Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Last day on the water in Scotland

It's been an amazing trip.  The people I've met and the places I've visited have far exceeded my expectations.  I've been on high mountain rivers and to the outer reaches of the rugged coast.  While there are many parts of Scotland I have yet to experience, each new hidden corner I visit, and the people I meet, only add to the wealth of pleasant memories I will cherish from this place.  I WILL be back for another visit.

Now, for the last day...

The Brown household and I awoke to a winter scene.  Those North winds yesterday had not stopped.  They brought with them a light dusting of snow.  The kids were VERY excited and couldn't wait to get outside.  While I enjoy snow, I can't say I shared their enthusiasm on this day.  We were onto rescues for the 5 star training session this afternoon.  There was REAL boat repairs in the field yesterday, and it looked as if we would have REAL hypothermia to treat today.

When the other two guys (both called different versions of Paul, one from Argentina and one from Greece) arrived for their assessment, they expressed interest in tidal planning and chart work for open crossings.  Since their assessment was going to start tonight and the fire was crackling away, we all agreed that we would much prefer to sit inside and plan journeys rather than go on one.  We would wait for it to warm up a little before we went for a short paddle in the bay to work on towing and rescues.

Pablo, Martin, Jonathan, and Pavlos work out a crossing to the Isle of Man

We enjoyed some lunch and got changed at Gordon's place.  All layered up in as much fleecy goodness as we could fit under our drysuits; we drove to the bay at Camas Barabhaig.  It had warmed up to a balmy 38 degrees Fahrenheit.  The sun was out for a few moments and offered some encouragement.  It wasn't the best temperature, but you couldn't ask for a better backdrop for some rescue and towing practice.  

Taken from the parking lot   

Camas Cross

Gordon and Jonathan take a boat down to the water

Once we got on the water It didn't take long to warm up.  Gordon had us all feel the difference between towing boats in a 'fan' shape vs. inline towing.  We also played with a version of a rafted tow that allows an easy quick release for the supporting boat using a bit of webbing and a biner.  Very handy.  It was not as windy as the forecast had indicated, but we went through the motions and the group learned quite a bit.  

Pablo pulls all of us in a 'fan' or multiple boat rafted tow

Gordon Brown 

The setting sun on the snow dusted hills coupled with an approaching squall made for some dramatic light.  I did my best to capture the scene, but these photos can't possibly convey what we saw today.  It was absolutely stunning.


The hills around the bay

The squall approaches

We finished up the day with some quick rescue work.  We went over the scoop rescue for an unconscious victim, assisted re-entries, and solo re-entries.  After we had cooled off, we headed for home to prepare for the beginning of the 5 star assessment later that night.  I sat in on the beginning of the assessment.  The group got through introductions, plans for the next few days, and went over the written exam in a Q&A format.  I am looking forward to my eventual assessment very much.  With what I have seen so far, I should be well prepared next year.  

Gordon gives the group a few pointers 

Tomorrow I catch a bus to back to Aberfeldy to say my good-byes to my new found friends.  I am going to miss so many people I have met here in Scotland.  It's amazing how boating with someone really brings you closer.  I will be boarding a plane for Portland, Oregon the next day and should be home in time for lunch on Thursday.  


Jay said...

What beautiful light and scenery for your last day paddling in Scotland. A fine day! Sleep well on the flight home!

Anonymous said...

First, remove the dork who placed ads on your site. Second, the pics so remind me of Maine in some ways. Beautiful fall colors and the barnicles covering the intertidal zone.
travel safe

John F said...

Paul, you have been living my kayak dream. I had planned a Scotland trip a number of years ago that fell through, and always hope on making it someday.
Great blog, thanks.
John F. MWA

Ian said...

Lovely shots. I was in Scotland this time last year, and you've made me miss it even more.