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Marlow Canoe Club

Newsletter 1 38 Winter 201 3

3 A trip to Croatia


Wondering where to go Hazel has the answer... this summer.

4 Kennet & Avon canal tour

6 The battle of the bunk houses 7 Bitesized training

Where to stay and where to avoid.

Leaky locks, sniper pillboxes, limbo paddling. All part of the fun in another of Andy's tours.

7 Annual general meeting

Our head coach finally yields to our short attention span. The date is set. Start collecting your rotten fruit now to chuck at the outgoing committee. Not many red leaves found this year, but it is always a good trip past Cliveden down to Boulters. A no holds barred confessional by your editor. Had enough mince pies? Well here are some red and green ones to think about. More tales of drunken debauchery by your committeee. Who you gonna call? Well hopefully not your newsletter editor, not unless you have some excellent copy to submit. Dates for your diary.

8 The hunt for red October 10 Diary of a newbie

12 Newsletter survey results 14 The old boys club

15 Committee members & Retailers 16 Calendar

At the time of writing the Thames is swollen to such an extent that it has once again invaded the club house. The river flow peaked at a whopping 182 cubic metres per second on Christmas eve and is still pretty hairy. So no apologies for reiterating the Chairmans message from the last issue: be safe out there folks and do not venture out until the situation is calmer or you have the necessary skills to paddle the river when it is up. Thanks to Mel for organising another wellreceived Christmas meal. Thanks also to Tim and Tom for arranging installation of the new locking system for the clubhouse (hope it is IP67 rated, haha) and Alex for creating the new modular 2013 training programme. This edition of the newsletter focuses on tours, reviews and statistics. We have tours of Croatia, West Berkshire and Cliveden to report, all from different authors and with decidely different sunshine levels. The reviews are of whitewater accomodation visited by Dominic Hurst. And we have statistics provided by yours truly, using data supplied by the members that replied to my newsletter questionnaire. I hope that you will give me more feedback on how you want the club to handle its information sharing and general reportage at the forthcoming Annual General Meeting. So I encourage you to come along to the meeting and get involved in directing the future of your club.


Rodney Casbierd, Editor.

A little legal stuff....


The cover photograph for this newsletter was sup plied by Adrian Cooper and is entitled "Dart Nov08 149".

This newsletter is a free publication for the Marlow Canoe Club.

Whilst every care is taken, the newsletter and the Marlow Canoe Club do not accept respons ibility for the opinions expressed or the goods and services mentioned in this publication. 2012.


A trip to Croatia
by Hazel Plummer

In August Simon, Jon, Chris P and myself set off to sunny Croatia for a sea kayaking holiday. Personally my motivation was simple: paddling when capsized could only result in a warm bath. That proved irresistible. We did the trip with Adriatic Kayak Tours. Jon had found them on the internet after extensive searching, and booked us on their Island Hopping: The Elati Archipelago tour.

We stayed in a small hostel on the island of Lopud, just a short distance by ferry from Dubrovnik. Each day we travelled from the island to a different destination. The organisation provided all the kit: kayaks, paddles, snorkels, mountain bikes etc. We just turned up with our swim wear and an upfor anything attitude. Whilst there we sea kayaked to a variety of neighbouring islands with the distances varying from shorter 1 hour crossings, to full day trips. We also visited an arboretum, went snorkelling (for the more sedately of you), went mountain biking and did lots of cliff jumping (for all you adrenalin junkies). Aside from the perfectly clear sunny skies and warm sea temperatures, the highlight of kayaking in Croatia was the perfectly blue sea through which you could spot a wide variety of marine life our sightings included a swordfish and moray eel. The trip was mostly catered with the opportunity to indulge in lots of lovely food, with local specialities including a range of fish, crustaceans and risotto, some of which was cooked by the owner of the hostel in his own private restaurant.

Our guide was excellent (Vedran Forko) being both charismatic as well as having the technical know how of having been a national kayaking competitor. Group size was small, just us and an American lady who also had previous experience. However, it would be worth checking who else was on your tour as could get frustrating with weaker paddlers in the same group. We would definitely recommend the holiday to fellow paddlers, feel free to ask us if you have any questions. Happy holidays. And if you go, save a space for us in your suitcase!

