So to allow for plenty of water time before darkness descended, and a certain coach friendly start time, 5 of us heading for the relatively local delights of the river Clyde this chilly Sunday morning. The merry band were Sarah-Mary, Paul, Andy , Andrew B and Me.
Parking up at the road and getting ready in the 2oC early winter weather led to more than one utterance or under-breath mumble of “we must be fluppin’ crazy” (that’s what my delicate ears heard anyway), but shifting 5 boats down towards the actual put-in got the blood flowing and nicely warmed up, especially under a full dry-suit, big fleecy and two thermal layers. A nifty little bit of further portaging of boats and passengers down the steep bank to the river and we were ready to go.
The ratio of 3 super, super experienced paddlers to two relative newbies was great for myself and SM, and we decided to take our time with plenty of skills practice/play opportunities, rather than just rush to the end of the relatively short section of river. The first little bit of ferry gliding practice was in a slightly more vociferous patch of water than I personally was used to getting started in, and as ever it took a wee while to work out the panic-paddling nerves and relax into it. Much support, advice and encouragement from the Andys and Paul helped, as always with this lovely wee club, and we headed off down-stream with a bit more confidence.
That was, until a rather innocuous swim suddenly decided to mark me as the day’s first (only) victim. Hello Duckness, my old friend. The plan was to break out of a nice big eddy in to the river, and then head across stream to another nice big eddy. Nothing too tough, I’m not even sure how I got flipped, other than not being decisive enough, dithering over what to do, and the river deciding for me. Splash – feckin’ cold – exit – rescue. And D and Paul got me and boat safely to the edge, emptied out and back on the water. Good news is – my dry suit passed its first real test dooking test and I wasn’t soggy at all below the neck.
The confidence did take a bit of a knock though and it took a good deal of gentle encouragement for me to brave the next little play spot, and even then in a rather tentative lame-sauce way. Not so for Sarah-Mary who beautifully broke-in, nonchalantly surfed awhile, and gracefully carved back out – great work!
On we went to the much vaunted Triple. With expert guidance we all found the first lovely wee angled chute, splashed over the second drop and and (almost entirely successfully) avoided the rockopottumi along the final wave train.
A final little play in the waves past the next bridge rounded off the trip, a bit braver from me this time actually getting into the bit of the river I intended (i think the imminent thermos full of lovely warming tea boosted the confidence levels). Then we headed across river right and hauled ourselves up the the cars, proceeding to get changed on the street in the middle of lovely housing estate, drawing a combination of glances and comments from passer-by a residents which ranged from “very impressive to be out in this weather” to “that lot must be fluppin’ crazy”. There’s truth in both I reckon.
Thanks again to all for guidance, encouragement and good companionship on a lovely Sunday’s paddlin’.