12 October 2010

Temple Steps

HW LB 17:22 6.5m

Six boats, ladder launch, departed 19:25. Strong ebb. Big wake following a Clipper through Arch 2 of Blackfriars Bridge as Arch 1 closed. Reached Temple Steps c. 20:15. Returned Shadwell at 21:05, some headwind on return leg.

20 November 2007

Slow out, fast home

Ten of us went to Greenwich tonight taking it gently on the way and then splitting into two groups of five for the return leg. We in the 'fast' group kept a good pace and the return took about 25 minutes compared to 50 minutes on the way out (mainly due to having the tide with us).

There was a lot of traffic and we encountered some quite choppy conditions on the way back in Limehouse Reach as two fast ferries passed at the same time in opposite directions.

9 October 2007

There and back again

A relatively unremarkable paddle tonight. We set off from the beach by The Prospect of Whitby with the water fairly low and headed up river against the last of the ebb. We crossed the river at Tower Bridge and paddled as far as Gabriel's Wharf before turning around and returning to Wapping and a muddy landing just around slack water.

Paddlers: 7
Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes

2 October 2007

Ladder launch

High water London Bridge at 18:39 meant no beach to launch from so we launched, one at a time, via the step ladder just outside Shadwell Basin. It took nearly fifteen minutes to get nine boats on the water and it was 19:15 by the time we set off up river.

We crossed to the Surrey side in front of Tower Bridge enjoying a good ferry glide across the quickly building ebb tide. The pace was leisurely, at least for the regulars, as we regrouped several times to let everyone catch up.

We picked it up a little on the way back as the tide made easy going for everyone and returned to Shadwell Basin at about 20:45.

The gentle pace meant I had plenty of time to chat, look around and enjoy the view.

25 September 2007

Canary Wharf and a tsunami

A lovely paddle on the Thames tonight from Wapping past Canary Wharf to Greenwich and back. The moon was spectacular and the river seemed calm and serene until out of nowhere the tsunami hit us.

I heard a shout of 'wave' and looked over my shoulder to find Canary Wharf obscured by a wall of water. The wake from a fast ferry had reared up suddenly over the shallows while we were idly chatting but, for the sake of the one member of the party who it got the better of, we'll remember it as the Canary Wharf Tsunami!

Moon over Canary Wharf (click to enlarge)

Six paddlers, 10km, 1hr30.

29 August 2007

Standing waves at London Bridge

I have heard that at certain states of tide a standing wave forms just down river from London Bridge, where the river is shallow. Until now, I had never seen much more than a single small wave near the bridge's support columns but last night was the real thing.

A group of seven of us set off from Wapping at 19:00 and headed towards Westminster, as low water London Bridge was predicted for 21:34. At Tower Bridge we crossed the river to the Surrey (south) side and as we paddled close to the bank from Hayes Galleria to London Bridge we noticed significant waves in the centre of the channel. There was a lot of river traffic about, however, and we assumed this was just wash. We continued our trip as far as a small sandy beach just shy of Waterloo Bridge where we usually stop for a five minute break before turning around.

When we paddle back with the tide we usually keep a little further out in the channel to make the most of the flow so when we came under London Bridge we found that the waves we had seen earlier were still there and we were right in the middle of them. We enjoyed a roller coaster ride through a wave train from the bridge to London Bridge City Pier that was rather like paddling through a small tide race.

The time was about an hour before low water and there was a slight easterly wind which probably helped to hold the waves up.

18 July 2007

Gabriel's Wharf and the Taj Mahal

Six of us turned out last night for a hard paddle into wind and against a fast ebb to Gabriel's Wharf. The wind was in the south west so we crossed to the Surrey (south) side of the river at Tower Bridge and found a bit of shelter but still had to work hard against the tide which was about and hour and a half into the ebb from a 6.9m HW level, so quite strong. We reached our destination in 46 minutes strung out like Tour riders on a mountain stage and were ready for a rest.

We encountered some strong gusts on the way back and I had to clench my fists and hang on to my paddles a few times.

