million (unfortunately it wasn’t all for me) I found myself in an interesting position: working for someone else. I realized that I'm not very good at that (I'm a good captain. I'm a lousy second mate). So if I sell a company... then what? So with Corran it’s different. I want to build something that will have a long life, and will bring in enough money so that I and all those involved can live well and keep us occupied forever – or until we die. Which ever comes first!

Any advice for dropping over waterfalls?

Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Unfortunately when you’re half way down you can’t turn back. Start small and work up slowly. Develop the skills you need progressively so you don’t make a mistake that will change your life forever.

Has SUP now been accepted by surfers?

Not well at first, but it’s almost mainstream now. All successful innovations go through three stages. The first is ridicule. The second is violent opposition and lastly accepted as self-evident. We’re somewhere between two and three now.

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

Shaun Tomson. I grew up a few blocks away from him, but never surfed with him. I've met him a few times. I'd love to share a lineup with him. Maybe Jose Angel or Greg Noll when they were in their prime. I’d have liked to be the surfer I am today in the 1970s.

What would you say to them? “Inside!”

Facebook or twitter? Twit what?

On your iPod you're listening to? Guilt Monkey. Alex Claire. Nina Simone.

What would you do with $100,000?

Prove that being in your 40s does not mean that it’s too late to be a World Champion motorbike racer. Getting to the position where you have sponsors costs a lot of money but I know I have the ability and the passion to do it. Another life maybe.

An ideal night out for you is?

Between a redhead and a brunette with a blond serving drinks.

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

What do you do to let off steam?

Corran Addison

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

I surf or ride my bike. If my head is there then I ride (it’s very dangerous so I’m selective of my riding days). Surfing is always good. I never get enough of it.

What do you get really angry about?

Arguing with idiots. I get angry with myself when I get suckered in.

The one thing I’d change about SUP is?

I’m changing it now. Everything we do is about making changes to this sport. I want to do the same thing in SUP as I did in kayaking.

If you could be a superhero for one day, what superpower would you choose and why?

Teleporting. Did you ever see Jumper? How cool is that? You could teleport yourself out of any stupid situation you get yourself into.

What three words would you use to describe you? Eccentric. Passionate. Fun.

A redhead, a blond and a brunette? Can I use the same answer twice?

Thanks for your time Corran

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

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THE Great


By Len Webster, Lead Guide BC Yukon Adventures

There's the land. (Have you seen it?) It's the cussedest land that I know, From the big, dizzy mountains that screen it To the deep, deathlike valleys below. Some say God was tired when He made it, Some say it's a fine land to shun; Maybe; but there's some as would trade it For no land on earth - and I'm one. Spell of the Yukon, Robert Service Bard of the Yukon ThePaddler 47

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Once you begin to canoe or kayak the river, you are transported

into a world of serenity

Lunch with a moose

Old trapper’s cabin

Yukon’ comes from the Gwich’in First Nations word meaning ‘Great River’. The Yukon River begins in Marsh Lake in the Yukon and empties into the Bering Sea, in Alaska, some 3,185 km (1,980 mi) away. Paddlers, who come from all over the world, mostly concentrate on that portion of the river between Whitehorse,Yukon and Dawson City,Yukon – a distance of approximately 750 km (450mi).

In 1896, the discovery of gold near Dawson City significantly affected the human and economic history of the Yukon. The Yukon River became the main route for gold rushers as they floated, sailed, and paddled in an armada of over 7,000 boats to their dreams of adventure and wealth in the Klondike goldfields. Over the next 50 years, towns and villages sprang up along the Yukon River. Paddlewheelers carried people, supplies, and natural resources up and down its waters. When modern highways were introduced to the region in the 1950s, the river became redundant as a transportation route. Homes and entire villages moved to locations closer to the paved roads and the Yukon River was allowed to return to its natural state.

Fort Selkirk

Once you begin to canoe or kayak the river, you are transported into a world of serenity, remoteness, and connection with geological time and human history. The steep sandy banks, broad valleys, and rolling hills provide a snapshot of the erosive impact of glacial periods and rivers on shaping the land. Another great feature of paddling the river is the long hours of daylight during the summer months. It never becomes entirely dark and can take some people time to adjust sleeping patterns to the long hours of daylight. The river, although not technical, requires a command of basic fast water paddling strokes. Remoteness will require knowledge of wilderness skills; no trace camping and safe practices in bear country. For the most part, the Yukon River has few difficult or hazardous sections. Two exceptions that paddlers should school themselves with, are Lake Laberge and Five Finger Rapids.

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Lake Laberge, aligned south-north, is 50 km long and has an optimum width of 5 km and fed by glacial run-off, so the water is extremely cold. Nestled between mountains, the lake is exposed to funneled winds that can turn its waters to dangerous and unforgiving in a moment. Large waves created by these winds can easily swamp a canoe or kayak. Once capsized into its frigid waters, there is little hope of survival, unless one is close enough to reach shore. As winds are usually from west to east, it is recommended that paddlers remain close to the eastern shore of the lake. Winds and capping waves on Lake Laberge are very common. One moment it will be calm, and in the next, it can turn formidable. It may be necessary to wait out the weather on shore for hours, or potentially days, before proceeding with your paddle. Don’t underestimate the danger of this lake when the winds arise. Get as close to shore as possible and be prepared to put-in and wait it out! The danger of Five Finger Rapids, on the other hand, is that produced by a fast current, funneled between four, tall rock columns in the river. One passage, nearest the shore on river right, provides a reasonably safe route. The other passages create dangerous eddy lines and cross currents that can easily swamp a boat, regardless of one’s skill level! The current in the Yukon River averages around 10-15 kph. With such a favourable speed, it makes it a realistic goal to cover the distance between Whitehorse and Dawson City in about 16 days. For those who have less time to give, a practical alternative is to paddle as far as Carmacks, a small village that can be reached in about eight days from Whitehorse. Some paddlers will make it their destination and return in a subsequent year to complete the journey to Dawson City. Carmacks is named for one of the co-founders of the original gold claim that prompted the Klondike Goldrush of 1896-98. It is but one of the many historical reminders of the gold rush and human settlement that paddlers will see during the Whitehorse to Carmacks portion of the paddle. You can arrange with your outfitter to be picked up from Carmacks. If continuing on to Dawson City, Carmacks is the spot to re-provision for your paddle. There is a small grocery store in town that carries almost everything, including fresh veggies, fruits meats, and potable refreshments. The best historical highlight on the stretch of river between Carmacks and Dawson City is Fort Selkirk, an important settlement from the gold rush period through to the 1940s. Restored buildings stand in recognition of the community of people who were the embodiment of the pioneer spirit. It stands on the ancestral land of the Selkirk First Nations people, who welcome visitors to camp and to explore the many restored buildings. The Selkirk are very approachable and happy to share their stories with visitors. And, if you love fresh river salmon, and the season is right, ask to purchase one. Nothing compares to a wilderness meal of fresh salmon cooked over a campfire.

Five finger rapids

dangerous eddy lines

The other passages create

and cross currents that can easily swamp a boat, regardless of one’s skill level!


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The same sense of accomplishment and excitement that greets one’s arrival most surely was present

in the late 1800s.

John Firth best sums up this wilderness paddle along the Yukon River in his excellent work, ‘River Time.’ ”For a moment we find ourselves in a time warp... It is a place you can't see. You feel it. Here there is a wider sense of place - planted in our intellect by people we never met or knew and by events we never witnessed. On the Yukon River it takes hold of you as you drift around each corner and discover some new remnant of time.” Yukon River sternwheeler Evelyn

Another favoured stop for paddlers is Kirkman Creek. The onsite building is the original 1916 post office. Camping, home cooked meals, pies, bread, cookies, and jams are but few of the items available there. As the creek is still actively being worked for gold, ask to see the gold nuggets that paddlers can purchase.

The days on the river help build the anticipation of reaching Dawson City, the centre of the Klondike Gold Rush. And, then, rounding a bend in the Yukon River, Dawson City finally comes into view. The moment transcends time. The same sense of accomplishment and excitement that greets one’s arrival most surely was present in the late 1800s. Dawson City was named for Dr. George M. Dawson, the Director of the Geological Survey of Canada during the height of the Klondike Gold Rush. The gold rush had been a magnet for people trying to improve their lot during difficult economic times. Over 30,000 people populated the town at the height of the gold rush. This briefly made it the largest town north of Seattle and west of Winnipeg. Paddlers should schedule a couple days to fully explore Dawson City. Dawson represents the character and adventure of the world-famous Klondike Gold Rush. Restored buildings, period entertainment and museums will easily fill your time and appreciation for this Yukon gem.

The effects of perma frost

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INFORMATION Weather: Weather conditions in northern environments range widely between extremes. The only fact you can bet on with the weather is that it can change instantly. On any given day you may experience sunny, hot, dry weather that is interrupted by periods of rain or, on rare occasions – even snow. In general, the weather is moderate with average temperatures of 16C (62F) in July, and 14C (56F) in August.


Mosquitoes: Mosquito populations vary according to temperature, rainfall, and wind. Be prepared with mosquito repellent and a head net if mosquitoes annoy you. Consider traveling in August as cooler temperatures will reduce the mosquito population.,-133.308105&spn=7.255288,31.640625&t=m&z=6

Getting there: The most direct and convenient means of getting to

Whitehorse is via air.Three air carriers provide flights from Vancouver, British Columbia, Calgary, Alberta, and Edmonton, Alberta. Air North: Air Canada: WestJet:

Accommodation: The best source for accommodation is

Canoe outfitters: Outfitters can supply you with rental canoes, kayaks, and camping equipment.They also provide drop-off and pick-up service. Kanoe People: Up North Adventures:

Yukon guidebooks: Guidebooks that provide coordinates, campsites, history, and preparatory information can be ordered online at

Guided trips: Sea to Sky Wilderness Adventures has been leading canoeing adventures in the Yukon for 25 years.

