Archive for the ‘Canada’ Category
Our very good friends Si and Cheryl got married this weekend. I’ve shared some great kayaking adventures with Si around the world, ranging from last week’s Italy jaunt to a year taken out of work 2000-2001, in which we did a round-the-world Grand Tour lugging white water kayaks with us. I got married during the New Zealand leg of the RTW trip, although Si somehow failed to attend the ceremony. His lame excuse was that he was severely ill with Leptospirosis at the time, forcing H and I to drag bemused strangers off the street to legally witness the ceremony…
Si met Cheryl shortly after returning from that trip, and they’ve continued the worldwide paddling adventures over the past decade; we’ve been lucky enough to join them on a few. Congratulations to both of you from Heather and I, wishing you a long and happy life together! Thanks also for laying on such a great weekend for us all, it was a fantastic chance to catch up with old friends.
A few photos follow of the wedding, and also of earlier adventures on four or five different continents…
A magazine article from 2003, about paddling in the central Rocky Mountains of Alberta and British Columbia, Canada.
Smarter than the Average Bear
I’m plodding along a hot remote forest track somewhere in the ‘Bugaboo Wilderness’ of western Canada’s Rocky Mountains. I hear it a long way off; a vehicle coming, the first I’ve encountered. Eventually, a trail bike chugs into view up the valley, ridden by a young local couple.
“Hi there, are you lost? We don’t meet many folk up this way.”
“I’m a kayaker, I’ve just come off the river. I’m searching for our shuttle driver; she didn’t show up at the takeout. Have you seen a black Chevy Jeep along the way?”
“Sorry, you’re the first person we’ve seen all day. We’ll keep an eye out for her.”
“Cheers, have a good ride”.
“Hey bud, just one question before we go.”
“Sure, what is it?”
“Why aren’t you wearing any clothes?”
Time-shift, forty-eight hours earlier. Five of us (four blokes and one infinitely patient girlie) converged on Calgary Airport from random directions and locations. We picked up hire cars, strapped on creek boats and headed west in search of the Rocky Mountains. These weren’t hard to find; they were just outside town, rather large and, well, rocky. With our standard degree of mission co-ordination, our two cars were separated within minutes of setting off. By a subtle combination of blatant luck and feng shui, we all met up again at the same campsite. This was in Banff, a garish souvenir mall masquerading as a real town. A miserably arctic night later (camping, what IS that all about?), we hit an outdoor store. We shelled out on their most expensive sleeping bags, constructed from the soft fluffy down of kittens and seal pups. Not for the last time, we had to reassure ourselves that despite having the Queen’s head on it, Canadian dollars aren’t real money.
A river was now needed in order to justify our bankruptcy. We crossed the Continental Divide into British Columbia and wound up at the Kicking Horse River. This river has numerous sections rated at Grade 1(6) or Grade 6(1). I exaggerate, but not much. We ooh-ed and aah-ed at various evil things lurking under bridges…but eventually wussed onto the ‘rubber numpty’ section, i.e. the bit that rafts do. This was rather decent grade 3-4, lumpy and continuous in a deep canyon with a busy railroad track clinging to the walls. We didn’t inspect or portage anything, good job really – anybody seen the film, ‘Stand by Me?’
The next day saw us in full-on faffing mode. We bottled the harder Kicking Horse sections, and the much recommended Yoho River was way too high. A rethink saw us resurface in the upper Columbia River valley. This was a bit weird, as four months earlier we’d been boating in the lower Columbia River
valley – 1900 kilometres downstream in the USA. This area – the East Kootenays – proved to be a good call, as river levels thereabouts were perfect in mid-August. First up was the Bobbie Burns River. Getting there was half the fun. A seriously ill-advised ‘shortcut’subjected our jeep to the beating of its short pampered life. Luckily Kevin proved to possess superhero 4WD powers, but don’t tell Alamo. Three hours and a mere twenty kilometres later, we reached the put-in.
For weeks prior to the trip, Kevin had amused all with his rampant Ursaphobia. He had avidly researched all sorts of Really Useful Bear Facts. Nervous emails informed us that there are 180 000 bears in BC, and that they are capable of 0-30 mph in the time it takes to say; “I didn’t touch your porridge!” He’d briefed us fully on bear contact protocol (the National Parks note that if the bear is still mauling you after you’ve played dead for five minutes, you probably are being attacked). Ever since landing, Kevin had been glancing over his shoulder and when he bought bear repellent pepper spray, we fell about laughing. And now, paranoid Kevin had the last laugh. Big time. Lumbering along near the put-in of our creek, was his arch nemesis – Yogi himself. This bear happily sauntered off out of sight, but Kevin’s credibility was reinstated; henceforth we all listened to him more closely! We launched super-quick-fast and fled the spot.
