Monday, November 02, 2009

Tees Hook Up

Isn't the internet a wonderful thing! - Up in Yorkshire for a week, with a boat, but no paddling buddies. Thanks to the Durham Uni CC web forum I was able to find a few lads to go boating with. (Rory, above, and Paul)

A Mild day, adequate water and the Upper Tees proved a fun paddle and very Photogenic.
Salmon Leap (or 'Dog Leg') rapid

And Low Force falls

Loads more photos here

Sunday, July 19, 2009

July Trading

Strong winds - but summer rain. Trading down from a Sea boat to a River boat and the rare privilege of paddling our rivers in a warm green English July
Rain is Liquid Sunshine (Los Burritos)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Exploring Gokova

On the flight home, Frances turned to me and asked "can we do this again next May?" - this was the result I was looking for, I have found a formula for sharing paddlesport with my better half - sun, gentle paddling, deserted beaches and chilled days in foreign waters.

There were a few moments during the week when I thought the plan might not work. The time when she called out to me "there's a bloke up there with a gun calling us" (we had wandered into a military zone) and the afternoon when a force 5 had picked up a 2 metre swell (but we were camped on a sheltered island)

But, exploring the Gulf of Gokova, in South West Turkey, with a couple of rented sea kayaks proved an excellent week

The Region
Turkeys South West Coast where the Aegean Sea meets the Mediterranean Sea is often referred to as the Turquoise Coast on account of its azure seas – tempted!. A quick browse of Google Earth will reveal a rugged, pine forested coastline with lots of inlets, bays and islands.

We explored the Gulf of Gokova, which lies 40 minutes North of Marmaris (and a couple of hours drive from Dalaman Airport). This area offered a comparatively wild and remote coastline with many small beaches in sheltered bays - with little or no road access or settlement within the expanse of pine forest
The region is very quiet – no one around except the odd fisherman and passing yachts and Gulets (the latter, are beautiful yachts carrying tourists from the Turkish resorts on day or week excursions)
The paddling – conditions and climate/weatherIn late May we enjoyed cloudless skies and temperatures in the low 30’s. The prevailing winds are North West and normally pick up in the afternoons to force 3/4. On a few days these generated a significant swell (to 2 metres) – but can easily be avoided in the sheltered bays
We were on holiday, not on ‘an expedition’, and enjoyed a leisurely paddling routine. Up with the dawn, packed up and away between 07:00 and 08:00, paddling (with stops) through to 13:00 and then lounging around the chosen beach camp for the rest of the day. Take a tarp for shade

There is no shortage of beaches suitable for camping. All are of similar character, narrow and pebbly (don’t forget sleeping mats), often with some shade afforded by scattered pine trees and vegetation. The nature of the thick scrub behind the beach makes it difficult to explore beyond the fringe
Unexpectedly we found rubbish a big issue. Almost all beaches are cluttered with washed up debris. Vast quantities of plastic line the shore. At first we found this disturbing, but quickly became accustomed to executing a quick tidy-up and ‘litter pick’ before establishing each camp. A word of warning, however, the debris may include a fair share of fishing tackle and a barbed hook in a foot on this remote coastline would (and almost did, in our case) bring your holiday to a swift endThe pine tree forests of this region are plagued by fires throughout the summer. While, for this reason, I believe fires are forbidden in the area, we built small contained fires on the pebbles each night – but well away from any vegetation

This area of South West turkey is reputed to be teeming with birdlife, but the particular stretch of coast that we explored had surprisingly little (only gulls and cormorants) The insect life proved much more interesting with many species of arachnids (some beautiful some looking decidedly mean).

There were a few mosquitoes and horse flies about but too few to cause a problem. Snorkelling proved a pleasant way of passing the hot afternoons. Lots of urchins and fish but no colourful reefs

An outfit called “Alternatif Outdoor” established in 1991 will, in addition to running guided tours, rent sea kayaks and gear out to ‘independents’. We took our own paddles, PFDs and camping equipment and hired boats (Prijon Seayaks) and decks from Alternatif. If we hadn’t been so fussy we could have hired everything we needed. But, take your own maps and charts (we laminated Google Earth maps) – the charts that Alternatif can supply are very limited. Surprisingly we had good mobile reception everywhere we went. We took a VHF but never used it.

