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Thread: A paddle (+swim) on the Wey

  1. #1

    Red face A paddle (+swim) on the Wey

    It was a rare free Sunday so we strapped the canoe on the roof rack, made a couple of sandwiches, filled a few water bottles and set off for the Wey at Send. I'm fairly new to all this, so was pleased when the access at the Old Tannery was pretty straightforwardand we were soon heading off downstream with the intention of visiting the ruins of Newark Priory that I had driven past so many times previously. After a quick portage of Papercourt Lock we decided to have a quick paddle up the natural river towards Woking. Wow! suddenly we were on the most beautifully natural and picturesque stretch. It twisted this way and that, lined with reeds, wild flowers and lily pads and covered in a variety of Damselflies + DragonFlies. The river itself was narrow and the flow was surprisingly significant but we made good progress . It was so perfect that we just slowly carried on until a shady spot invited us to stop awhile for lunch. It all felt like we had time traveled back a couple centuries.

    After refreshment we set off up stream again and soon came to a church and then some houses and under a road bridge and we were back in the 21st century. That's when we came upon the family of swans and was immediately challenged by the cob. We slipped confidently past him and his wife and children, but he still wasn't happy. This is where we must have done something wrong because as we calmly paddled on he chased after us and launched an attack. A fraction of a second later we were in the water and having an unplanned wild swimming session.

    We spent a few minutes waist deep in water sorting everything out and trying to work out what to do next whilst being monitored by a triumphant swan. All rather embarrassing! With most the water out the canoe and having hauled ourselves back onboard we headed off downstream chased again by our nemesis. After a hundred yards or so he gave up and left us alone. Shortly we were laying in a riverside meadow drying ourselves out and laughing at our own stupidity.

    We headed homewards, soggy, embarrassed but in really good spirits - it was sunny and about 28 degrees and the river was still so beautiful.

    So I have a question for you, what did we do wrong? what is the best practice for not upsetting swans when you wish to pass them on a narrow river?

    It was a great trip and its probably best to get my first capsize over with. Plus I've still got a visit to Newark Priory to look forward to.

    Sussex.

  2. #2
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    What caused the capsize? Panicking paddlers? That's what I would have done - panicked and swum.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
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    There's one or two bolshy cobs on my local waters. If I can, I try to give the hen and cygnets plenty of space and not stare directly at them or the cob, just keep paddling steadily and quietly passed. That usually works, but sometimes I have been charged by the cob - only once head-on, otherwise they always come from behind once I have passed by. You can hear them coming...
    I keep paddling steadily, but as they get nearer turn to look at them and slap the water with the flat of the paddle if they get too close. So far that has always stopped them short of the canoe, even if only by a foot or two.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
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    Aldershot
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    A swan really can't do you that much harm. O.K. if you were really unlucky, a peck to your face / eyes could do damage.

    I haven't ever suffered a prolonged attack, just posturing and the odd flappy-flight towards me and a bit of boat pecking.

    I try to stay as far away as possible as I pass; calmly but quickly. I generally talk to them too.

  5. #5
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    Samson claims another victim! He's notorious on that section of the river, from about mid-April to August. I face him off, but normally am coming downstream having portaged the mill, so just drift backwards as he comes after me, as he prefers to attack from behind and it seems to put him off a bit. He's hit the stern one or twice with a wing in the past, but its easier to handle this solo in this instance, as you are in sole command of your balance. We have long conversations where I tell him how silly he's being, and that if he flies at me, my paddle is harder than his neck (I'd only ever hold it in front of me, not actually swipe him with it). He always enjoys his triumphal dance once he's seen you off. How many signets this year? Likely to be Samson Junior in that lot!

    As for the rest of it, you probably missed me by only a short time, as I headed off up that same bit of river about 4.30pm. Turned round at the road bridge, so missed Samson. The river was truly delightful in the warm sun, as you say, damselflies dancing everywhere, and I won the man v horsefly match 1-0!

  6. #6
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    Jan 2016
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    taking another paddler along as swan-bait helps.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
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    Quote Originally Posted by aannddyyhh View Post
    taking another paddler along as swan-bait helps.
    I'll second that. The stroppy swan below Mexborough top lock chased a friend off the water and into someone's garden (complete with dogs!) while I paddled by last year.

  8. #8
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    It is one of the joys of paddling that a short distance in a canoe can take you to a whole different world. Of course sometimes that world has a mad swan to make you swim but in this heat I can think of worse things
    John

  9. #9
    Join Date
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    When faced with such wild beasts I raise my paddle in both hands high above my head....... And look mean..... That's crucial.......... Usually works........ But what damage can posh ducks do anyway?.....we all swim sometime or other and it's much nicer to do it in this weather
    All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

  10. #10

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    Thanks All, I think maybe I just need to 'man up' a bit. In the meantime I think I'll try to avoid going near Samsons territory for a while. Should he be added as a hazard on PaddlePoints?
    Sussex

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