Making a splash on the Kennet and Avon canal

by John Norris
I say mostly because there are a couple of occasions where the river crosses through the canal giving short sections of discernible flow. Its worth noting here that the start point is wrongly identified in the BCU PDF for the trip, the wrong bridge number being quoted. Stick to Hungerford Wharf and youll be O.K.


Another good turnout for the latest episode in Andy Maxteds touring programme. This time we are on the Kennet and Avon canal between Hungerford and Newbury, a nine mile jaunt on mostly static water.

We arrive at Hungerford around 09:30, unload the boats and arrange the shuttle back to Newbury. Just a squid for a days parking a bargain these days. Back at Hungerford we are on the water by 11:00 and after a brief safety reminder we are away. After a few old houses we see some bank side grass tussocks, reminiscent of a Beatles haircut. It seems the grass reaches a certain height and then flops over symmetrically. Im in front by a small margin and get to see my first kingfisher. Following its usual cross river and along the bank flight pattern it settles on a twig, but its off before I can get a shot in. Its not long before we reach the first of many locks. These are all manually operated and it being a lazy day for most portaging seems out of the question. Andy has a windlass for the locks but they are slow to fill and empty and we were having to fill most before we could get in. Im guessing the first one took the best part of 15 minutes to pass through, but whats time when you are enjoying yourself.

And that, pretty much, was it. 8 more miles of leisurely melancholic paddling down the canal to Newbury. The GWR runs parallel with the canal here and at points crosses it. Some were confused when we came to such a crossing which was identified by different numbers on each side. As the signage was different for each number I concluded that one was the canal identification and the other the railway identification. After a few more locks lunch was taken at Kintbury, slightly shy of halfway. The plan was to enjoy a pint or two and maybe some pub grub at a canal side hostelry but unfortunately it was closed for refurbishment. Leaky lock doors A walk up into Kintbury and we found the PRINCE of WALES, a backstreet pub that had retained a flavour of the past. Beers were limited, DOOMBAR is usually good, but youd think Berkshire had more to offer than that and something else + a lager or two. Food was limited to a good but narrow range of nuts and crisps. Having left my Beef Casserole in the boat I settled for a mixed plate of hot salsa Doritoss with Cheese and Onion crisps. And more DOOMBAR to rinse

out the salt. It has to be said that both were in far better condition than Emmas Snicker bar, which having spent the last 3 weeks in the cool damp recesses of her BA, could easily be mistaken for a quality Stilton. Only the wrapper gave the game away.


Back on the water and onward to Newbury. Mature trees stand either side of the canal along this stretch, one of only two remaining damp Ash Alder woodlands, and would offer welcome relief from a summer sun, had summer arrived, but in this uncharacteristic summer season we were glad to settle for a slightly warmer, but more importantly, a drier day. We had noted a number of pillboxes alongside the canal and these became more visible as the trees gave way to a wider vista across fields to the North and hills to the South. In the dark days of WW2, after Europe had crumbled before the advancing Axis forces, British obstinacy was countered with Operation Sealion, Hitlers plan to invade England. With this very threat in mind Churchill and the generals built the pillboxes with the aim of frustrating a German advance across the Kennet, the Avon and the canal which together provided a natural barrier across the land from Bristol to the East coast. In the event of subsequent invasion it was hoped that our depleted forces and the barrier would take the impetus out of any advance and lead to some demoralisation within the German ranks. The rest, as they say, is history and should be known by all.

A member of the rowing club takes aim

Im not sure if I would do this again. Its a good one off pleasant trip through some nice enough countryside but its a bit samey along the route. There is definitely interest there but a little research to find out more before I go would certainly be in order. Im wavering now, perhaps I will.

