Thursday, 1 April 2010

Round 3: Meditation on Loch of Voe

After the recent gales and rain the weather settled down this evening so I took my chance to get in another round in with Her Ladyship (formerly known as The Beast).

As I parked on the road side next to the Loch of Voe, with a gentle grassy bank to the loch, I could see a person in the car park a 100m away looking over at me. He looked sort of curious in a way that made me wonder if I was going to be in bother.

Anyway, I got on with unloading and setting up Her Ladyship, noticing the odd glance across to me. What was he doing anyway fidgeting about in his car? It soon became apparent that he was a fly fisherman and no doubt thinking his quiet evenings fishing was now going to be ruined, he looked a bit anxious.

Once ready I gave him a quick whistle to catch his attention, found out where he was planning to fish and  indicated I'd go the other way. One happy fisherman again.

So, a gentle slide out for Her Ladyship from the grassy bank out onto the peaty water of the loch. The confidence I had not to wear my wet suit this time paid off as I sat for a while with oars feathered (blades flat on the water) breathing and settling in to the feel of the water gently moving the boat. In this position the boat really is very stable with effectively 3m of outrigger either side.

Next, to try to some square blade drills. At the back stop, my legs straight, I adjusted my grip so that the blade were perpendicular to the water. I sat allowing the blades to drop into the water and then pushed down on the handles to raise them back out, leaving them in the air for around 4 seconds at a time. It really is meditation on the water, relax, clear the mind, one plonk at a time, trying not to activily balance whilst relaxing and balancing.

Right, time to try some strokes. Still at the backstop with straight legs, rowing mediation. Arms straight, blades square, let blades drop in, gentle pull, push down to lift blades, rotate knuckles up, straighten arms, straighten wrists and start again. One stroke at a time, each unique, each just what it is, trying not to worry whether it's right or wrong just slowly repeating. Stopping with oars held feathered occasionally and settling back into the rhythm of the loch.

Even just using small stroked with my arms she moves a pace, with my sculling a wobbly weaving pace, but leaving lovely whispering trails in the water. After only three short trips out and self-taught I'm pretty chuffed with myself.

A couple of hundred metres from the car now I decided to turn back. Enough for one night and it was getting pretty chilly. The twisting was hard on my wrists, particularly my left which isn't too good anyway and I realised that the oars were set too far apart so that I was often clashing my thumbs and hands at the crossover point.

Aware of the sound traffic on the nearby road I sat a while, part of the fluidity of the evening, before the second round of rowing meditation back to the car.

Once home I adjusted the stops on the oars to give me more of a crossover next time. It's a steep learning curve, but one I'm happy to wander, enlightenment being a full stroke one day, perhaps...

Sorry there's no pictures of the Loch of Voe or me on it. When I get my new camera I'll have to get Clare to take some. Even though my confidence grows I'll not be taking my camera on the water.


  1. I love that: "I gave him a quick whistle..." How cool is that?! You're like a real Shetlander, able to speak to the locals in their way :-)

  2. LOL I think it's a pretty universal tool for communication LOL! Anyway he was English I think...

    Shetlan speakers often knap (pron. kinap), speak posh, when speaking to us fae da sooth so it's a bit easier to understand. Also makes it hard to know whether you're hearing the Shetlan word or the knapped version. I'd prefer to hear the Shetlan and learn the right way to say words up here.

  3. hehe - yeah, but I'd have said, "Er, excuse me, I'm going here if that's OK with you!" whereas you gave a whistle and sorted it in a flash :-0
    Interestin' stuff!

  4. Well there's more than one way to skin a cat :o)