Friday, 6 July 2018

A New Kid on the Block

   Today I took delivery of another inflatable kayak - a Gumotex Halibut.  I'd always thought that when the day came that I found it difficult getting in and out of my folding kayak, then the Halibut, with its raised seat and good stability would be the answer.  Well, I'm glad to say, that day hasn't come yet - but when I spotted the Halibut on special offer on the Francobordo (Madrid) website, I couldn't resist!  The discounted price was too good to miss.

   The Gumotex Halibut is really designed as a fishing kayak - but I think it will be excellent, and very versatile, for pottering around on quiet waters.  It's not going to replace either of my other kayaks.  My Neris Valkure - 1 folding kayak will still be used for longer distance paddling, and my Gumotex Twist has proved its worth for snatched opportunities, and a bit of fun, on the sea.

Anyway, here it is:-

   Won't even have to go find somewhere to go ashore for a leg-stretch and to eat lunch with this one - the plywood flooring in front of the seat makes it possible to stand up - and there's even a handy little picnic table!

   If you go to there is a nice photo gallery of pictures of this kayak in use - for fishing, of course, but they do demonstrate the versatility of this particular Gumotex model.

   I have also put details of my Halibut on the My Kayaks page of this blog site.

Can't wait to try it out!


Sunday, 17 June 2018

An Early Start, at a New Location

   An early start from home saw me standing on the shore of Embalse de Negratín, at a new launching place (for me) at the foot of Jabalcón, at just before 7:30 a.m. on Friday morning.  It was nice to find that is was possible to drive right down to the water here - and even nicer to find it was still cool in the shade of the mountain.  The summer heat is now building up steadily in southern Spain.

   By 8:40 a.m. I was afloat and paddling into a gentle headwind towards the top end of the reservoir.  This was all new territory for me, and I could have gone in any direction - but that wind was the deciding factor.  It was forecast to freshen  in the afternoon, so, if that forecast was inaccurate and it freshened early, I would have the wind behind me coming back.

About an hour later I was at the head of the reservoir and following a winding channel through thick vegetation - sort of swamp land.  It's possible this channel was created by the The Rio Castril which flows into the reservoir at this end.  I paddled up this channel through very silty water until it became barely wide enough to turn my kayak around, and it wasn't until I had turned round that the strength of the flow into the reservoir became apparent.  Getting back to open water took no time at all.

Fish were busy feeding on flies on the surface of the silty water in the channel.  Some were so intent on feeding that they didn't notice me quietly drifting down on them - and more than once they only took evasive action at the last possible moment.  At times I was sure I was going to run some fish over.

Nearly back to open water.

Open water and the wind has died away now.  Calm enough to decide to head back down the reservoir on the opposite side to where I had launched.

This end of the reservoir is less barren than the dam end.  The slopes of Jabalcón are cloaked with pine forests, there is a larger variety of wild flowers along the shore and much more bird song.

That building on the opposite side caught my attention.  I'm sure it's the same building I've seen in photos of Embalse de Negratín on the web - with just it's roof sticking out of the water.

A break here for coffee and cake at around 10:00 a.m.  Shoals of tiny, tiny fish passed along the waters edge as I sat there, always heading in the same direction - towards the head of the reservoir.    Even crumbs of home-made carrot cake didn't distract them from their journey.  Perhaps these small fry are programmed to get to the head of the reservoir where all that vegetation will offer them shelter to grow large in.

Later, somewhere along here, I saw a fox out in the open.  I assume it had been down to the water for a drink and was heading back to the cover of trees.  I stopped paddling as soon as I saw it, but the fox must have already sensed my presence - it peered at me over its shoulder before disappearing into undergrowth.

My launching place earlier this morning is on the opposite shore, just left of centre of photograph.

Up there is the other arm of Embalse de Negratín, where another river feeds the reservoir.  That will be a trip of its own - some other day.