Limbo paddling under a bridge at the destination

Passing under the new Newbury bypass bridge, we know journeys end is not too far. Some modern housing, partly screened by a substantial hedge, backs onto the canal and we reach our final lock. I succumb to portage this one whilst the rest sit it out in the lock. Downside of the lock is as narrow as the lock itself and when the lock is released the water becomes quite boily up to a point where the Kennet once again joins the canal and provides a decent flow down to Victoria Park, where the cars are parked. We are just in time for tea, and I enjoy a delightful cream tea which does my cholesterol count no good at all.

The Battle of the Bunkhouses

After a busy day on the water, a paddler needs a hot shower, a good meal and a comfy bed. Booking good accommodation is an important part of planning a trip. Here is some feedback on bunkhouses the white water paddlers have recently visited.


by Dominic Hurst

The White Hart, TalybontonUsk

Bala Bunkhouse, Bala, North Wales

A bunkhouse above a pub what more could you want? The White Hart is in a pretty location next to a canal and a reservoir overflow river in TalybontonUsk. The put in for the lower Usk is a two minute drive away. There is a large dining area and well equipped kitchen. The bedrooms sleep six and are clean. There's even free wifi. Downstairs is the pub serving good reasonably priced food. Usually they prefer a 2 night stay for groups, but may accept a single night if everyone eats at the pub. You can also get a cooked breakfast for 6. The downside is the small drying room. Expect damp kit in the morning.

Harford Bunkhouse, Ivybridge, Devon

This is a good option for the Tryweryn White Water Centre, but popular with groups so you need to book ahead. It's a couple of miles outside the town off a main road. There are rooms for 8, 4 and 2 with a separate annex sleeping 6. It has a good sized sitting and eating area, with 2 toilets and showers. One minus point is the lack of proper drying facilities.

Southdartmoor Bunkhouse, Buckfastleigh, Devon

This collection of converted barns on a working farm sleeps up to 50, so is handy when planning a large whitewater trip with unknown numbers. There is a wide selection of rooms so snorers can be dispatched to the far corners. It's also well provided with showers and toilets (but make sure the hot water is turned on well in advance). There is a large rather dark and dusty communal area and kitchen. It's a 2 mile stroll down hill into Ivybridge for a pub dinner, then a short taxi ride back. The owners are flexible on numbers and we paid cash on departure.

This is well located for the Dart Loop, has a good drying room and is very cheap. But that's about it. There is only a single toilet and single dirty shower for 16 beds. The main bunkroom has 12 beds rammed together in a tiny space. Parking is limited. The kitchen and dining area are small. It's a caver's bunkhouse and these are people who like wriggling underground in dark enclosed spaces. Enough said.

Bitesized coaching
Marlow Canoe Club wants to support and develop its members to reach their potential and meet aspirations. Our 2013 coaching programme, available in the clubhouse (and newsletter & website calendars), outlines the training courses we are offering this year.


by Alex Shiell

The personal proficiency training courses have been split into modules this year to give members the choice to pursue their paddlesport as they see fit. Most importantly, assessment and training have been separated to allow members to gain the coaching they want, without necessarily pursuing BCU Awards. This also allows members to constrain themselves to a single style of boat. The coaching modules may be run at either weekday evenings or weekends. A weekend day sessions will run for six hours, allowing most modules to be completed in a day. Weekday evening sessions will run for 3 hours, meaning most modules will require at least two evenings. The cost of each course includes only the coaching, which compensates our volunteer coaches expenses and any fees for facilities. The remainder is returned to general club funds. Please note the course fees do not include any accommodation, transport or BCU certification costs. Obviously, whilst coaching can develop and progress paddlers to new levels of proficiency, there is no substitute for experience. Attempting to rush through the training modules or award schemes without regular paddling experiences will be detrimental to an individuals long term development. Attending club sessions and going on the trips away that suit your interests will provide more opportunities to improve your paddling and complement any training the club can provide.

The Club AGM has been scheduled for Monday the 4th of February commencing at 8pm. It is at the usual venue, the Kings Head public house, Church Road, Little Marlow, Buckinghamshire, SL7 3RZ. The AGM will take place in the room out the back.

