We decided to go to Bridlington! Leeds was shrouded in the dullest of February weather, but there was the hint in the forecast of something a little better to the East, so to the East we went and, as the images indicate, found blue skies and sunshine which lasted most of the day – excellent!
We thought we’d been there before, but in fact realised that we hadn’t. In some ways it seemed basically similar to other East Coast resorts that we have visited – Scarborough, Filey and Whitby for instance which though they each have unique characteristics, bear a distinct family relationship to each other. There were certainly people around enjoying the day, but this was a winter’s day and not even “half term” for the local schools, so it wasn’t going to be crowded. Many shops, amenities and “attractions” were closed along the front, but we found a perfectly good chippie that provided us with a good lunch for £6 each!
It’s still something of a fishing harbour with all the shore-side facilities that support “the fleet”, but maybe most of the boats were out on the water, or maybe there just not there anymore. There’s a touch of “faded glory” about the place I felt, and maybe not quite the signs of resurgence that are evident in say Scarborough or Whitby.
We walked into the “Old Town” which was good to see, offering a different aspect to the town. The Priory is imposing – standing almost protectively above a field of allotments and greenhouses. There’s an influence of “Dads Army” around too, some of it having been filmed here.
A good visit – a good day – and a selection of images …….
Time for a change of route and so a launch at Linton on Ouse and a “passage” to Bishopthorpe, with the logistical help of Kay and the car. Linton was OK, except for a 90 degree bend in a walkway down and round which the kayak had to be negotiated to get it to a landing stage which had a shade too much freeboard for my taste, but which was obviously ideal for craft awaiting the nearby lock.
All that dealt with, the first stage of the journey was quite delightful, silent but for the paddle in the water, a whispering breeze and a little birdsong. The only “hazard” was the occasional fisherman concealed in the bushes, but I think I managed to steer clear of their floats and stayed on good terms with my fellow river users! I came across a moored vessel which had the looks of a sailing barge, possibly with Thames connections, although I’m not sure about the rather splendid lee boards, they probably make it Dutch. Pictures follow ……. It looked somewhat in need of TLC and would make a delightful restoration project; but only I suspect for someone with very deep pockets!
About 2 hours saw me at the same lunch stop the I’ve used before which I was happy enough to use again. Also exploiting the beach and the river was a quintet of boys, aged I guess about 10 or 11. Grand to see really – kids doing what they’ve done since time immemorial and jumping, diving, splashing and generally thoroughly enjoying themselves. The one jarring note was the language that they were using; swearing fluently and without inhibition and at substantial volume. I haven’t heard the “f” word used with such enthusiastic frequency since well, the last time I guess. It’s not I think that was offended – I’m well past that! It just seemed sad really, and introduced a note of real ugliness into that otherwise traditional, bucolic, even lyrical scene that one imagined such as Constable might have painted.
Onwards though, and eventually back through the noise and bustle of the city and eventually on to Bishopthorpe where my arrival pretty much coincided with Kay’s. Conclusions ……? I seem to be paddling at about 5/6 kph, so a decent walking speed. That’s fine – but I confess to feeling in my muscles and general sense of tiredness that 4 hours paddling is a bit much. (Whimp!) So I’m going to try launching at Bishopthorpe again with a view to spending say 2 hours on the water and building in some species of “interval training” and so creating a more specific pattern of exercise in the exercise (which at least grammatically is one exercise too many!)
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.
Pugney’s again then, for the second launching in a month or so! Wee Rob was finally ready for the great adventure. Actually the first adventure was getting her securely on the roof rack, which, I’m glad to say, was an easier process in the end than it had been in my imagination in the “wee small hours”. I was obviously concerned to damage neither boat nor car, and equally anxious to try and do the job on my own so that I could be sure of being able to function single handed on at least some occasions in the coming months. Similar anxieties at the other end, but again, mission accomplished without too much drama. Encouraging!
The “C-Tug” makes it much easier to move a canoe / kayak around and indeed forms a handy launching trolley on the slipway; and then there she was sat on the water. I found my way in – there’s a technique that wants perfecting! – paddled round in a circle, came back and checked the buoyancy tanks, both of which were bone dry. Then I set off and worked my way round the lake.
My impressions were that she is easily driven and accelerates through the water nicely (although I don’t have any real benchmark – the IGO is a very different prospect, and not a fair comparison). She held a straight line reasonably well, but the moderate to brisk wind did tend to push her off line by the stern. That tendency was quite marked coming downwind – either there’s something to be learned here in terms of paddling technique, or maybe it will be worth fitting a skeg. Time will tell.
Certainly the experience of paddling her was much more comfortable and indeed easier than had been the case with the IGO. That said, I was conscious of the effort in arm and shoulder muscles – there’s an obvious issue of strength and fitness here which I can work on – there’s an equally obvious set of questions about technique that I might find help with on uTube. I also have the “greenland paddle” almost finished in the workshop and its longer, more slender blades will offer a different feel in the water no doubt.
