Due to the strong coastal winds Barry and I drove form Bournemouth up the the Elmbridge Canoe Club (Weybridge)to paddle the Thames for a change of scenery and get some miles in. The plan was to paddle to Richmond and back with a wriggle around the islands to clock around 30 miles.
My V8 has been used almost daily for nearly 3 years and now showing signs of wear and tear to the rudder peddle assembly. As soon as we paddled off the dock, my right rudder peddle broke at the carbon hinge. On close inspection the plastic hinge spindle and the carbon part had worn considerably. It was lucky we had not gone far. I limped back and Barry said we should call it a day. After what would be a 3 hour round trip driving ,I did not want to give in. I used good old Gaffer tape to effect a repair and we set off again.
There was a fair stream running with us and it looked like it would be quite a bit harder paddling back. No warning boards, so we continued on. I guess those who paddle this area regularly are well aware of how much harder it is to paddle against the flow and how much the flow can change in a short time frame. Well we got our miles in on this interesting paddle. As we approached Richmond it was obvious that the flow had increased considerably. We decided to spin around and start heading back. We estimate that the flow had increased to 3 knots in places. What a workout pushing hard for for over 14 miles to get home. I was concious of my rudder peddle held together with tape, so put most pressure on my left leg and heel. This caused quite a strain on my left hamstring. We met an environmental agency boat at the Teddington Lock to find out that after we departed the warning boards had gone up….yellow boards (no unpowered craft) and then the red boards (no craft). They had let the sluice gates open to let the excess rain water off.
Well we certainly had a good workout and no time to stop at a pub. I will chalk this up to yet more experience. We both really enjoyed the charge and vowed to come back and do more of the Thames.
Just under 30 miles with the journey back against a 3+ knot stream. for those who have fought up the Mudeford Run for a few hundred yards…imaging that for over 14 miles.
The Walton on Thames new bridge
An old ships lifeboat. I wonder who lives on this?
Now…if they only had a ski lift hook, we would not even have to get out of the boasts at the portages.
One of the portages. note the runners for sliding a laden canoe along and they roll down the other side.
The Mitre Brasserie by Hampton Bridge. Not sure they would let us in in wetsuits. Might wear a dinner suit under a drysuit like James Bond next time
A Hoff House as seen on Grand Designs. You can whip one of these up in a week.
Hampton Court. We paddled into the tradesman’s entrance
For anyone contemplating a Thames paddle it is work checking river conditions. Barry and I are now paddle fit, but I doubt many would have made it back on the return journey of nearly 15 miles against 3+ knots flow. The warning boards (yellow then red) after we almost reached Richmond. They hang them on the locks and better seen by boats in the lock than paddles taking the portage options.
If in doubt you can call Floodline on 0845 988 1188
The difficulty is in if you are paddling a long journey and things change on route as happened to us….but I will do even more checks next time.
Thanks Barry for the great company and another bloody hard slog It was a great paddle and I would love to do more of the Thames without the red boards.