Annual General Meeting 2013

As well as all the business of running the club over the past year and into the next there will be some fun as well. See who gets the prizes for paddling skill / improvement, best newsletter article, and of course, the old favourite, swimmer of the year. Your club committee looks forward to seeing you at the AGM.

The Hunt for Red October

by Rodney Casbierd


It is Sunday 28 October 2012. The call had gone out earlier in the week for club members to join in the annual Autumn Colours paddle from the club down to Maidenhead, passing the glorious woodlands of Cliveden in the hope of witnessing a splendid display of yellows, reds and browns. The clocks had gone back in the early hours, which helped a little with the cold 5C start. Your correspondent had planned to join the paddle but early warning signs of manflu put paid to those plans. Nonetheless there did appear to be a reasonable turnout for the paddle downstream, helped by a good amber flow. As Tom Bailey set about organising the car shuttle in his usual industrious fashion, the participants got ready to hit both the roads and the water.

Sadly the early morning sunshine faded and gave way to dull and overcast conditions. John Norris reported that, there are some reds and orangebrowns but they all look damp rather than crisp. Sunlight would have been a blessing, even a mist or fog would have added to the view.

That was surprising given the fabulous displays that were on offer in neighbouring woodlands. But that is the river for you, a completely different climate and a completely different view. No wonder these trips are so notorious for the club going too late or too early, it is so tricky to judge. But doubtless a good time was had by all, as Johns photos show here. As for yours truly, well I am sure that 2013 will be the most spectacular autumn ever.


Photos supplied by John Norris

Diary of a newbie
by Rodney Casbierd



For years I have wanted to join the people in canoes and kayaks paddling serenely up and down the Thames. Yet for some reason I just never got around to making it happen. Finally that all changed in 2010 when I mentioned this to a friend and she set me a challenge.

Early June 2010 OK, so I am on holiday down in the west country when a friend who lives locally sends me a text message telling me that she and two of her girlfriends are about to go for a little paddle in the quiet harbour near her seaside chalet. They were wondering if I fancied giving it a go too. I thought about it for at least one nanosecond before realising that all they really wanted was to see me make a complete fool of myself. I rarely disappoint. Early July 2010 Having nonetheless got the kayak bug I decided it was time to enrol on a course. Being totally ignorant of the Marlow Canoe Club, off I trotted to the Wokingham Waterside Centre to complete my 1star course over a couple of weekends. Overall I would describe my performance as borderline mediocrity although I never inadvertently capsized or sunk the boat unlike some of my fellow trainees. Late July 2010 Finally I turn up at the Marlow Canoe Club on a Sunday morning and Tim Twitchen invites me to join them for a paddle up to Hurley. The only trouble is that he is running a 1star course so I have to take out one of the leftover club boats. Nonetheless I survive the trip and, on arriving back at the clubhouse, John Norris subjects me to a spraydecked capsize drill. Thank heavens I joined the club in summer! I just about pass muster although one of my crocs comes off and starts floating downstream. I can tell John will not be sympathetic if I start crying.

No really, I'm totally confident..... ..... but can you call my mother now please?

Early September 2010 Back in West Cornwall for a week, doing my stint of housesitting for my friend who has got herself a nice monthlong holiday in Peru. I am doing all the coastal walks I have dreamt of doing and all goes well until my Thursday night stumble back from the pub when my left leg

starts hurting. On returning home the pain gets worse and it is late October before my physiotherapist declares me fit to resume kayaking. Having lost momentum, and fundamentally being a bit of a pansy, I declare myself unfit to paddle through the winter.



Late April 2011 After disruption from April holidays, I am finally back in the boat. But, oh dear, I seem to have forgotten everything. In May a Tuesday night paddle down to Bourne End with a couple of other onestars finds me exhausted and late back to the clubhouse. The Duty Officer is rightly unimpressed. It is going to be a tough summer I have got a lot to learn!

The worst thing about capsizing..... ..... is losing your hat.

