Archive for 19/04/2013

Annual Blackwater Paddle – 14th April 2013

Annual Blackwater Paddle – 14th April 2013

Note: This is a copy of the original Post.
Fourteenth April 2013 presented an opportunity for the annual paddle from Kelvedon to Langford, and for me a first opportunity to paddle this stretch of river. Arriving at 10am at Kelvedon ready to offload boats and kit, and then organise the shuttle to Langford there was some excited faces from our club. Mainly due to the weather forecast of sun and the promise of 19°C temperatures. Personally my other paddles this year had been at sea with winds gusting up to force seven, and an open day at Kent Canoes with a dusting of snow on the ground, so the weather forecast was a welcome relief. I casually joked in the morning, “did anyone pack the sun cream?”, to which I got replies that people have long since stopped taking sun cream.

With the shuttle complete, it was time for me to climb into the ARC, the Perception ARC, not Noah’s. This is the first time I’d not paddled my sea boat on a club trip, and was seen by me as a potential test as to an investment in a shorter craft, designed for white water and play would be worthwhile. In the group we had one open boater Barry, and the remaining 8 of us paddling kayaks, the consensus being that there would not be enough water, and it may well be a bit “bumpy scrappy” for the open boat. The morning paddle remained largely uneventful with myself often occupying the position of tail end Charlie, absorbing the good weather, and a thoroughly relaxing recreational paddle.

The morning uneventfulness had an abrupt intervention with Caz. Faced by the first drop in the river, the flow increased, safety helmets were donned, and what I can only surmise was an increase in anticipation and adrenaline, either that or the tropical 19°C temperatures Caz decide to go for a quick dunk. With the river level low, the level of obstacle moderate, a roll was never going to be easy, so Barry and Charlie came to the rescue, and prevented a full on swim. A brief Jelly Baby stop, and a successful negotiation of the flume, it was time for lunch.

A usual kayaking lunch follows the lines of hiding under a group shelter, on a beach, deciding if the addition of sand to your sandwiches adds to the flavour of the occasion. However on this occasion I found that this is not always the case. Clive from Maldon canoe club had taken lunch to another level. Now having helped Clive load his boat in the morning, I was somewhat dubious as to what all the weight was, he assured me that it was “just a bit of an old boat”, however as he began to unpack lunch I got an understanding. Not only did he have a chair, but he proceeded to make G&T’s, fresh G&T’s. He had Gin, the tonic, the ice, and a slice of lemon, as well as this he was also offering around fresh strawberries. At this point, I was mysteriously missing the sandy sandwiches. Barry and his daughter Hope must also get a special mention when it come to lunch, producing a juicy fruitcake, made with marinated fruit, and, probably the key ingredient a goose egg – very tasty.

With the afternoon paddle came the passing of the golf course, at this point people should beware of misdirected Tee shots, and should be prepared to in the words of a golfer, “bat the ball back into play with the paddle”, passing the golf course did prove fruitful for Barry, collecting an abundance of golf balls from the bed of the river. The afternoon also brought an increase in wind speed, and a head wind, which changed the recreational feel of the paddle, and proved testing for those in open boats.

Upon reflection, whilst admiring my sun tan? In the mirror. I found myself wondering if this paddle would be as good if this was a year round opportunity, or if any paddle would have been as relaxing with this rare day of spring sunshine, however what did become clear, an investment in a fun boat is a must for the future.

With thanks to Mike Robarts for organising.


P.S. If every you are out on a trip, and get stung by a nettle, see Mandy for a doc leaf to relieve the sting. It works!