Sunshine, Good levels, Good rivers, Good mates — The last week has been sweet on the east coat
OUT SOON!! The past year of AUCC’s Paddling and it has been a good one. Some serious KNAR has been run this year including Hermitage Falls and The Falls of Muick. There has also been a good deal of new members and returning members pushing themselves to their absolute limits and with 170 recorded swims this year there has been a shit ton of carnage!! All that and more will be out July 2014.
Cows tails are really useful for a wide range of applications. My primary use for them is for towing boats in rescue situations, however they can also be used for attaching a person to a throw bag for a live bait or clipping to a boat when getting out to stop it floating away if it is a difficult get out.
For a long time I just used a standard 2.4m sling for these applications however it did tend to get caught on things being a closed loop and it was a rather long and was generally rather annoying.
I decided I wanted an elasticated cows tail but being a stingy skint student and also having seen how short and useless for towing the commercially available ones are. I refused to buy on of the commercially available ones and instead I discovered how easy and cheap it is to make one yourself.
I started by buying the following materials;
– 2m of 26mm tubular sling – http://www.rockrun.com/beal-26mm-tube-tape/
– 1m of 4mm shock cord – http://www.rockrun.com/shock-cord-4mm/
– 2 screw gate crabs – http://www.rockrun.com/mammut-element-keylock-screwgate/
It took me ages to thread the shock cord through the tubular sling however in retrospect it would be very easy to do if you had a straight stick which you could tape the cord to and push it through. The tubular sling has to be scrunched up like this:
so that it is the same length as the shock cord.
To attach the crabs I first tried to sow it but without a sowing machine this was rather difficult and when you are intending on using it to take your weight in a live bait I wanted it to be strong enough.
I therefore decided that a simple overhand loop knot in the end as shown below
I had to make sure that the shot cord was trapped in the knot so that it didn’t pull out when it was stretched however with the the elastic running all the way round the knot it became too bulky and difficult to tie. I got around this problem by only having the end of the elastic in the half of the knot running from the loop part to the main length of the tape. This created some fairly tight small knots which reduces the chance of them becoming trapped between any rocks.
With the knots in it the stretched length of the sling is around 1.6m and the unstretched length is around 0.8m
It is really easy to make and you can attach whatever crabs you want to the ends of it. I use a screw gate on the end I attach to my BA and a palm large wire gate on the other end as it makes clipping boats easier.
It is so much more convenient than a sling and the materials excluding the crabs only cost £2.60 around a quarter of what palms cows tail is and it is much longer and more suited to towing boats while still being compact and easy to tuck in my BA. It is certainly strong enough for all the applications I use it for and doesn’t get tangled around me when I am trying to clip it onto a boat.
Here is a few more photos of the cows tail;
Winter never really properly happened this year in Scotland, The freezing level rarely dropped below 500m and although there was a lot of snow high up, large areas of most rivers catchments received a fair bit of rain, and as it warmed up and the snow melted they were kept topped up consistently.
With all that water about I was able to get out and paddle some of the best rivers in Scotland this spring.
DEESIDE / DON – January
The year started off with a wee trip to the Deeside tribs on the 2nd of January in playboats. The levels were not huge but the main event on the Garbh Allt provided ample entertainment for ciaran and myself.
Ciaran on the entry to the last drop of the main event of the Garbh Allt
Myself on the last drop of the main event on the Garbh Allt
The rest of the river was too low to run in playboats and we walked back to the bottom after a few runs.
Having never paddled it before and with levels going up we then headed to the Garin on the north side of the dee. This turned out to be rather uneventful with a few sections of easy grade 4 but not much else.
Looking back up the Gairn
Following that we started heading home, however as we got to the Feugh we saw that there was a good bit of water comming down the falls and there was a lot of spectators. Feeling it would be rude not to we jumped out the car and ran up to the top with our boats. Our showing off turned into a rather embarrassing mess as, I completely missed my line and fell of the side of the drop rolling down a slab on my face. Ciaran fared even worse and despite nailing his line he found himself upside down in the hole with no paddles and after a few failed hand roles found himself swimming for the bank.
Ciaran having an out of boat experience on the Falls of Feugh
The rain continued overnight and the next morning I was back up on a much higher Garbh Allt, in my creek boat this time.
The main event was significantly more pushy with the higher flow.
Myself on the entry to the last drop on the main event of the Garbh Allt
Leslie Simpson on the 3rd drop of the main falls on the Garbh Allt
Murray Gauld on the first drop of the Garbh Allt
Below the main event I had a scary moment where I realised my helmet was not done up. Which was followed shortly after by Murray Gauld swimming on the gorge section and losing his paddles (permanently). After the Garbh Allt we went to Ballater for tea before we headed home.
Towards the end of Janurary, heavy rain and snow melt brought the Don play waves into condition, Myself and Leslie walked up to the wave at Danstone Tesco’s where we spent an hour surfing and playing.
Myself and Leslie on the Danestone wave
After the Danestone wave we walked a bit further up and jumped on the mill wave, this was unstable and difficult to surf on and after half an hour of getting kickings on it we called it a day.
