Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Boating on the River Thames

OK, we did it! We officially rowed the inflatable on the Thames last night. When I first inflated it in the back garden a few weeks ago, it took 40 minutes to go from unpacking it to it being finished, but yesterday I did that in 20 minutes. This is a nice bonus, as it means we can do evening outings without it being a big hassle to inflate the boat. It actually took longer to deflate it and get it back in its bag, but only maybe 5 minutes, and to be honest I didn't time that bit, so I might be totally wrong anyway.
We went down to Medmenham, just upstream of Marlow, at 5.30 and it was nice and quiet there, which is what we wanted for this first attempt. Getting the family into the boat proved much easier than getting them out again, but that should improve with practise. Not having been to the gym for a few years now I quickly learnt that might right arm is stronger than my left, which consequently meant my left arm having to do twice as much rowing to keep us going straight. We headed upstream first, to get the hard bit out of the way. It was slow progress, mainly because of my zigzaging, but we probably covered 300 metres in just over 20 minutes. Lara was complaining about wearing her life-jacket most of the way up, which meant we weren't going to carry on for much longer, so we took a couple of photos and a quick video and turned around. Heading downstream was much easier, as expected, and really is just a case of having to steer to avoid the trees growing out of the bank. It took a couple of attempts to get a good grip on the bank where we wanted to land / dock / disembark* (*delete as appropriate), and some one-handed passing of the baby, which we'll need to work on next time we're out, but everyone ended up shoreside safely and still dry. We'd been out for about an hour, and it was everything we'd hoped it would be. The rowing part does mean it's slow progress, but it's also good exercise for me! That said, I reckon any other trips this summer will be one-way ones downstream, with a bus journey back to the start point to pick up the car - after all, we've bought the boat for fun, not for struggling kilometres upstream working up a sweat. We'll almost certainly buy a second-hand outboard motor off eBay over the Winter and then next summer the world will be our oyster (and Lara's life-jacket won't drown her, for want of a better description).
Here are some photos and a short video that we recorded for posterity:

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