Recommended readings:

River Time: John Firth The author gives us a uniquely valuable view of the remote Klondike as a lived experience. Firth’s grandfather participated in the goldrush. He uses his grandfather’s lost letters to bring us closer to the period, and to those whose dreams were played out on the human stage of the time. Klondike: Pierre Berton The generally acknowledged, definitive, and comprehensive look at the Klondike Goldrush of 1896-99. An enjoyable narrative that tells the story of the goldrush through the people who lived it. The Poems of Robert Service No river trip in the Yukon is complete without sharing some of Robert Service’s best northern works while drifting in your canoe or around the campfire. Be sure to include “The Spell of the Yukon”, “Cremation of Sam McGee”, and “The Shooting of Dan McGrew”.

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30,000 people

200,000 moose 17,000 bears

5,000 wolves

70 tril

‌so we were not expecting or seeking a great social life on this jaunt‌

In the summer of 2012 Mark and Jane Dixon and Steve and Debbie Johnson decided on an unguided canoe trip down the mighty Yukon River in northern Canada.


and caribou

lion mosquitoes!

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On any boating trip one of the most difficult decisions to make is how much alcohol to take; too much and a tired and emotional state can induce death by drowning, too little and small victories of a hard, tough day cannot be exaggerated and enjoyed. So we opted for two litres of the finest Cuban rum and two large cartons of wine, a sufficiency for the four of us to enjoy over the next 16 days paddle down the Yukon River, heading north to the Arctic Circle through the wilderness forests from Whitehorse to Dawson City, a distance of 460 miles. Only one small town, Carmacks of 200 odd people would be passed, otherwise there was nothing but forest, sand bars, open rock, a river that varied in width from 200 yards to two miles, Lake Labarge 30 miles long, the remains of boats and huts from the previous centuries Klondike

gold rush, rapids, latent water temperatures that still allowed ice flows to cling to the river bank and an awful lot of wildlife. Steve and Debs had brought their own canoe with them – a 17 foot Scandinavian designed collapsible craft made from a tough red ‘plastic’ skin stretched over a lightweight frame with pneumatic cells that were pumped up to give stiffness and some buoyancy, the Pakcanoe. Mark and Jane opted to hire a canary yellow 18foot Clipper Mackenzie in Whitehorse, a canoe capable of carrying huge loads. The outfitters were Kanoe People, a mixed First Nations and European family with huge experience of the Yukon. They advised where to buy our food, how the cooker worked, issued life jackets and sold us extra bits and pieces having expanded on the motto that any fool can travel uncomfortably.

Bear etiquette

Bear etiquette was explained; black and grizzly, which creatures meant that all camp cooking should be 100 yards from the campsite; if this was not possible then 10 yards and stay lucky. No consumables including toothpaste in the tents and scrupulous cleaning of pots and pans, knifes and forks. No wiping hands on trousers after catching and gutting the odd trout, no camping in areas with bear prints, no wandering off into the forest on your own. Canadians describe bear attacks as being like traffic accidents, they don’t have to happen but they do, particularly to the careless. So we had a Mace bear spray canister to squirt at them if attacked, and would sleep in the 24-hour daylight with open hunting knife and unsheathed axe at the ready, being very scared of a chum snoring and snuffling in the tent next door.

River water temperature

They also informed us that river levels were the highest they had been in 25 years, and that this would result in a lot of trees being swept into the river as banks collapsed, that these trees were big and if you hit them or they hit you then a canoe would capsize. Floating trees caused log jams, which could suck you in against them, turn you over and drown you. Trees drifting just below the surface unseen apart from a branch sticking out were potentially fatal. And, as an aside, in case it was not obvious to us tourists, the current speed had increased to between 3 to 6 knots, which caused huge whirlpools. Smiling, they said don’t worry too much about a capsize, because the river water temperature was such that one had about 10 minutes before the cold slowed the heart and limbs ceased to function and the amount of grit in the water would fill your boots and pockets very quickly, dragging you under. Great company to do business with, honesty and capitalism are not always such close bedfellows.

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We walked back to the hotel for a last night’s sleep in a bed, pausing on the way to chat to two local First Nation people, one of whom, a small swarthy, humorous, imp of a man danced the dance of bear, wolf and eagle and asked these creatures spirits to guide us, and the other, having helped himself liberally to our tobacco, opinioned that the river was too fast to paddle down and there was no way that he would even attempt it. Always good to have local alternative views before setting out, aids the digestion and settles the mind for a quiet nights kip.

If it all sounds a bit gung-ho it was not. Carefully planned, potential accidents and capsize scenarios gone over, Steve and Debs had some experience of kayak trips in remote places, Mark and Jane three other unguided canoe wilderness trips under the belt.

Skull and crossbones

We found sticks and from these wedged in the sterns of our boats we flew the ensign, fluttering as we hauled out for lunch on a huge sandy delta 30-miles from our start in Whitehorse, the massive Lake Labarge stretching ahead beyond the horizon. The lake, marked on navigation charts

with numerous skull and crossbones due to its habit of frequently drowning people each year in sudden, violent, mountain storms, was now blue calm water, sunshine sky, snow on the mountaintops, it all looked so inviting. But stick to the edge, do not be tempted to cross the many bays as change from flat immobility to four foot waves could arrive in minutes, potentially leaving relatives sweating over incomprehensible insurance forms for days. By the end of day two we were half way down the lake, sails had been hoisted, Steve as competitive as ever had raced the Clipper, stealing wind and laughing in pleasure of winning tactics. Boats were beached, tents erected, fire lit, food eaten, mosquitoes swatted and sleep ensued. By the end of day three we were all dog tired and laying on a sandy bluff where the Yukon River exits the northern limit of Lake Labarge. The wind on the lake had been kind for the first seven miles, blowing aft and allowing passage at three to four knots, but a thunder storm brewed with a speed and ferocity that had us running for shore, where we sat huddled in torrential rain until the squall passed, the sun came out, the temperature rose from 10C to 25C and the wind slewed round to head us. A gruelling, hard paddle to the lake’s end. But what a camp site, the remains of a tiny long abandoned village, a derelict Victorian telegraph station and a fur trappers wooden shack snuggled in vast forest behind us, the bones of a paddle steamer sticking through the sand, a caught 10lb Arctic Char cooking on the fire, a generous tot of rum, a cigarette to watch at midnight the sun not quite setting, a very quick skinny dip in the river.

Having reached the end of Lake Labarge we all realized we were still jet lagged, different time zones playing havoc with our senses and accidents happen with exhausted minds and bodies, causing a certain unreasonable brusqueness, best dealt with by fellow travelling companions smiling sweetly between gritted teeth in the knowledge that tomorrow it could be their turn. Time for a 24-hour rest day, chill out, a bit of mild forest walking, sketching, fishing, bird-watching and could you please pass another glass of that rather refreshing claret? The 30-mile gorge that carries crystal clear water from the lake’s end to the confluence of the Yukon with the Teslin River is a vision of Eden. Wildlife unperturbed by our presence; eagles watch our small passage, grayling jump in shallows and riffles, red squirrels investigate cooking utensils, the odd moose turns head in bemusement as the current carries us along.

Fizzing lemonade

And then, there is the Teslin entering the stream to the right, doubling the size of the river, carrying sediment loads from the flooded basin causing an audible scratching hum like fizzing lemonade to the canoes hull and massive trees swept from the washed out river banks are coming down at three knots, a quantity of probably 50 tons of timber an hour, roots and branches intact, some 70ft long turning in the whirlpools and currents. But we are safe in a grassy clearing on the side of the river, campsite made, the penultimate fresh meat of huge steaks sizzle on the fire. And in the forest the Evelyn, a130ft sternwheeler that almost a century ago had been pulled ashore and left high and dry when the gold rush ended. Rudders and boilers still in place, we climbed to the bridge and wondered at the mastery of captains that managed to steer these colossal boats up and down the river, with all the dangers of rocks, sandbanks, rapids and wind to contend with without aid of radios, radar or any other electronics we now use.

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Lake Labarge, Yukon

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, s e t la p r e n in d s a ig b s a s t in r p f o o h e s Moo ThePaddler 64

lowed the palm al sw at th ts in pr w bear pa

, ly e v li o s s id p a r the

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From tomorrow we all must be more aware of the hazards, look out for the river’s cargo, learn to anticipate and read mighty swirls and eddy lines, realize that potential camp sites might be 30 miles or more apart and keep an eye to navigation charts to stay in the main stream as the river divides into a maze of multiple channels, each with a high probability of deadly log jams. In the event we quickly learnt that one could hear the log jams half a mile before seeing them; they roared in protest as water swept through, over or around them, a few fast lessons in the power of these death traps caused the lower bowel to clench and upper arms to thrash out a bit more power.

