13th of February, 2011 – Maiden Voyage

Finally, after two weeks waiting I managed to get out, albeit briefly, on my new canoe for its maiden voyage. A bad cold meant I missed the best weather of the weekend on the Saturday and with other commitments on the Sunday my first paddle was going to be short and in less than pleasant conditions.

Having looked at maps, the closest body of fresh water of a decent size seemed to be Gladhouse Reservoir and though perhaps not the most interesting place, that was where I headed. Finding the place took time enough and with more time spent searching for the mapped parking, apparently no longer accessible, my expected time on the water was rapidly diminishing.

Spotting some shelter behind a small island at the north of the reservoir, I parked up and checked out the access to the water, it looked fine but the wind was more the concern, forecast and actual F3 from the south, not ideal for canoeing but a good opportunity to see how the Pal (and me) performed in such conditions.

I set off, launching with a push, out in to the waves and headed over to the small island a hundred or so meters away for shelter from the wind with the aim of getting bit of experience moving this way and that and to compare my two paddles against one another. After a short while, I decided to head on a jaunt round the island playing with trim (distribution of weight along length of boat) to work with the headwind I was about to take on. It wasn’t to be though, four attempts, two on each side of the island failed as I couldn’t make headway in the wind without being blown off course. Waves and wind conspired a couple of times to wobble me a bit more than I’d like but no dips in Edinburgh’s water supply occurred and with a quick 180°, I was heading back to ‘shore’ rapidly, surfing with the waves as I went.

A friend, Scott, came along for the jaunt and took some pictures whilst sheltering in the woods nearby. I lost sight of him in his hyde and even once I spotted him all of a sudden on passing, our shouts were drowned out by the wind and wave noise.

Only forty minutes on the water all in but great fun and though slightly disappointed not to have gotten round the island, hopefully a bit more skill development will sort that out. Quite pleasantly surprised too with how comfortable the kneeling mat and knee pads are, something that should pay dividends over the long term. I can’t wait to get out again, especially in easier conditions and on more of a journey.

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