Torridonian idyll

Places, technique, kayaks, safety, the sea...
Post Reply
User avatar
Douglas Wilcox
Posts: 3519
Joined: Sun May 11, 2003 1:31 pm
Location: Glasgow
Contact:

Torridonian idyll

Post by Douglas Wilcox » Mon Oct 20, 2003 3:22 pm

I took a short day trip to Torridon and back on Saturday (451 miles).

Went for a paddle on Loch Shieldaig surrounded by giants of old red sandstone and sea otters.

www.gla.ac.uk/medicalgene...eldaig.jpg

Life is too short, sometimes you just need to be slightly mad and go for it.

Other photos at:

www.gla.ac.uk/medicalgene...eldaig.htm

Douglas.

PS. Mark, I will send some words from some of these recent paddles for the "trips section" as soon as I stop paddling! :o )


User avatar
Mark R
Posts: 24087
Joined: Thu Jan 10, 2002 6:17 pm
Location: Dorset
Contact:

Re: Torridonian idyll

Post by Mark R » Mon Oct 20, 2003 3:30 pm

Does this man have a job, family or responsibilities? He seems to get more paddling down than....well, me.


-----------Mark Rainsley

User avatar
Douglas Wilcox
Posts: 3519
Joined: Sun May 11, 2003 1:31 pm
Location: Glasgow
Contact:

Torridonian idyll

Post by Douglas Wilcox » Mon Oct 20, 2003 4:14 pm

Mark> Does this man have a .....


Well I took my wife along on this one. As for the job it prevented me getting away last week in all that glorious weather, FRUSTRATION :(

Responsibilities? What are they?

Douglas :)


User avatar
andy
Posts: 172
Joined: Mon Jan 28, 2002 6:00 pm
Location: Next to Border Esk, Cumbria

Torridon

Post by andy » Mon Oct 20, 2003 4:34 pm

Torridon: that's a hell of a day trip, looked fantastic though. Where are you planning next, Faroes, Iceland, Greenland?

I must get out more, I had a sad weekend doing the Tesco/B&Q thing to keep the wife happy. Can I ask Mark and Douglas for advice? How do you get your wives onto the water?

Responsibly yours,
Andy

User avatar
Mark R
Posts: 24087
Joined: Thu Jan 10, 2002 6:17 pm
Location: Dorset
Contact:

Re: Torridon

Post by Mark R » Mon Oct 20, 2003 4:36 pm

Actually, the person you need to ask is Chris Wheeler...he's just written an article on just that ('Marriage Guidance for Paddlers' which will be published in 'Canoe Kayak UK' soon.


-----------Mark Rainsley

User avatar
Douglas Wilcox
Posts: 3519
Joined: Sun May 11, 2003 1:31 pm
Location: Glasgow
Contact:

Torridon/wives

Post by Douglas Wilcox » Mon Oct 20, 2003 6:45 pm

Mark> Does this man have a .....

I do not know how to say this but sea kayking is not even my main sport, I also go mountaineering, windsurfing, sailing, mountain biking, whitewater paddling and even a little snowboaring since my knees are shot for skiing.

Andy> Can I ask Mark and Douglas for advice? How do you get your wives onto the water?

Well I am allegic to shops. The last time I was in a shop was in John Lewis in Southampton. I broke into a cold sweat, turned grey and looked very sick. My wife had to help me to the door.....She cleary recognises I am not going to be much company on retail expeditions, and if you think I go kayaking a lot......

Seriously, it is a lot easier now our kids are in their 20's. My wife has even given some gentle whitewater ago...

www.gla.ac.uk/medicalgene...alison.jpg

However, she has no intention of going up onto the Cuillin ridge. I am therfore delighted that my wife has enjoyed sea kayaking and I recommend it to any other sporting widows/widowers!

Douglas :)


Alec
Posts: 196
Joined: Mon Dec 02, 2002 2:45 pm
Location: Edinburgh

Torridon wives

Post by Alec » Mon Oct 20, 2003 7:50 pm

Well Mark and Douglas have had better luck than me, my wife wont go near water but is a 5* retail consumer!

