Yesterday I decided to change the wheels on my portage trolley. The old ones were great but they are a bit heavy and I kept on having tyre problems with them. You may remember I was about to go out the other weekend when I had one burst and spent the weekend carrying everything around the locks on my trip to Fotheringhay.
I got these wheels from a bankrupt sales place so unfortunately there don't appear to be more of them available but they are light weight and the tyres are solid so won't puncture!
I am not over keen on the lurid green colour but I got the boat to the water and put them on board for testing.
I also decided to take the Boni/Youka paddle that I made so I could try that out too. It has a pointy blade a bit like the Nootka that I often use.
The grip is a different shape to all the others I have made and the original design has a bird carved into it and is asymmetrical but I decided to retain the outline of the bigger side and shape it to a comfortable hand hold.
When I made it I didn't think it would be particularly comfortable but in use I really liked it.
I set off down river with the wind behind me so made swift progress to the weir where I hopped across and joined the backwater that runs behind Water Newton lock.
I had a late start but this was no problem as I soon reached my next backwater behind Alwalton Lock where I stopped for a coffee break.The trolley was working fine but it does need flat ground to be at its best as the wheels are not very forgiving of bumps in the terrain and are easily bogged down.
The next section of river is one of my favourites and was millpond still allowing me to practise my pretty paddling skills attempting axle,christie and wedge turns that I learn't with the help of Frank and Lude at Canoefest back in June.
The Peterborough with its keel is not the best canoe for this sort of paddling but I could still do the moves although they were a little shakey at times.
Paddling onward I discovered I really like the grip of the Boni /Youka paddle. It is very comfortable when held like a Northwoods grip on the side. I also found I liked the shortness of the shaft. I had reduced the overall length of the paddle to 58” which is 2” shorter than most of my other paddles and found it far less tiring as I didn't need to lift the paddle so high to get the blade out of the water.
It wasn't bad at slicing strokes but I think I might thin down the blade edges just a little more to improve the way it cuts through the water.
Paddling with the big wide grip all day I did find I got no cramp in my fingers which is something I often get with other grips. The bridge at Ferry Meadows was a head of me.
I decided to paddle round to the lake and have my lunch there which I could then follow with a slice of cake from the cafe.
I got out at the pontoon and had my sandwiches sitting on the grass there where there were some geese.
Whilst I wanted to eat my sandwiches in peace the geese had other ideas and at one point I was about to take a bite when one of the geese had his or her beak almost on my sandwich. They kept coming at me but I gently shoved them back and they soon went back to nibbling the grass once they realised I hadn't come to feed them.
I finished my lunch and then went to the cafe for a slice of chocolate cake which was a great improvement on the cake I had last time I was here. (Last time I had carrot cake which was a bit dry).
On the way back I paddled to the end of the island where I disturbed a flock of birds that were perched on a few deadwood branches.
The day continued with the bird theme as I spotted this heron walking behind the reeds.
and took a short video of one walking in a well grazed sheep field looking rather exposed.
Back up river the sun actually showed itself which I was glad to see as it had been cloudy all day up to now.
The wind had dropped so I made rapid progress back to Water Newton lock where I found ducks near the outlet from the mill. You wouldn't see them standing there when the water is flying through the outlet in winter.
In conclusion my trolley managed the slopes on this lock ok so I will stick with these wheels for now at least and see how they go on some more demanding trips. The paddle was great too though I will see if I can improve it's slicing ability by thinning the edges a touch.