No comment - just another photograph with nice reflections on glassy calm water.

Packed up and ready to leave.

Up there, at the top of a concrete ramp, is a landscaped picnic area and some amenity buildings - which I've never seen open.  The gangway at the bottom of the ramp leads to a floating jetty/pontoon - or it would be floating if the reservoir was full.  I've yet to find out if this place has a name - at the moment it is just a red cross at the foot of Jabalcón on my map of Embalse de Negratín - shown on the previous blog post.

That opening on the other side of the water is the other arm of the reservoir - but that will be a trip for the autumn, it's getting too hot to spend much time on the water now.  Today's paddle was a three hour one which was plenty long enough - nice and cool when I started early but roasting hot by the time I was ashore, packed up and ready to leave.

   My gps thingy recorded only 4.9 kilometres paddled, but it must have been more like 9 kilometres.  About an hour into my trip the gps unit showed a low battery warning and after that it kept turning itself off.  I hadn't found anything in the manual about what happens if you ignore the low battery level, but now I know - it goes into battery saving mode, by turning itself off!

Friday, 8 June 2018

A Change is a-comin'

   Thick cloud hid the top of Jabalcón as I approached Embalse de Negratín yesterday morning and a light wind ruffled the surface of the water as I assembled my kayak at Playa de Freila.  A weather forecast of 0% chance of rain, with the light wind of the morning freshening in the afternoon, made Thursday the best looking day this week for a bit of a paddle.  This was to be my last paddle, for now, on this part of the reservoir.

   I launched at 9:50 am and set off along the Playa de Freila side of the reservoir towards the headland nearly opposite Playa Nudista.  I was extending a previous trip along this side to the limits of what is comfortably possible from this launching site.  Inlets for the first few kilometres were ignored as I'd already been into them.

A grey and hazy start, and Jablcón had its head in the clouds.

Further on a splash of colour, among the green vegetation and the various dull hues of rocks and stones, caught my attention.  The poppies have been magnificent in this area but it is unusual to see them so near the water.

Well on the way towards that headland - and the badlands on the opposite shore are getting greener .............

............ and greener.

Now getting near the headland which is my destination - but I spy an inlet that requires investigation before I finally reach it.

Coming out of the inlet again.  It was quite a large one, well worth a look.

Just past the headland and looking back down the reservoir.  The dam and Playa de Freila are way down there somewhere.  I've now paddled all round the edge of that area - and crossed it a few times.

Looking the opposite way is uncharted waters for me and my kayak.  Which means trying a different place to launch on my next visit.  Change is a-comin'.

Around midday, after crossing over to the Playa Nudista side for a while, I stopped here for refreshments.  I would have paddled for a while down the opposite shore but the wind freshened (as forecast) and, if it freshened much more, a return crossing might have been tricky later.

This lop-sided face watched me while I snacked!  Brings a whole new meaning to the term 'rock face'.

And this creature looked on!

Heading back and the clouds have now lifted from Jabalcón.

The wind did freshen considerably as I made my way back to Playa de Freila - and the clouds started to look threatening.  It was a head wind, so a bit of care and effort was needed to make good progress.  My plywood fore-deck came into its own - it's not a thing of beauty but it does effectively keep the sun, and on this occasion dollops of spray, off my lunch bag.

   All in all not a bad day for a last paddle on this part of the reservoir before moving to pastures new.  The weather behaved much as forecast (it never did rain), in fact the Spanish met office forecasts have always been pretty reliable for this area.

Time on the water 4 hrs. 10 mins.  Distance paddled 13½ kilometres.

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Another Good Day on Embalse de Negratin

   Last Thursday looked a good day for another paddle on Embalse de Negratin.  A forecast of very little wind and 0% chance of rain was a brief kayaking friendly window in a period of iffy weather.  Plan for the day was to launch as usual from Playa de Freila, head down to the dam, and delve into a large inlet close to the southern end of it.  This inlet was one of the few places, at that end of the reservoir, I hadn't reached on previous visits.  If time allowed, and it did, there was a couple of other largish inlets on the opposite shore still to visit.

