Blazing Paddles

Last week I finally took the plunge and bought an Advanced Elements Convertible, the two-seater version of the inflatable kayak I’ve been using for the past 18 months. Amazingly, while 15 feet long fully deployed, it still fits into the back of a two-seater Smart car complete with paddles and all the rest of the kit. Apart from the obvious advantages for more sociable paddling trips, having an extra pair of hands can come in handy for occasions where I want to take photographs or shoot video. When you’re on moving water, the moment you stop paddling to take a picture, you’ve lost control of the kayak. At times that can be nothing more than a minor irritation, at others, potentially more dangerous.

My first trip out with long-time paddling companion Amy Woodyatt was one of my favourites, starting from Catfield Staithe. The half mile or so along Catfield Dyke was enough to get the feel for paddling a much bigger craft – if anything, I would say the extra length and weight makes for improved tracking on the single seater.

Then we emerged onto Hickling Broad. With virtually no wind, the broad was calm, and we did the mile or so of open water to the other side in good time. Just after crossing the navigation channel, we stopped for a chat with a couple of guys on sit-on-top kayaks who were heading out of Hickling towards Horsey Mere. It was tempting to follow them, but we stuck with our original plan.

The unexpected treat of the day came as we pulled up to the bird observation tower – we heard the distinct booming call of the male Bittern, one of the UK’s rarest birds. It sounds just like someone blowing across the neck of a large bottle, but deep and penetrating. My previous encounters have only been the odd single call, whereas this was at times almost continuous. But they are very elusive – I’ve still yet to see one!

Tags: , ,

Comments are closed.