Girl Guides go canoeing and stay dry!!! Fund raiser 3rd December

Canoeing is a dry sport unless you go with the girl guides, just chech out Marlow if you don't believe me! So with the weather forecast for this Sunday dire, I feared the worst! There was a number of cars parked by the garage and the gate was open so I took my van onto the field. It felt very boggy so I parked with my front wheels on the concrete, but thought if the forecast is right I'll never get out so I backed off to park in front, but horror, soon got stuck, just kept wheel spinning and dug in. Penny helped bringing wood and mats, but no luck, Penny, Rory, Ron (Rory's dad) and Kate (guider) tried to push but again no luck it was looking ominous, but a long towline to Ron's Volvo just got the van moving and slowly inched to solid ground. So much for an early start.

Due to the red board (ie high fast water) we had decided to use 2 rafts of 3 canoes in an arrow formation, but miscommunication meant that the flexible formation ended up as an articulated raft. Whilst it worked, it was very hard work, and meant continuous corrections for the steerer. Both rafts independently decided to move the rear canoe between the front two and tie off the bow to the central seats and the sterns to the front seat of the rear canoe to make a rigifd configuration which was much easier to steer. Not that the girl guides minded- they were determined to have fun, and they were singing away. One raft with the younger guides needed a directional tow from Penny who woked stoically to get them to the Cherwell. Whilst the stream was very strong, the rain held off and despite a strong wind, the sun shone and it was quite mild (or were we just working hard?). At the Cherwell we took on board two of the younger guides and set off at a cracking pace up the Cherwell. Someone left go of the barge and the second raft spun round, and we ended up a fair distance ahead, so we pulled in and I got out a sail as the wind was now behind us. Once we were caught up, we inched the raft out and raised the sail, which gave us a fair turn of speed, but the wind petered out once we rounded the corner.

As we had to be back by 12, we turned into the old cut and were rewarded by superb views of Christ Church, so decided to stop for a short break to stretch our legs. A 4 star warm up game, passing the throw line, provided both a warm up and a bit of fun, and we soon set off for our return to the Sea scouts. Despite our turn of speed, no one sang Hawaii 5-O! Due to the red boards we were the only craft on the river and made good speed despite the wind changing direction so it was a headwind back too.! We got back on time, but unfortunately due to the rush of people at the start the garage had not been locked when we left and so people were able to get into the garage whilst the buildng was locked with the inevitable result that the alarm went off!!! This causes real delay, and can result in a £100 charge.

Everybody had worked hard, and Rory had been very helpful, looking after the guides and mucking in wherever he could help. Ron, his dad was a great help too, both beforehand and afterwards when we moved the kayaks to the back of the garage and the canoes to the front, which will make it easier to get the canoes out when there is a garage full of kit.

Many thanks to Rory, Ron, Andrew Neil, and Penny for an enjoyable morning which brought additional funds to the club!

- Philip Sowden