9:45 am. Thursday May 31st.  Kayak loaded up and ready to trundle down to the water.

I was soon passing the Torre del Maruq (see blog post 21/05/17), the remains of a watch tower from the time when this area was occupied by the Moors, on my left hand side ....... ...........

.......... and what I call 'the badlands' on my right hand side.

That's a little island dead ahead.  It wasn't there the last time (May  2017) I passed this way.  After the winter rain the water level is higher now, so it must be all that remains at the end of a spit of land.  The water was  certainly very shallow between it and the mainland.

Getting closer to that inlet.

Nearly there - have to turn left just past that big rocky outcrop near centre picture.

Going in, to what turned out be one of the largest inlets I'd delved into.  It was getting quite hot on the water now - being able to pause in the shade of the cliffs was pleasant.

This is as far as I could go.  Traffic noise from the road on the skyline disturbed the tranquility.  Apart from the road over the dam this is the only place where a main road passes anywhere near the water.

Many little bays and sub-inlets made this inlet interesting.

Heading back out towards into open water.

That little island again.  By this time I had looked into two more largish inlets and was looking for somewhere I could land, stretch my legs and have some lunch.  All the inlets I had been in were steep sided and places to land were very limited.

Stopped here for lunch.  Sizable fish were cruising the shallows - but weren't interested in bits of cold pizza.  But they would come up and take little beetley things which were scooting about on the surface of the water.  Earlier I had seen one fish come well out of the water to snatch something edible off the shore.  I've never seen a fish do that before.

Fed and watered and heading back towards Playa de Freila.  Clouds were now forming in the distance and reflections were getting interesting.  The clouds were  heralding a change in the weather.  It deteriorated again the following day.

   And so another nice quiet paddle on Embalse de Negratin came to an end.  Time on the water was approx. 3½ hrs.  Distance paddled, according to my Garmin GPS thingy, was 10½ kilometres.


Sunday, 6 May 2018

Back on the Water

   My folding kayak, which hadn't seen water since June 2017, finally got an outing yesterday.  Plans to get out kayaking early in the year were thwarted by fickle weather - but yesterday morning the stars aligned long enough (just long enough) for a successful trip to Embalse de Negratin.  For a sort of 'shakedown' paddle to get back into the swing of things.

   I didn't have anywhere in mind when I launched onto glassy calm water at Playa de Freila, just 'pootled' around an area I had been to before.  But it did all look different because winter rain had raised the water level in the reservoir, which altered the shoreline and changed the shape and size of inlets.

I didn't recognise this inlet at all.

Stopped here for lunch and a leg stretch.  The edges of the reservoir tend to be gooey, sticky stuff, so a stone and shingle 'beach' to step out onto is a good find.

This was the first outing with my experimental fore-deck - to keep a bit of spray, and more importantly the hot sun, off my lunch bag.

The view from my lunch bag.

Heading back to Playa de Freila.


The noise from the power boat and the jet-ski rather spoiled the tranquility as I got nearer to Playa de Freila.  Fortunately they weren't out for long before the owners sought refreshments in that bar overlooking the water.  They did go out again for another zoom around after I landed, but were soon back in that bar again.

   A thunder storm had been forecast for the afternoon and sure enough, as I started to dismantle my kayak, the sky darkened, a wind whipped up waves on the water and then the rain came - just as I put the last bits away in the back of the van.  Phew!  Don't think we've seen the end of fickle weather just yet.

   This was also my first quiet paddle with my Garmin GPS thingy - which informed me that I'd paddled 5.7 kilometres and when I was paddling at a nice steady pace I was achieving between 3.5 and 4.0 kilometres per hour.  Not that I really needed to know any of that.  My watch told me I'd been on the water for nearly three hours.