This weekend sees the first ever Pyranha Dart Fest, a big get-together of white water paddlers at the River Dart Country Park near Ashburton, Dartmoor.
There is a busy schedule planned, with paddling, coaching sessions and entertainment in the evening. My good friend Kevin Francis and I are presenting one of the evening slots, with the pithy title ‘Kev and Mark’s Excellent Adventures’. I will whizz through my trips to India and California in recent times, whilst Kevin will tell stories about the epic wilderness whitewater of the Romaine River in Quebec, with at least one helicopter evacuation involved … hopefully see you there.
More info here, here and here.
… a rather large and consequential rapid on the Romaine River, pic from Kev Francis
A few pics of California …
India follows …
Heather, somewhere in Orkney. I think.
I did an evening of talks up the road at Poole Harbour Canoe Club last year. Surprisingly, I can’t have offended absolutely everybody in the room on that occasion, as they’ve invited me back for another go, later this month.
The talks will be on the evening of Monday 18th January, commencing at 7.30 pm. The venue is the cellar bar of The Blue Boar in Poole. I’ll say something about our recent whitewater trips to California, and something on our sea kayaking trip to Orkney. Other places like India and the Isles of Scilly may or may not feature, depending upon how much I ramble and how long before the audience starts walking out. Heather may also do some of the talking, or she may not. As you can see, we’ve planned this in depth.
Other local paddlers are very welcome to attend – indeed the more the merrier, PHCC welcome guests on this evening. It’s free, but if after arriving you feel a sudden compulsion to buy fifteen copies of my book, then I won’t stop you.
Drop me an email if you have any queries.
More Orkney …
… and a bit of California …
The photo above shows the ineffable Vernal Falls, in California’s Yosemite National Park. ‘Vernal’ means, ‘springlike’ (so the internet tells me, anyway) and I suspect that this is a reference to the constantly watered greenery in the gorge around the fall. Whilst taking that picture I was effectively enshrouded in an enormous lingering wet cloud that soaked me to the skin; on such a fine day, I hadn’t thought I’d need my waterproofs!
We had a really enjoyable trip out west, retreading some rivers from my 2002 trip to Cali, and finding a few new ones to enjoy out in the wilds. There are 1001 photos and reports here; read the scary Burnt Ranch Falls stories if you want a bit of vicarious adrenaline (also have a read of Simon Knox’s version of the same).
Hmm, does writing about white water kayaking in California USA have any place in a blog about sea kayaking in south west England? I suppose that you have the tenuous links of ‘kayaking’ and ‘south west’ … but to justify this post, here are a few meagre snippets of south west news/info …
- There is a bit of an issue right now with access to Long Island in Poole Harbour, see here.
- Someone got themselves into a spot of bother in South Devon this week … here.
- I am currently working on planning an informal sea kayak get-together in South Devon (June 13th/14th), not unlike that which we held last year to celebrate the launch of my book. Watch this space for more info.
- Most importantly of all, as of yesterday my PH Cetus is finally back in Dorset! Many thanks to various folk who have helped it make its way back from the far north of Scotland, most recently Tim Lambert at PH Kayaks and Bournemouth Canoes. Wonderful, I will be out on the water this weekend to celebrate its return.
Mrs R doing her thing in California …
Claire CL and Liz G, a couple more off-duty sea kayakers whom you may recognise from this blog …
A couple of hazardous locals …
The above photo is one of my favourites. I like it because of the warm fuzzy memories that it triggers; it shows Heather (Mrs R) and Claire Cheong-Leen at Land’s End in Cornwall, framed by the monumental arch of Enys Dodman, a vast stack that has separated from the mainland. It was a magical evening, and we stayed until the sun melted into the western horizon.
The photo has been just been used as the cover shot for Canoe Kayak UK magazine’s special supplement on sea kayaking published this month and included alongside the normal magazine. The supplement features an article on planning multiday trips written by myself, as well as a feature on sea kayak photography by Douglas Wilcox and something on clothing by Jeff Allen.
Right this moment, Heather and I have just escaped work, finished packing for California and we’re off to the airport in a few hours; this won’t be a long nights’ sleep! We’re lucky enough to be enjoying a couple of weeks of paddling the glorious wilderness rivers of the Sierra Nevada with the same great bunch of friends who joined us in India last Easter. The photo below was taken last time I paddled in California, in 2002.
Have a good Easter, all.
In 1997, I phoned Exeter Canoe Club to arrange leaving a boat there; I was planning to paddle around the South West for the first time. The fellow I spoke to turned out to have completed this himself just a week previously, in an amazingly fast time. His name was Sean Morley.
Sean may well be the greatest British kayaker. Whilst working as an armed response policeman in Cornwall, Sean carried out a series of spectacular expeditions in British coastal waters;
“I began sea kayaking when I met Robin Feloy in 1996. In 1997 I kayaked ‘Around the Sharp End’ of the UK; the coastline of Devon and Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly in 9 days then the following year set a record for the fastest crossing of the St George’s Channel of the Irish Sea with two friends; Ian Wilson and Jim Morrissey of 11hours 6minutes. In 1998 I circumnavigated the north of Scotland with Ian Wilson, paddling north from Fort William, traversing the ‘Roof of Britain’ and returning to Fort William via the Caledonian Canal, a 500mile journey in 13 days. Having built up my expedition experience I felt ready to take on a challenge I had dreamed about ever since I had first ventured out of the mouth of the river Fowey; the first solo circumnavigation of the UK and Ireland. I decided to make the journey even more difficult by trying to include in my circumnavigation every inhabited island and in September 2004 after six months and approximately 4,500miles I completed the challenge, the longest kayak journey ever undertaken in British waters.”
Sean won the 125 mile Devizes to Westminster Race in 2005. In 2006 he won the English Masters Surf Championships and in 2007 he won the Masters class at the 2007 Surf World Championships.
Sean now lives in California, but he hasn’t forgotten the South West. I am absolutely honoured that he has written the foreword to South West Sea Kayaking.