Pacific Horizons & Sea Kayak Navigation

Christmas has come early! Two exciting new sea-kayaking goodies. If you feel a rectangular shape in your Christmas stocking, you should hope it's one of these. Or both.

Franco Ferreros' updated version of Sea Kayak Navigation looks superb. Click the cover in the right-hand column to buy your copy. However, it will take longer to digest.

So I first turned my attention to Bryan Smith's DVD Pacific Horizons. The format is uncannily identical to This Is The Sea, only not quite as good as Justine Curgenven's latest TITS3. Podcast with Justine Curgenven.

The best chapter of Pacific Horizons is a profile of commando-kayaker Dubside, who drags his folding boat onto busses and down logging roads, looking for a launch. The road-trip around some British Columbia's top tide races combines a journey with the all important mucking-about-in-waves shots. There are features on Oregon Surfing, Orcas in the San Juan Islands, but the big feature, a tour of the Bunsby Islands, was a little disappointing.

The best bits of the DVD were edited into a single 34 minute film which was one of 21 finalists at Banff Mountain Film Festival in the category Best Film on Mountain Sports. This cut-down is among the extras. Definitely a great contribution to the growing pile of sea kayak DVDs.

New Podcast - Patrick Winterton

This is Patrick Winterton. Listen to his Podcast at where you can subscribe free or download directly from the Podcast Library.

In 2006 Patrick kayaked from Glasgow to Muckle Flugga on the northern tip of Shetland. He undertook audaciously huge crossings, becoming the first person to kayak the “Hebridean Triangle”, from South Uist to St Kilda, then on to the Flannan Isles, and then back to Lewis.

As if this expedition wasn’t tough enough, at the last minute Patrick decided to video the entire thing himself, and then edit it into a DVD called "Scottish Extremities". I spoke to Patrick about the DVD after his talk to the Scottish Sea Kayak Symposium on Skye in May 2007.

If you want to buy a copy, e-mail him at

All Canoe Boys Programmes Online

As I write, all three episodes of the Canoe Boys radio programmes can be heard on-line. How long this remains the case is out of my control, and is tied up with BBC copyright issues. The links are on the right of the page. If they're gone when you click on them I can only apologise, and hope they'll soon be available on CD.

Canoe Boys - Doune Video

Programme Three of The Canoe Boys is on Wednseday 28th November at 11.30am on Radio Scotland or online. Sorry that the Online link to prog 2 clips the first few words of the episode - I'm trying to get that fixed.

In the third programme we visit an amazingly remote hotel at Doune, on the coast of Knoydart. Even by Knoydart standards it's isolated. Liz Tibbetts, who you see in the video, serves really good food and welcomes sea kayakers who can camp in the bay and eat in the restaurant, provided they book in advance. It's just a short paddle north of Mallaig.

Canoe Boys - Faces Behind the Voices

When I listen to the radio, I often wonder what the people who're talking look like.

Here are three of the contributors to Programme Two of the Canoe Boys, which you can hear from Friday 23rd Nov on Radio Scotland or online, following the links alongside.

The first is Duncan McGilp, who we found largely by accident. Mr McGilp met and paddled with the original Canoe Boys in 1934 and has a great tale to tell.

Communication links, especially roads, was a big issue in the Canoe Boys days.

Nick Turnbull, an oyster fisherman who has been on Mull 30 years, reckons some of those problems are as bad as ever. We spoke at his home and if you look carefully at that photo you can see Ardnamurchan Point in the distance.

He's also a paddler who, using a rowing boat, went around Mull in three days.

This is Laura Mandleberg, one of the staff of the Hebridean Whales and Dolphin Trust.

We chatted in their small gift shop / museum in the front street of Tobermory, and we learnt a lot about the marine creatures in the area.

So these are the faces, now hear their voices in programme two of The Canoe Boys, Friday 11.30 Radio Scotland and Online.

Jumping Canoe Boys

No Music Day is the reason the Canoe Boys programmes have jumped around the schedule.
They started last Wednesday on Radio Scotland, so most listeners might assume they'd hear the next programme the following Wednesday. Today. Wrong.
The programmes contain music. And today is No Music Day on Radio Scotland. So this week's Canoe Boys programme has been moved to Friday 23rd Nov at 11.30.
Next week, the Canoe Boys programme jumps back again to Wednesday 28th November. So I hope that's clear.

No Music Day is the brainchild of former KLF frontman Bill Drummond who, I believe, wants to emphasise how large a part music plays in each of lives. That's a BBC Photo.

Canoe Boys on Mull

On Friday, programme 2 of The Canoe Boys reaches this place. Links on the right point to how and where you can watch and listen to what's already broadcast.

Finally - Kayaking Again

It had been weeks since I'd been kayaking.

I'd done lots of thinking about kayaking, talking about kayaking and writing about kayaking. But no actual kayaking.

Until yesterday, when in slightly overcast conditions we did our favourite local paddle, cicumnavigating Eilean Shona. It only took a few hours but it was great to be back ojn the water again and feel the rise and fall of a slight swell.

Canoe Boys - Next Week

Programme Two of The Canoe Boys is on Friday 23rd Nov. We start in Oban and spend most of the programme on the Isle of Mull. We found an 82yr old gentleman who met the original Canoe Boys when he was a young lad, as you can read in my recording diary.