As we approached Tower Bridge we noticed it was raised but didn't quite get there in time to pass underneath the open span, although we did see an old Thames barge come through.

Tower Bridge closed just before we got there (click to enlarge)

The journey back took 26 minutes but would have been a little quicker had we not been held up waiting for traffic before crossing back to Wapping. One of the things I love about paddling on the Tideway is that no trip is the same and one always sees something a bit different. Tonight it was this replica of the Taj Mahal being towed down river. It was a puzzle at the time but when I went home later in the evening I saw it again on the news and learned that it was a promotion for the start of the India Now festival taking place over the next three months.

Taj Mahal replica floats down the Thames to promote the India Now festival (click to enlarge)

4 July 2007

Thunder storms

Yesterday was Wimbledon weather so only four of us turned out ready for a paddle on the river. It was a strongly ebbing tide and quite hard work paddling against it to Temple Steps. It was not made any easier by the heavy river traffic and wash although this did add some excitement, particularly as a police launch sped by - the river is not exempt from security alerts - creating very turbulent conditions.

We made Temple Steps in 44 minutes and the return journey took 26 (10 km round trip).

Thunder storms over Canary Wharf

26 June 2007


Tonight 13 of us set out on the river. This was a chance for some of our less experienced paddlers to explore the Tideway. We paddled as far as Deptford and back (about a 5km round trip).

Canary Wharf from Deptford (click to enlarge)

Coaching hours: 2

23 May 2007

Lovely evening on the Thames

The City from the South Bank (click to enlarge).
The City from the South Bank
Last night was a beautiful early summer evening and perfect for a jaunt up river to Waterloo Bridge. The tide was ideal as it had just started to ebb as we set off at 19:10 giving us very little flow to work against on the way out but increasing in time to help us home.

The summer weather brings out the river traffic and we had plenty of wash to liven things up and even a few little surfs.

Paddlers: 13
Time out: 50:00
Time back: 30:00

8 May 2007

Windy paddle to Temple steps

I have not been out on the river for a while and tonight was as windy as I can remember it so the paddle to Temple steps and back felt like a good work out.

On the way back we investigated a cruise ship, Vistamar, moored in the Pool of London.

Cruise ship, Vistamar in the pool of London (click to enlarge).

Seven of us made the trip which took 52 minutes out against wind and tide and 27 minutes back for a round trip distance of 10km.

13 February 2007

Rainy trip to Greenwich

A tough paddle against the tide tonight to Greenwich. The weather was wet and the river was rolling with some sizeable swell. Passing Deptford we were overtaken by a large tug and this produced the biggest wash I have seen on the river. I was afraid that the resultant clapotis might catch out some of the group, who were hugging the bank to cheat the tide, but they were fine and seemed to enjoy the thrill.

Eight of us made the 10km round trip.

25 January 2007

Never too cold

The phone rang just as I was heading for the river on Tuesday. I answered it but explained that I would have to call back as I was going kayaking. My friend on the other end was incredulous: but surely its too cold? on the Thames? at night? is that safe? I often get this reaction and sometimes I have to push myself to get out paddling on a cold winter evening but it is always worth the effort.

Tuesday was no exception, eight of us paddled from Wapping to Waterloo Bridge and back. We were well wrapped up for the cold but by the time we had expended some energy working against the tide to Tower Bridge we already felt over dressed.

On nights like this, when the tide is ebbing strongly, we often cross the river here to paddle against the slower current on the inside bend rather than sticking to the river right convention (we are small enough and close enough to the bank to keep out of the way of other traffic). Ferry gliding across the powerful current in the flood lights of Tower Bridge was exhilarating and soon we were sneaking along the south bank close to the shore where the water is slack.

After a good workout we paused just shy of Waterloo Bridge. A few minutes of inactivity reminded us of the freezing temperature and we promptly set off on the tidally assisted return journey.