FALLOCH / MUICK – Feburary
The start of Feburary was SSS glasgow polo but not being bent, Tom Leeman, Roddy Sandeman, Rory Inglis and myself headed to the rivers and were rewarded for our lack of bentness with good levels all weekend. On the Friday we ran the Braan Gorge before we headed to glasgow to drink our weight in tennants.
The next morning having found “hangover city” and done our best to cure our hangovers we headed to the Falloch. However when we got there we were all feeling rather cold and hungover and the level was looking a little low, Luckily we decided to go to the green welly and get some soup which gave us the energy to put on our wet kit and gave the river time to come up to a good level.
Myself on the Falls of Falloch
Roddy on the Falls of Falloch
We only ran the falls as we were too hungover to run the rest of the river.
A few days later after running the North Esk at 2.11m on the gauge. Scott Robinson, Ciaran Burgess and Myself headed up to the Falls of Muick. We got there feeling pretty stoked for it, however when we first saw it we nearly walked away. After around half an hour of inspection, I finally plucked up the courage to give it a shot.
The slide into the drop on the Falls of Muick
After styling the line, and landing the last drop nose up Scott decided he would give it a go to.
Scott on the first half of the drop.
Scott pencilled the last drop and discovered quite how shallow it was as his footplate folded over his feet bending them back and fracturing one of the bones in his ankle/foot, luckily the break wasnt too bad and he walked out.
Despite seeing Scott hurt himself on it Ciaran also gave it a go getting a decent line and boofing the last drop.
Ciaran just coming over the lip
Lesson Learned From The Muick – Boof or it hurts, and dagger foot plates are not very strong.
NEVIS / HERMITAGE – April
Other than a few club trips to the N’Esk/Orchy/Etive/Spean etc not much else happened until April.
With some rain around on our club Easter trip, one evening we found ourselves on the Nevis at a really fun level.
It was really nice to run it with some water.
At the end we played around on Poll Dubh for a bit.
Leslie Hammering Poll Dubh
My attempt at an Airscrew of the lip (I got scared and chucked my paddles)
Me hammering Poll Dubh
This springs paddling culminated on the river braan, on Hermitage Falls.
After a club trip I was feeling super keen to go and look at Hermitage Falls. We walked up without boats to have a look and see if they were going.
Spent a while looking at it and discussing possible lines before I decided to run it.
We got kitted back up and set up safety and cameras covering all the angles on the drop. I borrowed some elbow pads off a mountain biker who we met there.
Finally I got in my boat and ran it, (if you can call it that)
It didnt go quite to plan, but luckily I didnt hurt myself.
Homemade Back Deck Go Pro Mount
I have attempted several times in the past to make a back deck mount to attach cameras to the back of my kayak to get those cool over the shoulder shots. None of them in the past have been particularly successful either not being very stable resulting in shaky footage or not sufficiently strong enough to take the weight of the camera being shaken around at the top of a pole resulting in the failure of either the pole or the fixing mechanism. Another problem with previous attempts had been the attaching of the camera to the upright. Having recently bought a Go Pro I decided to have another shot at building a back deck mount.
Attaching an Upright to the Boat
I did some research and found several ways of attaching an upright pole to the boat. The different methods I found and their pros and cons in my opinion were:
|Method of Attaching||Pros||Cons|
|Drilling holes in the plastic of the boat to attach a tripod like system.||Very stable and quite strong due to 3 points of fixing, Simple design so relatively quick to build.||Involves drilling holes in your boat, Paddle may get tangled when rolling, May be heavy as three uprights must be used to make it stable, A hit to the mount may rip out the bolts which hold it to the boat causing damage to the boat. Takes a while to attach.|
|One point clamp mechanism which clamps onto a grab handle.||Light weight, One upright so will have little effect on normal rolling, Can be fixed to any of the grab handles so many different angle s available. Fairly quick to attach.||Not very stable, Grab handle must take all the twisting force put on it by the mount which may cause damage to the boat or grab handle.|
|Three Point clamp mechanism which clamps to the three back grab handles.||Very Stable due to three points of fixing. Very Strong as it is fixed to three grab handles which are designed to take a lot of force.||Paddle may get tangled when rolling, May be heavy as three uprights must be used to make it stable, Fairly complicated design, Would only fit on the back of one type of boat, High material cost as a lot of parts needed to make 3 clamps and 3 supports Takes a while to attach.|
|Grab handle replacement with custom grab handle.||Fairly stable as by removing the need for a clamp any play in the clamp is removed, Fairly strong as fixed straight to the boat, light and cheap as very few parts needed, Single upright so will have little effect on normal rolling, Front and back grab handles on boats are usually the same so a number of different angles may be possible.||May be difficult to make without a workshop, A hit to the mount may rip out the bolts which hold it to the boat causing damage to the boat, May still have significant wobble as only one point of fixing, Takes a while to attach, possibility of losing grab handle when it is taken off to allow the mount to be attached.|
|“Jackson Levator” style grab handle clamp.||Stable as there is more than one point of contact with the boat, Does not put a twisting stress on the grab handle, Fairly light as only one upright, Single upright so will have little effect on normal rolling, Versatile as can attach to many types of boat and grab handle so many angles can be achieved, Quick to attach.||Quite complicated to build, Cost may be high as quite a lot of parts needed.|
The attaching method I chose was the “Jackson Levator” style grab handle clamp as it seemed to be the one which had the greatest versatility stability and strength while not affecting rolling or having a high risk of causing damage to the boat or grab handles.
