The start of the ‘Big Adventure’

by Helen McKenna.

(First published on Nithsdale Canoe Club's Website)


It’s arrived – Dave has just bought a Feathercraft Klondike. Having paddled with me for the past 6 months he has got to realise that if he wants to do the more adventurous stuff without suffering (or towing me for long periods of time over mega kms in bad weather) something needed to be done! His answer – a Feathercraft Klondike – check it out:

I did have reservations! I mean – would we have any friends wanting to paddle with us left when we first had to build the boat before even thinking about paddling it! We’d have to start a good hour and a half before everyone else. And why wait until December before buying it!!! It’s cold then – and we’d have to test drive it in Winter!

Boat arrived 20th December so Dave did a dry test run putting it up at work. He duly reported back that it took him and a work mate an hour and a half to put up – but assured me that would get quicker!

Next dry run was 27th December in the drive – Dave put it up and I helped disassemble it and pack it away. It doesn’t take as long to disassemble as it does to assemble! No major fall outs – YET!

So – now for the big test – Derwentwater – 28th December 2004. We’d been at a 40th party the night before and were paddling with friends – would they still be friends after this? Time would tell!

Plan was to meet at Kettlewell on Derwentwater at 1100 hours. We arrived first and had just got the boat out of the car when Morag and Dave arrived followed closely by Tom and Wendy.

They all looked on in amazement as Dave and I proceeded to take loads of pieces out of a big duffle bag and proceed to assemble it. This was a novelty for about ¾ hour and then it got a bit tedious. To cut a very long story short they got fed up of waiting and went off on a wee paddle – having been assured we’d have everything under control by the time they got back.

True to our word – and mainly due to Dave’s practical ability all we had to do when they returned was get in and start paddling. A short first run – wee trip up Lake to Nichol End for tea and scones and then a wee run back. What could be easier!

We set off – first time Dave and I had paddled duo (him and Mike have towed me plenty of times). Once we’d got in sync things were fine – UNTIL …. We hit the middle of the Lake and a squall blew up! Water got confused – wind was coming from all directions and I didn’t like it!!! My paddle strokes got shorter made it difficult for Dave to get his paddle in! After a wee talking too my paddle strokes increased again and things got a little better – for a short while … UNTIL .. the squalls started again! The wind was coming straight at us and I felt the boat was listing to the left - this could have been due to the fact that I was responsible (God I hate that word) for blowing up the left hand sponson and I obviously don’t have as much wind as Dave!!!!! All I could think of was thank god he hadn’t got the sailing rig up too – it would probably have put me off for life! I like to take these things easily!

We made it to Nichol End safely and disembarked. Soup, Tea and Scones beckoned. Got to say they were exceedingly good – although they did take some time coming! Poor Morag – after asking for the drinks for the 4th time started to get a complex. Wendy to the rescue and stood at the counter for 20 minutes while the scones were cooked and the different jams decanted and drinks were made. Have to say they were well worth waiting for!

Luckily the journey back should be quicker as we’d have the wind at our back! Hmmm … I also had full view of the mini waterspouts that sprung up out of nowhere and twisted their way across the water – scary! We made it back in one piece – although I have got to learn to relax – if we get into confused water I have a tendency to stiffen up and Dave says I have to ‘go with the flow’! I did lose concentration once – unfortunately it happened when I was supposed to be making the boat stable for Dave to get out and umm .. I .. umm … let go so he kinda fell in! Ooops – I know I shouldn’t have but I did have a wee laugh – and very sure he will get me back (although he did call me ‘thick’ when we were trying to put the boat together so I really think we’re probably even!!!)!

Managed to dismantle the boat in quite a short time. All in all a good first outing – and we’re both still speaking too!

Onward and upward – here’s to the next outing. May even go for photos for that one!

Helen McKenna - 28.12.04

Some photos from various outings with the Klondike are here