Bobbie Burns Creek proved much easier on the water than off. The rapids were undemanding but there was a spectacular waterfall to portage and the sense of wilderness was huge…there was more wildlife than a Disney cartoon.
“What the hell is that?”
“Well Chris, what does it look like?”
“An ugly horse”
To be fair to Chris, moose are an uncommon sight back home at Hurley Weir. Arriving at the takeout, there was no sign of Heather. We were a bit worried as we’d rather rapidly abandoned her with the jeep in Bearville. I trekked up the road to find her, but found that my wetsuit shorts chafed in all the wrong places. I whipped them off, and you know the rest…thankfully Mrs R hove into sight shortly after, alive and well. She had wisely chosen the better, longer road to the takeout, but she got wildly lost on featureless forest tracks (and encountered more bears) – all in a day’s work for the Shuttlemeister.
The next morning, we were up for something with a bit more oompf. Some local heroes at Toby Creek told us that the creek’s tough ‘Seven Canyons’ run had only just dropped low enough to paddle. They also said that we’d need seven hours for a first run down. This was red rag to a bull for Chris, who flogged us through the run in about three hours. All I clearly recall is desperately trying to match the human Duracell Bunny’s merciless pace…that and a dire cliff-hanger portage. I lost count at twenty, but the others assure me that there were just seven canyons, each with their own character and kick-ass boating (in local parlance). A fantastic run, imagine knocking off seven different classic rivers before lunchtime.
All of our river info was coming from a pair of hefty guidebooks to the Rockies. Interpreting them was a bit of a learning curve. Although they are accurate enough, the author has a bit of a macho problem. Time after time, a river is described as ‘Grade 4’…only to say below, ‘Be prepared to paddle grade 5+ on sight or execute desperate portages.’ I kid you not. We didn’t notice this in the small print on the guide to Findlay Creek. Or didn’t take it seriously. Or whatever. Either way, we had a decent enough bimble on the Findlay’s middle canyon. Poor Andy took a big tumble whilst portaging a tree jam; no harm was done, but this was the shape of things to come. Three of us carried on into the lower canyon. Good heavens, it was unpleasant. This section saw us spending about as much time on the bank as we did paddling; the Findlay excelled at siphons, sharp rocks and all manner of gnarliness. Our legs were cut to pieces and our nerves were in tatters. My nadir came when I slipped and dropped my boat into the river whilst climbing. It ran the portage perfectly. Chris gets a real buzz out of chase-boating Grade 5 (no, really), so somebody at least was happy.
Bugaboo Creek (we’re not making these names up) flows downhill. Very much so. A steep boulder ditch, we were in familiar territory from years of crashbangwallop UK boating. Kevin had the comedy moment of the day, becoming inexplicably convinced that he had been left far behind by the group. He shot off and frenetically straight-lined a mile of super-steep grade 4-5 to ‘catch up’. As it happens he was actually at the front, and we followed in bewilderment, some distance behind.
Bears had become a common enough sight and we’d begun to be less hung up about them. Our fears were however firmly re-established on the drive north from the Bugaboo. A bear tumbled across the main highway in our path – in the midst of a residential area. Henceforth we all had surreal nightmares
about Baloo chasing us through shopping malls or ambushing us at cash machines, and suchlike…
That evening we found ourselves in breathtaking Yoho National Park. Dwarfed overhead on all sides by soaring peaks, vast ice fields and stupendous waterfalls, we were actually peering down. Below our feet the planet dropped away into a frightening deep and dark canyon. Somewhere down there was the Yoho River, although we could only glimpse it by leaning out into the void supported by unconvincing tree roots. One thing was obvious enough; there was still too much water churning around in there. The put-in beats all; it’s directly underneath the awe-inspiring Takakkaw Falls. These plunge 800 metres! We built a makeshift gauge…a line of rocks heading out into the main flow. After dark, stealth camping; we snuck our gear into the bushes when the Park Rangers had their backs turned.
