While I’ve been paddling the Stomper quite happily for a while now, it did get split, and has been welded. The issue is that there’s another deep gouge that I think will split soon, and I can only take one creek boat to the alps – if that splits I will have a problem. So one solution that presented itself was to both weld and fibreglass the H2 (now eleven years old and getting a little thin) whilst the other was to take someone else’s boat. Most of those I wouldn’t fit, but a bit of trial showed that I did fit in Sarah’s Nomad. But would it have enough volume to cope with my weight in alpine water ? The only place to find out, in summer, was going to be the Upper Tees.
Dropping in to the top of Dogleg
The first run of Dogleg was not quite the line I’d want, though I did stay upright and didn’t have to do anything frantic to achieve that. I didn’t get stood on end, though it did feel as though the trim wasn’t quite right. I went a bit more left than ideal over the middle drop, so went back to see if I could get a better line.
Second time over the middle drop – a bit more to the right
Further right gave me a bit more time between the middle drops, though I didn’t get enough punch to get across the boily pool and make the eddy here. The second drop was a bit messy, too, but I wasn’t heeled as far over as on the first run, and it only took a couple of strokes to line up to the right of pinning rock. Two runs seemed enough, so we headed on down. This is all fairly easy stuff, but one little drop is quite a good indicator for turning the boat going off the drop – if all goes well, you end up tight into the eddy on the right, badly and you hit the rock or have to eddy left.
The little drop that needs a boof to the right is a good test
That landed me good and tight in the eddy right. Horseshoe is just a matter of being on line at the top, and then straight down, turning only as soon as needed to avoid Jacuzzi Chute. No problem. So Low Force is the boof test. It wasn’t rock bottom levels (which is good – I still haven’t quite got the hang of avoiding being kicked right by the rock lip on the left when it is very low). The camera on a pole is very good for showing the line and timing of the boof stroke (and you can see when the paddler has got his weight forward properly). All three runs worked well, though I failed to get my weight back forward quickly for landing on the third.
Straight down the water avoids the rock on the left, leaving the boof stroke to kick the boat out into the middle of the pool
It wasn’t really wet enough to carry on down to Newbiggin, but there was enough water to take the right-hand line on the drop before Wynch bridge. Getting there on line is a good test and this went pretty well.
Heading down the promontory to boof past the stoppers, Wynch bridge
So, the boat seemed to do the job (and will be going to the alps). The other test going on here was a new version of the GoPro on a pole behind the paddler. This was a bit less successful – the means of attachment to the boat was fiddly and didn’t look likely to cope with a lot of use. Video from the camera was distressingly wobbly – though still frames (as seen here) all seemed good. These were using one of the Hero 3 cameras (a Hero 4 being used for headcam) at 1920x1440p48, which gives only just over 20ms between frames, and can be used for x2 slow motion if combined with the 24 fps footage I was taking on the headcam. Unless I can make the pole a bit stiffer and the attachment mechanism a bit more usable, I think I won’t be using this system in the alps. Probably not a bad thing, as I do have a bit of a record of failing to roll with a pole-cam on the boat… This was also the first time I’d tried out paddling with elbow pads (potentially a good idea when it’s warm enough to paddle in a shorty cag). I wasn’t sure how much these would prove awkward or distracting, so I was quite pleased that once on the water, I hardly noticed they were there.