Talking of stars, I have followed with great interest everyones expedtions from Scillies to Torridon over the months , I have got great inspiration and have even been on a few small expeditions myself. Have had a few hairy moments, usually because wind and or sea conditions have got worse. How many stars do you need to have before being able to be confident going somewhere new? I ask because:

Douglas>To celebrate the fact I have been sea paddling for exactly 1 year, we went to Loch Craignish .

Yet it seems Douglas has covered quite a lot of the west coast. Do people go on courses? I have learned to roll in my local club and I know the SCA does organised trips but for me the attraction of sea kayaking is being on your own away from people. But when its just you and your pal and you are out of sight round a headland its the confidence thing.

Is there a way to increase your experience/confidence or do I just keep going slowly. Frankly I am jealous of the Scillies/Summer Isles/Sound of Jura thing but maybe not of the 'vreckan!

Frustrated, Alec

User avatar
MikeB
Posts: 7958
Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2003 9:44 pm
Location: Scotland

Paddling

Post by MikeB » Mon Oct 20, 2003 10:06 pm

Alec - I'm not sure that "stars" necessarily provide a guarantee of anything!! They serve as some sort of semi-objective measurement I guess, but its more of general skill, knowledge and understanding rather than the ability to stay upright in a 12 foot swell in a force 6!! :D

Just my view anyway.

That said, I'd certainly recommend following the star progression - a 4 star would be a good general measure of overall personal competence. On a purely personal basis, I like to know that folk I paddle with are competent to that level as it means they should know how to rescue me |I

As to gaining experience, the only way to get it is to do it - as you are. Certainly paddling with more experienced people whose ability outstrips yours is a very good way to push the boundaries. I would council picking such people carefully though as there are those who can paddle extremes but can't look after a less experienced paddler in the group.

Courses are a great way of gaining expertise and confidence - as is paddling with a club or the likes of the SCA. SCA trips tend to be friendly, well-organised trips but they can also be largish. That does of course mean that there are a lot of very competent people in the group so that if anything does go wrong, it's likely that it'll get dealt with very efficiently.

Try some SCA trips! The December trip was great last year and there will be a range of trips for differeing abilities in 04. Details on the SCA site soon I expect. I know what you mean about the joy of paddling with only a mate or two though. That said, I'll trade the safety aspect sometimes and its comforting to know there are others around when I'm feeling uncomfortable (otherwise known as scared !)

If you're not in a club at the moment, it's something to think about - paddling with a mate is fine but I personally found that my river paddling took a massive leap forward once we hooked up with someone who took us on bigger rivers, knowing of course what was where and what could be safely tackled. (Gone backwards of course since then - haha)

Web guides and trip reports are of course a good way to get an overview of what is possible but you do need to keep in mind the fact that a trip that is reported on in good weather would be very different indeed in poor/deteriorating conditions.

Our Lismore trip is a case in point - nominally an easy outing, we did it in marginal conditions which we judged acceptable for the group at the time. Had we had one other specific person with us on that one, the decision would have been different.

We've been lucky with the weather this year - Douglas has some great pics to prove it. Funny though how so many sea-paddling trip pics always show wonderful weather adn calm seas. Could it be something to do with holding a camera steady I wonder - - - - -

Keep at it - Mike.





User avatar
Douglas Wilcox
Posts: 3519
Joined: Sun May 11, 2003 1:31 pm
Location: Glasgow
Contact:

Paddling

Post by Douglas Wilcox » Tue Oct 21, 2003 10:44 am

Hello Alec

>Yet it seems Douglas has covered quite a lot of the west coast.

Well if you look just at the West of Scotland, the coastline of Highland, Argyll and Bute and the Western Isles is 12,300 km! Over the last year I have paddled about 450 km. If I can continue at the same rate I will get round it in 27 years before thinking about the East coast, Orkney and Shetland!

Mike has given some very good advice, I am afraid I have never been on any courses and have no stars. But my first memory of being on the water was in a 10 foot sailing dinghy in Loch Ewe in 1958 so perhaps I have had a head start in seafaring which has helped my sea kayaking.


Yes you can accelerate your learning curve and go on courses and guided trips but that experience will never be as satisfying as the joy of gradually building up your own experience and self reliance which is what I think you are after. For example if you went on a guided trip round a particular group of islands you would never have the satisfaction of seeing if you could do it on your own initiative for the first time.