Six a.m. up at 5000 feet was cold. But the river was colder, carrying its own shroud of Hammer Horror movie mist. The glacier forming the Yoho was directly upstream, and we were gambling on less melt water to make our trip viable. Rubbing our eyes, we wandered down to the ‘gauge’. None of us were really convinced. To our disbelief, a few short hours had seen the river level plummet, leaving our gauge rocks high and dry. Game on. I’m not a morning person, but a few splashes of frigid glacial gloop woke me pretty sharply. We paddled through the portals of the canyon into ominous gloom. Sheer rock rose on either side. Total commitment.
“Am I too late to change my mind?”
I had a bad feeling about this. Just this once I wasn’t the team cannon fodder, my worries concerned the group. Chris and I had been in comparable canyons in the past. Kevin and Andy however, had never stuck their necks out this far, and Andy was happy to admit that the paddling was a long way past his comfort zone. I am sure I spotted a vulture wheeling expectantly above his boat…
We soon forgot our numb fingers as, right from square one, the paddling was pushy and continuous. The Yoho slid visibly downhill, not reassuring for a boxed-in river of sizeable volume. Amazingly it always proved to be paddleable, but the Germans who first paddled the gorge back in the ‘80s couldn’t have known this – they must have had balls the size of Bavaria! The crux came. All we saw ahead was a smooth rock face, time to find an eddy! We fumbled along a cliff ledge to peer around the sudden corner. Over our heads a fixed paddle shaft commemorated a paddler who died here. I’m not superstitious, but I forced myself not to look at it. The line seemed obvious…dodge the holes around the bend and break out before the easy bit below. What could go wrong? I followed Chris and Andy around the bend. Chris found a micro eddy, Andy missed it…and the following rapid had magically morphed into a muntering maelstrom. Why does it always look tiny from above? Andy was dragged from sight; a rescue would be needed imminently. I followed Andy’s line over the lip in heroic Baywatch mode. Some dodging and weaving, a toilet flush through offset holes and a desperate claw past a massive rock. I was scanning the water for a swimming Andy, but shouldn’t have worried. I found him grinning in the bottom eddy; his line had been better than mine and he didn’t seem to have gotten his hair wet. It just goes to show. Something.
How do you top surviving one of the world’s finest grade 5 canyons before breakfast? Well, we had a fair crack at it. The road north was the famous ‘Icefields Parkway’. This incredible highway runs past innumerable glaciers and freakishly blue lakes in the 230 kilometres north to Jasper. At every lay-by along the route, we shamelessly joined a billion gawping and clicking Japanese tourists. Well worth an afternoon off paddling to see. But only if you’ve paddled the Yoho first.
Around Jasper, Kevin dragged us to a Rodeo. Not the whitewater kind where you float around in circles wearing a bib, but a real rodeo. Cowboys, bucking horses, seriously peeved bulls with sharp horns. The body count was epic but Rodeo etiquette dictated that nobody would let themselves be stretchered off. Rider after rider crawled in agony to the side. We sat transfixed throughout, swearing in awe. We’ll never think of kayaking as an extreme sport again!
We had time for one last river in the Rockies. Jasper’s horizon is filled by Mount Edith Cavell, and we headed out to find the river which drains it. The Astoria is famed for super-steep boulder paddling (“who tilted the earth’s crust over?”) but the real fun was finding it in the first place. We stumbled down a dry river bed into the valley, then bushwhacked cross-country through dense forest for an hour or two. This was never dull because well, we never felt alone. The bear paranoia was back with a vengeance! Kevin was suddenly popular again as we literally waded through bear pooh (provided presumably by Pooh Bear). We reached open ground and there ahead, was the Astoria River. We sat beside an eddy, exhausted.
“Thank goodness for that, we’re safe at last”
“Are you sure? Check out the sand, here”
“It’s a bear print. A grizzly bear’s, to be precise”
“Aren’t they the big stroppy ones?”
“It looks fresh. Very fresh indeed”
“Well, Gents…I think we’re back on the menu”.
Mark Rainsley moved down the food chain with Kevin Francis, Andy Levick, Heather Rainsley and Chris Wheeler.
Another magazine article, this one from 2003. Heather and I spent the summer in eastern and western Canada, paddling white water. We finished up on the Pacific coast near Vancouver, and thought that we really should do some sea kayaking, seeing how we were there…
The Sound of Desolation
…sea kayaking without anoraks, British Columbia 2003
“Mark, wake up! There’s a bear right outside our tent”.