Biblical experience

But over the next few days we basked in glorious sunshine, donned waterproofs for the regular afternoon thunderstorm, had hearty two course breakfasts, three course lunch often taken while rafted together and all looked forward to Steve’s gourmet dinners followed by rum and hot chocolate. And at the end of each day’s paddle the less shy would strip off for a near biblical experience of a wash in the river, sucking in breath as the intense cold water shrunk the vitals as oxters were cleansed and well being ensued. We would stop on occasion for a walk in the forest or find an open grassy meadow so full of colourful wild flowers, huge butterflies, bees, beetles, insects, that one was forced to wonder what England had been like before the onslaught of insecticide and pesticide, those commercial offshoots of gassing soldiers in the First World War. Moose hoof prints as big as dinner plates, bear paw prints that swallowed the palm, vast areas of burnt forest caused by lightening strikes that might take an hour to paddle past; this was a huge landscape and a far cry from the gentle saltmarsh of the Blackwater.

We spent two days at Carmacks, the half way point between Whitehorse and Dawson, resting up, eating in a little café, chatting and drinking with other Arctic travellers and now on the river once more we headed for Five Finger Rapids, four hours away. The owner of the café said he had never seen the river so high, the rapids so lively, so many trees in the river. We were all different characters, some approached the rapids with glee and excitement, others with phlegm, still others with words about excrement and bricks. A mile away from the rapids the roar of water could be heard as the five fingers, huge, huge rocks piercing out of the river divided the flow into separate channels, narrowing the river to a third of a mile wide; we must take the one on the far right, all those to the left were fatal. Get right, stay right, the current speed picked up and up, must paddle faster than the current or there is no steerage.

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Onto the Downtown Hotel to drink the local tradition,

a Sourtoe cocktail

Half way through the rapids, which are about 500 yards long, a side channel enters to the left and can sweep you into huge, vicious overflows, so enter far right then paddle with all your strength to the left. Five knots, ten knots, twelve knots, the roar of the water filled the ears, the canoes bucked and crashed in the waves, spray was shooting up from the bows, crash, bang, paddle, paddle, paddle, 15 knots and the rapid spat us out into calmer water. We raft up; we all had a tot of rum then another tot and another cigarette. Spirits are always so terribly high after such excitements. Our journey continued for another eight days through what must be amongst the most spectacular scenery on the planet, through a continuous wilderness forest that would stretch west to east from London to India and north to south from Scotland to Algeria. We drifted past Eagles Rock, the red core of a long extinct volcano. We had read to not utter a word from the time it came into view to the time it was hidden by yet another meander; the consequence of any talk was extreme winds and death by drowning. We were animal quiet for an hour. The weather was warm, shorts and shirts, girls in bikini tops, toenails red painted dipping in the stream, boys agog at bears seeming to cling to cliff faces. We climbed through dense trees up the side of a mountain to see wide-eyed, the massive White River pour into the Yukon, the water like liquid chalk from ancient volcanic ash deposits. In a little stream armed with frying pans and bowls, giggling we panned for gold. And on one occasion a thunderstorm of titanic ferocity and power with lightening striking first one side of the gorge and then the other, the thunder booming, the skies black, rain drops the size of pebbles, a wind howling into our faces. We had no option but to grit teeth and paddle and grunt into the tempest. It was a scene worthy of the Old Testament, and should have had a sound track from the heavens played by Pink Floyd. Only it didn’t, but on the other side of the gorge was sunshine and calm, a curtain of weather divide that should not exist. We camped one night on an island and helped with the monitoring of those strong enough and crazy enough to take part in the Yukon Challenge, a

canoe and kayak race from Whitehorse to Dawson involving continuous paddling for up to three days with only one compulsory seven-hour rest. Single, double, four man, six man vessels thrash along this river with the top boats finishing the 460 miles in under 48 hours. We had a beer with the winning Australian team in Dawson, good old boys they were too. On the last night on the river our chosen campsite had been washed away, it was the final clear area before Dawson and it was raining with an increasing wind. We had no choice but to haul out on a sodden, sandy, low, flat, island with limited willow tree cover and pitch the tents. But the island had bear prints on, fresh bear prints. Don’t tell the girls but gather all the wood we could find, use the emergency firelighters and consume the last dregs of wine, final dribble of rum and as flames lit us up the last of our food was eaten watching a moose swim past in the current.

Klondike River

Just before Dawson City is the Klondike River, a clear shallow more gentle watercourse than its mighty sister the Yukon. It had to be done, we might be only a mile from our finish, but we just had to be, as far as we knew, the first from Mersea to paddle up this legend. So we did, only for a couple of hundred yards, but up the Klondike we went, turned round and drifted into the sheltered water of the little Dawson Harbour. And so ashore, to clean and pack our boats, bin all plastic, glass and tins from our journey, carry along timber boardwalk lined dirt streets, gear and kit to our lodgings, Klondike Kates, a converted brothel. Onto the Downtown Hotel to drink the local tradition, a Sourtoe cocktail, to a spirit of your choice the mummified human toe of a long dead prospector is added, and while a short poem is read so the drink is drunk as toe touches lips. Forward again to Diamond Toothed Gerties, a casino and dance hall where the girls are burlesque dressed, locals all gold miners and trappers, men bearded and stetsoned with lumberjack shirts, to leave in the Arctic dawn in a very happy and relaxed frame of mind.

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but impossible to forget!

Sabina Delcassian reflects on the loss of Silverback on the White Nile. It has been two years since the Bujagali section of the White Nile has been dammed leaving many sections of excellent white water submerged in a lake.The area has adapted though, and boat cruises, zip lines, motor boating and various other water based activities have all taken off.

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To quote Sam Ward who owns Nile based 'Love it Live it' and ‘Kayak the Nile, with his fiance Emily Wall – “It is a dam shame”. The Silverback section was an excellent section of whitewater. But that shouldn’t put you off! The white water on the Nile is still world class, and the 'day 2' section should not be overlooked! Uganda itself does have so much more to offer too. Check out this link below to see what a couple of UK based boaters are up to in an effort to improve the reputation of Uganda, and sell the country they love as a tourist destination. hp/entertainment/adamrelief Here Sabina Delcassian reminisces about the Silverback section's climax, and reason it got its name – the Silverback rapid.

Story: Sabina Delcassian and Dave Burne Photos: Dave Burne and ‘Team Oestrogen’ (Amy Simcock, Niamh Stack, Lucy Huddart).

Team Oestrogen

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What can I say about Silverback?

Perhaps the most anticipated, exciting, and exhilarating rapid on the run. Whenever you did a ‘Silverback’ run, despite there being four other big, heart-topping rapids before it, Silverback was the only one anyone would ever question you about. “How was Silverback today?” My first time on Silverback is probably the overriding memory I have of paddling the White Nile in Uganda, and the story I tell the most whenever anyone questions me about my time there. It was our first time on both sections of the Nile in one day. We decided to follow the rafts down, so paddled both day one and day two sections, with Dave Burne (whom kindly agreed to show us the lines; poor him!) leading the way.

Paddling Silverback

We eddied out a bit before Silverback, but I could hear the roar of the water and my heart began to pound. Dave’s advice at the top eludes me now, but it must have been something along the lines of “paddle hard and just keep rolling” as that’s exactly what ensued when I attempted to tackle it. Even thinking about my experiences now, my heart is beating faster and sweat beads my palms, I wish more than anything I were about to paddle it for the first time again. Paddling Silverback is like nothing I have ever experienced or ever will again most likely, now it’s sadly been lost. As you enter the rapid the water pearls down beautifully, seemingly unhurried in its course, giving it a serene quality. This is quickly dispelled by the truly enormous wave which rises up almost immediately afterwards, forcing you to forget its beauty and concentrate on putting everything you ever learned about paddling into practice.

Another successful late evening run of

As you crest the wave (a triumph in itself – many are defeated by even this first wave!) you’re given an unparalleled view of the river and magnificent surroundings. Unfortunately this also ensures you’re able to see the three waves which follow the first, all of which seem menacingly close! The next few moments are a blur of churning whitewater (as well as my stomach) as you struggle against the waters desire to toss your boat like it weighs little more than a feather in Silverback!

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the wind. Unfortunately I lost this battle at the second wave, resulting in the rest of my run being a test of the capacity of my lungs to hold as much oxygen as possible! Rolling up at the end, after I had felt the third and fourth waves crash on top of me, I glanced behind me and was truly awed by what I felt I had accomplished. Not being the most talented boater it was an achievement for me to run silverback and not swim, I was so proud I didn’t have to down any swim beers that evening! Ultimately, what saddens me most about the loss of Silverback is the raw natural power of the rapid (I once saw it suck a rocker helmet off someone when they’d gone over!) which has now vanished. With the benefits a dam can bring to a community, it seems selfish of me to lament the loss of one rapid, when thousands if not more people will gain from its disappearance. Yet a small part of me mourns the fact that from now on, no boater will have the truly extraordinary experience of paddling Silverback that I feel honoured to have been able to be part of.

Uganda hopes to see you soon!


Dave Burne proves there are still rapids left to scare yourselves on!

A sunset session at Superhole (another playhole that will remain) - Dave Burne

A Dam Relief

Uganda is going to change, Africa is going to change, and the world is going to change. Sit and watch or join the discussion. Together we can lead that change. Sam Ward and Max Bilbow look to the future and what it means for this region of Uganda.

Silverback 1, Paddler 0 - Joe Rea Dickens

for more information.

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Silverback, The White Nile

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In 2008, Sam Ward and Max Bilbow, with the cooperation of many others, produced a movie called ‘A Dam Shame’. This movie was a politically neutral tribute to the rapids that were to be lost after the construction of the Bujagali/Silverback dam (watch on Vimeo or YouTube). The film, with its positive message about the fun, love and beauty of the area, was watched by thousands of kayakers and succeeded in raising awareness (and thus increasing business) for companies like Kayak The Nile, Love it Live it and rafting companies that provide services for the film’s audience.