Alternatif Outdoor Kenan Evren Bulvar, Camlik Sok. 10/1, Marmaris, Mugla, Turkey Tel 00 90 252 417 2720 Email: Web:
Everything you are likely to need can be purchased in Marmaris before you leave. Shops are open 7 days a week and bread, pasta, tuna, fruit, vegetables, snacks etc. can all be purchased from the small supermarkets. We had to carry sufficient water for 5 days 30 litres (6 x 5 litre bottles) proved just right. Theoretically, we might have been able to acquire water at ‘Ali’s place’ (tucked away down the deep inlet of Kargili Koyu) on the 4th day, or scrounge some from one of the yachts
Ahmet, who was driving us and our boats to the get in, laughed at our smiles as we left Marmaris in the rear view mirror. He remembered, just 20 or so years ago, when Marmaris was a sleepy fishing harbour. Now, there’s only a tiny scrap of the original character remaining, the rest has been swallowed up by the ever growing tourist resort development. Restaurants and clubs vie for your custom, a ‘Full English’ breakfast available at every corner to aid your recovery after a night of Karaoke and foam parties. While 24 hours at either end of our trip was more than enough time here, Marmaris is not entirely devoid of charm, set within a beautiful bay and kept remarkably clean and tidy

Getting There
Flights from the UK to Dalaman Airport are frequent – and shuttle buses from the airport to Marmaris are cheap and easy

Sadly the ‘bucket airlines’ don’t fly to Dalaman and we couldn’t find flights cheaper than £300 (indeed, the cheapest we found came with apartment rooms in Marmaris thrown in!). Alternatif charge 30 Euros a day for each sea kayak (including paddles, deck, PFD, bilge pump). This, together with the 75 Euros for transfers at the beginning and end of the trip means that the whole holiday doesn’t come particularly cheap – but we would still recommend it!

More Photos here

Published in "Canoe & Kayak UK" Magazine September 2009

Monday, April 20, 2009

Long Boat on Long Island

Strange as it seems, there is a long boat beached at Long Island, Poole Harbour.

Long Island, owned by the Rempstone Estate, was put on the market back in 2007 and big forbidding ‘PRIVATE KEEP OFF’ signs have since adorned its shores. Before this we had often landed to enjoy a picnic and short stretch here when paddling in the harbour. The occupant of the barge didn’t want to be drawn into a conversation (it was still early in the morning) but it would seem that the long boat is being used to accommodate security guards charged with preventing anyone landing on the island.

As I understand it, someone has submitted a ‘rights-of-way’ application and over 100 people have given evidence that the island has been visited and used as a public right of way for 30 to 50 years. I believe the sale of the island has been put on hold until the outcome of this application is known.

Security guards on an island in Poole harbour! I guess if I owned, and was trying to sell, an island in Poole Harbour I wouldn't be keen on folk wandering all over it either

Still, it didn’t seem to phase the Round Island seal we spied swimming close to its shores and we still enjoyed our short ‘Breakfast on Brownsea’ paddle.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


We had waited many months for the conditions to be suitable for introducing a few very keen 'yoofs' to the joys of the Upper Dart. We wanted it just below the ledge with mild air temperatures. 15th February was perfect. A grand day out.
Above, Ben (16) exiting Euthanasia
Below Jacob (15) negotiating Boulder Rapid
And Jake (13) on Euthanasia

Never too young

Monday, February 02, 2009

A Sequence on the Lyn

1st February and the temperature never crawled above freezing. Levels on the East Lyn were low and the river chossy. This sequence follows Chas through some of the gnarl at the beginning of the gorge section.

To complete the sequence another paddler goes deep below the drop that Chas is pictured entering above
My numb fingers were struggling with the camera controls but we were off the river before the first flurries of snow arrived that heralded the approaching storm. We restored our circulation over the obligatory Devonshire Cream Teas that always round off a good day out on the Lyn.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Seal at Christchurch

During the Christmas week, with the rivers of Dartmoor empty, I took my sea boat out a few times.

On New Years day I paddled from Mudeford up to the tidal limit of both the Stour and the Avon (to give me some much needed exercise and to clear a hangover!).

I was fortunate enough to have a close encounter with a seal just at the entrance to the Avon (SZ 162 922) – he popped up next to the sea kayak, gave me a few welcoming snorts and swam around and under the boat before departing. I was so suprised I forgot to get my camera out - but the above is fairly close

I don’t think I have ever seen seals in Christchurch Harbour before? (But, that could be a memory thing!).

Nice start to 2009 anyway!