The weather on Sunday was ideal for getting work done at the docks. It meant all the BA's were tested, dried and put away before everyone went home. The covered area was extended as power tools could be used and put down with out the risk of becoming water logged and the Easter egg hunt, on dry land as the Easter Bunnies BA was being tested, was a great success with the youngsters who spent a good part of their time hunting high and low for the tokens. Our workforce was sustained throughout the day by plenty of cakes and cuppas. A lot was achieved today by all.
"The DW race is like chain smoking; just as you finish one you start the next. So it was with DW 2017. I fancied another non-stop race and had enjoyed paddling a C2 in 2014 with Kat McDowell. We needed to get another C2 having sold the previous one; a Wenonah ICF. We decided to try something new and settled on a Darkside Canoes Duet.
We had not paddled one before, but the reports were positive and we decided to take a chance. We did not realize at the time that we were buying the first off the production line. In late September 2016 we duly met up with the maker, Nick Adnitt, near Birmingham and gave the boat its first trial run. Things went well and 2 weeks later we entered the 56 mile Glasgow to Edinburgh Canoe Race. We completed it in a reasonable time of 10.5 hours, with no major issues, bar finding the seats uncomfortable and the bow prone to catch every weed and leaf in its path. Training went well during October and November, helped by the new, more comfortable seats provided by Nick. The weather was reasonably kind to us; the normal autumn wind and rain. The Duet is fast and fairly stable so 1 foot chop could be comfortably paddled in. It is a dry boat due to the high gunwales and does not require a spraydeck. Both Kat and I have Vermont Waterway C1 adaptors that can be fitted to a Concept 2 rowing machine. This meant that we could train indoors when work or the weather prevented an outdoor paddle. I am slightly ashamed to admit that we did little other types of training although we intended to.
For various reasons we did little in December and January but started again in earnest in February. A typical week was approximately 25 miles excluding time spent on the C1 Trainer. As the race approached we upped the mileage to 35 miles. Most sessions were on Wastwater, Derwent and Windermere with a couple of outings to the canal and Ravenglass estuary. Throughout the time we tweeked the canoe; adjusting footrests, adding pull bars, sorting out a spraydeck, fitting a weed deflector etc.
2 weeks before the race we organized a 5 day training camp which proved invaluable. We managed over 100 miles of paddling on canal, lake and estuary which allowed us to experience the different types of water conditions that we would face. This gave us confidence in ourselves and the boat.
Once final logistical preparations had been completed, we headed off to Devizes. We had 2 x 2 person support crews in 2 cars. The plan was to meet one support crew approximately every 6 miles. This allowed the other support crew to drive to the next meeting point, park, sort out the food and drink and walk to meet us canalside. On Saturday morning we quickly passed through kit check and registration and were on the water for our planned departure at 0930hrs. Our schedule was for 24 hours allowing us 11 hours to complete the 54 canal miles to Reading, 10 hours for the 54 river miles to Teddington and 3 hours for the final 17 Tideway miles to Westminster.
The canal section went well. It was hot with a slight tail wind, the weed deflector worked, only one swan attacked us and the support crews met us as expected. We generally got through 500ml of fluid an hour plus a couple of snacks; sandwiches or dry fruit. The 600m Bruce Tunnel presented no issues and portaging the 1.5 miles of locks at Crofton Flight went smoothly. By the time we reached the Thames we were 20 minutes ahead of schedule and felt strong. A quick change of clothes and some food saw us head off down the Thames in the gathering dusk. Despite our fore and aft lights and our head torches we found navigating the Thames in the dark difficult. The ¾ moon, when it finally rose, was fairly weak and frequently hidden behind clouds. Luckily there were often boats ahead to show us the way, particularly at the lock portages. Due to the lack of flow on the Thames we did not pick up speed as expected and continued at a steady average of 5mph. We arrived at Teddington; 108 miles done and 17 miles of Tideway to go with only 2hours 30minutes to go to get under 24 hours. We duly headed off, sticking close to the middle where the maximum flow was. Luckily we had a GPS with us which allowed us to count down the miles and check our average speed. With the draw of achieving a sub 24 hour finish we paddled hard, helped on by frequent shouts of encouragement from support crew and spectators. The hard work paid off and we finished in 23 hours 58 minutes and 42 seconds having covered the final 17 miles in 2 hours 23 minutes. 2 very tired but happy paddlers walked up the steps at Westminster to collect our finisher medals. Well done to Kat for her hard work and fortitude and to our support crews for their unstinting efforts and encouragement.
We were 44th out of 161 non-stop crews, 5th out of 20 C2s (1st mixed C2 crew) and 3rd mixed crew overall."
Today saw a long overdue family paddle thanks to the weather interfering with the last couple I've tried to organise.
After an early start (for a Sunday) I loaded up the boats on the car and headed up to Derwent water. Derwent is certainly one of my favourite lakes. It's much quieter than some of the more southern lakes but still has everything you need.
My first view was this.. Absolutely stunning!
Everyone soon arrived and got parked up and unloaded. We headed for the other side of the lake to paddle up the western shore towards Nicholend marina with the promise of massive scones some members paddled faster than others.
On the way we stopped to look at a national trust sculpture.
An archive picture showing the hands off a little better.
A selection of picture from the trip above.
After paddling up to Nicholend for lunch (and cake) we headed back on our return journey via the East side of the lake. Again there's an interesting national trust sculpture that we have a look at. Normally this is on the shore but today is wasn't so we got to do something not many people will have done before us, paddle through it.
We then returned to the cars, enjoying the stunning views down the lake.
Even though the trip was over the fun wasn't, we all unashamedly had a laugh as one member who managed to fall in the water whilst getting out of the kayak because that's what friends are for. Not to mention he'd have done the same to us. I'll leave the photographic evidence off for now, although there's plenty of it!
Anyway all in all a fantastic family paddle. A huge thanks to John for organising it. Keeping fingers crossed for more weather like this as the year progresses.
Click on this link to watch a great video by Kirsty Bentley of one of the games played that night.
“We had 3 teams Duddon youth, Duddon ladies playing in the novice and ladies league and Duddon open team in the open league.
The youth team Owen, Louis, Jo, Keiron, and Conner played very well and came second place in the novice league.
The ladies team Shell, Michelle, Kirsty, Victoria and the Stig also played very well and came second in the ladies league.
The open team Trev, Scott, Brandon, Lee and Shell (Owen and Louis also had a game each to experience the pace of the open league).
In the first open game Duddon full of nerves or excitement struggled to come together as a team but more than made up for it in the rest of their games with alot of strong team work and good team support they performed well as a unit. Duddon open came 3rd but with the same points as 2nd but had less goals.
Duddon canoe club polo has made a big impact in the Cumbria polo tournament's going from strength to strength with a promising youth team on the up. Duddon ladies playing in their first of many events. Duddon open also showed they are more capable of play in the open league.
Trevor and Shell would like to thank all the players and supporters that made the event a great success for Duddon.”
Trevor and Shell.