Attaching the Camera to the Upright
Having selected my boat fixing I now needed to figure out how to attach a camera to the top of the upright. Before I had a Go Pro I had previously used my waterproof Panasonic Lumix FT-10 when attempting to take back deck footage, however now the aim was to attach my Go Pro to the end of the upright. There were numerous considerations to be taken into account the most important being avoiding damage to the camera should it take a knock when in use. As with the boat fixing I did quite a lot of research into the best way to attach the Go Pro. The three main methods I considered were:
|Method Of Attaching||Pros||Cons|
|Adhesive Go Pro Mount stuck to the upright.||Very Simple, Would most likely break off if it took a hit protecting the camera from damage. Very easy to attach and remove the Go Pro from the mount.||Would need a flat smooth surface to attach to.|
|1/4″-20 UNC Threaded Bolt which would attach to the commercially available Go Pro tripod mount.||Could be quite simple, Easy to attach and remove the Go Pro from the mount. Strong stable fixing.||Would require an epoxy resin or a complicated mechanism to attach the bolt to the end of the upright so may cost quite a lot, Go Pro tripod mount would add to the cost. May not break or bend easy enough if hit causing damage to the camera.|
|Commercially available Go Pro handle bar mount clamped round the upright.||Very Simple, Can be detached from the upright easily if broken or needed for another use, The “Three-way Adjustable Pivot Arm” which comes with it would bend at one of the pivots if hit protecting the camera, Cheap (£5) on Ebay.||The large fitting will add extra weight to the top of the upright.|
To attach the camera to the top of the upright I chose the Commercially available Go Pro handle bar mount clamped round the upright as although not the cheapest option was very simple and quick to attach.
Building the mount
1m 19mm steel tube, Steel curtain rail sockets which are the right size that the tube can fit through it, 38x2mm steel plate, I used scrap that I found lying around, a small 15cm aluminium pan (cut all handles etc off), many M4 bolts and nuts of different lengths 4×90° angle brackets, a long M8 bolt (must be long enough to bend into a hook at the bottom which can hook onto the grab handle while still having enough poking through the top of the pan to tighten it), a large M8 washer or metal plate and M8 nut (to tighten the M8 bolt hook)
I started by drilling a 10mm hole in the very centre of the pan. I then drilled a 22mm wide hole in the base of the pan just over half way between the centre and the edge of the pan. The distance from the centre depends on how much of an angle you want your upright to be at to the vertical – more distance to the centre = more angle between the upright and vertical. The hole needs to be wider than the tube to allow for the angle of the tube going through it.
Once the hole was drilled in the pan I positioned the curtain rail socket so that it was centred slightly further from the centre of the pan than the hole and marked out the holes I needed to attach the curtain rail socket. Having drilled the holes I bolted the socket to the base of the pan.
I then cut my steel plate into two lengths which were slightly smaller than the internal diameter of the pan and drilled a 10mm hole in the centre of each of them, with 4x4mm holes round this central hole to attach them together at right angles to each other, and also to attach the end of the 19mm steel tube which I flattened and bent at an angle to the rest of the tube. In this flat bit of tube I drilled the same arrangement of holes as in the steel plates (4x4mm holes around a 10mm hole)
I then drilled 2 holes at either end of each piece of steel plate along the middle of the steel plate spaced so that the angle brackets can be fixed to the steel plate and then to the pan walls.
The next step was to measure and drill the holes in the pan sides allowing the angle brackets to be bolted to the pan. The holes in the sides of the pan were drilled so that one was in line with the 22mm hole in the base and the rest were positioned at 90°, 180°, and 270° around the centre from the set of holes in line with the 22mm hole. All these holes were positioned so that there would be a 17mm gap between the top of the angle brackets and the top edge of the pan.
With all the holes drilled, the next step was to bolt it all together. Once bolted together the steel tube was held firmly by the hole in the base of the pan with the flat end bolted to the crossed steel plates.
The final part of the construction was to make the hook that connects the mount to the grab handle of the kayak. I bent one end the long M8 bolt up into a hook shape using a hammer. The other end of the hook then fitted up through the steel plates and then through the base of the pan where a large steel washer was put on it along with a nut which is used to tighten the hook pulling the edge of the pan against the boat.
The camera attachment was simple, as all that was required was for the handle bar mount to be clamped onto the steel tube.
I will make some proper plans for it on some CAD software when I get back to uni so if anyone wants to build one then they can.
I will also put up some photos and video taken with this mount and some photos of it attached to my boat and in use when I have them.
Aberdeen University Canoe Clubs end of year video
The last 3 years of boating hasn’t been all that bad.