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Thread: Help and advice needed!!

  1. #1

    Default Help and advice needed!!

    Hi everyone,

    I'm sure you get lots of these posts, but I need lots of advice!

    The 2 yr old daughter of a friend of mine suffers from spastic diplegia. The biggest symptom of the spastic diplegia is that she has a really intense tightness in the muscles in her legs (just like heavy duty elastic bands). This means that she is unable to walk unaided and suffers from regular pain as a result of her tight muscles. There is an operation that would end up reducing the spasticity in her muscles both immediately and forever. This will mean that she would be able to bend and use her legs properly and therafter learn how to walk. The operation is expensive, so we need to do a lot of fund raising:

    So we are planning to kayak from the source of the Thames (running the first bit until we can get the boats in the water properly) to Teddington lock in October. We want to do it in 3 days. So my first question is whether this is achieveable? We both have decent fitness and strength, but have not kayaked in a very long time! We are going to have a refresher lesson somewhere in London (where we live).

    Second question is what type of Kayak should we look to hire for this? Personally I would prefer single kayaks, however someone has advised that we would need a 2 person kayak if we are to have any chance of completing this!

    Any other advice on kit, timings, where to camp etc would be useful!

    Any help and/or advice would be appreciated.

    Thanks

  2. #2
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    I would advise to vgo to richmond canoe club and have a chat.
    They have great knowlegde about longdistance paddling/racing (dwrace) at all levels, the thames, kit and so on. If you mean this oktober then( i think) You will suffer a lot.

    Good luck

    keep us informed.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lennart View Post
    I would advise to vgo to richmond canoe club and have a chat.
    They have great knowlegde about longdistance paddling/racing (dwrace) at all levels, the thames, kit and so on. If you mean this oktober then( i think) You will suffer a lot.

    Good luck

    keep us informed.
    Why do you think we will struggle??

  4. #4
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    It's over 200 miles. The Devizes to Westminster race is 125 miles and is paddled by people who train hard for it and they usually take 4 days and a total of 35 - 40 hours. You can check the results to see how many people retire and don't achieve this.

    A sensible average for a simple canoeing trip might be 25 miles per day so you will need very fast boats, I suggest racing kayaks and a tandem will get you along faster than solos. Plan for over 60 hours paddling.

  5. #5
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    Hi, we've just done a 32 mile charity canoe paddle on a canal in two days, and hadn't an ounce of strength left by the end. I know the Thames actually flows downhill, which must be a great help. I've never been on the Thames, but i assume there will be locks to carry the boats around.

    I'd definitely have 2 in a boat, you'll need to keep going if one needs a rest.

    So I think your limit would be based on how long you could keep paddling, rather than the distance.

    If i can help with how we raised funds, I'd be pleased to advise. Maybe take sponsorship per mile achieved in 3 days.

    But good luck on whatever challenge you decide to take up. I can guarantee the satisfaction and pride you get from taking up this sort of challenge will be huge. I wish you well.

  6. #6
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    kewt,

    I have done the dwrace, with 25 years of continueos paddling expiriance. 4 months of hard training before that(4to 8 times a week). Spending a lot of time on getting support, kit, food , drinks right. We had great waether and preparation on de 4 day race. Because of a liver disorder I can not push myself to the limits , so we did not suffer much. And that was something many found strange and I am stil proud of those compliments we got for this achievement.

    I have seen how most are done after the race. Rough race stats, 25 % do not make it. 75% of the finishers have suffered (a lot). 25% not(or the look like thay did not you can divide those in 2 groups:
    the top crews like Richard Henry how really know what they are doing.
    some of the cruisers (like us) that paddle not to race hard, but enjoy the paddle.

    You want to do a longer distance in a shorter time with a lot less training. so yes I think you suffer a lot , I will not be surprized if you do not finish.

    That Is why I asked if you ment this oktober. if the paln is for next year that it is much more realistic.