Paddling back under the red glow of London Bridge, slipping past HMS Belfast unnoticed like Cockleshell Heroes and leaving the City through Tower Bridge I relished the experience of winter kayaking in this unique location.

10 January 2007

Windy trip to Gabriel's Wharf

After a low turnout last week we were back to full strength last night when a group of nine from THCC set out from Wapping towards Westminster into a strong head wind and ebbing tide. We crossed to the Surrey (south) bank in front of Tower Bridge, ferry gliding across the powerful current to the more sheltered water on the other side. It was still hard work battling the wind and tide and it took a good fifty minutes to reach Gabriel's Wharf. The return journey flew by in about half that time.

3 January 2007

New year's paddle

Convoys Wharf redevelopmentLast night was the first paddle of the year and a good start to 2007. Despite a low turn out at THCC, four of us were game for a trip to Greenwich and back.

We set off against what London VTS rather poetically described as the 'young flood' and made Greenwich in about 45 minutes. On the way I noticed that part of the rather decrepit Convoys Wharf appeared to have sunk since I was last there. Apparently it is about to be redeveloped by the Richard Rogers Partnership. This is good news for us as it should mean more yuppies and less stone throwers!

We powered back to Wapping in about 30 minutes and I felt as though I had made the first steps in overcoming the Christmas bloat.

7 December 2006

Christmas paddle

Tuesday was the annual THCC Christmas paddle to Tower Bridge. This year we had a total of 55 boats on the water which was quite an impressive sight.

Two groups set off from Wapping, the first comprising those experienced enough to make the trip on their own (21) and a second larger group (34) with all the club's coaches and more experienced paddlers shepherding the novices. It was quite an organisational feat and, despite a little bit of a delay getting started, everything went smoothly and we all enjoyed mulled wine and mince pies on the beach in front of The Tower. We then caught the last of the ebb for an easy ride home.

Total distance: 4km
Coaching hours: 2
Coaches: 2 x L3, 5 x L2

11 August 2006


Tuesday's tidal prediction indicated low water at 20:08 so we expected tidal assistance in both directions on an extended trip to the Dome and back (15km).

Unfortunately, while we had a good strong flow to help us get there, the tide did not turn in time to help us back. At least it was a good workout.

Ten of us made the trip which took 45 minutes on the way out and an hour to get back.

26 July 2006

Back on the river

After a few weeks absence I was glad to get back on the river last night. Five of us paddled to Temple Steps and by the time we got as far as Tower Bridge we were all out in a sweat, despite being in our lightest paddling gear. The hot weather had also fuelled the growth of green algae so water quality was not great.

The Thames is one of the best places to be in London on a beautiful summer evening like last night and the riverside pubs of the South Bank were overflowing. I could sense a lot of people watching us as we paddled past on our way back to Wapping and, as well as the usual curiosity, I suspect there was more than a little envy in their gaze.

7 June 2006

Sundown behind the City

Last night was a beautiful evening for a paddle on the Thames and, as it was a neap flooding tide, we took the opportunity to invite some of the club's newer 2 star paddlers along to gain some river experience. Two groups, totalling 16, made the trip from Wapping to Greenwich and back - the largest number I can remember for a regular Tuesday night club paddle

We paddled leisurely, savouring the privilege of being out on the river under our own steam and taking about an hour to get to Greenwich and forty five minutes for the return leg of the 10km round trip.

On the way back we enjoyed the spectacular site of the sun going down behind the Swiss Re tower and the skyline of the City. We were also shamed by a small boy whose football had fallen into the river below a high embankment. Despite many attempts, no one had a strong enough throw to get it back up to him. More polo practice is definitely required!

30 May 2006

A good workout

Tonight was a tough paddle for three of us against a strong wind and tide to Westminster (Savoy Pier). We had to work very hard on the way, particulalrly under some of the bridges, taking 50 minutes to get there. Julien set a fast pace on the return journey and we encountered some sizeable waves between London Bridge and Tower Bridge. The tide and wind certainly helped us though as we made it back in only 25 minutes.

