Tag Archives: gumotex twist

Chichester Canal & Pagham to Bognor

Forgot camera; pix WYSIWYG

We set out to paddle from Chichester Town Basin, down the old ship canal into the tidal Chichester Harbour at Birdham Lock. Lois and Austin in two do-it-all, drop-skeg Venture Flex 11s (right) Robin and Elliot in an old Gumo Twist 2 and a newer Nitrilon one, both ventflexof which fitted into carrier bags. Plus my Seawave lashed to a trolley.
Nearly two hundred years ago Turner depicted tall ships gliding serenely along the then new 4.5-mile canal (left). During the canal boom preceding the railways, it linked Roman-era Chichester with the huge natural inlet of Chichester Harbour and the adjacent naval fleet at Portsmouth. To the east was a canal to the Arun & Wey navigation (right), a short-lived inland link between London and Portsmouth commissioned at a time when Napoleonic fleets threatened the English Channel.

Our original plan had been no less grand – a 15-mile lap of Hayling Island (left) – but today the tides and winds were all wrong for that, and even with Plan B we’d arrive at Birdham at low tide to face an undignified sludgey put in.

On Google maps the canal looked clear, with maybe a quick carry around a lock or two. But just two miles from the basin, a thick mat of Sargasso frogweed clogged the channel at the B2201 Selsey Road bridge (left), reducing speeds to a crawl. Worse still, over the bridge this unallied carpet of errant biomass ran on forever, and probably all the way to Birdham Lock too.

Was it a high-summer frogweed bloom? The initial two miles are kept clear by rowers, paddlers and the 32-seater cruise boat which hooted past us with a lone passenger, tapping at his phone. But nothing bar the Solent breeze stirred the chmallardcanal west of the B2201, allowing the thick Sargassan spinach to fester and choke navigation to even the pluckiest of mallards. A picture from 2008 (left) shows less weed at the bridge and a rather squeezy thrutch through a spider-clogged culvert under the road.

Abandon Plan B all ye who Venture Flex here. Austin called in anchuber Uber: ETA 4 mins; ET back to his Volvo: 6 mins. Total elapsed recovery time: 16 mins, give or take. The internet of things – how modern! Soon the hardshells were lashed to the roof and the rolled up IKs heaved into the spacious boot of the Swedish landraft with class-leading crumple zones.
chwilfA quick map check and I proposed Plan C: Pagham Harbour just down the road and out of the rising southwesterlies. I’d never heard of this  medieval-era port which was now a bird sanctuary-cum-sludge bank but Elliot had been spotting here so knew the way to the chapel at Church Norton, thought to be the mythical 7th-C source of the overdue Christianisation of pagan Sussex.

chpumpA 5-minute haul led to the shore, except the tide – which should have turned over an hour ago – was still way out, leaving only chgoresnaking channels accessible down muddy banks.  We ate lunch, waiting, like Al Gore, for sea levels to rise. But when the time came nothing but irksome clouds of marsh gnats stirred as we padded over the springy salt-scrub to the nearest channel (left).
All around, chjetcollapsed jetties, concrete groynes and other arcane structures (right) recalled Pagham’s 19th-century heyday. Back then, the sea had been successfully sealed off and the land reclaimed for farming until a storm in 1910 broke through the embankment, reflooding the harbour for fair and fowl.

chspitneyAnother portage over a shingle bank got us to the main outlet leading to the sea and where the water was rushing out when it should have been filling. I realised that narrow-necked inlets like Pagham Harbour act like reservoirs, releasing their tidal fill gradually for hours after the sea tide has turned. In the tropical fjords of northwestern Australia’s Kimberley it can produce chhoribizarre spectacles like the Horizontal Waterfall (right).
We drifted and boat-hauled through a strange, desert-like landscape of barren shingle banks speckled with forlorn fishermen and demure nudists, until the spit spat us out into the English Channel like five bits of unwanted, flavourless chewing gum.

ch-harriAccording to images and video on Save Pagham Beach (left), it’s staggering how fast the spit has grown once shingle management ceased around 2004; part of a new ‘natural coastline’ policy. The spit has repositioned tidal erosion eastwards and along the shore, accelerating the scouring of Pagham’s foreshore and endangering the homes immediately behind. Recutting the Harbour’s outlet to the west (bottom picture, left) is thought to be a solution, but may transfer the flooding risk inside the harbour. Add in the protected SSSI status of the Harbour and the ‘homes vs terns’  debate becomes complex. Who’d have thought we just went out for a simple paddle.

