Here then was the first “voyage” of my Wee Rob canoe – maybe I should give it a proper name! “Voyage” is a touch pretentious, but never mind. I launched at Bishopthorpe, just to the south of York itself. Heading upstream (not that the current was at all strong) I paddled on up towards the city of York. Kay was walking the riverside footpath and we hoped to meet for lunch; snag was that once in the confines of the city the river edges become distinctly unfriendly towards small boats and the only mooring possibilities seemed to be against stone edges several feet high. We agreed to go our own ways then, and I paddled on through the city, enjoying the very different perspective – duck’s eye view I suppose – that the kayak cockpit offered.
I pushed on through and out into the area known as Clifton Ings – very pretty and peaceful – and eventually found a sandy beach which was a convenient place to clamber out, stretch a bit and eat some lunch. Nice spot – the peace somewhat interrupted by a steady flow of dogs and their owners, but never mind. Headed back south, pausing to try to help (unsuccessfully in fact) one of the fleet of little red hire boats that had managed to run aground.
Eventually safe back at Bishopthorpe to haul out and get a cup of tea. Total distance measures on the map as 18km, in about 5 hours on the water. Not quick then – but I seemed to be at about walking pace. Take out half an hour for the lunch break and a bit more for photographs and failed rescues and call it 4 hours actually on the move – maybe that’s not too bad for a beginning.
Overall impressions? The boat is great. An apparently easily driven hull (though of course I’ve not really got any other experience with which to compare it), and stable enough to be comfortable and relaxed in. She seems to be watertight (though there might have been a spoonful in the forward buoyancy tank – I’ll check properly tomorrow), although a fair amount came in off the paddle. Yesterday was a lovely day and really warm so that wasn’t a problem, but it might be on a different day and I’ll have to think about what I wear and whether I want to use a spraydeck.
Paddling was OK and I’m learning techniques from uTube which helps. There’s something about rhythm that’s inevitably important, and finding how hard to shove. Actually literally – pushing with the top hand in a stroke makes a significant difference. Only experience will teach this, but I need to find an easy cruising rhythm which I can maintain for a whole day out. Forearms and shoulders were a little sore – but thankfully not all that much.
So – an excellent beginning. There’s lot’s of scope on different sections of the Ouse / Ure / Ripon Canal between Ripon and Naburn and the river may well become the focus of my paddling, rather than the canals I had first felt drawn towards – we’ll see.
Here are some pictures: