Edinburgh Southern Orienteering Club

May Social 2023Tuesday 30th May, Musselburgh Lagoons

Canoe-O control
Canoe-O control
Credit: Walter Clark

Canoe orienteering, possibly a first for ESOC!

Canoe orienteering on the Lagoons

Mary Williams reports on this social:

We all headed out to Musselburgh Lagoons for some canoe-orienteering fun. Well what fun it was. We thought that we had been transported to the Florida Everglades (without the humidity), but we didn't see any alligators, just a hen swan with one cygnet and swallows swooping down over the water catching the insects. It was so idyllic in the glorious evening sun and for Scotland - heat. The trees overhung the pond like mangrove trees, but popping up below the branches, in the middle of the lagoon and in the reedy plants were red and white O kites. What were we in for? – just an idyllic evening of sun, water, screeching with joy and hard paddling over three mini canoe orienteering courses.

The organisation by the Robertson family was immaculate - David put up the tent and launched the canoes; Hanne kitted us out with personal buoyancy aids; Calum helped us into the canoes and Maja did the competitive bit timing us. There were three courses and each had a waterproof card map. We had to complete all three courses in the fastest time to win.

Eleanor (my team mate) and I climbed nervously into the canoe, Eleanor who was at the back got given the map and we were shoved off by David. The paddling came fairly easily to us but as to which direction we went that was another matter! We could see where we wanted to go, but the wind would catch us sideways and we were blown off course, but there was no consistency in it all. Eleanor would shout left paddle and the canoe would swing to the left rather than right and the only way to get it back on course was to back paddle – so frustrating as we lost all our speed and slowed to a halt. Sometimes it was like bumper cars, Eleanor screaming canoe coming on port side and we still managed to bang into the other crew. Fortunately, the lagoon was fairly shallow at the edges and we could make abrupt turns by putting our paddle on the ground and shoving off. I don’t think that this is in canoeing etiquette though!

What a joy it was to see so many club members from Ted (7 years old) and Ben (5 years old) with their little paddles to us oldies and everybody of all fitness levels paddling like mad back and for across the lagoon. In the glorious sunshine club members were screaming and screeching to one another as they passed by. Periodically we werecaught on camera from the resident photographer, Walter, who prowled the bank trying to catch those awkward moments!

The big winners were the pros David and Martin. Runners up were Rachel and Nigel and in third place Sabine and Simon. Congratulations to the winners and to everybody who managed to paddle in a straight line. Thank you also to East Lothian Outdoor Education Authority for allowing us to use all the equipment, but the biggest accolades must go to the Robertson family for putting on such a fun and slick event. We all enjoyed it so much and would love to make it an annual event!

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