  7. #7
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    Hi, I would agree with what the others have said, doing this trip in 3 days would be very difficult if not impossible. I think you need to change your plan a bit, either delay the trip till next year and put in alot of trainning, or accept you need to do it over a longer time or do a shorter distance.

    Here are a few links that should help.
    http://igreens.org.uk/canoeing_the_nontidal_thames.htm This guide starts from Cricklade and has lots of useful info, but is slightly dated so you may need to check if you plan to use any campsites mentioned in it.
    http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk...on/135176.aspx List of locks at which you can camp.
    http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk...on/130919.aspx Lots of Thames info.

    I would also recommend "The River Thames Book" by Chris Cove-Smith which is a good guide to navigating the Thames, with lots of useful info.

    Also search the forum for bloggs of other peoples trips on the Thames, especially the "Thames Quest"

    One other thing to remember is that water levels can rise to dangerous levels on the Thames after high rainfalls, this is indicated by red boards displayed at locks and on the Environment Agency website, and this is more likely to happen in the Autumn and Winter. So make sure you check before you start, and be prepared to delay your trip if conditions aren't suitable.

    I think getting some trainning and support from your local canoe club could be very useful.

    Good Luck

  8. #8
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    A bicycle trip of some description would be more achievable if your plan is to complete the challenge in October 2012.

    We have a group of very hard core and dedicated "Marathon" paddlers in the Victoria Canoe and Kayak Club. Not only are they elite specimens of the human race, they train and race with specialized equipment.

    Good Luck and Best wishes for whatever you finally decide.

  9. #9
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    Back in the 70s and 80s, I was doing research on spasticity, mainly related to biofeedback, but of course I had to learn about many other aspects, including surgery. I'm somewhat surprised that Britain's health care system isn't automatically tending to this aspect of the child's needs. I used to consider Britain's programs for cerebral palsy, spasticity, etc., as more advanced in most ways than what we have in the states.

    Perhaps it is the case that the health care "system" does not want to do a release until later, but the family has reason to believe that it is needed now? If you or the family don't want to discuss this on the forum but do want to bounce ideas off my head, do a private message, and we can establish email contact.

  10. #10

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    Thanks to everyone for their advice so far.

    We are definately going to get down to a canoe club in the next few weeks for a refresher! With regards to fitness we have both been training (strength and endurance) since Christmas. Personally I have been doing a lot of running anf core strength work. So i think from that angle we are reasonably well prepared.

    One thing I am interested to know is how fast (mph) we can expect to go? 3-4mph seems reasonable going downstream. So 135 miles in 3 days would be 45miles a day, which at 3mph would be 15hrs per day or at 4mph 11.25hrs. This is a long day and yes we will suffer, but it seems doable. Any views on my calculations?

    Would it help if we didn't carry any kit with us and had a support crew to meet us at the end of each day. That way all we would carry is food and water for the day?

    My rough plan would be Cricklade to Sandford Lock(45 miles), then Sandford to Hambledon Lock (45 miles), then the final day push to Teddington (45 miles).

  11. #11
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    Not carrying your kit and having a support crew would definitely help, they could even meet you at each lock with food and drink supplies, and help you portage the lock if required. Portaging or going through locks will slow you down and you need to factor this in to your calculations.

    A speed of 3-4 miles an hour would be do able, but maintaining it for 135 miles over 3 days is a big ask. I know you say you have been doing a lot of training and you are fit, but the question is are you "canoe fit", paddling may use different muscles to the ones you have been strengthening. I think that the only way to answer this is for you to do some practice long distance paddles, maybe of 10 or 20 miles to start with, this should give you some idea as to weather your plan is achievable.

