Thursday, 10 May 2012

Maiden Voyage...

Today has been an amazing day in Shetland, glorious sunshine and a light breeze, so we'd decided to take the canoe out for it's maiden voyage after tea if it stayed like it. 

I'd been down the south end for work watching puffins, terns and bonxies in the glorious day, but true to form as we ate our tea the clouds came in, the wind picked up some. Still we loaded the car and set off to The Loch of Tingwall, as safe a place as any for a 'sea trial'. 

It was spitting as we got there but we unloaded and donned our gear, much to the amusement of the odd passing car it seemed.

She looks pretty good from this angle, the old boat I mean!

At first I nearly gave up and headed back to the jetty. The boat was fine, no leaks or anything, but the head wind coming down the valley was terrible in this flat bottomed, high sided boat and made making any head way difficult and steering even more so.

Eventually we got to the top of the loch at Ting Holm in the lee of the land and paddled across to the far shore with Beren asking us about which sea monsters lived in the loch.

Heading down wind was a doddle and gave us plenty of time to enjoy watching the waterbirds and check for any leaks. Still dry!

We rounded into the lee of the small island that splits the loch and had a bit more shelter, but the wind was picking up and the rain falling properly by now. The colony of various gulls on the island were obviously disturbed by the presence of us nutters and made a right racket with the occasional swoop out towards us.

We decided that as a maiden voyage it had been a success and with the deteriorating weather we would just head back to the car. As we came back into the wind though we were making practically no headway, so we headed to the shore where I walked and towed the canoe back to the jetty.

So we have a canoe that does what canoes does and have a bit of an idea on what wind we can handle in her, excellent!

On the way home we noticed a common crane that has been seen up and down Shetland this week. I'd had a tweet earlier in the day to say that it had been in the valley and it still was. In between the now very heavy rain showers we watched it on one side of the valley and then as it flew across to the other side. It's a wonderful bird and it was very clear in the binoculars. Sadly I didn't have my camera, and the lens wouldn't be good enough to get a decent picture, but here's a photo of one courtesy of google...

Now to sit and relax...

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