May 2011 I mistakenly believe that I have finally mastered the art of seal launching, but I do instead provide a spectacular display of impromptu capsize moments after launching from the bank in Hurley. It is so impressive that my rescuers thought that I had capsized intentionally. Yeah, sure. June 2011 Having missed out on a club fastboat taster session I instead settle for an Easky and find a new comfort zone at least where going in a straight line is concerned. But it requires the full width of the river for me to turn the darned thing. Back to the GT then. July 2011 I take up the opportunity for 2star improvement training from Alex Shiell. It is all going so well until I forget to refit the drain plug. A little while later I get that sinking feeling, much to the amusement of Jon Garner and a few other passers by. It has been an interesting first year..

Finally, a happy ending

On white water avoid using the high brace. It compromises the shoulder joint making a dislocation more likely and also encourages the paddler to slump back which affects the fore/ aft trim of the kayak and increases the likelihood of catching an edge and capsizing.
(tip courtesy of club president Tim Ward).



The newsletter survey results

by Rodney Casbierd


In the last newsletter I stated that it was time for us to review if the newsletter was serving the needs of the club membership. I followed this up in November with a survey questionnaire. The results of this questionnaire are summarised below.

Before we get started I need to issue a couple of health warnings. First of all the survey was conducted only via the yahoo group and obviously not all members of the club are in the yahoo group. Secondly only about 10% of the total club membership responded. However, despite these limitations, in terms of the "active membership" I would estimate that close to 3040% responded which I think provides a reasonably accurate reflection of opinion. Good enough for a starting point at any rate. Given that this was a survey of yahoo group members, the answers to the first two questions give the rather surprising conclusion that the newsletter is somewhat more popular than the website. However I suspect that this is more a reflection of newsletter readers being more motivated to complete the survey than anything else.

In addition it is worth noting that the website is regularly used by the majority of members and I would expect this to increase since the introduction of the new site in the last quarter of 2012. It is encouraging to note that more than three quarters of respondents recognised the importance of the newsletter for the club. As editor I am now very hopeful that this will give me the leverage to make outrageous demands and for these demands to be met without question. I have already started by asking for storage space for a new longboat once granted I intend to ask for the longboat too!

At the moment there are four newsletters published each year. The survey results indicated that the vast majority felt that changing to a single annual newsletter would be inadequate. However several people did suggest that maybe twice a year would be perfectly sufficient. Many respondents indicated that having a regular newsletter was vital both for social cohesion of

existing club members and to give prospective new members an idea of what we get up to.



As for what you want to see in the newsletter, well trip reports and kit reviews were the clear favourites. One excellent new suggestion is to introduce reviews of accommodation used on club trips. So clearly there is an appetite for information sharing. But is is chicken and egg, unless members write the articles there will be nothing for others to read.

When I took over the newsletter I changed the format to a more "magazine" style, which relies more heavily on photographs rather than lots of text. All but a couple of people indicated that they were happy with this change and did not want to move back to more "wordy" articles. Even those that did not feel this way were basically neutral on the subject. Having less reliance on words not only makes articles easier to read, it also makes them easier to write. However it is still predominantly a small core group that contribute articles.

Therefore I was interested to see if offering a small paddling related prize would encourage more people to send me stuff. The majority indicated that they do not need a new drybag, neoprene socks, or similar goodies. But it was not overwhelming and several thought it a good idea so it is worth thinking about.

In 2012 we stopped posting out paper newsletters to members and the survey results suggest that this was a unanimously popular move. Arguably that is coloured by the survey being of yahoo group members but it is still quite a convincing endorsement of the decision to ditch old media. Looking to the future a small majority of you also revealed that you thought the website would be a better vehicle for hosting club news and reportage rather than the standalone newsletter. The proportion saying this is spookily similar to that laying claim to be regular website users. So, arguably, more people might use the website if it contained more news and articles?

Hopefully, for those of you that managed to make it this far, the results have provided some food for thought. The plan is to discuss the future of the newsletter at the club AGM in February. Nothing is off limits so come along and bring your opinions with you.


