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Recon of the Nedd Fechan and Afon Mellte

Getting a new boat is in my top 10 list of favourite things. I picked up my shiny new red Recon 83 Friday morning and hit the road Saturday for South Wales.

Shiny new Recon 83 through rose-coloured glasses.

Warning Stickers… “Kayaking trumps all else.”

It had rained most of the week and it looked like river levels would hold through the weekend. The plan was to paddle the Mellte and Nedd Fechan. I had done the Mellte once before at very low flows and was hopeful there would be more water this time. The crew was the usual suspects including Mandy, Rob, Andy, Rhodi, Adam and Rhodi’s brother.

The Crew

A brief 3 hour drive and we were at the Mellte put-in. Levels looked a perfect medium-high! We decided to run the Nedd Fechan first as its level drops more quickly than the Mellte. The Nedd Fechan starts out with a nice 25 ft falls. Adam went first on the right of center line with a soft flat landing. With the thumbs up from below I took the same line landing without the bow going under the water. The rest of the crew took the left of center line with equally nice results. Adam though he would spice things up with a second run and threw in a Hammer for good measure.

A little recon of the top falls of the Nedd Fechan

Nedd Fechan morning Hammer care of Adam

We continued downstream to the next major drop which everyone except Rhodi’s brother and Adam ran. Rumour had it the landing was very shallow. That was enough for me to warrant walking around. The guys both had sweet lines and made it look easy. Unfortunately, my GoPro battery was dead so no pictures this time. We were at the take out and ready for the Mellte in short order.

The Mellte starts with a very pleasant wet, slippery and steep put in. Adam won first prise for getting his boat to the water’s edge the quickest. Standing at the top of the cliff with the river 100 ft below he told me how his friend had dropped a boat last time they were here. Seconds later Adam’s boat (new!!) was flying through the air doing airscrews over the tops of trees. We stood there silently as the boat hit the ground and tumbled end over end down the steep bank towards the water. Twenty feet above the river’s edge it came to a stop upside down on a rock. My money was on there being some heavy damage to his new lime green ride; however, I was 100% wrong. Short of a small dent on the edge of the hull behind the seat there was no damage! I hope my boat is this tough! The Mellte is a great river. It starts out with a seal launch above a 20 foot falls immediately downstream.

Recon 83 pulling up for landing on the first falls of the Mellte

At the lower water level on a previous trip this falls only has a spout of water pouring through the river right slot. Today we had more than enough water to run anywhere along the falls. Most people opted for the central line with a final strong paddle stroke at the end of the short top ramp to keep the bow up for a soft landing below. The two small ledges below were run in numerous places as most people did not give them a close look while scouting. The next section of the river has a few nice grade 3+ drops. Below is Rhodi powering hard over the lip of a sticky ledge.

Rhodi driving hard on the Mellte

It was not long until we came to the main event of the Mellte, a 30-ish foot falls. There are two commonly run lines on this beauty. The flying central line and the river left double drop line. We all opted for the river left line where you drop onto a ledge 8 ft down from the lip of the falls and then fly out into the pool below. Some of us did not get the flying part sorted very well and ended up going deep into the bottom pool. We all gave the drop a couple runs to try and perfect our technique. Mandy and Adam took first place for the best lines. Strangely though, I only have pictures of myself.

Mellte main falls –Step one

Step two

Final step

After running the main falls a few times each we knocked out the final few rapids to the take-out. The water levels had been prefect and the group was great for a fun day.

In regard to the new boat I could say a lot of technical things about the Recon 83, most of which I don’t really understand. At the end of the day I think it is a good boat. It fit me perfectly straight out of the wrapper. It is faster than the Habitat 80 and I think the bow resurfaces quicker. It is a very stable and forgiving boat. I am looking forward to a great season in my new toy!

Cheers Dean

Rubrik: Teamblog  Poster: Dean Gagnon

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