Trip Report – River Thames, Hampton court to Richmond 8th September 2019

A fine collection of people, vessels and a dog gathered in Hurst park on the banks of the Thames to enjoy the late summer sunshine. The armada included a paddle board (for 2), homemade and standard issue canoes with a couple of Prodigy’s.

Entry into the water was smoother for some than others……  the prodigy’s pointy keel meant the seal launch had to be rapid but with a 14-foot-long boat, this wasn’t achieved. Keith gave us a very nervy wobbled entry with a frenzy worthy of any Firestarter, but this was not one of the days the author and his front engine would return to the upside down club (more to the latter’s disappointment).

The flotilla paddled towards Molesey lock, it was noticed though that some of the tandem boats were running a little sluggish, it appears some of front engines were experiencing various power failures,  common engine issues included “my arms are tired” and “I’m just getting a snack from the box”

Despite the lack of power progress was made through the lock where the first boat leak was announced.

After regrouping at the bottom of the lock we were on our way.

As Hampton court approached the sheer beauty of the palace in the sunshine became apparent, facilities fit for a king we would expect which is more than we found with the (portable) facilities in Hurst park.

Various distractions were noted en-route, the announcement that Ye olde swan is used as a wedding venue by one member must surely be hint dropping? The authors front engine (by now re-designated as a “passenger”) persuaded the captain to head towards the blackberry bushes…otherwise known as thorny brambles (some would call them trees with the aim to scandalously discredit the authors ability to avoid trees).

There may have been some misunderstanding of responsibilities within the boat as the captain was accused of “Getting my paddle wet” when trying to reverse the boat out of the thorny brambles.

As we paddled sailor’s minds were thinking of property that lined the water, several of the properties were bagsy’d before an intriguing question was raised on account of a waterside clubhouse…. “what is a skiffle?” there wasn’t a clear answer on the day so with the benefit of hindsight (and the internet) here’s Wikipedia’s definition: “a music genre with jazz, blues and American folk influences”. We didn’t notice music or dancing ……seems unlikely, we paddled on.

Teddington lock was our next portage although some passengers found exiting the boat too draining and stayed aboard, enjoying the portage down the rollers in style. Draining should have been considered elsewhere as it was reported that one of the vessels had leak.

A little further down the river we lifted the kayaks out of the water for lunch, an opportunity to empty the leaking boat. It was at this point we learned that Haribo’s are not for sharing……

Halfway through the journey but behind schedule it was decided that we should swap tandem engines passengers to pick up the pace, recharged (some through Haribo’s, many without) we headed downstream.

Interesting to note that beautiful tree lined waterway packed with herons even distracted some of our more experience paddlers, forgetting to put the bung in…is that a rookie error?

Loose tennis balls provided the option to attempt kayak baseball on the Thames, consensus was that chasing the ball would speed up our journey. Reality showed that little contact was made with the ball, and the net result was to lead the team in the wrong direction upstream. Floating cod golf didn’t get off the ground (water) either.

Stocks of snacks were running low, one snack preservation technique was to make the sweets soggy, then when the share was offered there were fewer takers (fewer, but not zero).

 

As Richmond bridge approached, we knew the end was near, tired and weary we extracted ourselves to stack the boats at the war memorial to sit down with a hard earned ice cream.

A great day of paddling was had which was a little longer than anticipated, the saying ‘better late than never’ applies to both the trip and trip report. The lack of swimming disappointed some, but the enforced McDonalds dinner in the car and a late night added to the fun for my front engine.

Many thanks to Mr Kennett for organising, Lizzy, Ian and Mike for your contributions to the report and fellow paddlers for a great day out.