I’ve been watching a range of weather forecasts in a bid to try and get a feel for things around here. With no hurricanes predicted, last night I went out for a paddle along the shore. Even now it’s light here till 10pm.
On a quiet beach I came across a strange installation – an abandoned Wasp Factory or maybe just some kids’ flotsam beach house. In some places the masses of washed-up fishing industry junk is depressing in the otherwise unpolluted surroundings, but it’s also part of what makes beachcombing so intriguing. Whose chopped down wellies were they (different sizes, made in Holland)? When was Calmac man’s (Hebridean ferry service) hard hat blown overboard and did he go with it? All messages without a bottle. If nothing else, as Gael observed last year along the SSKT, there’s always plenty of rope, netting and more usefully, firewood to be found on less visited beaches.
Once, on an Atlantic beach near the Mauritanian border I came across what could only have been oak timbers from some 16th-century European galleon (right); there are many shipwrecks along that less well-known skeleton coast. One beam included a distinctive, heart-shaped ring of rusted wrought iron which I’m sure some maritime archaeologist could identify and date. A rope guide maybe? We took an oak beam with us into the desert and later our guide – more used to using acacia – noted approvingly that our very well-seasoned hardwood’s embers made very nice sand bread.
Spade or shovel?
I paddled open deck that evening and along the way attempted to compare my good old, bent-shaft Werner Camano with my newer Corrywrecken (both discussed in more detail here). In short, over a couple of hours I could hardly tell the difference in operational terms except that the Corry initially felts amazingly light and taught after using the Camano, but going back to the Camano doesn’t exactly feel like falling headfirst down a well. Both are great paddles when compared to a spade tied to a shovel with duct tape. Can’t say the bigger Corry made the boat go any faster, but perhaps the lighter pull of the more ergonomically bent, low-angle Camano felt more natural and sustainable. It’s hard to tell if that’s a genuine impression or just a pre-conditioned response to what sea kayak paddle lore suggests. I think in the Incept I’ll stick with the Camano, only because it continues to work so unobtrusively plus I don’t want to mash or lose the newer Corry any sooner than necessary. Despite being named after a famous tidal whirlpool off Jura, I’d say the Corry is a great white water blade, where you want to pull fast pivots and brisk acceleration to navigate complex rapids.
I paddled back 2 miles or so with the rudder up under a very light wind and with perhaps a bit of back tide and swell. I’m getting the knack of tracking the K40 a lot quicker than in the Sunny without a skeg – but then I only discovered the Sunny worked skeglessly by mistake after a few weeks. My conclusion in the Incept is that you’re maybe 1kph down on a typical 6.5kph cruise (I had a GPS) because of the correcting finesse and concentration required. Maybe that will subside, but it all takes a little more out of you physically, as your hands are doing the steering/tracking as well as the pulling. Just like in the Sunny, every few minutes you spin offline for no reason you can fathom. So then either you pull hard to bring the front back, or you just spin right out and check out the view behind, then paddle backwards for a bit as if you were planning to turn all along. After a bit of that you lose it anyway, let it swing back around pointing forward and carry on your way.