23 May 2006

Busy river

A large group of eleven of us made the trip to Greenwich. On the way we met another of our club members who was out on the river with some children from Deptford who he was teaching to handle a RIB. After a brief chat they made several fast passes in front of us to try and generate some waves but the boat seemed a bit under powered for the job.

The river is getting busier as summer approaches and on the way back we had to steer clear of a number of ferries, dinner cruises and our own sailors from Shadwell.

10 May 2006

Beginners on the river

Last night we took advantage of the low neap tide to take some beginners out on the Thames. We paddled against the tide past Canary Wharf and back to Wapping, a total distance of about 5km. I think everyone enjoyed being out on the river on a beautiful warm evening and I hope we were able to give a good introduction to the pleasures of paddling on the Tideway balanced with an awareness of the hazards.

The group comprised 9 'one star' paddlers, one L3 coach, one L2 coach, myself and one other L2 trainee. Duration was 1.5 hours.

5 April 2006

Enough of training - let's do it

John, Julien and I paddled from Wapping to Lambeth Bridge and back tonight in sea kayaks again. We made it there on slack water in 49 minutes and back, with a little tidal assistance, in 39 (13 km round trip).

This may well have been our last training paddle and I am glad. I think we have all reached the stage where DW has taken over too much of our lives and now we just want to get it done.

29 March 2006

A tough paddle on the Thames

Tonight we were only three again as Matt was still resting so we took to the Thames in sea boats for a second night running.

We set off for Lambeth Bridge as before and, although it was not as windy as last night, we were nearer to the peak of the ebbing tide and had to work very hard. Julien set a tough pace and we got there in 56 minutes, returning in 35 (13 km round trip).

Sea boats on the river

Matt's tendonitis is still bothering him so he is taking it easy this week in the hopes that he will be OK for Waterside D on Sunday. That meant that as we were three last night we paddled with the club on the Thames in Sea boats.

We went upstream against the wind and tide to Lambeth Bridge in 1 hour and 5 minutes and back again in 39 minutes, a round trip distance of 13km.

It was my first paddle on the river in daylight for several months but the squally showers darkened the sky quickly after we set off and we were switching on lights by the time we got to Tower Bridge.

15 March 2006

The Dome

Last night Matt was not feeling well so we were down to three and therefore went along to the club to paddle on the Thames in sea boats.

Low water (London Bridge) was predicted for 20:12 so we figured it would be best to go down river with the ebb and hope to get some tidal assistance on the way back after the tide turned. Unfortunately, and as previoulsy noted, tidal predictions are just predictions. We flew down to the Dome in 40 minutes but the return trip took 57. Total distance was 15km.

11 February 2006

Passing ships

Two Kleppers at Canary WharfOut early this morning for another run in the Klepper, this time John and I paddled from Wapping Old Stairs to Greenwich and back. Passing Cuckold's Point we met Matt and a pal of his from Newcastle. They were off on a sightseeing tour to Hammersmith where they planned to fold up the boat (another Klepper) and get the train home.

We made Greenwich in about 50 minutes and back to Wapping in 33. Total distance was 12km.

8 February 2006

The Dome

Millenium DomeTonight we paddled the 16km to The Dome and back, as last night, the wind was against the tide and a lot of effort went into steering through the waves. We held a good pace making it there against the tide in 61 minutes and back with the tide, but against the wind, in 50.

Funnily enough, I felt it most in my legs rather than my arms and shoulders but I think it was down to being a bit cramped in the boat rather than any hard pedalling action.

7 February 2006

Increasing the distance

Tonight we spent a good two hours on the water, paddling from Shadwell Basin to Greenwich and back and then the other way to Tower Bridge and back again. Splits were SB to Greenwich:43 minutes, Greenwich to SB: 35 minutes, SB to TB: 16 minutes and TB to SB: 20 minutes. Total distance was 14km.

The wind was a strong westerly blowing against the flooding tide so the river was quite bouncy and it was very hard to get a decent rhythm going. Crossing the river at Greenwich was very wet and I would not have fancied being in a K2.