  12. #12
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    another big thing you will need to factor in is the weather.
    Wind, rain. toilet stop offs.
    realistically i would imagine that most of the canoeists on here and many have been paddling for years week in week out in all conditions would not attempt to paddle that distance in so little time.
    I can see that if you can manage 20 miles on the first day you will be aching all over your body, you will be having trouble to stand upright, your hands maybe blistered and if you can get a good nights sleep you will have to do it all again and then againa nd again ..................
    Really its a bit like attempting to do three marathons on the trot but with your arms, shoulders and back.
    As Barney says get some time on the water and see what you can do in one day and then see if you could do the same the next day.
    Good luck and I wish you the best for this.
    Ratty (Russ)

    I know only that what is moral is you feel good after. What is immoral is what you feel bad after.
    Ernest Hemingway

  13. #13

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    I have paddled from Cricklade to Teddington in Four Nights.

    We had one easy day where we only did 19 miles but the rest of the days were in the 30 mile plus range.

    I think we could have done it in three nights if we really pushed a bit harder with some earlier starts.

    That was in a fully loaded boat wild camping as we went.

    If we did it with ultra light gear and just took high energy snakcs and stuff, with some early starts and late finishes i'd ays two nights is pretty do-ble.

    The things that will slow you down are motor boats and lock keepers that will make you wait.

    Or as Ratty says, a Headwind.

  14. #14
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    Whilst I generally agree that this is a tough challenge that may be optimistic, I said the same to someone who was a complete beginner on here a few months back, when they asked for advice for a similar trip. I'm happy to admit I was wrong, and here's the blog of the result: http://www.songofthepaddle.co.uk/for...gton-in-3-days. So it can be done!

    This distance is big though, so don't underestimate it or it won't be fun. And I think its important that its fun as well as successful.
    Paddler,blogger,camper,pyromaniac: Blog: Wilderness is a State of Mind

    Paddle Points - where to paddle

  15. #15
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    On still water, you should manage an average of around 2 mph. That allows for the essential stops for a rest, toilets, and portaging. Of course the flow of the river will improve this.

    General fitness will help of course, but when you sit in a canoe paddling for hours on end, you'll be amazed how much pain you get from bits of the body you had forgotten you had!! My major problem was in my groins, I had excrutiating pains and had to stop for extra rests and stretches. One of my knees went on strike and refused to work, and I had to be helped out of the boat at every stop, but it was replaced a couple of years ago, so probably not relevant.

    Kayaks are far more difficult to get out of when you are tired, stiff, in pain and all cramped up. A canoe would be far more comfortable I think. A sit on top kayak might be even better if you can hire one of these.

    In no way am I trying to put you off, just be realistic about what you are letting yourself in for. I suspect you are going for it, no matter the difficulties. that's what I would do anyway.

    But more pain will lead to even greater satisfaction. It's better to have tried and lost than never to have tried!! I'd suggest getting sponsorship per mile though.

    I'm not intending to do another long charity paddle next year (perhaps, maybe, etc) unless I manage to forget how hard it was. I might do a fundraising worm charming event instead

  16. #16
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    Hi Kewt!

    I have read this post with much interest. As you have discovered we did the same journey in July this year (just after the really heavy rains in early July). From the sounds of it you both sound very enthusiast and are doing the trip for a great cause. Therefore, as long as it is safe to paddle I think you won't have a problem with this trip.

    Don't get be wrong, it was tough! However, I had extremely low fitness levels before we did it - I had just finished 3 years of living a relaxed university life! You seem to be in much better condition than me so as long as you have determination and just don't stop you'll get it done in the time you allocated.