We also went in search of a ruined farmhouse at Ardmore to which the Canoe Boys retreated in a storm. Deep in a forestry plantation, we climbed a bank and... what we found is in the video.

Programme One of the Canoe Boys is still available to listen online. To use the BBC Scotland Player you need a free program, RealPlayer installed in your computer.

The Canoe Boys - Listen here

I thought I'd put all the links in one place. Programme One of The Canoe Boys is now online. It should remain there until 21st November, possibly until 23rd November. I think prog 2 is best.

To use the BBC Scotland Player you need a free program, RealPlayer installed in your computer.

The BBC Website for the programme will remain live for longer with the audio slide-show, TV feature from the Adventure Show, recording diary with additional video shot on route and an interview with Duncan Winning on kayak history. Buy the book here.

Canoe Boys on Main BBC Homepage

And on BBC Scotland homepage...

I'm stunned!

Last Minute Changes

Executive producers have their uses.

Ours suggested some last minute changes to the first Canoe Boys programme, and on reflection, I agree with her. It means more work for Meg who has swap some sequences, cut down another, add some material and re-mix the lot before transmission at 11.30 am on Wednesday, on Radio Scotland and Online.

Meanwhile, Seumas Adam's daughter has sent me a copy of her father's book, "Over The Minch". The year after the Canoe Boys trip, he became the first person to kayak solo to the Outer Hebrides. I can't wait to read it.

Next year's project perhaps...

Canoe Boys in The Herald Magazine

They're not exactly easy to read here, but subscribe online (there's a 3-day free trial) and you can read the story about the programmes Cailean and I have made, written by Fiona Russell. The BBC Website is here.

Those who don't know might look at the photograph, read the words, and think they relate to the same place. In otherwords, they may think the photo of Cailean in his Rockpool boat was taken in the Dorus Mor.

It wasn't. I was haning under the gantry of the Connell Bridge in October 2006 when I snapped that photo of Cailean and others mucking about in the Falls of Lora which being filled for Justine Curgenven's This Is The Sea 3. But it is an arresting image. Hope P&H Sea Kayaks, who leant us two boats, don't mind too much.

Every journalist I've spoken to about The Canoe Boys story has been enthralled by it. I'm glad to be playing a small part in bringing this classic Scottish Adventure to a wider audience.

Apparently programme three and four are finished. Producer Richard Else was happy when he listened to them on a plane coming back from Canada where he gave a master-class at the Banff Mountain Film festival.

There's one section in the first programme which, on reflection, could be slightly shorter. See what you think.

Radio Scotland 11.30 Wednesday 14th Nov listen online live or for up to seven days.

BBC Website for The Canoe Boys

The excellent online team at Scotland Outdoors have produced a new website where some of the extra elements of The Canoe Boys programmes can come together.

There's an audio slideshow, with some of the supeb stills from Alastair Dunnett's private scrapbook and my Podcast with Duncan Winning recorded before the trip where we talk about the boats they used.

A second webpage contains my diary from the recordings and some links to short videos I shot along the way.
Tomorrow (Saturday) I believe there will be an article about The
Canoe Boys and our programmes in The Herald Magazine.
The programmes start next wednesday at 11.30am on Radio Scotland and online here.

Watch Canoe Boys TV Feature

I'm delighted to say the television feature about our Canoe Boys programmes can be watched online. On the bottom of this Scotland Outdoors webpage you'll find a link called 'Watch the Canoe Boys feature'.

I'm particularly pleased that it was enjoyed by the daughter of Seumas Adam! She's in Wales but managed to watch the TV report and wrote, "I found it to be enthralling and also emotional... We now look forward to the radio programmes." Me too! I've yet to hear them finished!!

Edited 13.10 - I've just listened to Prog 1, which arrived in the post, and I'm happy. There's a lot of setting up of the story going on, explaining who we are, who the Canoe Boys were and what we're doing, but I think it moves fast enough. I know the material so well I'm too close to judge. Now I want to hear Prog 2!

These radio programmes are the main body of work and start next Wed 14th Nov at 11.30am. Online you can listen live or for seven days after transmission.

Scotland Outdoors is website I check frequently, especially the Pedalling Around page in which Mark is cycling around the world, sending back bits of media. I hoped they'd give The Canoe Boys a webpage, and the result should appear later today, with my thanks to Cat, Paul and sea-kayaker Julia.

Canoe Boys on TV on Wednesday

The Adventure Show, Wednesday 7th November 7pm on BBC-2 Scotland.

This is where the first element of our Canoe Boys programmes will appear. I look distinctly worried as we head into the Dorus Mor tide race with a forecast of F6 wind-over-tide. It turned out fairly flat, to my relief and the director's disappointment!

The seven minute report has interviews with Duncan WInning and Ninian Dunnett, son of original canoe boy Sir Allister Dunnett. It's by no means a complete piece of work, more a trailer for the three radio programmes which start next week.

They're broadcast 11.30 am on Wed 14th, Fri 23rd, and Wed 28th Nov with a repeat at 24.30 the following morning on Radio Scotland. They will also go online for one week on the Listen Again page.
I haven't heard the finished versions yet!