Paddle to the Victoria Arms and the Isis Diamond

I'm sure we all awoke on Sunday morning to the sound of rain hitting our windows hard and had the collective thought, perhaps this isn't a good idea. It was good to see that Isis CC members are made of tougher stuff though and everyone turned up on time (9am on a Sunday morning) to collect boats and kit. We decided to pair up in open canoes with one coach steering (in their own inimitable style) and one victim in the front wondering what was happening to them - Jen with Jon, Simon with Nick, Gwyl with Steve, and Kate with Niamh. We managed to launch by sneaking past the kayak touring group and set off up the Thames.

We made a good start as only 5 minutes into the journey our salvage instincts honed in on an abandoned fishing rod, complete with reel, which was floating by the bank. Simon and Nick quickly liberated it and we turned in to the Cherwell and continued up stream. As it was still quite early we managed to make our way past Magdalen Bridge without spotting a single punt, which made our lives much easier.

We did realise, when setting off, that the pub didn't open until 12pm, and our early start meant that we would be there quite early unless something disastrous happened. Sadly, nothing did. We made our way past Magdalen College grounds, and even made swift work of the portage at Parson's Pleasure, arriving at the pub at 10.45am wondering what to do with ourselves. Rather than sit around like lost souls in the beer garden, we decided to keep paddling up the Cherwell towards Islip. It was only when we decided to make our way back to the pub we hit upon a great idea - The Isis Diamond.

The Isis Diamond was a rafted rescue first seen off the coast of Dorset in October 2008, and used to great effect by the sea kayakers there. Those who witnessed its magnificence thought the skill to create it had been lost to time. Luckily, we resurrected it on our way back to the pub by putting the canoes together and setting off in diamond formation with Jon acting as figure head, Gwyl acting as rudder, and Jen and Steve holding the boats together - a formidable team. Rather pleased with ourselves we got to the pub door just as it was unlocked, sat ourselves down and had a filling lunch and a couple of drinks. The rain lashed down outside and we were quite pleased that we were indoors at this point.

We managed to find a break in the rain to go back out to the boats and launch back into the river for our return trip. This time, we decided to create the raft properly, lashing the boats together with the painters and placing boats on the sides which had three seats so we could get the paddlers from the middle out doing something useful. The result was spectacular. Our speed was impressive and when paddling in unison we looked quite co-ordinated - almost like we did this every weekend.

Once back to Parson's Pleasure we decided to shoot the weir as a raft with minimal water intake! Kate and Simon shared the rudder duties on the return leg and we weaved in and out of punters and kayakers with ease. We met the kayak touring course paddlers and ambled back to the Watershed with them. There is some fantastic footage of our paddling!

- Jen

Photos by Gwylim and Jen.

Video by Gwylim.