“Don’t be silly dear; that’s just a seal snoring”.
Here in Britain, sea kayaking has a rather sorry ‘anorak’ image…we tend to associate the sport with unkempt facial hair, boiled seagulls and questionable social skills. Sea kayaking articles in the paddling press don’t help; they traditionally focus on such riveting aspects as compass bearings and the inner workings of the Trangia Stove. Whatever the reasons for this image, it does a fine sport no justice at all. My wife and I have learned not to mention our secret habit in civilised company, if we want to be invited on the next whitewater trip. UK sea paddlers for whom this all rings bells, may be surprised to learn that there is ‘another place’, where sea kayakers can be loud and proud; where ‘Ocean Kayaking’ is seen as a perfectly healthy eco-friendly lifestyle pursuit, with a multi-million dollar leisure industry built around it. Sea kayaks are sold in High Street stores alongside running shoes and bikinis, and there are more sea kayakers than mountain bikers. Paddlers arriving off the plane from the UK might think that they’ve arrived on Mars…but they’re actually in British Columbia.
A bit of scene-setting. The Pacific coast of Canada is an epic wilderness of mountainous islands and deep fjords, formed by glaciers spilling down from British Columbia’s Coast Range Mountains. So…it’s very big, it’s very wild. But…this isn’t going to be a heroic tale of half-starved heroics on raging seas. Heather and I paddled in one titchy and sheltered part of this region, known as Desolation Sound. Nobody suffered, no one even got tired, nothing scary happened, the food was actually rather decent and the distances conquered can be measured in hundreds of yards. It was all quite pleasant, just as sea kayaking should be.
Desolation Sound was named in 1792 when Captain George Vancouver sailed into the area, found absolutely nothing of interest, and went away again. The full title today is ‘Desolation Sound Marine Provincial Park’, and I’m boring myself just typing it. All you need to know is that it’s a protected Park which can only be reached by boat. Designating any single part of the surrounding region as a ‘Park’ is as pointless as awarding sashes at a Miss World contest, it’s all gorgeous! We enjoyed a small snippet of the area but suffice to say, it didn’t matter too much, which direction we headed.
Heather and I had been ambling across Canada for over a month, paddling whitewater rivers large and small. We were due to jet out of Vancouver soon, but first I’d promised Heather that we’d dip our toes in the Pacific Ocean. First, we prodded a random place name on the map…’Desolation Sound’ had a certain ‘buzz’ to it. Next, an Internet cafe supplied a solution; I typed the words ‘sea kayak rental desolation sound’ into a Search Engine and up popped the website for ‘Powell River Sea Kayak Ltd.’. I wrote down their phone number and called up to book a double kayak. I believe everything I read on the Internet, but for all I knew I was giving my credit card details to a fifteen year old in Russia.
Getting there was surprisingly unsimple. We returned our longsuffering hire car and stashed our creek boats at Vancouver Airport’s left luggage office (buying new boats would have been cheaper). Next, we caught the only bus to Powell River. This took six hours including two ferries up the coast, before we were dropped off in an unprepossessing shopping mall. We were indeed in the town of Powell River. The catch was that ‘Powell River Sea Kayak Ltd.’ were based well, somewhere else. We weighed ourselves down with food supplies at the Megamart and made the next hop, a taxi ride thirty kilometres north. A night of camping, a last supper at ‘Laughing Oyster’ restaurant (bizarrely luxurious, given that it’s located somewhere off the edge of most maps) and we were finally ready to collect our kayak.
We’d booked a Current Designs Crosswind, a vast barge of a plastic double kayak. I’d heard that the North American trend was for wider kayaks, but this was practically the Ark Royal. And why not? It was slow, but hugely stable and here was a boat that absolutely anyone could hop into and handle. Here in the UK, we sneer at sea kayaks which aren’t narrow and responsive…and then wonder why so few take up our sport. Anyway, the only catch was that this double didn’t have a centre hatch for stowing gear. This was a bit of an issue as Heather is, well, a girl. She’d brought enough clothes to sink a Dreadnought and fitting it all in required a subtle combination of lateral thinking and brute force. By the time we’d cracked this puzzle, the tide had receded leaving the boat high and dry, surrounded by large jagged oysters. These, somewhat rudely, kept spitting at us. We had to get help to lift the boat to the water’s edge, these doubles weigh some! The embarrassment continued as we weaved erratically up the sea inlet, barely in control; my UK sea kayak conditioning had told me that rudders were a bad thing, so I’d disconnected it. A quick tinker on the shore and it was back in service; suddenly we had complete control and our boat worked like a dream.