Discusses mountains, buddies, compo, vibrancy, pourovers, modules and yahoo

At a recent committee meeting we decided to ritually sacrifice the heaviest committee member at Hurley weir as an offering to the flood god. We continue to offer support to the rowing clubs application to Sport England. But we will not get in too deep as there is potentially a mountain of paperwork involved. The Annual General Meeting will be held on 4th February at 8pm at the usual venue (see page 7). Not much activity with club finances. Kelvin has enjoyed the holiday. Membership is currently 229. Several people have been granted new keys. There has been a pent up demand for keys pending the conversion to the new electronic lock system. Buddy system will be adopted for unaccompanied juniors and, where appropriate, novice adult paddlers. The use of marathon boats in rough water conditions shall be discouraged. Yes Tony, that even applies to you. There was some debate about how to deal with the recently lost D65. Eventually it was agreed that the person that lost the boat would be asked to volunteer a compensation amount, subject to an agreed floor. We have two boats on order, a D65 and D60. Shockingly there are several boats in the clubhouse that belong to nonmembers. This is being tackled with a view to making space for members boats. The electronic door system has been installed and the cards tested on the water. Coach is still on the case to deal with upgrading the buoyancy aids and the helmets. 37 people attended 6 inland touring events in 2012. A great success. Whitewater has been vibrant, trips have been well attended. We are going to investigate get a pour over at Marlow weir. Courses in 2012 were well attended and successful. In 2013 the plan is to change training courses (other than 1star) to a modular format. Also coaches will be reimbursed expenses whilst volunteering their time. Agreement by all that the new website is very good. The newsletter editor is keen to initiate a fundamental review of all club communications. In particular whether the newsletter requires modernising and possibly integrating with the website. Also introducing an annual glossy pamphlet to promote the club to potential new members. There is a groundswell of opinion that a more structured forum (on the website) should replace the yahoo group.

The old boys club




Tim Ward 01494 482959




Adrian Cooper 01844 344580

Jonathon Garner 07765 226790

Treasurer Coaching

Membership Equipment

Kelvin Abbott 01753 654923 Alex Shiell

Rod Edmonds 01753 671389 Tom Bailey Catherine Harris

Newsletter Editor
Rodney Casbierd 07960 900980 Alex Green

Women's Representative Social Secretary Touring

Youth Representative Whitewater Sea

Melinda Livett Andy Maxted

Chris Porteous 01628 485049 Vacant

1* Course Coordinator
Simon Knowles 07786 836012

Pool sessions organiser

Dave Goddard 01494 863862

Feel free to contact us to discuss a relevant issue or share your views

Marsport, Reading
01189 665912


Riverside, Oxford
01932 247978

Paddlesport, Warwick
01926 640573

WWC, Shepperton

01865 248673

Saturday 5 January
Pool session 7.15 pm 8.15 pm


Monday 7 January
Pool session 7.15 pm 8.15 pm

Committee meeting 7.30 pm 9.30 pm, Marlow Donkey PH

Saturday 2 February Monday 4 February


Saturday 7.15 8.15 pm, see calendar for dates
5 adults, 3 juniors


Every Sunday
Doors open at 9.30 am. On the water for 10 am.

Annual General meeting 8.00 pm, Kings Head PH (see page 7)

Sunday 10 February
Rolling clinic

Whitewater safety and rescue refresher course

Saturday 16 February Saturday 2 March

Pool session 7.15 pm 8.15 pm First aid course

Once per month

Chalfont Leisure Centre, Nicol Road, Chalfont St Peter, SL9 9LR.

Sunday 3 March

Monday 4 March
Flatwater rescue course

Committee meeting 7.30 pm 9.30 pm, Marlow Donkey PH

Saturday 9 March
Assistant instructor course


Adult 42 Family 65 Junior 23 Senior 23 Storage 19 per boat
See our website in Spring for exact date

These will resume in April

Weekend 1617 March Sunday 24 March Sunday 31 March Saturday 6 April

Pool session 7.15 pm 8.15 pm Flat water skills reassessment

Saturday 30 March

Novice whitewater kayaking course Novice whitewater canoeing course

Knock Knock. Who's there? Canoe. Canoe who? Canoe tell me a knock knock joke?

Only joking

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