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28 October 2007

Derwent River training

Sunday 28 October 2007 - I left home at 6am and drove to the Derwent River above New Norfolk. I dropped off my mountain bike below the rapids at the Plenty railway bridge and then drove up to Meadowbank Rd.

I was initially planning to paddle down the last 1km of the Tyenna River into the Derwent but I found an easier entry point further up river. Just past No. 174 Meadowbank Rd, I parked and scrambled down a steep bank to the Derwent. I was using a Dagger RPM max - which isn't ideal for a 25km paddle - but I wanted to have fun on the way.

The river level was quite high considering and it must have been due to water coming through the Meadowbank power station because there hadn't been any rain for a while.

I enjoyed the scenery down the river, which is mostly surrounded by farmland. I wanted to familiarise myself with the main rapids for the Cradle to Coast multisport race in March 2008. They are - in order - The Strainer; Gretna rapids; Mitchells; Broken Bridge and Plenty railway bridge.

At the higher river level some areas can be harder than normal and some can be easier - as they are 'smoothed out' with more water moving above them.

The Strainer: involves the main water flow moving directly at a partly submerged tree. The current tries to move you right at the tree. I found it quite easy to avoid it to the left where it was less rough (but slower).

Gretna: As I rounded the bend to the right I stuck to the right bank where it was less rough. The first rapid there is easier than the second. The second went longer and was messier but it was still better to stick next to the right bank.

Mitchells: this was very easy at the higher water level. There were none of the normal rock hazards on the approach as there is with low water and as I went down the rapid I stuck to the right bank. Below this rapid there are undercut rock shelves at low water but they were covered.

Broken Bridge: This was flowing across the whole river at this higher level and I stuck close to the very left. This enables you to go down the main chute and angle left to get out of the current if you choose or at least avoid the big messy waves. I then had to cross to the right to avoid the metal from the actual broken bridge below the main rapid.

Plenty railway bridge: once again the water was flowing across the whole river and not just down the main chute. This meant that a lot of rocks that normally direct the flow were now just submerged and dangerous (to boat damage).

I then left the river and hid my kayak and rode back to Meadowbank Rd. It is only 18km back by road as the river meanders.

All in all it was a good day out and good training.