The problem

However, once the dam was completed, the prevailing message that spread through magazine articles and social media was that the White Nile was now dead and gone; lives changed (ruined) forever. However, anyone in Jinja knows that this is simply not the case. The river is still here and now there is a beautiful new lake with even more activities popping up; not to mention the vast number of Ugandans that now benefit from employment at the dam and other new projects. Not one safety kayaker or raft guide lost their job!

The mission

So Max and Sam were going to make a sequel to ‘A Dam Shame’ called ‘A Dam Relief’; a film that focusses on the amazing whitewater, and other activities and opportunities, that still remain – specifically the local Ugandan heroes who have achieved so much. But then we realized that we couldn’t make a film that short or concise since there is SO MUCH STILL THERE!

around with regards to Uganda: kidnappings, pirates, war, hate, muggings.... we hear this in the news, yes, though not in Uganda and DEFINITELY not at Bujagali, Jinja. A Dam Relief will be creative media project, officially beginning in May this year and culminating in October during the Nile River Festival and Uganda’s 50th anniversary of independence. It will be an umbrella for responsible sustainable tourism in Jinja and spreading to other parts of Uganda as well. While the production team is in Jinja, they will make many short videos (promotions, humorous sketches, stories, documentaries) for individuals, companies and just for fun. This is not a project to show off western kayakers and film makers – Ugandans will be and already are, heavily involved in the ideas and productions. The chief of Bujagali Village and the Jinja police are intrigued by this project and how it can benefit their beautiful and beloved town. The idea is to create conversation and ‘buzz’ with these high-quality videos on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

All this around a central idea

Uganda is alive, vibrant, growing, safe and full of fun. Even if all you do here as a tourist is enjoy yourself at the bar, you are making lives better for Ugandans. Sustainable tourism, dams aren’t always bad, come to Uganda! A Dam Relief will be a megaphone for the right ideas – the good ideas – and we will all benefit.

So ‘A Dam Relief’ will only be the climax of an enormous co-operative media campaign that will dispel all the misinformation floating




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The river is still here and now there is a with even more activities popping up

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How can I help? There are many things you can do but the first is simple: watch, listen and talk; spread the word. Like the Facebook page and updates will arrive when they are ready:

Come to Uganda! The next big thing, and this is huge:

Come this summer and be a part of the legacy we’re creating. Kayak, raft, bungee jump, ride a horse, drive a quad-bike, get in a jetboat, SUP, help build a school with Soft Power, drink, eat and love. But basically: know that this is happening.

See you there!

Planning a trip t

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Everything you need to know‌

to Uganda?

I have been asked a few times recently about trips to Uganda and how to plan, so I’ve decided to share some in-depth info and travelling advice on a trip there.

By Andrew Regan Photos: Dan Rea Dickens

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kind of bag cover,

Always cover your boats and paddles in some

use a roof strap to make a nice handle

Right, you’ve made the decision to go to Uganda; first off fair play it’s a great choice! It is an indescribable place; you just have to experience it for yourself! I’d recommend it to anybody with a pretty solid roll! Water levels are prime for 365 days of the year! First stop is to the health clinic where all details for injections for Uganda can be found here. These injections are expensive but most will cover you for up to ten years. If you are planning a trip for less then two months I recommend getting the Malerone malaria tablets. They are more expensive but the best, other types can mess with your stomach and energy levels. Next are your flights. I can only really talk for Ireland but the main advice is obvious, the earlier you book the cheaper flights are. Both times I have travelled with Aer Lingus to Brussels and flown direct to Entebbe from there. Brussels airlines are great, hassle free and very friendly. Contact Kayak the Nile where Sam and Emily will be delighted to book your flights through their contacts, this gets you the cheapest option with your boat and extra baggage included free of charge. There are other possibly cheaper options. Emirates fly from London to Dubai and then down to Entebbe whilst others fly with Ethiopian airlines. Do your own research and find the cheapest, reliable choice for you.


Always cover your boats and paddles in some kind of bag cover, use a roof strap to make a nice handle. It protects them and saves questions! If you have bulky items like a towel or a hoodie tape it to your paddles, this saves space and provides protection! On arrival almost every nationality will have to pay 50€ Visa to enter the country. Ireland has a waiver to this and entry is free. Winning straight off the bat! Organize with Kayak the Nile for a shuttle from the airport. Tell them what time your flight is getting in and they will pick you up and drive you to the river, which is a two-hour journey. In this time you will become slightly accustomed to the madness that is the roads. 120,000 shillings for small car, 150,000 shillings for big car. (33€/42€).


You really have two choices now that the Dam has flooded the Silverback section at Bujagali. Most people opt for the Hairy Lemon, which is pure tropical paradise, with monkeys, birds and delicious food. The price for the Lemon has gone up in recent times; this is mainly down to the vast improvement in food and the addition of flushing toilets and showers. It costs 55,000 Ugandan Shillings a night, which is 15.50€. Not bad for three full meals and the evening meal is always two course. If you want to live ultra cheap there is the option of living in the local village and it seems to be pretty cool living among the locals. The downside is preparing your own food with the lack of any electricity. Standard thing to do is to set up your tent within a mud hut. This is possibly the better option if you plan to be in Uganda for a few months or more.

The river

The river now starts below the Bujagali Dam. A great run on the first day is from Kalagala down to the Lemon! There will be somebody who you can bribe for a couple of beers to show you the lines down the river as there are a lot of channels to get lost on! Kalagala is a very intimidating first rapid, where to run the line on the right seems crazy but is good to go. If you don’t fancy it your first day you can get on below no problem. There are six rapids on this section down to the Lemon! All are safe as houses with ginormous waves, 28 degrees water – awesome! Stay in the middle of the rapids and shoot is generally the aim of the game. On the sides you will find big boils and whirlpools! Hold your breath and wait it out, they will let you go! Go up higher on the river and session Superhole, a tremendous freestyle spot for all hole and wave moves! Once you are done there you have a flat section before the river splits into three sections. Hug the left bank and get out to inspect Kalagala. Hug the right bank and get out well before Itanda, some spectacular views of this rapid. Down the middle is Hypoxia! Worth a scout someday, it is a crazy piece of white water, but this is done from downstream.

Hold your breath

On the sides you’ll find big and whirlpools!

and wait it out, they will let you go!

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At the top of the river now is the Dead Dutchman with Overtime on river right. The Dutchman is a rapid I have yet to run, it takes 90% of the water flow of the Nile and is massive. There is an absolute must make move at the top and the fact you can’t scout the rapid very well did put me off. After the move it seems a lucky dip on whether you come through unscathed or on the verge of puking while coming through the huge crashers and whirlpools. It’s one on my bucket list.

Having said this no feeling in a kayak has bettered the sensation of styling this rapid on the occasions that I have. Looking up from below at what you just did is outstanding! Get somebody reliable to follow and go for it, just make sure somebody is filming from river right.

Overtime is a nice run in low water but is pretty full on in high water.

The Nile has numerous waves, usually Club wave works in the morning and Nile special works in the evening as the power demand goes up and the dam releases more water. Hair of the Dog waves works on very low water and Malalu works on very high water, so wave boating is guaranteed!

Itanda is the most infamous rapid on the Nile probably because of how much it is run. I have had three white water swims since I started kayaking and Itanda has claimed two of them! It is harder on higher water then on lower water, a minefield of massive white holes with an obvious line and three or four moves required.

If you are looking to be professionally guided on the river and get the best freestyle coaching in the world look no further then Kayak the Nile owners Emily and Sam to help with all logistics of your trip and improve your boating no matter what level you are at. They run trips through Love it, Live it!

What to bring

A difficult question between what’s essential and what is handy! I’ll try to be balanced here!

Bring a credit card and make sure it’s a Visa card, heard of MasterCard’s being swallowed up like crazy! Ring Visa and your bank before you go and tell them you are going to Uganda! My Lasercard only worked in certain bank links.

First Aid kits for cuts and make sure you have disinfectant! Almost all medications are available without a prescription over the counter. Tip: Check out Valium for the flight home, an eighthour flight feels like half an hour.

Bug spray, bugs aren’t too bad there but they can be annoying at night, I’d suggest bring a pair of longer pants for evening time. Always wear decent footwear; you don’t know what you may be stepping on! Everybody bring a spare paddle, it is powerful water and has broken many paddles. Don’t overload with clothes, you can buy t-shirts and ridiculous things at the famous Jinja market if you need extras. Sleeping bag.

A tent if you are on a budget trip, which will keep you dry. If you are lucky you will get to see some amazing tropical storms while you are there and the rain really pounds down! A throw bag is handy to tie boats to a truck on the way back from the downstream wave Malalu, but not much else to be perfectly honest. Washing line?

Cameras and spare batteries, you will regret it if you don’t. ‘The river is like something off the National Geographic channel’ Moe Kelleher on his first spin down the river. Laptop can be handy if you own one, you can get wireless Internet about 50 minutes from where you will be staying in Jinja, my favourite town in the world.

Airbags for your boat, especially if you plan to take on any of the bigger rapids!

Small things like cable ties and duct tape always come in handy!

No need for pillow’s or sleeping mat! Buy a mattress in Jinja as soon as you can, they are very comfy and cheap! Just give it to one of the local children before you leave! A rash vest is nice on the rare occasion it rains!

Bring an unlocked phone or buy one between a few of you there. The network MTN works well from the hill on the Hairy Lemon Island, you can buy credit really cheap and call home easy! Roof strap.

