Monthly Archives: January 2016

The Darkness Duet……any good?

My goodness me, this boat IS good! In preparation for this year’s DW, John and I are spending as much time on the water as possible.

I have made a new spray deck. I have integrated a couple of K1 zip spray decks and it works quite well. At least it keeps us warm.

Full spray deck with integrated  K1 decks.

Full spray deck with integrated K1 decks.

I have amended our DW schedule for:

Canal – 10.5 minute/miles. This gets us to Newbury at 6 hours. I changed from 10 minute/miles when I realised how much time we lose on the Crofton section.

River – 8.5 minute/miles. On every river outing we’ve easily gone faster than this, but for the race it will be dark, cold and we’ll be tired. We are also planning a couple of food and wet kit changes.

Tideway – 8.0 minute/miles. This is likely to be faster, but it depends how and when we catch the outgoing tide from Teddington, and if we have to portage the Richmond half-lock.

So we’re aiming for a tad below 20 hours.

Our latest outings consisted of:

1. River Thames, Dreadnought Reach to Marsh. The river was absolutely racing and we arrived at Sonning in 11.5 minutes from leaving the pontoon outside Marsport. We were at Shiplake in 31.5 minutes and Marsh within 54 minutes. We were scheduled for one hour. We encountered a strong squall on the approach to Marsh and had to battle a strong head wind.

2. Pewsey to Wootton Rivers. Only three miles, but we covered it in 28.5 minutes with a tail wind, and 28 minutes dead on the return.

3. Wootton Rivers to Kintbury. We paddled some of the Crofton pounds and ran others. This was 14 miles at 2 hours 35. We should have been there 8 minutes earlier.

4. River Thames, Marsh to Romney (Windsor). Scheduled 3 hours 20 minutes at 8.5 minute/miles, actual time taken over the 23 miles was 2 hours 50 minutes. On red boards, the river is shifting. Lots of big swirlies, but very few boilies. Big current differences and directions breaking out from the river into the lock cuts and we were steered towards the bank before we could bring the boat round.

The Henley straight was a mill pond. Hambledon lock keeper said we shouldn’t be out in these conditions. Lock keeper at Cookham was surprised to see us and was alerted to our approach as we smashed through the ice on the lock cut.

Ice in Cookham lock cut.

Ice in Cookham lock cut.

However, we are very experienced paddlers, in a C2, wearing buoyancy aids and accompanied by an experienced support team. I would not have been comfortable in a K1, but we are all ultimately responsible for our own risk assessment.

As the water is so high, some of the normal put-ins are not accessible. I’m glad we didn’t have an under stern rudder!

Unusual place to put-in at Temple.

Unusual place to put-in at Temple.

At Hurley, we choose not to portage over the island, but paddled up to the lock (more ice).
Ice at Hurley lock.

Ice at Hurley lock.

The boat continues to impress. It’s hard to gauge how fast it is because the river is so high, but it “feels” fast. It is rock steady in the swirly water and we have never had to execute a support stroke………………yet!

It’s a dream to portage because of the gunwale grip, the portage handles and the decks. Weighing in at 15 kgs doesn’t feel bad at all.

“Onwards” as Dirty D would say.