Joan got the ball rolling…
I thought I would get the ball rolling……though not a swimmer – come on where are you all – report writers?? And winners of ducks!!
Paddlers – Billy, John P, Paul G, Jim B, Andy, Rob, Sarah Mary, Paul, Stevie J, Jim N and Joan
There was plenty of water in the Doon last Sunday to greet us hardy paddlers on this first SSOTM of the new year. We’d all been watching the levels over the previous two days – up at 1.8m at one point, but now only just short of 1.3m on the Sunday morning gauge at Auchendrane. We met at the usual get in and sorted ourselves out.
And then we headed off……(to be continued by someone else)
Stevie picks up the story…
Sorry I’m a bit late on the trip report. I’ll put that down to a bout of severe procrastination brought about by an unexpected swim on a beginner river.
The weather was rather grim, cold and pelting it down on the drive to the get in at the Riverside Inn which I’m sure was once a lovely place to have a drink and a meal. Now it is a derelict eyesore, popular only with paddlers and fly-tippers. On the plus side the river was up over 1.2m and the highest I’ve paddled the Doon. Operations were in full swing by the time i arrived and i quickly got changed into my dry suit and we started the shuttle.
On the way to the get out i was clocked at about 38Mph in a 30 zone by a mobile speed unit, but i’ve not had a ticket yet and hope that by a combination of luck and calibration i never do. As usual i got lost on the way as did Billy who was following me.
On to the paddling. The water at the get in was fairly moving along and a little wave and stopper had formed at the first drop. I gleefully paddled into it and promptly got stuck, not to worry, i practiced all summer last year getting stuck on the first drop at Pinkston, i absolutely knew how to get out of it . So i leaned forward twisted my paddle in the water to turn the boat and got flipped. I tried to roll as though in slow motion. It felt like i was trying to push the paddle through treacle to get into a setup position and it never happened. I pulled my deck and floated down towards all the other paddlers who were now I’m sure wondering as was i, how in the hell did he capsize in that tiny hole. It just goes to show that you can’t underestimate any river regardless of how easy it was to paddle the “last” time.
Never mind, i was back in the boat sharpish and the embarrassment subsiding quickly as we moved on down through the little drops, everybody looking pretty comfortable as they ferried about the place until we got to one of the main attractions. I don’t know what it’s called but it’s where there’s a wooden balcony jutting out from the bank half way through the rapid. I was first down and i caught an Eddy near the top to observe everybody coming down. Rob took this to mean he would follow me in which was a fairly difficult eddy to catch for a beginner so he went over. I paddled over to him and he caught the back of my boat while others got his paddle and boat. The result of the capsize was a fairly unpleasant swim for Rob down through the rapids to the Jetty. I was lucky not to capsize myself and i was treated to a game of “How many braces can you do” to get Rob safely to the side.
At this point i could hear Joan shouting for help as well and the chaos descended. I paddled on to help Joan who got herself sorted out in the end. I waited behind the pillar of the broken bridge to watch poor Paul on his first river left to navigate his way down the rapids on his own, which he did brilliantly. Everybody else came down fine and we caught up with the other group everybody safe and sound. Everybody’s adrenaline was up now and it was a good time to stop for lunch shortly after.
After lunch there was more of the same ferrying and surfing until the next attraction. I think it is a broken weir and this is my favorite spot on the Doon and we never spend enough time here in my opinion. The water is channeled down the right hand side of the river to create a bouncy wave train with some nice Eddy’s to catch river right and a big pool of circulating water to the left. You can practice crossing the wave here to land in the Eddy’s on the other side. I did this a few times and then tried to lure some victims in to give it a go. Jim Nelson did it first try, John Porter tried something And Andy Dean made a valiant but fruitless effort that resulted in a swim. After sorting Andy out Jim N and myself went up for another few goes.
Next up was the big weir. Apprehensively myself and Paul G paddled up to take a look. It was higher than normal with massive stoppers on the right but looked safe enough to go straight down on the left which we did. Billy came next a little to the right and he did an inadvertent taily. Billy and i set up safety cover in case of any incidents but it was not needed. Last but not least the last drop that opens out to the sea. This was pretty big water and i expected a few swimmers but everybody made it down safe.
All in all a great days paddling. Didn’t expect to swim on the Doon but there you go. Really impressed with everybody’s paddling especially Jim Nelson at the broken weir. Paul on his very first river, no swims!! well done. Rob and his traumatic swim, hope it has not put you off. Sarah Mary looking a lot more confident than the last time we paddled the Doon and Joan for maintaining composure after a scary fight with the trees and branches at the bit with the Jetty.
Cheers to all.