River Tame and Coventry Canal – May 2011

Review by Liam & Andy.

We all met at Peels Wharf at 09.45am, Tim arrived with the new trailer loaded after the open day on Saturday. The Weather was overcast but warm with the sun threatening to make an appearance.

The boats were off loaded and the usual car ferry down to the Tame Otter was carried out courtesy of a lift back to the get in point by Kina. We started off with Adam taking the lead, we soon forked off left at Fazeley junction towards the transfer to the river Tame. The day before (The open day) we had torrential rain and also all through Saturday night , this resulted in the river being unusually high. The current was very strong and fast flowing. The seal launch into the Tame was fun but nowhere near the height of drop there usually is, due to the river level. Tim eased us all down the bank including the 3 open boats (the only way to travel). As we ventured down the river, we had training on breaking in and out of eddies and ferry gliding. There were a couple of people who were on their first river trip so this was an excellent time to start learning these important skills. We were very soon at Ladybank Bridge which was to be our lunch stop. We got out of the river just after the bridge before the weir, the decision was taken not to shoot this weir. As we settled down to our various packed lunches we noticed a member of the paparazzi on the bridge taking our photographs (his name is Paul Cox, and at time of writing, the images can be seen on the facebook page of the canoe club website). After lunch we had some questions/answers and information on the hydrology of weirs before we carried on down the right hand section of the river. In this part of the trip we practised paddling backwards and the sculling draw stroke. Daniel was adding to his collection of footballs along the way and loading them into the Ottawa open boat (the only way to travel). Around the next bend we could hear the roar of Paper mill weir, we assembled above the weir to get ourselves ready for the excitement ahead. Adam went first and as he hit the standing wave at the bottom he let out a YAHOO as all the rain the previous evening had made the weir a very exciting drop. As this was the first river trip for Kina and Marina it was also their first weir and they could not have had a better baptism of fire, at the bottom of the weir people who did not have a splash deck or were in opens (the only way to travel) had to bail out the water gained in the shoot. Liam decided to use a single bladed paddle; C1 style and was engulfed by the stopper but luckily did not go for a swim. This was Dave’s first weir in his new open boat and a good job he made of it too.

We continued on and started to look for the get out point, some of us that were a little way behind missed the eddy for the exit of the river and because of the strength of flow ended up further down the bank, after various exciting climbs up onto the river bank and a right royal stinging by the nettles, we realised we were on a small island and not on the correct side of the river. We decided to put a few rescue skills to the test, a throw line was attached to the front of an open canoe and thrown to the other side of the river, another throw line was attached to the stern of the boat and this was used to ferry people and kayaks across the river before the portage up to the canal. Oh, I nearly forgot to mention that whilst we were discussing the throw line situation, Tim decided to audition for the 2012 diving competition and did a very nice pike and tuck dive into the river and ended waist deep, though as this was not a fall from a kayak it cannot go down on the report as a swim. As we were getting back into the boats it became apparent that we were missing a kayak paddle, after searching the bank we soon realised that it had been left on the island, so as he was already wet, Tim decided to again audition for the 2012 Olympics, this time with the 100 metre front crawl, and swim across the river to retrieve the paddle.

The inquest into the owner of the lost paddle has been opened, DNA samples and finger prints have been taken and Jeremy Kyle has agreed to carry out a lie detector test, so the truth will out.

Eventually we all arrived safely back at the Tame Otter and enjoyed a few drinks and a good laugh.

A fantastic day was had by all.

Attendees on the day were:
Alison, Katie, Kina, Marina, Adam, Andy, Dan, Dave, George, Liam, Richard and Tim.

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