Unless you have Spanish ancestors, bring sun cream; small ones that fit in your BA are the best. Your tent acts as a mosquito and other bugs net, do not under any circumstances leave it open. If you go, you will get the waterborne parasite, which causes schistosomiasis. No big deal but it needs to be treated. Buy the one-day cure in any Ugandan pharmacy for a couple of Euro (costs over €100 in Ireland), it’s called praziquantel. Wait three months after you are home and then take the treatment, don’t forget this.

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Other advice

Strengthen your shoulders before you come, push ups etc. Especially if you plan on surfing Club wave and Nile Special, which I am sure you do. An injury on the first day could spoil your trip.

Your main form of transport will be by motorbike (Boda Boda) and a dodgy looking local. Forget the river or any poisonous snakes, this will the most dangerous and often the most fun part of your trip. Wear your helmet. Pick a good boda boda driver and stick with him. Build up a rapport and you will no longer need to haggle on prices. They will all try to rip you off, but in a good-humoured way. My last time, a boda tried to charge me 150,000 shillings for a 3,000 shillings journey! Know the price that others pay for things and stick with it, don’t be afraid to haggle. Although it’s cool to look at, don’t take pictures of Owen Falls Dam in Jinja, it is heavily guarded and stories of guards smashing cameras have emerged. The police have been known to be corrupt! My friend Joe once got fined for driving with sandals, luckily the guard didn’t spot the other people hiding in the raft on the roof.

Check out what else Uganda has to offer. We went on a Safari in Murchison Park – it was spectacular. Cheapest way to do this is to arrange your own driver instead of going through the companies. Travelling to Jinja from Hairy Lemon. Best way is to get a boda boda to the nearest town called Nazigo (3,000 ugs) and then a Matatu (mini bus) to Jinja (4,000 ugs). Charging equipment on the Lemon is all-solar powered and does not last long, so bring your stuff to Source café, have an Internet session and charge your stuff.


If you are having a day off go to the Nile Resort. Five star facilities, swimming pool with a bar, delicious food (try the Nile perch fish) and it only costs two euro to use.

Buy a ridiculous suit and have a night in Jinja Casino, you are playing with small cash for us but you feel like a high roller! Free beers accompany your participation! Go mad! Barry ended up winning two million shillings over a couple of nights in Jinja casino, be warned it can be addictive it is so much craic! Parties are still epic in the rafting company hub in Bugagali, especially on weekends.Treat your hangovers to some delicious Chiapatis, (nutella and banana one is awesome). Check out my video on Uganda if you haven’t seen it.

I know that is a ton of information but I hope it proves useful. If you are still considering Uganda as a destination, don’t think twice, do it! You won’t regret it.

Kayaking Holidays for groups in Tirol Including: > Transfer & shuttle service > Top quality equipment > Great accommodation to suit all budgets > For groups of 3 to 7 paddlers

Come and enjoy the amazing rivers of Tirol! l l +43 650 8610959 To advertise email: or call +44 (0)1480 465081

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A foot in both camps By Phil Carr

How about having a kayak that you can easily tour sheltered coastal water and lakes with a load of kit one day and then run white water the next?

A short creek style thing kayakthen is nothing newmight and Pyranha themselves developed If that is your what you want to consider is getting a the very successful Microbat series a number of years I owned a Pyranha cross-over kayak.This area of the market hasago. grown a great deal overMicrobat for years always enjoyed the way paddled, I was keen to give the the and last couple of years with all ofitthe majorso manufactures bringing outNano a try. Northshore Watersports kindly allowed me toplatform. loan their demo Nano. their own versions of the cross-over

By Phil Carr

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How about having a kayak that you can easily tour sheltered coastal water and lakes with a load of kit one day and then run whitewater the next. If that is your thing then what you might want to consider is getting a cross-over kayak.This area of the market has grown a great deal over the last couple of years with all of the major manufactures bringing out their own versions of the cross-over platform. Wave Sport have taken this concept a little further and have designed what they term as a ‘River Trekking’ kayak. River trekkers are designed to carry your kit for multiday trips and run whitewater.They have the storage and capacity of a touring kayak but have the features that you would find on many river running kayaks. At first glance the Ethos doesn’t look like a white water kayak.The length and shape of the kayak is reminiscent of something you would see on a lake or canal but the Ethos has been designed from the ground up with white water capability in mind.

Two outfitting specifications

The Ethos is available in two outfitting specifications.The top end spec includes the fantastic Core WW system found in Recon and other Wave Sport WW kayaks.The Ethos I tried had the River Cruising specification, which is still pretty good, with a peg footrest system, ratchet back band, and various pads make it a very comfy kayak.The alternative specification includes Wave Sport’s excellent Core Whiteout outfitting system that is found within its creekers and playboats. The grab loops at the bow and stern are made from a combination of webbing and molded plastic and sit proud of the deck to aid water shedding.This is quite a departure from the designs that are currently out there that utilize some sort of metal security bar.The webbing system is definitely more comfortable to carry the boat with and work well.There is a metal security bar that sits approximately half way along the front deck.

Drop down skeg

On the water the Ethos tracks well and is very easy to get up to speed. In addition to its natural ability to hold a straight line the Ethos has a drop down skeg that aids the Ethos to track really well even in strong side winds. I found this to be a really useful part of the system and was very easy to engage and disengage through the use of a pull cord/cleat located on the rear deck.

The Ethos has a large water proof hatch in the stern and although I didn’t camp over night I did load up the Ethos with a couple of days worth of kit to see how the kayak would perform on the water fully loaded up. Apart from when carrying the kayak the additional weight wasn’t noticed.The Ethos sat well on the water and remained well balanced. If you did wish to carry a load that had some serious weight to it you may have to move the seat forward to reset the trim.

are designed to carry your kit for multiday trips and run whitewater. This is what Wave Sport says about the Ethos River Cruise

The Ethos-RC is a stable, forgiving, performance-minded crossover platform that offers a confidencebuilding introduction to paddling in up to class III white water. The hull is manoeuvrable in rapids, yet tracks well on flat water with the help of a drop down skeg system. The Ethos-RC offers outstanding comfort on long, multi-day river treks due to the roomy cockpit, sizeable gear-storage space and Wave Sport's trusty black outfitting system. ETHOS 9 SPECIFICATIONS: Length: 291cm (9'7")

Width: 65cm (25.75")

Volume: 303 Litres (80 gal) Weight: 24kg (52 lbs)

Weight range: 41-91kg (90-200 lbs) ETHOS 10 SPECIFICATIONS: Length: 312cm (10'3") Width: 69cm (27")

Volume: 379 Litres (100 gal) Weight: 25kg (54 lbs)

Weight range: 68-118kg (150-260 lbs) RRP: £650

CORE WW version RRP: £899

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River trekkers

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However, if over laden any kayak can become difficult to paddle so it is best to try and stay close the recommended load weight (inc. paddler). Between the hatch and the cockpit is a bungee cord system that allows the quick storage of kit. Personally I can’t see that I would use this system very often, and certainly not on white water, but can perhaps see it may be of use on calmer waters to store a sun hat or cag.


Like many white water kayaks the Ethos has a rocker and strong edges, and as result the Ethos handles the white stuff really well.The Ethos certainly isn’t going to compete with a play boat or dedicated river runner in the white water capability stakes, but it certainly is not a barge. For a cross-over kayak the Ethos is quite agile, it tracks well and punches through stoppers with relative ease. Breaking in/out is very straight forward, as is surfing and sitting in a stopper where its rocker and progressive chine comes into play.

Wave Sport have managed to blend two different genres of the sport into a kayak that is highly versatile and will appeal to a wide section of the kayak market. If you’re a paddler who spends a bit of time on the flat but also likes to run whitewater and may even complete multi-day trips from time to time then the Ethos from Wave Sport is well worth checking out.

For a cross-over kayak the Ethos is quite agile, it tracks well and

punches through

stoppers with relative ease

Photos: Phil Carr and Clare Harris

Main Image: ©





6$%( 6 $%( 7HO 7HO





6$%( 6 $%( 7HO 7HO


Fatyak Mahee ThePaddler 98

First look and rigging for fishing A nice green Mahee arrived last week for review. I place orders for rod holders and seats direct from Fatyak. The extra hardware I needed, anchor trolley, rivets, bolts and nyloks etc were ordered from the ever reliable Neil at H2O. Execellent service and delivery as ever. ByTerry Wright (

Two seating areas with the standard moulded footrests and each paddler has a sealed storage area.

Note an improvement from the Kaafu is a drainage channel in the foot area to speed the flow of water to the scuppers.

In front of each storage is the mould bung with a surrounding flat area, perfect for accessories. Note the lids are secured to a screw point in the hull.

The rear seat also has a shallow recess for keeping loose bits and bobs plus a further flat area just right for a fishfinder.

The storage lids are really tight, great for keeping them dry but hard to open. A quick spray of silicon and add a tag of string and life is much easier.

There are loads of loops and pad-eyes for accessories and seats these are all good quality and bolted to 'encapsulated threads making them quality fixings.

Fresh from the bag this looks and feels a very well made kayak but not quite a fishing kayak for me yetâ&#x20AC;Ś





So first and easiest was changing the bungee on the rear. As fitted it is a zig-zag through pad-eyes but on the Kaafu I found it a bit awkward for me. So for the Mahee I took the bungee out, cut it in half and re-tied it with a hook in the middle of each length. As you will see the straps can now be removed and pulled over items in the well.

I had brought a couple of Ram 324 ball joint rod holders direct from Fatyaks. Four 5mm drill holes made. Note the recessed area has come in handy already.

Next was getting access to the inside of the hull. If you have a Dremel style tool just fit a little metal disc cutter and 5 minutes on each of the storage holes and you have access to the sides of the hull and the flate areas previously mentioned for accessories.

