Gorgeous weather to be paddling the River Thames

What might have been a complicated paddle turned out to be easy.

A complicated paddle only because of the time of low water and the fact it was a high water paddle (over 6.0 m).

Initially it was a paddle to Hammersmith Bridge as I wanted to see what they were doing to the bridge. There was talk of abseiling off the bridge to create supports for a replacement foot bridge, whether that was true or not there was little sign of activity on the day. 

There were two support ships on station with signs telling the world not to pass under the bridge. We stopped on the day by the pontoon nearest the bridge, but I digress. 

The day started slowly despite a 10:30 start, there was no sign of any of my party. In fact it was 12:30 before I even got on the water. Not helped on the day by the fact that M J’s canoe was covered with pigeon poo.

First job was to clean the boat out as best I could. After the slow start I had hoped to do some poling practice, but there was no time to do otherwise we would have missed the tide.

So it was a very short paddle to exit out of the historic boat area in the direction of chiswick bridge, but as soon as we cleared the historic boat area we joined the main flow now heading towards Hammersmith Bridge. 

I was anxious to start paddling in that direction as the tide was scheduled to change at 12:20. We paddled on the safe area of the river against the ever increasing tide.

We met up with Elaine who had travelled out with an earlier group. Elaine’s group where in the black bull rehydrating, they had already travelled further both upstream and down stream than we had. We carried on heading towards Hammersmith bridge arriving at Dove pier where Young Michelle paddled up to join us.

Our little group then paddled up to the pontoon beside Hammersmith Bridge. Having viewed the bridge, as close as we could go. We noted there wasn’t any obvious activity, so we turned around and started to head back.

We met up with martin’s sea kayaking group practicing some moves, so we had to have a go. With play time complete it was time to head back, but I spotted a chore to do on route. 

Just outside the black bull was a bike thrown into the river. By the time we arrived back it was almost submerged. I spotted an edge of a tyre still visible above the water line. I paddled over picked the boat up and dumped it on my canoe. It was easy going as we were travelling with the tide. From there it was an easy tide to travel back to the pontoon.

I knew I’d have trouble getting out of the boat with the bike across the deck. It presented a little problem about how to cross the tidal stream to get to the pontoon.My paddling colleague MJ told me she could go straight into the pontoon. Well she could using the floating pontoon to stop her forward motion. There was no stopping stroke…hay ho, I moved the bike forwards in my canoe which gave me a little more room to use my paddle.

It was then a simple ferry glide across. Easy, only problem was how to get off he water with a bike in the way. Helpfully one of our club members unloaded the boat and then an easy get off for me. 

Putting the boats away, helped by Dai, Michelle and MJ we managed to put the boats away – Thanks guys.

Bike put into the club garage to dry out. I checked with authorities and the boat was not reported stolen. I’ll see if there is anything else I can do to trace the owner, I’ll follow up as as required. 

PS The serial number reports it not stolen and the supplier doesn’t keep a record of kit they sell.
Photos supplied by Mary Jo