I draw an analogy with mountaineering. In the summer most of the people on the Cuillin Ridge are in guided parties, you say hello to a group of 7 and only the guide replies. The others have either lost the power of speach because they are so scared or they are waiting for the guide to tell them they can reply.

I have never gone to the Cuillin with someone more experienced who knew the route, therefore I have had satisfaction from the challenge of leading and routefinding. As soon as you have been led over a route a lot of the mystery and uncertainty and therefore challenge has gone for ever.

I think you are doing it the right way, slowly and steadily building up your experience. Mike B. is right, "Stick at it."


Mike B>Funny though how so many sea-paddling trip pics always show wonderful weather

Yes it has been a great year,
But:
Thunder:
www.gla.ac.uk/medicalgene...7fleet.jpg
Waves:
www.gla.ac.uk/medicalgene...adgers.jpg
Fog:
www.gla.ac.uk/medicalgene...1fleet.jpg
Cold:
www.gla.ac.uk/medicalgene...goil16.jpg
Rain:
www.gla.ac.uk/medicalgene...errera.jpg
Wind:
www.gla.ac.uk/medicalgene...ignish.jpg
And lack of water!!!
www.gla.ac.uk/medicalgene...aynets.jpg

have all come along in the course of a wonderful year.

Good paddling,
Douglas :)

User avatar
sub5rider
Posts: 655
Joined: Mon Mar 10, 2003 4:38 pm

Re: Paddling

Post by sub5rider » Tue Oct 21, 2003 2:53 pm

"...either lost the power of speach because they are so scared or they are waiting for the guide to tell them they can reply.!"


:rollin :rollin :rollin :rollin :rollin :rollin

Now that made me laugh out loud !

Dear, oh dear, there really is no substitute for getting out there, doing it, and learning from your mistakes. If you survive them.
Nigel, aka Sub5Rider, Onioneer

User avatar
MikeB
Posts: 7958
Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2003 9:44 pm
Location: Scotland

Paddling

Post by MikeB » Tue Oct 21, 2003 5:36 pm

Douglas " leading in the Cullins"

Nigel "learning - mistakes - if you survive them"

Agree with both comments - on a personal basis, I never had any "instruction" when I was walking and climbing (although my climbing wasn't at an especially high level) and I ended up doing some of the bigger hills in winter conditions without ever feelling any of the concerns I still admit to experiencing on the sea!

I guess there is a strong psychological element at play of course, but for me the consequences of getting it wrong at sea are worse than on land.

Even as a rookie climber I always had the security of a rope. :o Other interest areas over the years have always been developed on the same lines as I've usually just gone and done it. And survived!

On land I know I can sit in a snow hole or a survival bag and wait it out if I have to. Getting caught in seas I can't cope with doesn't give me any options except to run with it.

That said, its never happened and careful study of the forecast and a willingness to change plans is maybe a crucical part of that.

There is a massive element of comfort (especailly as you develop) in having a more experienced paddler with you as you test your skills and improve. One aspect worth mentioning though is that it is all too easy to rely on that person(s) and not make your own decisions.

A good coach/companion (I use the word "coach" in a looser sense than we usually use it in paddling circles) will be helping YOU make your OWN decisions - from that decision making & learning process comes the ability to make your own informed decisions based on the benchmarks you've developed.

Thats one way anyway. As Nigel says, there are others - and very good they are too.

FWIW I started with a background in river paddling with some coaching progression in that discipline and wanted to try sea paddling. Not having any mates who were active sea-paddlers at the time, I chose to do a "course" - a loosly structured one it has to be said, and that gave me a lot of confidence. Then I paddled with the SCA, did a few "commercial" trips and it just grew from there. As I found paddling friends I went on their trips.

Last year I started organising trips - using other's trips as starting points as that gave me the comfort of knowing it was possible, where to camp etc as I repeated a few of the ones I'd been on.

This year I find myself much more confident in arranging "virgin" outings and making my own way. That said, are there really ANY trips that are totally "new" anyway?????? :)

But as Douglas says, there is much to be gained from seeking your own path - my way works for me - might not be right for you. I do think though that paddling, sea or rivers, is one of those hobbies where it helps to understand the risks and apprecaite them.

Finally - I apprecaite that comment re "guides and clients" - been there, on both sides of the fence - and its soooooooo true! :rollin

Mike.


Post Reply