Four blobs of sealant, four stainless bolts and nyloks (have a ring spanner handy) and the ball is secure just a wipe with a damp cloth to tidy up,

The Mahee:

This model came with the a pair of rod holders behind the rear seat and in the bows. They are fitted in moulded flat recessed areas, the rear set are placed in the standard place but the front ones are a bit of a reach for the fuller figure like mine, they may suit slimmer people better. They are however ideal for carrying rods clear of the deck area and safe from paddling. I would recommend fitting a rod holder on the mold bung though. The Mahee is the big sister to the already popular and respected Kaafu â&#x20AC;&#x201C; a single seater.

The Mahee is capable of taking two adults and a child in the middle. Specifications:

Length: 3850mm (12ft 6") Width: 830 mm

Height: 390 mm


Weight: 30kgs

Next came the anchor trolley.

As with the Kaafu I went for the easy option and brought a set from H2O Kayaks which comes with rope, pad-eyes, pulleys, rivets and nuts, zig zag cleat and a large plastic ring. I added the now standard carabiner for versatility. I also added two bungee loops. Two 5mm holes either end and a blob of sealant for the padeyes. I threaded the bungee through before pulling the rivets through. At this point I should say how much I like the H2O trifold rivets, they have added silicone and neoprene for better seals. Neil still recommends a blob of sealant though. prene+Gasket%29+Pack+6 See the results overleafâ&#x20AC;Ś

Capacity: 200 kgs

The hull has adequate drainage via 10 scuppers and those in the rear footwell have a recess in the bottom to suit a transducer.

There is, just like on the Kaafu, shaping on the hull to give a skeg effect. If it works as well as on the Kaafu I will be pleased.

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Fatyak Mahee ThePaddler 100

Rigged and on the waterâ&#x20AC;Ś The kayak, Ruk seats and Ram 340 rod holders from Fatyak direct: Trolley kit, and fixings from H2O kayaks:

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More than just a one trick pony

Whilst I have shown it as fishing kayak the Mahee would make a great family kayak.

It is very a stable and dry ride. Recently on a fishing trip we had two on board with a total paddler weight including drysuits and PFDs of around 180kgs and still there was no water in the cockpit. It should be said that with myself at 100kgs as a lone paddler in the rear seat the bows lifted, as would be expected. Even so the Mahee still paddled well, but a cross wind would probably affect tracking but as soon as a second paddler boarded it sat nicely in the water. I was surprised at the turn of speed achieved when a second paddler’s muscle was added. This was where the flared bow rolled the wave back nicely once again keeping things nice and dry.

The new Fatyak Mahee

The brand new Fatyak Mahee is a versatile kayak w proven hull design ensuring the perfect balance bet stability and manoeuvrability. The Mahee is designe used as a tandem kayak with the lighter paddler sitt the front, however due to its flexible seating design paddled solo by sitting in the centre position or used family 3 seater with room for a child in the centre po

For the fisherman amongst you the Mahee has som unique and important features. 2 forward facing rod holders for the frontman, 2 rearward facing rod mou for the back, 2 centre mounts for scottie type rod ho a fish finder mount and scupper holes suitable for th transducer and 2 easy access trays for knives, scissors, hooks and weights etc.

The Mahee is a very stable kayak, which would make any parent feel confident that they could take a youngster or nervous partner out with them with them. There is adequate storage for a dry bag with blanket and packed lunch for a pleasant day paddle. This is a kayak that will please families or, with the addition of rod holders, anglers. The Mahee is a versatile vessel at a competitive price from an up and coming British manufacturer with colours to suit even the most extrovert paddler. My grandkids cannot wait for the warmer weather to get it wet. I am sure that like the Kaafu, the Mahee will find a lot of fans. I cannot wait to see what is next in the Fatyak portfolio.


"First a few caveats, because it would be really hard to d Pollack are biting (yum!) and the wildlife is plentiful (one didn’t disappoint. Apart from being exquisitely beautiful ( way out and went a lot further than we were expecting) carry (I even managed to load it on to the car on my own box and the dry storage hatches provide extra storage s exploring and fishing, it’s more than enough."

"Talking of fishing, the fishing rod holders at the front req rather they were there than not present at all. The fishin make it a fabulous platform to fish from. We didn’t catch pleasant to be (bearing in mind all the caveats previous for dinner to discover just how many hours had passed.

"In summary then, the Fatyak Mahee is beautiful, practic two-seater kayak, whether you want to fish from it or no Kind regards, Charis & Matthew

FatYak Kayaks Tel. 01984 632026

e 2/3 Seater Sit on Top Kayak!

with a tween ed to be ting in it can be d as a osition.

me d unts olders, he

dislike a kayak when paddling on calm seas under blue skies around the coast of Pembrokeshire while the e inquisitive grey seal and a young sunfish). Having said that, Fatyak’s new Mahee still had to do its job and it (I just adore the yellow colour!), it’s very stable, deceptively sleek (we were paddling against the tide on the and very spacious. It’s also not that much heavier than the Kaafu so it’s easily light enough for two people to n). The storage section at the rear is smaller than that of the Kaafu, but it’s still large enough for a small cool space. You’re going to find it difficult to circumnavigate Britain with this much storage space, but for days out

quire a little bit of gymnastic flexibility from the forward paddler, but I’ve no idea where else they could go so I’d ng rod holders at the back are perfectly placed for the rear paddler and, combined with the Mahee’s stability, h anything for two or three hours after launching, but we only realised this in retrospect. The Mahee is such a sly mentioned) that time just flew by and it was quite a shock to look at the clock after bagging enough Pollack ."

ical and comfortable and I have absolutely no hesitation in recommending it to anyone thinking of purchasing a ot."

All Fatyak kayaks are manufactured in accordance to BS7852 in Somerset, England. ISO 9001,14001, 18001 accredited manufacturer.

ThePaddler 104

Simon Everett gives us an introduction on how


Pike thrive on neglect. From an angling point of view this means that the more inaccessible the water the better the fishing is likely to be. Even on well-fished water the more difficult to access corners, or water that is out of casting range, will be much quieter and probably offer better chances of catching a really good fish. There is one simple expedient in the secret to finding quieter water, legwork or in our case paddlework. Where a kayak comes into its own is on those larger expanses of water where there are great distances to cover or where the water can be whipped up by the wind into a nasty chop

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ThePaddler 106

A kayak

is a versatile and seaworthy craft, a three-foot chop on an exposed Scottish loch is of little consequence to a kayak built to take on rough sea conditions.A kayak is far more capable than many people think and I would rather be in a rough sea in a kayak than a small boat. On a lake, or the open end of Loch Lomond, a kayak will handle the conditions when small boats have to run for cover. I have been caught in some serious tidal overfalls at sea, where the waves were breaking and over 10 feet high so there is nothing an inland waterway can throw up that a good fishing kayak cannot deal with.

For pike fishing, where you do not intend to cover more than a couple of miles in a day, any of the fishing kayaks will be fine. If, like me, you intend to cover larger stretches of water, then a faster, slimmer kayak will prove to be a worthwhile investment as they are less tiring to paddle and will cope with more adverse conditions. I spent a day on loch Awe with a friend when the wind was blowing down the loch in our faces and creating standing waves with white tops, we covered over 18 miles of the loch that day, measured by our GPS units. We found a few fish and had a memorable paddle on top. That is thing about kayak fishing, you must enjoy the kayaking part or it will soon become a bind if you only treat the kayak as a fishing platform.

One of the great joys of kayak fishing for pike is the intimacy you have with your surroundings, the elements and the fish. There is also an advantage in fishing from a kayak. The fish do not seem to scare in the same way they do from a boat. I have had fish use the kayak as cover in the shallows! You can approach basking pike to within a couple of yards without spooking them â&#x20AC;&#x201C; a boat would have had them torpedoing for the depths long before.

is the intimacy you

One of the great joys of kayak fishing for pike

with your surroundings,



the elements and the fish

Coniston Water

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Various fishing

techniques can be used from a kayak, you can fly fish, cast plugs, spinners or lures, wobble a deadbait, ledger or drift a float. You can anchor up and sit very quietly in the shallows, drift gently covering more water or remain more active and cover even more water by trolling. I like to fly fish for pike unless it is just too windy to cast, drifting gently with a purpose made fishing drogue. If there is a group of us fishing together then we tend to anchor to keep out of each other’s way, or simply fish different parts of the lake and then meet up later to swap notes. We tend to have a couple of get togethers on Llangorse each year, but I have to admit, it is getting too crowded there now. Fishing from the kayak does have its own quirks. Because you are fixed in your seat, facing the bow, you are better off anchoring from the stern. That way you can fish in front of you and away from the anchor warp. It pays to use a rod that is long enough to reach around the bow of the kayak, and remember that when the rod is arched over it doesn’t have the same reach as when it is straight! If a fish runs under the kayak it is very useful to be able to simply take the line around the bow to continue playing it without having to play it under the hull from the wrong side. When fishing on the drift I keep my drogue on the surface with a couple of small floats on the lines and a couple of very small weights on the lower

ones, this helps to deploy the drogue faster and prevents it from sinking and catching on snags in the water. I keep my drogue fairly close to the kayak too, not on a long line like you would from the boat. The kayak doesn’t have the same windage as a boat and so it is easier to control the speed of drift.