Eastward along the coast, the assembled infrastructure of Bognor Regis rose from the horizon, while behind us the promontory of Selsey Bill kept the worst of the wind off the waves. With a helping tide and backwind we bobbed with little effort in the swell which gradually grew and started white-capping once clear of the bill. But as I often find, a sunny day and not paddling alone reduced the feeling of exposure and imminent chbogwatery doom. Only when a stray cloud blocked the sun for a minute did the tumbling swell take on a more threatening, malevolent tone. The buoyant Twists – hardly sea kayaks – managed the conditions fine and the lower, unskirted Ventures only took the odd interior rinse.

Talking of which, All Is Lost (right) was on telly the other night. Lone yatchsman Robert Redford battles against compounding reversals in the Indian Ocean after a collision with floating cargo container wrecks his boat. A great movie with almost zero dialogue.
Just near Bognor all was lost for real (above and right). Only a fortnight earlier, a similar, lone-helmed sailing boat had lost its engine and unable to sail, drifted onto Bognor’s serried timber groynes.
Less than two weeks had passed and already the hull was now cracked like an eggshell and the masts were gone (maybe removed). But unlike the doomed Redford character, on the day the Norway-bound sailsman had been able to scramble ashore.
These groyne stumps – designed to limit longshore shingle drift – could also be a bit tricky in a hardshell if the swell dropped as you passed over one. And just along the shore was another wreck (left) protruding gnarly, rusted studs which may well have sliced up an IK. Mostly submerged when we passed, some post-facto internetery revealed it to be the remains of a Mulberry Harbour pontoon, one of many built in secret during WWII as far as northwest Scotland, then floated out on D-Day in 1944 to enable the sea assault on Normandy.

chhidiOur own beach assault ended at the truncated remains of Bognor pier, proving the sea eats away at this whole coast. Bognor is a step back to Hi-de-Hi! Sixties Britain when we did like to be beside the seaside. All together now!
So ended a great day of paddle exploring. Uber!

 

Gumotex Twist on the Tarn Gorge

twistarn1tarn16mapOn the way back from some riding in the Pyrenees I persuade my lift that a day’s paddling in southern France’s famous Tarn Gorge would be a good use of our time. The 20-odd kms between La Malene and Le Rozier via Les Vignes (see map) is about as good a day in the gorge as you’ll get. We last did the full 75km from Florac to Le Cresse in 2007 with a Solar and the Sunny and had a great time.
gumotexfabrics18
This time IKing chum Robin was baptising his new Gumotex Twist 2, an entry-level IK which in the MkII version has gone back to shiny Nitrilon Light inside and out. I do read here that one unhappy customer found out it was ‘70% less strong and only 30% lighter’ than the regular Nitrilon as used on Seawaves, 410C, Helios and so on. His boat flipped in the wind and punctured on a stick which does sound like a gale combined with an exceedingly sharp stick.
According to the Gumotex graphic (left) it appears like Nitrilon Light uses the same layering as the Nitrilon in the higher spec Gumboats, but due to a lower-strength fabric core Nitrilon Light has about a third of the tensile strength. Many older Gumo IKs were over-built with tough, commercial raft fabric and so the result is a light and affordable IK with a slick interior that wipes down and dries fast. As a reminder the T2 is 3.6m long, a generous and stable 83cm wide and weighs 11kg (2kg more than the old model). Payload is said to be 180kg. Robin has the original Lite Pack Twists but found they weren’t so practical or robust, at least not on the submerged light industrial detritus found in his neighbourhood. Nitrilon Lite was dropped from the Gumotex lineup in 2018.
twist-seatThese MkII Twists also have detachable and adjustable seats – a big improvement (or return to former practises) because it means they can be easily replaced with something twistfootrestbetter. There’s nothing wrong with the blow-up seat base but the inflatable back section lacks support. Robin’s fitted some sort of SoT seat pad (left, in his T1). Another improvement on the MkIIs is making the top seam on the side tubes overlapping flat, not just pressed together which maybe simplifies assembly in the factory but looks cheap. There’s a mushy inflatable footrest for the front paddler; the back paddler adjusts their seat to use the back of the front seat as a footrest. And there’s now also a PRV in the floor chamber which the Lite Pack Twists didn’t have. We like PRVs here at IK&P. We even like PRVs all round.
twistarn2The £350 T2 could actually be a good lightweight alternative to the 60cm longer 410C which costs £200 more (in the UK), as it still has a useful length for a solo touring paddler. Problem is, using just the back seat tips the weight back and the bow up unless there’s a hefty counterbalancing load on the front. The boat paddles OK like this and probably turns quicker, but yawed more twistarn4than my packraft so seemed slower and just looked wrong. For a while Robin knelt canoe-style which looked more balanced but isn’t a really a sustainable way of paddling without a bench.
On the old Sunny (and maybe the 410C which replaced it), to paddle the double boat solo you just flipped the front seat to face backwards, put the skeg on the bow end (skeg patch came fitted on a Sunny) and paddled off balanced in the middle of the twistarn3boat. The Sunny and the 410 are possibly symmetrical boats with an identical bow and stern. I’m not sure the twistsymTwist 2 is (right), though I doubt you’d notice any difference paddling it stern first. If you do do this front seat flip/paddle ‘backwards’ trick you’d need to stick on a second skeg patch (£12, easily done) under the bow. Or, to paddle bow forward, you’d need to stick on a couple of Gumo d-rings (€15 in Germany) midway between the current two seat mounts to sit you in the middle of the boat. I’d also recommend using the various floor fittings to mount something like a solid footrest tube. The mushy inflatable Gumotex ones were never much cop, need inflating and weight more.
twistarn6We set off, me assuming my Alpacka would be a lot slower, but Robin likes to bimble along, waving his bow around. The Tarn was shallow and so his skeg took quite a beating, made worse by the rearward weight bias. They’re pretty much unbreakable but I’d have removed it even if the tracking may have suffered. packsag
With careful scanning the Alpacka just about scraped through the shallows, with me occasionally resorting to ‘planking’ where you lift your butt by leaning back on the stern to improve clearance. As you can see right, the derriere is the lowest point which I why I glued on a butt patch. On the Twist Robin could only shove forward or get out and pull. By the end the Twist’s skeg patch was a little torn which takes some doing.
soucytwistarn5It took 90 minutes to cover the 9km of Grade 1 riffles to the Pas de Soucy where a rockfall blocks the river (left) and makes some very nasty strainers. Midway en portage we nipped up to the lookout for the view then had lunch and put back in for the 12km stage to Le Rozier and the van.
lesvigsSoon after Pas de Soucy is the chute or glissade at Les Vignes where a typical indestructable rental brick tends to plough in at the bottom, while an airy inflatable surfs over the pile. The missing fourth frame in the pictures below is the blue SoT flipping over. ‘Prends pas le photo!’ No harm done on a 30°C day in sunny France.

