Thursday, March 13, 2014

Round up, One year on.

So today is the 1 year anniversary of my second shoulder operation since 2009.  A Bankart Legion and Hill Sachs remplissage repair to my right shoulder after years of abusing it with dislocations and broken collar bones.
So firstly a massive thank you to the NHS, Dr Kitson @ RD+E Wondford and everyone who would still go paddling, surfing and riding with me in the knowledge that I could still be a massive liability to them. Its friends like you that kept me going when I thought it was all over.

However, with a bit of hard graft and persistence I have had one of the best 12 months of boating, riding and Surfing ever!

So I thought I would do a little round up of some of the things I've been up to in the 12 months following surgery. Of course boating had to change a little to get the shoulder going, lots of rehab work,strength and conditioning training and I've done a lot more flat water paddling than ever before but its all been very enjoyable and I've been to lots of places I never had before with new friends. There's not a lot better than that, being outdoors doing fun things with fun people. 

With out any real order and probably forgetting some stuff here's a bit of list and then some photos.

Summer Stand Up Paddling, ok so I'm still not convinced completely about this but it was the first and easiest way to get back on the water following surgery, about 7 weeks after, possibly a little early.
Mostly with shoulder surgery buddy Ben on the canal but also in the surf at Exmouth. I don't know what all the fuss is about it being difficult. Paddle into your first wave and ride it. Job done.

Sea kayaking at Meedfoot beach, Torquay with the boss and Max. Some rough water around Thatchers rock and seeing Dolphins for the first time from my kayak.

Summer kayak fishing at Buldeigh and Seaton, with surfing buddy Dan and long suffering paddling pal Andy (and Tom and Matt) Mackies and more mackies!

Paddling in a new country, whoops, almost forgot. A day on a rented sit on top in Croatia.

Doing an over night trip on the Torridge river in North Devon. Always good to do self support trips from your kayak on new water. Just over 27 miles, 7 in the pitch black and Max's first over night trip in a kayak!(hes now done a few more and getting the bug for it.)

Many, many runs on the River Dart Loop section and a shaky start on the first trip down the Upper section, again possibly a bit too soon, but hey, that's life. You've got to go for it right?  That was with new people as well, Jamie and Willow.
Lots of "Dawn raids" as well. Getting on the river before its light and then to work. The best way to start the day... apart from, Over night trips!

Over night trip on the Dart loop, a 5 2 9'er (leave work at 5 and get back ready for work at 9)

Over night trip on the River Exe and Exeter Canal, local action but still great. Making the most of whats on my doorstep.

New white water, the West Dart, the larger of the two River Dart tribs in pumping flows with a solid crew, exciting times paddling rivers blind (no scouting) just following or leading your mates down big ass wave trains and munchy holes.
 Combine that with paddling touring boats from Holne Bridge to Totnes means that I have now paddled the Dart from pretty much its source to the sea, just not in one go and over a few years.
And some sections in some unusual choices of craft, it wasn't quite sea kayaks on the Grand Canyon but felt cool none the less. 

White water action continued with a trip to the Tavy and the Erme, which I hadn't paddled for years, since at least 2005.
Getting off the Erme when I yanked my shoulder a bit much. A few weeks out of the boat was well worth it to minimize any more damage. 

 One of the best trips was a great day sea kayaking around Wembury and Plymouth sound with some rock hopping and Island landings.

Diving over the boarder for some new rivers in Cornwall, a two day micro biathlon of boating and biking on the Lynher, Fowey and Camel. 3 rivers, 3 bike shuttles 2 days of good times.

Mass paddle on the the canal for a Exeter canoe club member Dong won Lee.

Thats some of the bigger bits, there's been days of multiple laps on the river (a day with Tom from Wavesport UK testing boats)  of multiple rivers in a day (Tavy, Erme, Upper Dart),and just yesterday a quick after work open boat paddle to the pub.

To celebrate still being in one piece and the shoulder feeling good I'm off to Greece to paddle in some of the many deep and beautiful canyons it has to offer at the end of March.  I'm not sure if there's a point to this but maybe its just to never give up on your passions in life. With the support of friends, family and just giving a bit of a shit about things you can still do stuff even when dealt a bad hand. Even if it was my own bad shuffling in the first place!

Right, time to go paddling! See you on the water.

Photo credits to Max, Jim, Liam, Dan, Ben and Willow.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Making the most of it.

Topsham and Turf Locks on a 5 to 9 mission.

Well not exactly 5-9 more like 6-11 but the idea is the same. Get out of work and in to your boat (bike, board, insert other mode of transport here) and go a for a mini mission. The idea is to make the most of the few hours you have between work or even days off. You don't event need a whole weekend to have some fun.
See more about this over here:

Just a short paddle, walk, cycle out of town and you can find yourself in some beautiful countryside and landscapes.
Here in Exeter we are blessed with the Exeter Ship Canal and River Exe right on our doorstep giving two easy ways to escape.
Then you also have the historic (and picturesque) village of Topsham and the Exe Estuary and Marshes which are internationally recognised for the birdlife and is a SSSI (site of special scientific interest).

So with out further ado we loaded boats after work on Saturday and set off in the dusky light on the canal. (most of these photos are through an Aquapac so a little blurry and some are great)

 Leaving Exeter Quay on the canal. I love leaving and coming back in to the basin. All the boats moored up, some with wisps of smoke from wood burners on the live aboards, the climbing tower at Haven banks all light up on the way out and then coming back the rowing club and canoe club all busy on a Sunday morning with training sessions going on the cafes and bars doing a brisk Sunday breakfast trade in coffee and cake. mmmm cake....

 A refuelling stop at the Passage House pub in Topsham. This makes a perfect mid point stop as its easy to land using Mikes Ferry slipway. (as long as Mike isn't using it).  Not sure why they have a Torrington sign though.

 Post pub beers. Well, you can't have too many and then get back in your boat for the short paddle across the estuary to the bivi spot.

 And what a spot. A perfectly sheltered flat bivi spot right next to the water. This is my little set up, no pegs just ropes. Fortunately plenty of things to tie off on. A good collection of "sports hydration drinks" as well.

 Max's spot. He's just picked up an Exped hammock .   Combo that with a tarp for a very comfy sleeping arrangement. me, jealous, no....

 The start of another beautiful day.

 Early morning mist burning off as the sun comes up. Full of song bird

 Launching back into the Exe at Topsham Lock cottage (in the background).

 Mikes ferry boat.

Topsham, off down to the Turf Locks for the return journey. At this point my memrory card was full but the remainder of the trip back up the canal was done in short sleeves dodging rowing boats and fishing lines and the buzz of a sunny day with family's out for walks, fair weather runners and cyclists all enjoying themselves. All done by 11 am with a full day left to enjoy.