Sunday, 1 February 2009

[TR] Warm Champagne and Flat Beer Touring

Essential Guide To Paddling

Most of us will agree that alcohol whilst paddling is not a good mix mainly because of the danger aspect but also the major spillage factor.
However, after a good day on the water there is nothing better than a nice cold beer or a glass of wine as we relax on the bank reflecting on our day’s endeavours.
So as a journalist I decided to do some in-depth research into the science of alcoholic beverage transportation and consumption within the realms of paddling. It’s been a tough assignment but after weeks of suffering, having to drink lots of beer and spending many evenings on remote beaches, drinking wine and watching beautiful sunsets, these are the results.
I started with White Wine and Champagne. Placing them in a dry bag just wasn’t good enough. Obviously they needed to be kept chilled so towing them along in the water seemed ideal. The difficulty came when I tried to tie a cord around the neck of the bottle. A clove hitch seemed the natural choice but after loosing a bottle to the depths of a lake (a very distressing moment) I learnt, they do have a tendency to slip. So after paddling for miles towing bottles of different shapes and sizes and surfing the net for different types of knot, I discovered the Constriction Knot. It’s one of the strongest and most reliable of the hitch knots and perfect for tying around bottles.

How to tie a Constriction Knot:
Get a piece of cord. Holding each of the standing ends in the fingers of each hand; stick your left index finger up through the loop from below and your right index finger down through the loop from above. Rotate your right hand in the direction you would tighten a screw, allowing the lines to cross between fingers. Bring the ends of your index fingers together and slide the knot off the right finger and onto the left finger and slide over the neck of the bottle and tighten.
I tried this knot using cord, shoe laces and fishing wire and all worked perfectly. My only problem with dragging the wine this way was remembering to pull it back into the boat before I banged it against the rocks as I reached the shore. (This form of transportation is also not suitable in white water situations)
My next round of research was on cans of beer. Again I thought dragging them behind the boat would be great but in practice it didn’t work. Although they were chilled nicely, the momentum of the paddling shook them up too much and they sprayed everywhere when opened. So after having to drink far too many half cans of beer I came to the conclusion the best way to chill them, was to wait until I was on dry land and lay them back in the water for ten minutes, whilst I set up camp. However, if you’re only away for a single night, 2 freezer packs placed in a sealable plastic barrel works well. I managed to fit in 20 large cans/56 stumpies in one barrel alone. The beer stayed lovely and cold for 6 hours. The freezer packs were still half frozen by then so I’m sure the beer would have stayed cool longer if we hadn’t drunk it all.
Finally I tackled the red wine issue. After buying several bottles, putting some in dry bags and others just shoved in the boat, I discovered the best way of carrying red wine is to buy the boxed version. Usually I’d scorn at such a thing but for canoeing its ideal. Firstly ditch the box itself and you’re left with the wine filled silver bag inside. This bag then fits perfectly on top of the front airbag under the lacing where you can leave it to warm nicely during the day. The empty silver bag also turns into a make shift water carrier or even a comfy pillow when inflated. Which is an excellent excuse for having to finish it all off before hitting the sack.

It’s been tough assignment but someone had to do it. No more flat Champagne or half empty luke warm cans of beer need to be endured. Can I relax now my job is done? No, my research goes on. Chocolate, Spirits and ice cream next, I think. Wish me luck

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