We’d launched onto the Okeover Inlet, basically the back entrance into Desolation Sound. We were against the tide, ferry gliding and eddyhopping upstream until the shores opened out and we entered Desolation Sound itself. We were wowed. Blue water below, blue sky above. Trees shrouded the hills right down to the shoreline, with a backdrop of sharp ice-shrouded peaks. We headed out into open water, with a small group of islands as our target. Leaving the shore behind, something occurred to me…we’d been in the same boat for a few hours now, and we hadn’t bickered once. Weird. This state of affairs was to endure throughout our trip. Must be something in the water?
The Curme ‘Islands’ turned out to be little more than lumps of rock with high aspirations. We chose a rock ledge directly at the water’s edge as our campsite and hopped ashore to unload. Whilst I faffed about with the tent, Heather’s organisation prior to the trip now paid off; it turned out that we had food, and good food at that. If she hadn’t shopped, we’d have been surviving on a tin of curry and a large bag of wine gums. Not only this, it turned out that she’d hidden a pile of tinnies behind her seat. Truly dire Canadian beer, but beer nonetheless. Gotta love that woman.
Next morning, we had a lie-in to compensate for a lousy night of sleep. Our rock ledge had turned out to be whatever the equivalent of a nightclub is for seals. Hang about. Seals. Clubbing. There has to be a joke there. Anyway, we’d missed the tide…it was a ten foot drop to the water and loading and launching was a bit of a comedy moment. Once on the water, we crossed to nearby Mink Island and our outing practically ceased motion hereabouts. The woman in the front of the kayak studied Ecology at University and Mink Island’s coast was apparently all of an ecologist’s dreams come true at once. Every few yards we had to halt whilst Heather pointed out all creatures great and small; deer, seals, gulls various, mussels, a bald eagle, oystercatchers, whacky jellyfish, seals, sea lions, a porpoise, grebes and more seals. Flora and fauna has to try hard to get me excited, but even I was freaked by the starfish and sea stars. These were absurdly enormous, colourful and well, everywhere.
When we finally left Mink, it was mid-afternoon and darned hot. Ice cream emergency! A check of the chart and an hour later, we pulled into Refuge Cove. This was a tiny mooring hidden up an inlet with float planes being the only outside link. When we pulled up alongside the quay, we were redirected…to the kayak quay. I thought we were the victims of a wind-up, until we rounded the corner and found a pint-sized landing stage with a sea kayak already moored. Surreal. Refuge Cove basically amounted to a ramshackle store but what a store; anywhere that stocks thirty flavours of ice cream gets my vote.
The target for the evening was a campsite at the head of this inlet but frankly, we couldn’t be bothered. The sun was shining, the water was warm and lethargy hit hard after we left Refuge Cove. The first beach we saw was good enough and we sunbathed and swam until the sun went down. Ancient logged trees formed a natural table and chairs to enjoy a spectacular sunset.
The stars came out and utter darkness ensued. Something wasn’t right. The sea looked…wrong. We skipped stones out onto the water and, bloody hell! The sea lit up. Phosphorescence. We had seen this phenomenon before in British waters but only as a mild sparkling effect. Here, it was, whoa, who switched the headlights on? We hopped into our kayak and paddled out into the black. Incredible, our paddles generated luminous swirls of plasma in the water. Green, pink, blue. Most astonishingly, long glowing tunnels appeared in the water around us…fish swimming! I don’t hold an ecology degree, but I can hazard an explanation; the sea in this part of the world is warm (79F) and utterly dense with teeming life; every inch is crammed with plankton and microscopic jellyfish. When this lot lights up, you get a lightshow that makes November 5th look lame. We’ve been around a bit and seen a few things…but we will never forget what we saw that night, let alone find adequate words to describe it.
In the morning we locked and loaded, and headed out again. Our pressing need was for fresh water, and we were able to find a lone house across the way on Cortez Island with a tap and an obliging owner. Plodding back into Desolation Sound, we made an open crossing and eventually made landfall on a beach at the head of the Malaspina Peninsula. Hilarity ensued when I realised that we’d left the tent poles behind at our last campsite. Well, I thought it was hilarious. Heather seemed to believe it was entirely my fault and wasn’t especially appreciative of my ‘Blue Peter’ attempts to keep our flaccid tent erect.