3 February 2006

Let the training commence

Last night was my first proper training paddle for DW and the beginning of a new routine. We do not yet have K2s so our training vessel was a Klepper (this is how the early crews did the race when it started in the 1950s)!

It was my first time paddling in a double and the Klepper is hard to move, especially against an ebbing spring tide. We made it from Wapping Old Stairs, by The Town of Ramsgate pub, to Lambeth Bridge in a respectable 57 minutes and back with the tide in 27, a distance of about 5.5km each way. This was only slightly further than our regular Tuesday night paddles (10km) but it felt like much harder work which I guess is the difference between doing it in a sea kayak and a Klepper.

On the way home the endorphins kicked in and I began to feel like an athlete in training for something big.

1 February 2006

Temple Steps

Last night eight paddlers set off from THCC to Temple Steps, we took it leisurely and made a few stops on the way taking 50 minutes to get there. On the way back we had a slight headwind, it was not strong enough to slow us down much but it did feel very cold. The return trip took 30 minutes.

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).

23 November 2005

Winter sport

I felt cold last night setting off from Wapping towards Westminster but after ten minutes paddling against the tide I had warmed up and was taking off my hat and unzipping my cag.

It had been a cold day and my colleagues were aghast seeing me head off to paddle on the river after work but one of the great advantages of kayaking is that it is a year round pursuit (unlike some of my other hobbies). In fact, if I ever feel it is too cold to go out paddling here in London I have only to think of Nigel Dennis et al in South Georgia and it will feel a bit warmer!

17 November 2005

Well timed tide

Tuesday saw a great turn out on the river, despite the falling temperature. Fifteen of us made the trip to Greenwich and back, all but one of us in sea boats. We had the tide with us in both directions as it turned, very conveniently, at about 19:40 just as we were arriving at Greenwich making for an easy paddle in both directions.

2 November 2005

To The Orient

Last night we paddled a surprisingly calm river all the way to the eastern hemisphere - not quite as far as it sounds.

There is a dramatic green laser beam shooting over the river at Greenwich marking the meridian which has apparently been there since December 1999 but its the first time I had seen it. Trying to paddle underneath it was a bit like chasing a rainbow but we did eventually get past it and across the meridian.

5 October 2005


As we set off from Shadwell Basin towards Westminster London VTS advised us to steer clear of the morning's diesel spill at Cherry Garden Pier, halfway between Wapping and Tower Bridge on the Surrey (south) side of the river. We were actually eager to see the wreck but there was not much visible, the smell of diesel though was apparent all the way to Gabriel's Wharf and back, or maybe it is always there and we were just more sensitive to it.

14 September 2005

Dark river

I paddled to Greenwich and back last night. By the time we got there it was fully dark (at least to the extent that it gets dark in London). The river seems very different at night and I enjoyed the change of scenery but no doubt the novelty will wear off once the temeprature dops.

3 September 2005

Mud and shopping trolleys

A gentle paddle in the sunshine today from Wapping to Greenwich with a detour up Deptford Creek.

The creek is said to be only navigable a short way up and then only a couple of hours either side of high tide, of course kayaks can probably get in on anything but a spring low tide. Having done it once though I would not rush back. The tide was low and the creek was half mud, half stagnant oily water dotted with navigational hazards like shopping trolleys and abandoned bicycles poking out of the mud.

When we got back out on to the Thames the river felt positively clean by comparison!

31 August 2005


Deptford sphere sculpture (click to enlarge).An abbreviated paddle this week, to Deptford as we were taking some newer paddlers on the river in short boats.

We stopped at this sculpture which I have paddled past many times before, always meaning to find out more about it. According to one of the more knowledgeable members of the group last night it represents Sir Francis Drake's circumnavigation in 1577-80, the route of which is marked with red dots (only visible to us kayakers who can paddle right up to it). Drake was knighted at Deptford Docks by Queen Elizabeth I.

