Archive for May, 2018


MUD. The Upper Forth Monday 21st May 2018

Paddlers:  Geoff, Colin and Tim

Weather: Dry, Sunny at times, Breeze from south

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It seemed like a good idea; sunshine forecast in the East, tide running west to east in morning, east to west after lunch and points of interest; Boness, Blackness Castle, Hopetoun House, the Three Bridges and the new aircraft carrier being assembled at Rosyth. The reality was Mud, More Mud and enough clapotis to worry.

We assembled at 08:30 and were away by 8:45 for the 1.5 hr drive. Our first delay was finding the sea at Boness but eventually we found,  behind some factories, an excellent parking spot by the yacht club with a broad slip adjacent. Sadly the delays meant the water was already receding leaving 50m of glutinous, smelly mud between the end of the slip and the water. A test revealed a capacity to absorb boots, indeed potentially bodies, so we were forced to carry the loaded boats around a rough seaweed strewn, rocky beach for 800m to the water. Even here the mud led to an unpleasant departure.

The paddle down the Forth was pleasant if uninspiring. The mud made any investigation of the Roman port unattractive and even a visit to the majestic Blackness Castle was ruled out because of it. At Hopetoun we hoped to have lunch and a “hard” beach was only 10m from the water’s edge. Tim got out and suggested it was solid enough but this proved to be Fake News. Thirty amusing minutes of sinking in an oily quicksand, falling over into the water as boots got repeatedly stuck and generally getting boats, clothes and persons coated in mud followed. Sadly the water was so filthy it could not be used to wash off the mud. The retreat was sounded.

Trying to find something solid to stand on when relaunching

Mud; on paddles, on seat, in cockpit, on trousers, on arms and legs.

On then to a promised broad concrete slip at Port Edgar, beneath the bridges. Colin’s staked reputation was shattered as we found 1m of mud between water and end of slip and evidence that it was as disgusting as that we had already experienced. So we decided to cross the Forth to a potentially hard landing at North Queensferry. Beneath the bridges the tide swirls around the rocks and bridge footings which causes some worrying quite rough water.  The beach however was excellent being fine-grained sand. On the beach the thickest mud was removed, the long-delayed lunch was partaken and the sun came out.

Small Oil Tanker adds to the bounce

By this time an alternative plan to return to Port Edgar as the tide got up to the slip and then use a Taxi to get the car at Boness was adopted. The plan was to paddle back via the rail bridge and the South Queensferry slip but the turbulence was so worrying to one of our team that he made a beeline direct to Port Edgar without having a look at the fort at Inch Garvie.  He did not miss much.

Back on shore the alternative plan was enacted, the car was collected (it is a surprisingly long way from Queensferry to Boness in a taxi) and we got home just after seven.  A memorable day of around 20km but the Upper Forth is not recommended as a paddling destination except for hippopotami.

 

Training May 2018

The Beginners and Intermediate Thursday night training trips continued through May at Lomond Shores, Craigendoran and on the 17th at Kidston. The last of these was a perfect night with sun and no wind; a little different from the aborted trip last year. Youngsters Paddling on the 17th were: Rowen, Jessica and Jenny (Int) plus Cammy, Alex and . Leaders: Steve T., Allan, John and Geoff

Treshnish Isles – 5th-7th May 2018

 

Paddlers  Holly, Lee, Steve T, Colin, Gordon, Steve W and Hugh

Weather Breezy and Bright. Rain overnight Sunday.

Route 

Report

A good turnout for the first club sea expedition of 2018 with 3 cars headed to Mull for rendezvous at Ulva Ferry or rather just to the north of it where we managed to find off road parking near to the water at Laggan Bay. We assembled rather early since most of the ferries were booked out for the bank holiday and we had to take the 0730 sailing with Colin and Steve T going up late Friday and camping.

Day 1 The wind forecast was 18-20 miles/hour mean, force 4/5 with gusts of 30 miles/hour from the SW so we decided to keep protected from the swell and close to shelter by going from Laggan Bay along the N side of Ulva and Gometra to camp at the extreme W end to hopefully take advantage of the better forecast for Sunday. After a stop for lunch and walk through the tidal gully between the two islands 7.36 Nm took us to Acairseid Mhor, an inlet sheltered by the HW island of Eilean Dioghlum and used by Gometra House. Space for 6 tents was found just S of the tidal channel and a sheltered spot for a driftwood fire. Good camp site for future use.

 

 

Day 2. Due to good internet reception we were able to get a full Met office forecast for our location and Sunday had changed overnight to higher winds pm. This meant we had to get to relative safety by midday so a decision was head direct to Lunga to camp and spend the rest of the day exploring the island. Overnight rain was followed by a dank misty morning. The 4.27 Nm crossing saw conditions improve and the wind freshen to give a brighter day. A 1 metre ocean swell with a superimposed light wind chop made the crossing interesting with the inevitable carpet of sea birds on approach to Lunga.

We landed on a stony beach on the S half of the island which the oldest member of the group had last used about 25 years ago. It was good enough for all the tents and provided enough driftwood for a fire. The afternoon was spent exploring Lunga and visiting the various sea bird colonies including the famous puffin shelf. Gordon then produced a pair of swing rhythm bags (somebody had to tell me what they were called) and did a pretty good demo of an Olympic gymnast before moving on to teaching 3 item juggling. A pleasant evening by a good fire and off to bed for a quiet night, or so we thought…. No one seen them so we can only presume that several birds, probably geese, flew in to roost in safety only to find several tents on their landing strip, with one crashing into Steve W’s pots outside his tent, anyway they flew around making a racket for what seemed ages before all went quiet. So much for the peace and quiet of an uninhabited island!

 

Day 3.

The forecast for Monday had ruled out a return via Staffa and a very early start to ensure we made our 1815 ferry booking so at 0845 we headed N up the Treshnish chain and stopping briefly on Fladda where Holly found a bag that turned out to be a long lost sea kayak towline, requiring only cleaning. On then to Cairn na Burgh Beg and Cairn na Burgh More, both with castle ruins visited by the fitter members of the group whilst the aged checked the wildlife (greater black backed gull with 3 eggs) and drank coffee after forgetting the tea bags.

The crossing to Gometra was uneventful in that there were no whales, dolphins or basking sharks but that was compensated fully by the sighting of a pair of white-tailed sea eagles, an otter and several deer as we retraced our outward course along the N of Ulva. Arriving back at the cars in pleasant sunshine before 1600 having covered just over 13Nm, a good paddle. Steve W even managed a victory roll to test the loaded kayak and found little difference. We were at the ferry in time to get a refreshment in the pub and then had an outdoor fish and chip party on Oban promenade in pleasant sunshine.

A good trip and surprisingly for a bank holiday no other sea kayakers on Lunga.

Hugh M