A Tidy, a Float, an explore and finally the tough Bit, Paddling back against the tide.

Sunshine and a welcoming tide well who could resist. Two intrepid coaches and with our our Mr Fix it, we three headed out for a midweek gentle paddle on a very calm ebb tide River Thames.

We had one sea kayak, one day cruiser and one canoe. Yes, I was in the club’s Novacraft again. Now I know what you are thinking how can a canoe the slowest boat keep pace with the fastest a sea kayak? Easy when there is an easy tide as this one was. So easy that my Paddles didn’t come out of the paddle bag until the Chiswick Eyot. A few strokes of the beaver tale and we were around the Eyot and heading to Dove pier. Another couple of paddle strokes and we were clear and on route to Hammersmith Bridge. With very little effort (told you it was a float and boat trip) we passed the blue Boat Fullers pub and passed a stricken bicycle in the river.

When passing by recently I (Steve) spotted some ornaments on the foreshore and one had fallen over. Trudging through the mud, Michelle and Julius wisely looked on whilst I set the fallen statue to an upright position, before picking my way back to my boat. It was very muddy no wonder no one else venture out of their boats.

Satisfied the river looked tidier we floated onwards. Passing Fulham football pitch and its many support vessels loaded with precast concrete waiting to be hoisted in position. The guard boat was on duty, but with so little traffic and such a low flow we easily passed outside the safety exclusion zone.

Onward we paddled under Both Putney and Putney railway bridges, before Young Michelle was halted by a phone call. With Michelle distracted, Julius and I headed to the opposite side of the river (Surrey bank) to check the vessels moored at Wandsworth Riverside plantation and the clipper docking point.

Phone call finished Michelle paddled across the river to join us and we headed on to the exit of the river Wandle to see if there was any fun to be had there. The tide wasn’t low enough for a play in the white water, but we were able to paddle further up the stream than we had expected.

Onwards with our trip. I wanted to see the work they were doing to Wandsworth bridge as it was reduced to two lanes earlier in the day. From the underside answer not a lot, but it had caused an impressive traffic jam. I know as I was in it earlier.

We continued on to Battersea Airport and at that point we decided if we carried on it would be very late before we got back. Having reached the heliport and with no action, apart from a fire boat passing us, we decided to cross the river back to the Surrey bank and head back. Bad news for me in the open boat as the tide was still on the ebb and would be for sometime yet.

As Michelle and Julius crossed the river opposite Sainsbury’s I followed but much more slowly. I did have a look inside a mirror finished moored boat which Michelle had expressed a curiosity with. As I recall one large dark table with lots of candlesticks could be seen through the windows as I passed by.

Sticking to the Surrey Bank Michelle who apparently works quite near to here, told us that what I had always thought of as the nightclub building, which stands alone on concrete legs, is actually the offices for the building contractors of the work going on beside the river – handy having local knowledge.

Slowly ( paddling against the tide in an open canoe is hard work here) we moved on passing Wandsworth Bridge and after eyeing the Ship pub, which we have stopped off at before. Tricky steps and a gate to climb over – they aren’t expecting visitors from the river. On wards we paddled passing the giant barges supplying precast concrete shells for the tidal tunnel. Of course there were a larger number of barges containing the tunnel spill, waiting to be taken away. It explains the excessive use of mechanical conveyors which you can easily see from the river.

On we paddled till approaching Putney railway bridge where Julius shot off across the river and I determined to keep going was persuaded by Michelle that a break and rehydration might pay dividends. Michelle was quite right, however crossing the river made for a close encounter with the Thames clipped for me and its giant waves. Good fun though.

Once Julius and Michelle had peeled me from my boat we discovered its not easy ordering a drinks in the Covid 19 world. Michelle quickly found away – take away beer – who would have thought. We found Julius relaxing on a bench eating biscuits where we all sat watching the boats until the tide turned.

Back into the boats and another float back towards the club house,

As we passed Fulham Football pitch and outside the safety zone, they were obviously testing the sound system. Some very loud trance music ensued _ Young Michelle was momentarily taking back to Ibiza. Then the reality of the Thames very quickly returned and the need to get back.

I had one duty that I wanted to do which was pick up a rental bicycle that someone had dumped into the Thames quite close to the Blue Boat pub. It was in really bad shape, but I do like a tidy Thames so quickly loaded it into my canoe and I am sure there were odd looks from both Julius and Michelle as we headed back.

Just passed Hammersmith Bridge and we spotted Safi and Tudor on the opposite side of the river, so we had to cross and say hallo. It would have been impolite not to. They did seem somewhat surprised to see the Novacraft complete with bicycle.

Quickly crossing back to the Middlesex side and dodging around the various rowing craft we arrived back at the pontoon. We did have to devise a method of getting the bicycle off the boat, but in the end that was straightforward.

So ended our float and boat session on the Mighty River Thames.

The Thames looked much tidier than when we had started.


All Photos provided by our Michelle McCarthy

So ended our float and boat session on the Mighty River Thames.

The Thames looked much tidier than when we had started.