The water in the winter is cold, cold enough to give anyone immersed in it for any

There is no doubt; I have caught some good pike from the kayak that I would not have caught otherwise. Some of the waters I have fished, I could have used a boat, but others are simply inaccessible and a float tube would not have been able to cover the distance from the put in to the fishing area, which can be a couple of miles. Navigable rivers are certainly not the place to be in a float tube but in a kayak you can keep up with the boat traffic and stay out of their way.


No mention of kayak fishing should ignore the importance of safety. It goes without saying that you should never go afloat without a buoyancy vest, not only will it keep you afloat, they also help to keep you warm while sat on the kayak. The water in the winter is cold, cold enough to give anyone immersed in it for any length of time hypothermia. In the summer you can sometimes get away with wearing light clothing, but a rule of thumb is that if the water is too cold for you to be able to swim in it for 30 minutes unprotected, then you should dress properly for total immersion. That means any of our pike waters in winter. I wear a proper dry suit and the degree of comfort it provides, plus the additional safety is well worth the investment. Before venturing out on the water on to fish from a kayak, learn how to handle it first and invest in the basic safety requirements. Pike fishing from a kayak invariably means that you will be away from immediate help.

Pike lures

hypothermia length of time

Coniston Water

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There was an incident of one fellow who, on his very first trip out on his kayak, was left hanging to the side of it because he had capsized and could not right it and get back on. His mobile had taken a dunking so he could not call for help. He was lucky, he had been in the water for over 40 minutes before a lady walking her dog heard him calling for help and came to investigate. It could so easily have ended in tragedy. To actually catch a pike it pays to know a bit about the fish. They are the apex predator and make a living preying on virtually everything else that swims, including voles or ducklings. Their main diet though is made up of silver fish, roach in the main but they will eat any fish including perch and smaller pike, in fact one of the biggest balancers of the pike population is the big pike in the water that is why it is so important to look after the big pike and not kill them. Pike serve a valuable function, they help to ensure a healthy system by mopping up the weak and sickly, even

taking piscatorial carrion off the bottom. This helps to maintain clear, highly oxygenated water.

700 teeth

Just look at those teeth, there are 700 of them, all razor sharp and angled backwards to prevent prey escaping once trapped in those mighty gintrap like jaws. As anglers we need to be careful of those teeth, especially the outer rows where the biggest ones are, they are not just scalpel like, but have an anticoagulant, which prevents a wound from healing. If one catches you, the laceration caused will bleed like a stuck pig for hours. Handling a pike properly will avoid this situation, but we all get nicked from time to time, it is part of pike fishing! The other aspect of their teeth is that they will cut through normal line like a guillotine through the neck of a French aristocrat. To prevent this we need to use a bite-proof trace, fluorocarbon is not good enough, a proprietary wire material is

the best answer, there are several on the market and I use single strand wire or Authanic braided wire for my traces. The single strand wire is totally bite proof, even for sharks, but the braided Authanic material is easier to use as it can be knotted carefully, using any of the standard fishing knots. Fly fishing is catching on in a big way and the formation of the Pike Fly Fishing Association about 10 years ago did much to further the popularity of the method. It isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t anything new, people were fly fishing for pike in the 1800s, and it just fell out of favour when lure fishing became more popular. To gear up for pike you need strong tackle, the PFFA recommends a nine or ten weight outfit and this is sound advice as the heavier line makes casting the big flies much easier. The stronger rod also provides better fighting characteristics for when, not if, you hook that

really big pike. From the kayak I use sinking lines the most, as I tend to use the kayak to fish deeper water. As a general rule I will look for the edges of weed beds or fallen trees or rocky ledges in water 6-30 feet deep. The time of year and weather will fine tune my approach, but this is the general range of water depths I fish when searching for a pike, whatever method I am using. I tie my own flies, but they are available to buy. I use hooks between 2/0 and 8/0 in size with the majority of my pike flies being 5â&#x20AC;?-10â&#x20AC;? long, some designed to work close to or on the surface, others to mimic baitfish in the depths. Colours are chosen according to water clarity, colour and temperature. In cold water the green end of the spectrum seems best while the red end is good at either end of the day. High contrast between colours is another good trigger to get a pike to take, so red and white is a popular combination. These colours apply to lures as well.

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For lure fishing

the old metal spoons and hard lures will still catch their share of pike, but modern ultra-realistic silicone lures are superb, being so lifelike in the water it is untrue, but the drawback is, being soft, they get chewed to pieces by the pike. As a general rule I will go for fish imitating lures around the 6â&#x20AC;? mark or slightly bigger. Jointed lures have more action than single piece lures and so will work at slower speeds. Floating plugs are useful, they have a built in diving vane that pulls the lure down in the water, the depth it dives to is controlled by the speed you paddle or retrieve, the thickness of line used and how far away it is from the rod tip. You have to use your judgment as to which one to use where and how fast to swim it. I think the Rapala jointed Shad-Rap takes some beating and it will always be my first and last lure to try. They come in a variety of colours, my first one on is the orange-gold version, especially in peaty water. When you have hooked your pike, you need to be mindful of its welfare. Play the fish as fast as you can and get control of it. A net can be used, but a net that is big enough, on the kayak, is a damn nuisance so I just hand land my pike. It is a safe method, just slide your fingers along under the gill cover to the very front, there are no teeth here. Gently lift the pike aboard, if it is a small one you can lift it happily by one hand, bigger fish need to be lifted using both hands to avoid any possibility of breaking the jaw or damaging the internal organs. Pike are fearsome creatures, but delicate and prone to damage, so support the fish properly, as you can see in the pictures of me with a couple of decent pike. The weight of the fish is well supported along its length.

delicate and prone

Pike are fearsome creatures, but

to damage, so support the fish properly

If you fancy getting involved with fishing from a kayak there are various outlets, which can supply suitable kayaks, paddles, buoyancy aids, a trolley is useful if you canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t park near the water and clothing. Here are just a few:

Kayak UK:

1st Wet and Wild:

Whitewater Consultancy: To extract the hook, pair of long nosed pliers or forceps are worth taking with you. Most lure or fly caught fish will be easy to unhook, but occasionally you will need to reach inside that tooth infested cavern and that is when the pliers come into their own. Having unhooked the fish take a nice picture and gently release it back into the water, you may need to support the fish for a few minutes while it gets its breath back. Hold the root of the tail and support it under its belly, either with your other hand or your foot, that is one advantage of the kayak, you can put a foot over the side as an extra hand! The fish will tell you when it is ready to go, as you release your grip a little on the tail it will suddenly thrash and disappear like a guided missile, non the worse for wear. Piking from the kayak is exciting and there are plenty of good pike to catch in all our big rivers and most of the lakes. You must have an Environment Agency rod license to fish though and some waters require you to buy a day ticket to allow you to fish. Details of each water are easily found, so do some research first to save getting a fine. Fishing is what kayaks and canoes were meant for and pike are a prehistoric fish to catch from these traditional craft.

Coniston Water

There is gold at the end of the rainbow â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the Kaskazi Marlin ARX! The Marlin has been revised and now has the option of an ARX type deck. The deck can be either fixed or detachable and allows the comfort of paddling with a spraydeck to provide protection from the elements. The other changes are: > Longer cockpit to accommodate taller paddlers. > Larger drain holes to vent water faster. > The day hatch has been moved closer to the seat to allow it to open with the ARX deck in place.

Telephone: 01889 566796. Mobile 07768 632560

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Salty Paddler ThePaddler 117

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By Simon Hammond â&#x20AC;&#x201C; BCU Leve Simon, former World Surf Kayak Champion owns Shoreline Extreme Sports in Bude, North Cornwall that specializes in surf kayak coaching and event organization. They run surf coaching courses throughout the year and together with Bude Canoe Club organize the Black Rock Surf Kayak Contest every Spring.

All year round

For all levels

Gone are the days when you only ever surfed in the summer. With current kit there is no need to stop just because the temperature gets a little colder. In fact it's a good job that clothing and equipment has improved with the wet and wild summers we've been having. So with improvements in the quality and range of kit on the market you can comfortably surf all year round.

But why would you want to? Well the simple answer is time and space. In the winter and early spring you'll avoid the crowds and have the time and space to develop your skills. Sure the locals will still be getting out on the good days but even then maximum numbers are far lower than in the summer months. As there are less surfers in the water and more waves to go around you'll find everyone is a lot less stressed and much friendlier.

Conditions can be wild so come prepared

A surf trip in the winter needs some planning. Down here in Cornwall we've several different coastlines to choose from so selecting the right beach for the optimum swell and wind direction is usually possible even if it takes a bit of investigating and research. Maps, synoptic charts, web sites, tide tables and surfing guides will all help to pinpoint your best option. But keep checking the conditions as your trip approaches, as our weather is notoriously fickle and even with the Met Office's best computer predictions I wouldn't be too confident until the night before departure. Make sure the predicted conditions match your and your paddling friends ability.You'll usually be able to find a sheltered coast on those days where the north coast is being pounded by 20-foot swell and storm force winds but you'll also have to be able to admit defeat if the winds are just too much.Where as a 25 mph on-shore wind will keep you from making any progress off the beach the same strength wind offshore could be lethal in blowing you out to sea. Keep to sensible limits. On shore winds take the sharpness

Cold off-season day in North Cornwall

el 5 Surf Kayak Coach

d kayak surf

Shoreline Extreme Sports Owned by: Simon and Nicola Hammond Operations Manager: Dave Oxnard 11a Crooklets Beach, Bude, Cornwall, EX23 8NE Tel 01288 354039 Like us on Facebook: Shoreline Extreme Sports out of a breaking wave and won't spoil the surf until reaching 10 to 12 mph, off-shore winds are great and can create the very best conditions but beware of anything over 15 mph especially on exposed low tide beaches. As for the swell size I would say the smaller the better; one to two foot of clean peeling surf is fun and safe for novices to experts, three to four foot is great but the novice paddlers will get the best from riding white water waves closer to the shore. Five foot plus gets powerful and depending on the way it breaks and your ability can be quite scary!