    Some pointers I can think of:
    - Definitely check the water levels etc. There is no point attempting the journey if any parts of the river are red flagged. The lockmen will not let you through. We were stopped at the first lock and questioned heavily about our experience, luckily I managed to persuade him that we had experience... (this was because the river was still at 'amber' so fairly dangerous).
    - The first bit, from Cricklade to Lechlade was definitely the most challenging, there were trees all over the water. Because the water levels were high we didn't have to get out of the boat but had to duck down and feed the boats under branches etc. with our hands. I am not sure what it will be like now, but my advice would be to just take it SLOW. The only time we had a problem was when our kayaker tried to quickly dodge a bush and fell in!
    - Because the first bit is more difficult and narrow it would be useful to work on your steering skills before hand. If you can go to a canoe session locally.
    - We had a two man sprint kayak which is ours and can be seen in my profile picture. This boat was great for speed and weight however it was difficult to turn so there was a lot of crashing into banks early on! (involving me shouting at my brother a lot!) Our second boat was rented, for 70 from Fri-Mon from
    http://www.whitewaterthecanoecentre....ind-us-3-w.asp
    They were very useful as were able to pick it up on the from London to Cricklade. My friend in this kayak ended up getting off the river here to return it as well, its only 10miles from the end of the route and is on the Thames!
    I would recommend this rental company, the guy was so friendly and relaxed. They seem to have everything there and he chucked in life jackets and splash decks for all of us for free.
    - Get a splash deck, this was essential, which we didn't know. The wash from the boats as you come towards Henely and earlier on when I was often covered in weeds means a splash deck is really useful! We didn't have expensive neoprene ones and they did the trick!
    - Boatswise I would suggest you got two-man kayak. The people above are a lot more knowledgeable than me on types of boat and I think they are right in suggesting you should share the work and paddle together. My friend in the kayak had more difficulty battling the wind and got a lot more tired than us! I am really not an expert but I wouldn't suggest getting a large two-an kayak, we tried one of those and discovered it was very slow and heavy to portage on a practice trip. However, see what you can get your hands on and you'll just have to make do!

    As you can see from our blog we aimed to do 45miles a day. We helped ourselves by doing 4.5miles on Friday night while it was still light (this was a slow and challenging bit). We started early (between 6-7) and didn't finish till about 8.30. We had GOOD carb and protein heavy lunches and cooked for ourselves in the evening along the river when we stopped. We ate a lot of malt loaf as snacks.

    Let me know if there is anything else I can help you with, the trip is fresh in my mind and I love talking about it!

    Really good luck, and I think you CAN do it. Just make sure you get a bit of practice in together so your'e not wasting energy not paddling correctly.

    Good luck!

  17. #17

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    I can vouch for Malt Loaf!!

    One of the highest carb snacks around!! 65% complex carb!

    Sunmalt is much nicer than Soreen....

    Don't just cut of small slices... Cut the whole thing down the middle and use it as one slice!


  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by kewt View Post
    So we are planning to kayak from the source of the Thames (running the first bit until we can get the boats in the water properly)
    I don't think anybody has commented on this part of your plan, but it made me wonder... The "source" is usually a slightly damp field. How many miles do you have to go (carrying your boat? Climbing fences?) until you have enough water to float (a long racing craft?)? And how long will that take?

    Mary

  19. #19

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    Having somebody at the very first put in with your boats would be ideal. Then you can just run the first few miles.

    I quite sure that there was a member who did Cricklade to teddington in two days, back a couple of years ago....?

  20. #20

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    Good point re the Source. The plan is that we take a train to Kemble Friday evening, then run to the source and then down to Cricklade (15miles). Spend the night in Cricklade then start the Kayak first thing the next morning! The kayaks will be waiting for us in Cricklade.

    Main thing I need to know from Pnutbrown is what speed they were able to average. This really affects the planning and timings.

  21. #21

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    I have averaged about 5 mph on my last Thames paddle with Stuttieboy, another member.

    Thats in a Mega 16 which is a fast boat. We both have matching paddles and paddle in time, switching sides about every 100-200 strokes. We were fully loaded.

  22. #22

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    I was thinking of using a one man K1 (or whatever I can get/is remcommended!) kayak. SO keen to know what speeds I can realistically manage!

