Sunday, April 01, 2007

The Amazing Rhinns of Galloway

One of several Mull of Logan arches

Yesterday we explored another part of the Rhinns of Galloway coastline, which is washed by the powerful tides of the North Channel which separates Scotland and Ireland. It was one day before maximum spring tides so there was considerable disturbance round the headlands.

Surfing into Ardwell Bay

Portayew Bay

We passed several bold headlands with tidal races; Mull of Logan, Money Head, and Black Head (above).

Just one of innumerable caves.

We left from Port Logan and headed north west to Killantringan Bay to the north of Black Head. We had amazing rock hopping amongst a maze of stacks and skerries and some of the most perfect arches and caves I have found anywhere on the west coast of Scotland. We passed deserted beaches, ancient duns and castles and all in all had the most perfect day. I am amazed that there is so little mention of this incredible coastline in Scottish sea kayaking circles.


Regular readers of these pages will by now know of my love for gadgets. Here is the latest to come my way for review. It was sent in by Mike Thomson of Scottish Paddler Supplies. The Brace-a-Float is designed to be a 21st century replacement for the humble paddle float. I have always been suspicious of all the faff of attaching a conventional paddle float to the paddle blade, then inflating it then getting yourself back in the boat then deflating it before you paddle on. The Brace-a-Float addresses several of these limitations and has additional functionality in that it can be used as a bracing aid and hopefully prevent a capsize in the first place. It is contained in a slim nylon covered sleeve that fits over the paddle shaft and while not being deployed is kept out of the way between the hands. There is a small toggle at one end and a sharp tug releases the gas stored in a small CO2 container.

My friend, Mike Marshall, inflates the Brace-a-Float.

Mike now slides the Brace-a-Float to the desired side. The Brace-a-Float engages with the rubber drip rings on the paddle shaft and it is now ready for use.

Easypeasy! You now have a stable platform which can be used to re-enter the boat after a capsize, to prevent a capsize or to give stability when photographing or fishing. There is a simple deflation valve which can also be used to inflate the Brace-a-Float if you have already used the CO2 cannister. The cannisters are cheap, easy to source sodastream cartridges.

Plus points:
Always to hand.
Easier to (re)deploy than a paddle float.
It works better than a paddle float.
It is more versatile than a paddle float.

Minus points:
It is less comfortable as a lunch time seat than a paddle float.
You cannot use it as an emergency backrest as you can with a paddle float.

4/5 and the Brace-a-Float is highly recommended.