Our beach was back on the mainland, but a long way from any MacDonald’s. Heather now produced a mysterious bundle from a deep recess in the kayak; it was a fishing rod, bought in a moment of (presumably) complete insanity. We paddled around in circles near our campsite. I provided the propulsion whilst Heather fumbled with the rod in the front. Neither of us had fished before (and proud of it!) so a modicum of incompetence ensued. Eventually the line went taut. I laughed my socks off…of course she had snagged the hook on the bottom. But she hadn’t. A rather peeved looking rockfish popped up and was bagged. The hook went back into the water, and another fish emerged, in under a minute. And so on. It was ludicrously easy, the fish were practically jumping into the kayak. How can this be sport? Back in camp, it turned out that knife-wielding Heather knew how to convert these unfortunate fish into food. The things I don’t know about my wife, you could write a book. Dinner has never tasted better. So, you heard it here first; fishing is great fun. From now on, you can find me on the riverbank, hurling abuse at paddlers and claiming to own the place.
Our final morning saw an early start; we were on a schedule to reach Vancouver that night. Suddenly, we seemed able to paddle like we knew what we were doing; a bit of co-ordination and we ticked off the miles effortlessly. Our barge seemed to have become a much sleeker craft (because I’d finished all the wine gums?) and we literally shot along south. We passed the length of the ‘Copeland Islands Marine Park’ in pretty much the amount of time needed to say that, pausing only to note that it was a reserve for the protection of rockfish…oops, at least they had tasted good. The scenery was grand, an open vista past innumerable islands right across to the far glaciers of Vancouver Island. We were winding up our trip, but all we could see in each direction was more trips; we’d barely dipped our toes in the region’s possibilities.
As we pulled into the harbour of Lund, we really did not want to finish. We returned the kayak to Powell River’s offices there, and stuffed our gear into rucksacks. We’d been privileged to glimpse one of the more beautiful corners of our planet. Not only that, we’d briefly existed in a parallel universe where sea paddling is…well, cool. Our fantastic voyage had ended far too soon, but now we had a plane to catch. Could we be in Vancouver before nightfall? We stuck our thumbs out and mission impossible commenced…
Mark Rainsley thanks Perception Kayaks and Nookie Equipment for their continuing support.
Further info… http://www.bcseakayak.com – Powell River Sea Kayak and Rockfish Kayak companies; they hire equipment and organise guided trips.
http://wlapwww.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/desolation.htm – Official bumf on the Desolation Sound Marine Park.
Full Gallery of Desolation Sound photos
Sharing Skookumchuck tidal rapid with a friend, British Columbia, 2003.
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 …
Kevin is the reason I had a hangover yesterday. He’s getting married in a couple of weeks, so we all gathered for his Stag Night, which involved all manner of japes, such as … <edited – WHOTRSOTR>
Anyway, Kevin is yet another whitewater paddler friend who likes to slow down and enjoy the sea from time to time. He paddled to the Isles of Scilly with me a few days after buying his first sea kayak, and he has joined us for a number of trips this year. Kevin is very much into the campcraft side of sea paddling. In fact, he’s unhealthily obsessed with survivalist-bushcraft-Ray-Mears-type nonsense, and can usually be found lighting fires in pouring rain using wet moss and cow turds, whilst the rest of us head off to the pub for dinner. Kevin is also infamous for;
- Taking twice as long as everyone else to get changed.
- Being obsessed with shiney new colour co-ordinated paddling gear.
- Scaring small children.
- Wearing silly hats.
- Scaring llamas.
- Having no idea how many sisters his fiancee has, or what they are called.
Anyway Kevin, we’re all delighted that you and Alice are getting married. See you at the wedding!
In recent years, there has been an explosion in the popularity of kayak fishing in the UK, making it possibly the largest growth area of paddlesport. Most kayak anglers use specially designed sit-on-tops, as depicted. Beyond those facts, the sport of fishing is frankly a mystery to me, a situation I’d like to rectify. I have been known to attempt a bit of fishing from kayaks myself, albeit with zero success; partly due to my general ineptitude, partly because long expedition kayaks like mine aren’t exactly brilliant platforms for catching and landing reluctant and peeved fish.
The photo below depicts Heather in British Columbia a few years ago, showing how it is done. I really must get her to teach me the knack of this fishing business …