Day 3 of Graham’s hunt for the wind took us on a trip down Loch Arachay in to Loch Venachar. After finding little wind and mirror flat water on our previous trips to Loch Lomond and Rhu , Graham was feeling optimistic on the back of Storm Doris. After a drive through the flooded Trossachs things were looking promising, we dragged the canoes through a flooded swamp and got onto the water. The put in was pretty sheltered and gave us time to warm up by practicing some of the skills we had learnt previously. We then headed down the Loch and true to form the Scottish winter failed to deliver the wind; however Graham kept us working by challenging us to think about what was happening during the catch and power phase of our strokes and to focus on the angle of the blade and what we were doing at each stage. As always I found that making fine adjustments has a noticeable difference on the outcome and performance of the canoe. We reached the end of Loch Arachay and joined the river which links the two lochs. With not a great amount of experience of canoeing on rivers I was looking forward to this section, the river was moving fairly quickly and the vast amount of low lying branches made it an interesting wee journey. I was glad to see the improvement in my control of the canoe as my newly found skills were put to the test as we weaved our way in and out of the branches.
With our heads fully intact and limbo skills tested we arrived in Loch Venachar with a change in the weather conditions. The wind Graham had been seeking had finally found us, we had a discussion on forces and the use of the beaufort scale to measure wind and after a short debate whether the conditions were force 2 or 3 we headed across the loch only for it to die down again. The rain had set in and we stopped for some lunch. Sandy, prepared as ever unravelled a tarpaulin and set about making a shelter for us all using his canoe and some paddles, for something so simple and easy it offered great protection from the elements. We dragged ourselves back out and onto the water, Graham set up a couple of scenarios and we practiced our towing and rafting skills. The wind was beginning to pick up and we had a nice tail wind to take us down the loch. This provided a great opportunity to practice the skills we had covered over the 3 days and to test out our trim. Sandy took the opportunity to test out his sail and seemed to be having a ball. The wind continued to strengthen to a strong force 4 possibly touching force 5 which gave Sandy the perfect opportunity to practice his voluntary self rescue skills, he tried out a couple of different methods using buckets and bags to counter the weight of the canoe when re-entering in order to reduce the amount of water in the boat. I was quite glad to be a spectator at this point as the conditions were quite challenging and it looked freezing. We had a challenging crosswind for our final cut across the loch to our exit point, I was surprised with how well I managed this and the control I had , Graham’s tips and advice appear to be paying off. Overall it was another great day with lots of learning and surprises. Thanks again to Graham for his fine coaching and to everyone else for the banter, looking forward to the next adventure.