A successful and encouraging outing then. I think the next move will be to take her to Bishopthorpe and launch her on the Yorkshire Ouse and see how it feels to paddle upstream toYork and back. Next week maybe …… meanwhile here are some pics …….
Two things I should add! First of all my thanks, as ever, to Kay for her understanding and companionship, and for her photographs. Secondly a thought about Ruston’s IGO …… I think I’m going to offer her for sale on the basis that Wee Rob feels a lot more comfortable and indeed better suited to the waterways that I have in mind. I’ll try that tentatively on the “Song of the Paddle” forum, and we’ll see.
Playing catch-up a bit here! Stuff has happened, as stuff does, but I haven’t got around to typing the blog – still I don’t suppose anyone reads it!!!
Rushton’s first of all: I had a second session at Pugney’s which in many ways was very successful. I managed a double circumnavigation of the lake, at somewhat less than Kay’s walking pace. It was all very pleasant – but just very uncomfortable. It becomes clear that if I’m to make use of the IGO (and that’s a genuine “if”) I need to come to terms with paddling in a kneeling position. I’ve investigated a “kneeling saddle” which sounds promising and seems to be well reviewed by those who use one. Not dreadfully expensive, and maybe worth a try. Overall I’m feeling that the boat is a structural success and I’m pleased and proud to have built it – but it may just not be for me!
Here’s a couple of pics:
So then – segue to Wee Rob, thats been sitting patiently on the patio waiting for the Spring which has finally, somewhat grudgingly, arrived in Leeds. This of course means getting back to a style of boatbuilding that I understand a little bit about and I felt genuinely pleased to be back under way. The decks went on without too much drama, and once trimmed to size both around the edges and in the cockpit well, they transformed the appearance of the boat. The cockpit coaming meant rigging up the steam box again and doing the bending trick with some ash. There was a measure of busking it here, but in fact it came together reasonably well and looks about right.
How to finish it? At this point I turned her upside down on the building frame and painted her hull white – brilliant white gloss no less. Two undercoats and a top coat, and a very satisfactory result. I bought and fitted brass keel band, deciding along the way that metalwork is definitely not my thing! It’s OK though and I decided to bring the ends of the band on the keel itself right up to deck level on each stem, just in case I need to ram anything.
Finishing the decks proved more problematic. I’ve used Deks Olje to good effect in the past, but what I have on the bench is boiled linseed oil, which in truth worked very well on a couple of paddles, but not so well on the decks. Maybe I tried to put too much on – obviously it only goes into the top lamination of the plywood – but in the end it was drying very reluctantly and distinctly lumpily. “Long story short” I seriously assaulted the finish with a number of variations on the wet and dry theme and found my sense of frustration (why didn’t I just paint it?!) being replaced by pleasure at the emergence of quite a nice flat finish. I decided (encouraged by research on the web) to top it off with yacht varnish. As I write the second coat is drying off in the workshop and, whisper it, it doesn’t look at all bad.
So – I have high and reasonable hope of a launch, back at Pugney’s, next week – I’ll keep you posted. Here are a few more pics ……
Here’s another month’s progress! In fact she’s now pretty much finished, as the images below will bear out. The framework complete, the next task was “skinning” it, with cotton duck – and that went reasonably well. Dampening it with a hi-tech bucket and sponge drew it all up wondrously tight and wrinkle free, and although that slackened off a touch as it dried, the paint tightened it up again and the result seems to be OK. I’ve now just a final rubbing strake to add and we’re about ready for the water.
I’ve also been carving paddles and I have two now ready to go, one in Larch, a design called an “ottertail”) and the other in Poplar – aka Tulip Wood – which is a “beavertail”. I’ve treated them with Linseed Oil – lovely stuff to use – and they’re about ready too. Paddle-making is really enjoyable aspect of canoe building which I may well decide to pursue a bit. These two initial offering are I suspect a bit chunky and heavy at just over 1kg … we’ll see.
Launching is scheduled for April 21st at Pugney’s Wildlife and Watersports Park …… all we need now is the weather, which of course might be a touch more difficult to organise!
A bit’s happened since I last posted on here, and I won’t bore you with all the details! The pics in the gallery illustrate where the build is up to, and I dare to say that I am guardedly pleased with the result. That’s a lot of knots tied, a lot of ribs bent, breasthooks glued in place and the building frames removed. Now she really looks like a boat – and I guess would float in her present state! There are seats and floorboards to fit, and a little trim to be glued to the inboard ends of the breasthooks (the kind of vestigial decks at each end for the uninitiated) which will act as a small coaming.
The big thing then is of course the covering. I’ve settled on “Cotton Duck”, which I shall order in the next few days. It sounds very appropriate of course, but in fact “duck” comes (apparently) from the Dutch word “doek” which means linen fabric, or somesuch.
So – progress seems to be good, and I begin to hope for a launch sometime next month – then we’ll really see what we’ve got!