Friday, 13 December 2013

Tarans on Bala

Wow seems such a long time since I have  been on the water too long. I have been very envious of Ga,s last month or two, Level 2 and also Level 1 Coach done with Pro Adventure in Llangollen, congratulations on passing kid and he,s certainly full of praise for the courses there...takes a bit to impress him as well.
For me well I had to say goodbye to my old Mondeo paddle wagon, 73k on it never raced or rallied and its fecked, and it ranged from "It might be the injectors" Nope injection specialist say not, right might be this valve, some money later and no better ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
Time to say ta ta, and a new paddle wagon, fast cars, nope I want a van, tried to avoid white but to no avail, so the next best thing put stickers on it so done my new paddle wagon awaits 2014 and looking forward to some nights in it as well.
So whilst at Rockpool an invite to take some Tarans, well it would be rude to say no so off down the A55 with a Taran and Taran 16 which I,d paddled before but never over a lengthy period.
Right some time off this Friday Ga the winds are in excess of 20 mph its pishing down what shall we do, "Lets do some fitness and I,ll improve your paddling technique I,m a Level 1 coach you know"

The Jones boys paddling waggons

Taran 16 what a fantastic boat
A brief moment to test the 16 for ease of taking photos

Some slight adjustments, really easy to adjust the pegs

At the conclusion we took one each home well you cant be greedy

Some observations from Ga on the Taran 18

First thoughts to gather, and see how things change or develop.

Firstly, avoid baptisms of fire, or water and wind as we did....
New boat, new design, new steering, best done in fairly calm ish waters, until you get a feel...ah bollocks, that's for puffs
Doing it backwards on our first trip, I would say that all the wobbles and problems were down to me, in particular my boots, and not having that more sensitive touch on the steering, that I later developed. The steering is sensitive, and sharp, and ideal for big days out.
An overriding fear on expedition would be a failure in the system, and I would have to carry a spare set of wires and pins.
I would also want to, and will, spend time paddling without the rudder to get used to handling it, but that is essential anyway to get used to the edging characteristics of the boat.
As I expected, the boat settled down, or maybe more to the point, i settled down as I got more used to it. It certainly made good progress against the horrendous wind we experienced, and even in the bad conditions, guessing 4 to 5 at times, we seemed to keep going.
Turning around and heading back with the wind was a joy.....though typically the wind dropped a bit, and we surfed 3.5 miles on 12 inch waves with ease. The Taran ate the distance, and with powerful paddling, there was no holding her back. I was now wishing for the wind, and some more we had experienced an hour earlier, but hey.
What a rush, even on the smallest wave that Bala threw up, the Taran surfed, with style and pace. A real wow factor. I noticed that with the 18' length, she was perched on waves fore and aft at times, giving a sensation that you were spanning wave tops, it was noticeable that at times I had to reach that bit further down to properly place the paddle blade, but this was never a worry, the boat soaked up the speed, and kept perfectly straight on her line. Just touching the steering out of interest showed how precise and sensitive it was, and also that i was getting used to it even with my boots on.
Bak at base, I now wanted the wind and waves to play in a beam sea, but they had gone. I felt confident enough now to stretch myself a bit more, but that will have to wait until I take her out again.
Next time i will ease the backrest off a little rather than adjust footrests, i may even bring the pedals back, and really loosen the seat back. The sitting position is tight, and i am probably at the limit before it gets beyond good connectivity and into the uncomfortable.
Immediate thoughts, amazing touring and long distance boat. The load carrying capability is immense, and I love the front small deck hatch. Don't just think of the speed achievable, but how far you could go in one day at a reasonable paddle speed and effort.
The cockpit is smaller than the Alaw, but I experienced no problems getting in our out, it is different in lots of ways to boats i have paddled in the past. I am not sure it would replace my Alaw, but then it is a completely different animal meant for other things.
I am looking forward to getting to know it a lot more, and to trying it out fully laden...
Bring it on.

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