13th of March, 2011 – Canoeing Upstream and Down on the Tweed at St Boswells

Myself, Nick and Mitch met up at St Boswells, a small town lying on the River Tweed for some intended upstream work before the return paddle back to start.

Mitch, who knows his stuff and has been paddling canoes for years, had intended working on various techniques including, lining, ferry-gliding and poling to work our way upstream but with a swollen river and a lack of poles, the latter was abandoned.

For me things started bad, as the other two made their way slowly up the eddy we had launched in to, I sat stationary, paddling hard but getting nowhere. I got back to the bank and walked up a couple of meters which had me more in the eddy than where I had initially set off from and this worked, soon I was up next to Nick and Mitch.

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Once grouped, we ferry-glided across the river, through the main flow using a technique of angling the boat to minimise downstream movement. Pulling up on to the bank, we rigged up the boats under Mitch’s guidance for the main event, lining our boats upstream. He used the analogy of flying a kite with the canoe being the kite and the river the air flow, very apt when you see the technique in action. A bit of playing around with the positioning of the two lines and in the weighting of the boats had us working our way upstream with various levels of efficiency before we crossed stream again then continued on for another few minutes. The key to getting this to work was having the bow rise high out the water with the help of rocks (or luggage) in the stern.

Hard work! Pulling a ‘kite up wind’ in a rubber suit when the sun is out is definitely the way to appreciate a cool drink and something to eat and after another ferry-glide across stream, this time tandem for myself and Mitch towing his boat behind, we arrived at a picnic table and had a lunch stop.

Time was now running short for Nick and I with a pool session to attend so we made best use of the remaining time and crossed back and forth through a stronger flowing section of river a number of times. Reverse ferrying was a challenge and something definitely needing a lot of work. All too soon we turned downstream and headed back to our starting point, stopping once to surf on a wave.

A really constructive day and the first proper outing for my new canoe which has now got its first scratches. 😦

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