A short trip for all you hardened paddlers, with a group of 11 boats in all, but for a very novice paddler, an ideal length and very much a fun trip . thanks in part to those brave souls who helped in hoisting the less supple (me) on and off the sit-on-top!
The assortment of three canoes, seven kayaks and one sit-on-top set off around 10am on a sunny Sunday morning, paddling past some lovely College buildings and scenery . apparently called .the Backs. . enjoying the fresh air, sunshine and friendly banter, through the lovely Grantchester Meadows to our half-way point to picnic just upriver from Jesus lock, before heading back the same way. This was a .there and back-again. paddle because of a race on the river just the other side of the lock, so there was only one portage point at the weir, where those more intrepid paddlers than me had fun with the rollers, and a few had a small play in the runoff from the weir.
Fortunately, there was access to supplies for those who had got up too late to sort out food and make the trek to Cambridge, but even more importantly, plenty of ice cream and other essential snacks to compensate young James for his dad having lost the bag of emergency snacks somewhere at the start . shame on you Paul!
The water was very calm and the wind was mostly very kind to us, a relief to the novice, although at times it was a little .hairy. when we were confronted by up to four punts abreast . especially when some of the punts were clearly being .steered. by complete beginners. Still, no-one fell in (not even the punters), and Captain Jim steered our boat through the rabble with calls of .to me. followed by .together. which, after a few false starts, I managed to translate into .let me paddle solo & steer us through. and .OK, you can paddle as well now.! Note to self: learn more .Jim-speak. grunts.
Most of the punters, paddlers and walkers we came across on our trip were quite friendly . with the occasional glare from the novice punters who seemed quite shocked that other boats might want to use some of the river. One or two of our number went so far as to suggest that pathside picnickers might like to invite them to join their lunch, although without success. The Japanese tourists being punted along the Cam seemed to particularly enjoy the spectacle of our boating convoy, so much so that we will be making guest appearances in numerous Japanese holiday snaps!
Having never been on a trip before, and in fact, only having been on the water (briefly) twice previously, this was a fantastic introduction to flat-water paddling with a really great group of people. I would highly recommend future Cam trips to families and novices . hopefully you will have the sunshine that we enjoyed as well, although I would caution other novices to remember to use the sunscreen, which does no good in the bag: the combination of wind and water is very deceptive, as I found out to my cost later!