shooters

This section of the gorge has some juicier rapids, but it’s still nothing that would freak out a first timer; that’s what makes the Tarn such a classic paddle: great scenery, some white water action, easy camping and the fun of splashing about among the flotillas of SoT rentals. There are several campings below the road right by the river, though this time of year they’re all packed out. On arrival we got the last pitch between two noisy young groups at Le Rozier and a free lift next morning up to La Malene from the kayak rental agency next door. There’s also a shuttle bus running up and down the gorge.
There’s an old post on southern France paddling here. Hop on the TGV with your packboat and get down there.

lesvigz

Gumotex Twist Nitrilon models

See also this

twistrNews of the new gumotexfabrics18
Gumotex Twists made of slicker, full-coat Nitrilon Light came out in 2015. Then in 2017 they droped that fabric and returned to just regular tough Nitrilon. Weights went up, so did th
e price but the boats will be bombproof which you could not say for the original models. The 3.60-metre T2 double (left) goes for £340 and weighs 13kg. The 2.6-metre T1 (green, left) costs £369 and weighs 9kg.
gumoT1
Both come with proper removable and adjustable seats and footrests. On the original Twists both these things were regarded as cost and weight saving measures and even though the boats were very light a mate who has both found them not at all robust (he’s since bought a T2) Now with the slick fabric coated on both inside and out, the boat ought to be tougher and will certainly be much quicker drying.

Gumotex Junior

Gumotex Junior
At ‘only’ 10kg (we thought that was light, back in 2005) I thought this would be ideal for lightweight g-friend and even for me in a pre-packrafting sort of way. However our conclusion was it was merely a heavy, boat-shaped paddling pool made out of unusually tough material.

With my weight I of course had about 3mm of freeboard but it was a hopeless tracker (not that we were experts back then) and all in all felt a bit of a half-baked design.
gumjuniorGumotex do sure make some turkeys, but they don’t make this one anymore. Then again, in 2009 feedbacker Chris reported: “We opted for two Juniors and these are fine for what we need and really light for the motorhome as we are restricted on weight.” But he did report one was splitting  at each end, possibly from overheating?
For a small, compact IK the current Twist 1 is better and lighter – or if that’s important, a packraft is even better.