Its spring! April 2015 and the sunshine is beating down. 8 newcomers to the club visited the club compound for the first time, and were given a thorough briefing by senior coach Alan Meikle. A quick tour of the compound followed, with an explanation of boats and equipment available for club use. Experienced members and coaches helped the newcomers get kitted out, including distribution of the paddle wear sets recently purchased by the club. Sets of paddleclothes consist of 3mm wetsuit, cagoule, beanie, neoprene shoes and pogies. Pogies are like mittens - they keep your hands warm, but velcro around the paddle shaft, so its easy to remove a hand to do more delicate tasks when fingers are required, yet allow good feel of the paddle shaft.
We piled the boats into Ian Clark's van and set off.
The Wrack was our destination! A calm section of the River Deveron which winds its way into a narrow gorge spanned by the Bridge of Alvah. We parked by the Scottish Water extraction point. An early picnic in the sunshine, and then we were off - upriver! Basic strokes were practised, and paddlers adjusted to the cold water on the hands. We portaged the first 2 rapids, and gradually worked upstream. A ball was produced and a frantic game of canoe polo ensued, only halted when both teams had scored and an honourable draw could be declared. At the bridge the white water caught one out - a good sign. People fall in when they are trying to push themselves!
Downriver, all rapids were negotiated without mishap and we were back at the cars before we knew it. Then it rained, and snowed, making the changing room chillier than when we started. Despite that, a great start to the 2015 season!