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25 January 2006

Two Star river trip

I normally leave work at 6:00 pm on a Tuesday evening to be in good time for my weekly club paddle. Last night, at around 6:15 pm, I realised that I was artificially busying myself with 'urgent' calls and emails that I had been subconsciously putting off all afternoon so that I would be too late to go paddling on this freezing cold evening. Mentally giving myself a slap in the face, I grabbed my kit bag and ran for the bus, as always, it was worth the effort.

I was on coaching duty and not looking forward to a lot of sitting still on Shadwell Basin. Luckily, nobody else fancied that either and, as all those who wanted to paddle were of at least Two Star standard, we decided on a river trip instead (our club rules were recently relaxed to allow 'Two Stars' to paddle on the Thames providing they buddy up with a 'Three Star').

A group of five regular river paddlers set off ahead of us leaving eleven including three 'Two Stars' for whom it was their first time paddling this far on the river (the 10 km to Greenwich and back took us two hours). They all seemed to enjoy the opportunity to do something other than practising strokes on the Basin and I think they gained confidence paddling on the Thames in the dark and cold, which can be an intimidating environment.

20 January 2006

Whale watching

Lots of excitement this morning as a Northern Bottle-Nosed Whale was seen in the Thames. I headed down to London Bridge near my office as soon as I heard about it but turns out it is further up river. A PR firm in Millbank tower are blogging the situation, seems the whale was last seen at Chelsea a few minutes ago. The tide is flooding now until about 17:30 so I hope the whale can hold out and maybe go back out to sea with the tide this evening

18 January 2006

Temple Steps

Last night was unseasonally mild and nine of us took to the river to paddle upstream against the ebbing tide.

Passing Tower Pier we were hailed by an RNLI lifeboat man and I stopped for a brief chat. He turned out to be a kayaker but confessed that he had not had his Nordkapp in the water for nine months, I suspect he was a little envious of our excursion.

Once we reached London Bridge we began to feel the full effect of the fast ebb and there was even a standing wave of about 40cm a little further up river, under the centre of Cannon Street railway bridge. I found a good paddling rhythm and made steady progress but I was ready for a breather by the time I reached the eddy behind Temple steps.

While we waited for the last members of the group a police launch passed on the other side of the fairway heading down river at speed, anticipating the wash and the clapotis from the wall that runs along the north bank of the river all along Kings Reach, we instinctively moved away from the steps. Our instincts were correct. The rebounding wake resulted in some very dramatic clapotis giving us a little entertainment before we headed back to Wapping.

4 January 2006

Seeing in the new year

The first paddle of 2006, last night, was a gentle run up to South Bank returning on the Middlesex (north) side of the river to get a slightly different perspective than usual. The weather was mild for January and numbers were down to the lowest for quite a while (5).