Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Day Eighteen - Keeping Up

Henley - Eton

River Thames

21 miles, 7 locks

In which the Duck and its crew think they may have broken a goose record, revisit a section of river James had previously coxed, lunch among geese while waiting for nb
Warrior before descending several locks in convoy, with the little BMC just about keeping up with the National going delibrately slow, are fed an excellent dinner and visit Dorney Lake.

This morning we gladly left our appalling mooring in Henley, where we'd not even been about to get the stern into the bank and had had to listen to the crrrrunccchhh of the baseplate against the riverbed every time the boat moved even slightly, all night.

Just before we left, a text from Sarah of nbWarrior informed us that they were indeed, just a few miles behind us. We replied, saying that we would wait for them, when we moored up for lunch. But for now, we pressed on, past Temple Island towards Marlow, where Clare College (James' alma mater) hold their summer rowing camp.

Hence, James was quite familiar with this stretch, having coxed eights up and down it, even through locks, many times before. Longridge Activity Centre was where they actually stayed, and as we passed, we were challenged to a race by some scouts in a canoe. James, not to be outdone by small boys with paddles, opened up the throttle and showed them what a BMC 1.8 can do (i.e not much). But we still won.

Close by, we managed to capture what may be the record number of geese in a row. Andrew of Granny Buttons' (much better) photo of 18 was the previous record holder, but here there are roughly 26!

We stopped for lunch at Spade Oak Wharf, where we ate lunch, then read for a bit, waiting for Warrior to catch up.

Now in convoy, we continued on, sharing several locks with Sarah and Jim, which made things more fun and convivial than usual. Their wonderful National engine is far more powerful than ours, but with it running slower than normal we were just able to keep up!

To our delight they offered to cook us dinner, which we gladly accepted. So once past Maidenhead we started to think about mooring up for the night. And this became even more imperative when the heavens decided to open in quite spectacular, monsoon style. I've been in a monsoon, in Hong Kong, and it was just the same!

Soon we came across some excellent moorings, just by one of Eton's boathouses.

A curious widgeon that looked in the window

We lit the stove again to dry off after the downpour, then headed over to Warrior for a delicious and very healthy lentil curry, and wine. It was great to chat with Jim and Sarah again.

After dinner we all went for a little walk over to Dorney Lake, as James confirmed was just beyond the trees when we arrived. It is a 2k, 6 lane, artificial rowing lake built by Eton college and in 2012 the Olympic rowing will be held there. It is quite spectacular!

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