Tuesday, 29 July 2008


Was back in Dublin at the weekend and used the opportunity to scout out what the Kayaking leg of the Gael Force might be like. Couple of my friends are pretty big into their kayaking and offered to take me out for a spin, which was pretty good of them.

So after sourcing a boat (kayak), bouyancy aids, helmets, wetsuit, decking, sandals, t-shirts and Lord know what else for me, we got onto the Boyne for a trip between Navan and Slane. The stretch of water has 7 weirs on it, which was news to me (probably should have done a little bit of research first I guess). Spent about twenty minutes just paddling around, getting used to the boat, which is definitely more complicated that I thought it'd be. These boats have two ridges underneath, either side, which unless you're perfectly balanced, seem to catch the flow of water and turn you.

After a while it was a case of just having to give it a go and seeing what happened. Went for the first weir (which as it turned out was pretty small) and after an inital good start, capsized and thought I was going to drown. Eventually got out of the boat, with no lasting damage, save having to empty it and get back in. Needless to say, this was going to be a recurring them for the trip.

The next two weirs were a very similar story and we then came to the biggest obstacle of the whole run, called the S-bends I think. The idea was basically to stay in the middle, where the water was flowing fastest and let it take the boat through, all the while paddling to more or less maintain balance. It was a disaster from the very start...didn't enter the run straight at all, and started ricochet of the walls on either side (around three times) before capsizing. Got out of the boat ok, but problem here was that the run was about 100m long and pretty fast flowing, so basically had to float the whole way to the end. Kinda wish I could swim properly for this bit.

Had an absolute disaster getting back into the boat after this but eventually did. Almost made it down the fifth weir, failing just as I thought I was ok. Thankfully made it throught the last two unscathed. Boy was I glad to get out of the boat...while not tired physically, I was still pretty wrecked. Thankfully, had some warm clothes to get into in the car on the way back.

I think the GF kayak stage will be pretty different (its on the sea and in a two person kayak for one thing), but I'm pretty sure this experience was definitely worth it. Its also good to know that its not going to be too much exertion and all upper body, but I guess that'll be a problem in its own right if my legs start getting stiff.

Anyways, I'd like to thank all the guys (Eamon, Ger, Ian, Niamh) for their help and patience on the day. I'd like to think it wasn't as bad as the skiing :) Also, I'd like to thank John for lending me the loan of his kayak...hopefully it wasn't too muddy when returned.

Bring on Gael Force now...

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