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by kewt View Post
    I was thinking of using a one man K1 (or whatever I can get/is remcommended!) kayak. SO keen to know what speeds I can realistically manage!
    The problem with a K1 is that they are designed to be fast which means they are very narrow and therefore they are unstable. People who are quite competent in a normal kayak often still take time to get used to a K1.
    So depending on your fitness and kayaking skill, 4 or 5 mph average for a 45 mile day could be easily achievable or you could spend your whole day capsizing and using all your energy to try and stay upright and pointing in the right direction, and get virtually no where.
    Also a K1 is probably not very suitable for the Thames between Cricklade and Lechlade and could also be harder to control if you encounter wash from motor boats or waves on the lower sections of the river. Although this could be offset by the increased speed on the rest of the river.
    I would try a few boats out and see which is most suited to you.

  24. #24

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    I would opt for a Sea Kayak or a Touring Kayak.

    A touring kayak may be better suited to yourself.. As said above, try before you buy........If you can!

  25. #25

  26. #26
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    You can certainly realize as much speed over distance in a touring kayak as you could in a sprint kayak. As another poster pointed out, sprint kayaks and specialized marathon kayaks are hard to balance, and hard to steer as well. They are harder to exit and to board. You'd do as well in a "poly" touring kayak.

  27. #27
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    Have you read Mark Wallington's great book,"Boogie up the River"? He and his Dog Boogie went up the Thames on a skiff to find the source, which turned out to be a muddy patch in the field. It'd save you time trying to find it.

    have lots of laughs reading it

  28. #28

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    The actual source is easy to find.

  29. #29
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    Sorry, we were going 5-6mph average over the three days. You have got to allow for the locks (but I didnt mind the break!) but generally we were going at the bigger boats speed limit (8km/ph). Sprint kayaks definitely helped us go faster, but we met a dad and daughter (who was 6) team who could keep speed with us in a way bigger canoe because of his efficient paddle stroke! So it can be done in different boats, depending on what you manage to get!

  30. #30

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    In a fast kayak - it should be easy, a breeze!

  31. #31
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    If there's a breeze, you could rig up a temporary sail!

  32. #32

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    With any luck - you'll have a lovely SW'ly F4-5..........

  33. #33
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    Well Kewt, if we summarise all the advice you've already got, it looks like either a sit-on kayak, a sprint, kayak, a normal kayak, a single canoe, a double canoe, either a single-seater or a double seater. It'll take either 2, 3, 4 or more days. It'll either be easy, difficult or impossible.

    The only consistent message is it's a great challenge, a wonderful cause, and I'm sure we all wish you well.

    I'm looking forward to see how it goes

    I wish I lived closer, because I'd join you along the way, as long as you went slowly!!

    PS, one really good bit of practical advice is to open an on-line donation site, I used Just Giving. That way is easy, and you get the gift-aid without all the hassle.

  34. #34

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    Thanks for all the advice. I think we are going to go ahead and attempt it in 3 days with a 15 mile run from the source to Cricklade th night before! We are going to use sea kayaks having had a go with them on Sunday. The felt pretty fast and were easier to keep straight and fast.

  35. #35
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    Good luck, and do you have a "Just Giving" page or similar so we can add to your sponsorship?

  36. #36

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    Thanks Barney, I will get the donations link up as soon as possible.

  37. #37

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    Dear All,

    Thank you for all the help and advice. It looks like we have two sea kayaks ready to go. On Friday 12 October we run 15miles to Cricklade, then 3 days to kayak to Teddington...bring it on!

    The donations link for those interested (please feel free to pass it on to anyone you know!) is http://www.justgiving.com/AnnabellesDreamKayak

    Many thanks,

    Thomas

  38. #38

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    Dear All,

    Thank you for all your help and advice, the challenge has been completed!! 15 mile run from the source of the river Thames to Cricklade on Friday much of it through knee to waist high flood waters! Then 135 miles to Teddington in 3 days!! finished Monday night at 8pm...still aching!!!


    hat

  39. #39
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    Congratulations! Well done.
    Hang onto your paddle. And if you hit any rocks, don't hit 'em with your head.

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