A little Googling reveals that the sculpture is by the artist Chris Marshall.

24 August 2005

Spring tides

Yesterday's paddle coincided with the middle of the powerful ebb tide on springs and made for a good workout. As usual when the tide is ebbing we paddled against the flow to Temple Steps and back with it to Shadwell Basin.

The outward journey took us 43 minutes and the return 24 minutes (the distance is 9.5 km according to Google Earth).

10 August 2005

Shadwell Basin to Temple Steps

Paddled to Temple Steps and back again last night. We were against a strong-ish current most of the way but it was especially noticeable how this varies from place to place.

Under the bridges is always a good spot for a strong flow: Tower Bridge, Blackfriars Bridge, London Bridge - to a lesser extent - and, most notably, between Canon Street railway Bridge and Southwark Bridge. Perhaps it is because these later two bridges are so close together and the river is quite constricted but the flow was very strong and produced some big waves.

3 August 2005

Nutter in a bath tub

Tim FitzHigham rowing a bath tub (click to enlarge).
During a leisurely paddle to Greenwich and back last night we met Tim FitzHigham rowing a bathtub. He said he had come from France and that he was on his way to Tower Bridge. We were skeptical at first but a quick web search this morning confirmed it.

20 July 2005

See The World - at Greenwich

Residential cruise ship, The WorldEnjoyed a good paddle to Greenwich and back last night. Despite being a large group, we paddled fast and I was able to get into a really good rhythm.

I have been experimenting with different paddle blades and finding that a smaller blade with a faster stroke rate suits me well so I am looking forward to trying the Greenland paddle that I am currently carving.

The residential cruise ship, The World, was tied up at Greenwich. I think if I had paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for a luxury apartment on board I would demand a more exotic berth.

13 July 2005

Bumpy river

The river was behaving strangely last night as we paddled from Shadwell Basin to Temple steps against the current. It was only an hour or so after high tide but there was a very strong flow and the water seemed to be quite confused with waves coming at us from all angles. It made for quite a challenging paddle, at least on the outward journey, and we were able to catch a few waves and surf now and then.

At Temple Steps the river police pulled over to say hello - one of them is a club member so knows us well - they then cut across the river at speed just as we were crossing in a futile attempt to tip us in!

As usual, under such conditions, the return journey was a breeze and we flew home with the tide.

30 June 2005

Thunder and lightning

We witnessed a spectacular storm on Tuesday night during our regular club paddle from Shadwell Basin to Temple Steps. The wind and rain made the conditions a bit more interesting than usual and we all enjoyed the unusually large waves resulting from the wind against tide as we returned through The Pool of London.

22 June 2005

Summer solstice paddle

Twelve of us enjoyed a paddle to the South Bank just short of Waterloo Bridge last night. The tide was surprisingly strong given that it was only an hour before low water, so the outbound journey was relatively hard work but it did make the return very easy going. The Druids in the party even managed a stop off at the Founders Arms, by the Tate Modern, for a pint to celebrate the solstice.

15 June 2005

Gabriel's Wharf

Gabriel's Wharf (click for more)Eleven of us paddled to Gabriel's Wharf last night, having crossed to the "Surrey" side of the river under Tower Bridge (we normally follow river rules and keep right). We had a brief rest on the small sandy beach that was exposed there, the tide being just after high water, and salivated over the smell of pizza from the two restaurants immediately above us.

The journey back seemed to fly by as we paddled with the current, or maybe it was just the new club paddles making things easier!

1 June 2005

New boats

Christened the club's new plastic Avocet last night on a river trip to Greenwich. It was nice to paddle and felt very manoeuvrable, I am looking forward to trying the new Aquanaut too, maybe next week.

25 May 2005

Strawberries and champagne

Another leisurely paddle last night, to Temple Steps this week. On the way back we stopped off next to the Golden Hinde to celebrate Alison's birthday with a picnic of strawberries and champagne on the river bank.