OK so the swell and weather look good now what do you need to bring?

Of course there is the ideal kit for surfing but the beauty of this sport is also how normal paddling kit and boats adapt and perform reasonably well, especially when you are just starting off. I'd say to anyone surf kayaking for the first time that the best boat to surf in is the boat you feel most comfortable in.

Once you've mastered some basic balance and side surfing techniques then you might want to progress to a boat with a bit of edge, most modern river boats will do. A boat with low volume, nice sharp edges or rails, a flat bottom and not too short will give you the chance to progress to surfing and carving across a clean wave face, just remember that length of boat equals speed so a really short play boat will have some limitations. And then when you've got the surfing bug jump into a surf kayak.There is nothing to be lost in starting with a plastic surf kayak as these boats have all the design features that will give you the speed and manoeuvrability to make the most of any wave and then as your skills develop and progress you'll start to dream of that light weight epoxy composite boat that might get you airborne!

Simon Hammond surfing on a cold day on classic three-oot peeling wave

As for what you wear yet again comfort is the key but taking a swim whilst surf kayaking is more likely than in any other kayaking discipline. So even if you are one of

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those paddlers who hasn't taken a swim in years, always be mindful that this could happen out in the surf. Big fleeces and semi-dry cags and trousers aren't brilliant; you need to wear something that you can actively swim in.Wetsuits are a good option, with a tight fitting neoprene deck and a snug fitting buoyancy jacket. Big and baggy is out sleek and streamlined is in.

Definitely no need for any kit in your boat. Usually all your extras; clothing, tools, repair kit, spare paddles will be in your car in the conveniently placed beach car park with hot drinks being provided by that lovely warm beach cafe that you've found is open all year round (many will even serve you in your dripping paddling gear!). If it's a long walk to the waters edge then there's nothing to be lost in taking some spares, food, hot drinks and extra layers down to the waters edge in a dry bag. I've never had any problems with leaving a bag on the beach other than maybe a suspicious dog having a quick wee over it! You could even take down a survival shelter if its really cold - I've used these to extend a surf session and give friends a chance to warm up, have a warm drink and have a short break. All of this allows you to keep your boat as light as possible, but remember the chance of swimming and so best to fill every inch of your boat with airbags and buoyancy. Finally make sure you've tied on some lengths of tape to your boats handles once again just in case you take a swim.

You'll learn the rest once you get going but if you want a few more tips then: 1. Never rush straight into the surf, give yourself some time to read the conditions and watch what others are doing. 2. You can learn all the surfing techniques in the white water waves before going out too far.

3. Lifeguarded beaches only operate between May and September so you'll be looking after yourselves offseason.

4. Think about your long term health, wear ear plugs to prevent surfers ear developing. 5. Avoid the High Brace - its responsible for many a dislocated shoulder in the surf environment.

6. Learn your surfing etiquette if you want some respect from other surfers.

7. Go to a surf kayak contest or join a course to learn a few more skills and techniques. 8. Good luck and have a go. Get a good day off-season and you're likely to get the best surf session of the year. Simon Hammond is also the author of Surf Kayaking The Essential Guide.

For more information on surf kayaking contact him on



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nguish eolians in the

â&#x20AC;Śthe tent and all our kit was covered by a thick layer of sodden black dust. I was exasperated, until I reminded myself that this was an expedition and I really needed to harden up!

Strombolicchio in front of Stromboli Island ThePaddler 123

ThePaddler 124 Antonio, a young muscular Sicilian, pocketed the 400 euro deposit, and said blithely ‘If there is any damage to the boats you will have to pay!’ He insisted that if the kayaks were floated before we got in, there would be no necessity to incur even a scratch. I looked at the steep, stone beach and the heavily loaded fibreglass boats, and was doubtful. BY NIGEL GILL

We had made it to the

Aeolian Islands that lie just north of where Sicily nudges the toe of Italy. Seven islands are set in a ‘Y’ shape. Each one is an old volcano, in places sporting a dash of sulphuryellow and wafting a pong of rotten eggs. It had been bit of a haul: Easyjet to Catania, bus to Milazzo, then ferry to the southern-most island, Volcano, where we hired the boats.


We had timed it to avoid the crowds. But it was mid-September, the start of the storm season, and a 30-knot storm was about to arrive. Antonio, the outfitter, was sure that we co

Red-hot cinders careered down the slope that we had paddled beneath earlier in the day.

It was awesome!


disappeared into the night. He really couldn’t have – could he?

Volcano Cliffs at Polara Most of the islands are about 20 km apart, so

ould nip down the exposed side of the island before the bad weather came in, then complete the circumnavigation on the sheltered side. The wind had already picked up and it was obvious that his idea was nonsense. We set off on the sheltered side of the island, buffeted by wind and rain. At the southern tip, the storm’s waves were refracting around from the far side and we struggled to land on a black ash beach. The following morning the tent and all our kit was covered by a thick layer of sodden black dust. I was exasperated, until I reminded myself that this was an expedition and I really needed to harden up. We returned back up to the town. The wind was strong and I needed to clip Eli’s boat as she couldn’t turn it into relentless blasts coming out of the bay. Antonio being away, we stopped the night by his storage shed. At midnight he arrived back and woke us in the tent. He was displeased that we were there. He went off and then I heard the distinctive ‘CLONK’ of a kayak being dropped on its end. I shot out of the tent to see Antonio walking up from where we had left the boats by the shore. He turned off his torch and

the easy option was to use the ferries to get between them, trolleying the kayaks on and off. We had paddled the narrow strait to the island of Lipari. There was a fine, walled Old Town, but it was very touristic. We arrived at the island of Stromboli, famous for it’s role in Hollywood movies and it’s still active volcano. We paddled around it, out to an impressive offshore volcanic plug island and past a great scree slope of ash. I was grateful that Antonio had warned us to keep well offshore – the sea in front of it looked like it was under an artillery bombardment. Halfway around was a delightful amphitheatrelike harbour and Ginostra village above. That night provided the highlight of the trip. We walked 10 km to a viewpoint halfway up the volcano and watched it spit a fiery plume of lava into the night. Red-hot cinders careered down the slope that we had paddled beneath earlier in the day. It was awesome! We were well pleased. Stromboli had not been over-touristed like the previous two islands and the paddling was of good quality.

ThePaddler 125


ThePaddler 126

a volcanic rock raising from the sea up to 74 metres

Lipari Island

World class

Finally we circumnavigated the three islands that formed the left-hand arm of the ‘Y’. Salina had a remarkable horizontal strata cliff at Polara and a fine arch and cave at Racina, but otherwise wasn’t very special. Filicudi Island has charm and no damage from tourism. The circumnavigation

be fit and lean, living on such steep terrain without transport. Not a bit of it – the men sit around all day, chatting and remonstrating with each other. There was no eatery open but a local man, Silvio and his wife, fed us and a few other visitors – simple food, fish and pasta, but quite delicious!

The circumnavigation took us to the

(World class) Bue Marino cathedral-like cave took us to the (world class) Bue marino cathedral-like cave and nearby (jaw-dropping) columnar island of Canna. We ate well at the Scogliera restaurant in Pecorino – good authentic fare – pasta with local capers and olive pesto. In the evening the sea turned big and, transfixed, we watched a yacht that was moored in an exposed position on the jetty. It was rolling about manically, the poor crew unable to get off. Involuntarily, at least one of them ‘donated’ their supper to the fishes!

Blue Marino Cave

The furthest – Allicudi Island – has little interest, other than the fact that there are no cars, only donkeys. Most of the houses are owned by north Europeans, who obviously enjoy walking up vast flights of steps and otherwise having absolutely nothing to do. I figured that the locals would all

ThePaddler 127

Volcano Island

ThePaddler 128

Returning to Lipari Island, we paddled around the southern point and turned into a magnificent sunset and a (rare) good beach to camp on. Nearby was some fine rock architecture. The next day we paddled back to Volcano and the outfitters. We arrived early to sort out our kit before Antonio arrived back with a group, no doubt ‘hyper’ as usual. The undersides of the boats were a shocking sight, their red hulls covered in bright pink scratches. But Eli had an idea – she remembered that sunblock can be used to polish-out the scratches from pebbles. We hurriedly set-to on the hulls, and they looked a lot more presentable.

Ginostra Harbour


Eventually Antonio arrived back and wanted to inspect the boats. He couldn’t fault them for scratches, but, looking closely at the ends, he found two gel-coat chips. He was euphoric: ’AHHA!’ he exclaimed. This would be expensive, requiring a specialist workshop to re-laminate the damage. I told him that it needed no more than a drop of coloured resin, but he still took 30 euros out of the deposit. I think he needed every euro he could get.

Lipari sunset

At the ferry pier, Antonio said ‘goodbye’, embracing me forcibly, pressing his stubbly cheek to mine. Resin he might have to buy-in, but for sure, he wouldn’t be short on abrasives.

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ThePaddler ezine issue 6 March 2013  

Canoe, kayak, SUP, sea kayaking magazine. The International digital magazine for recreational paddlers, canoeists, kayakers, stand up paddle...

ThePaddler ezine issue 6 March 2013  

Canoe, kayak, SUP, sea kayaking magazine. The International digital magazine for recreational paddlers, canoeists, kayakers, stand up paddle...