18 May 2005

Greenwich cruise

MS Deutschland (click to enlarge)I enjoyed a gentle outing to Greenwich last night. The neap tide meant that it was easy paddling on relatively smooth water and the eight of us who made the trip from THCC enjoyed a beautiful clear and sunny spring evening on the river.

On our way to Greenwich we passed two tugs towing the enormous white hulk of the cruise liner, MS Deutschland, up river. It is amazing to be on the water so close to such a massive vessel and the low light reflecting off the hull made it a magnificent backdrop for our brightly coloured kayaks. It would have made a great photo had someone had a camera to hand.

11 May 2005

Sea kayaking skills course

View from Vauxhaul looking down river towards Westminster (click to enlarge)
I did a sea kayaking skills course at the weekend with Shadwell Basin through THCC.

We spent Saturday morning on the basin learning some skills and strokes specific to sea kayaking before a classroom session over lunch introducing some navigational and trip planning considerations. We then spent the afternoon getting wet and practicing rescues.

On Sunday we kitted out our boats and headed up the river from Shadwell Basin to Vauxhall, stopping to practice some backwards ferry gliding in the strong current under London Bridge. On the way back we tried some towing (hard work against the tide). We finished with an all-in rescue practice back at Wapping and then a wet exit, swimming the boats in to the steps as the high spring tide meant there was no beach to land on.

The course has made me realise that my paddling skills, learned on white water twenty years ago, need more updating than I realised and it has given me several areas to work on. On the plus, side I felt I had really got the hang of edging by the end of the weekend and was able to use this technique very effectively to make minor course adjustments without the need for corrective strokes.

6 April 2005

Seeing Greenwich

Paddled to Greenwich and back last night and the daylight held out until we got there. There was so much to see that has been shrouded in darkness for the last few months it was like paddling a completly different river.

29 March 2005

Rainy day

Paddled up river from THCC to the steps just east of Waterloo Bridge against a strong current. The switch to BST at the weekend meant it was my first daylight paddle (the first half hour at least) for months. Having said that, visibility was somewhat diminished by the mist and rain.

Wallbrook Wharf, photo � Mike StevensIn the daylight I was aware of many more of the potential hazards along the route that I have not been seeing lately in the dark. I am always a bit nervous of all the things one could get caught up in in the event of a swim when there is a powerful current running. The scariest being the two enormous barges moored at the Corporation of London's Wallbrook Wharf refuse transfer station (off Upper Thames Street). You need to give these a wide berth as you pass them on your right heading up river against the current as you really do not want to get too close in front of them.

Paddling back with the current, as ever, was much easier and there are fewer hazards to watch out for on the south side of the river. I particularly enjoyed the last section of the paddle back to Wapping from Tower Bridge as by this stage the rain was full on and quite refreshing.

23 March 2005


After a two month absence I got out on the river again last night and enjoyed a good club paddle to Greenwich and back.

I found it hard work keeping up, especially on the way there against the flooding tide. Coming back we stayed well out to make the most of the current (and to avoid the kids throwing stones at us from the bank) and cruised back. We also met some paddlers going the other way who had come from Vauxhall.

The warm weather makes it much more appealing and from next week we should even have a bit of daylight.

12 January 2005

Windy Thames paddle

Against wind and tide a missed stroke is a backwards stroke.

That was what struck me on the weekly club paddle from Shadwell Basin to the Oxo Tower last night. We did not have anything like the 100+ mph storms experienced in Scotland and the north of England but it was blowing a good force 4 from the south west on an ebbing tide as we battled our way up river. Not having paddled for a few weeks, I was struggling to keep up and all I wanted was to stop for a breather but I could not afford to go backwards!

London Bridge lit up in redThe exertion was rewarded though. The return paddle was almost effortless as the wind and the last of the ebb carried us swiftly 'home'. On the way we enjoyed the spectacular lighting currently adorning London Bridge which cast a beautiful blood red glow across the river under its span. Its one of the sights of London at the moment and I'll try and get a picture.

Update: Thanks to Andy Roberts for the use of his photo.