Rowing down the river

Proudly supporting The Treehouse Project

Update posted by Martin Wainwright On Jan 02, 2019

New Year's Day brought the best possible present in the form of this appeal reaching £10,000. Thanks beyond words to Jens Tholstrup for generously underwriting the final gap of £455 which has since gone down to £305 and may yet dwindle more before I take up Jens' pledge. I'll keep things brief now, other than repeating my thanks to everyone, but will be back with news of the Treehouse timetable before long. A very Happy New Year to one and all! Martin (Naval Section) and Penny (CO Land Support)

Add a Comment

Update posted by Martin Wainwright On Dec 17, 2018

It's been a while since I've updated but the Christmas spirit prompts me to say Hello again. An extremely generous gift of £200 arrived today from a Thames riparian friend of Penny and mine, duly added to the offline total and taking my overall tally above £9000. This is the best news that I and the Treehouse Project could have had and we are all really grateful.

Meanwhile we went with some American friends to see a really excellent exhibition of Whistler drawings at Compton Verney where John Moore of the Littlewoods pools firm houses his collection and does oodles to promote the enjoyment of art and landscape by all of us. To my surprise and delight, the exhibits - mostly small, black-and-white and very different from the famous Nocturnes although influential on them, included this one of camping at Mapledurham:

This delectable spot was one of my favourite picnic halts on the Great Voyage and it was great to learn that the grassy bank by a mellow ancient manor house, where I munched my pork pie and liquorice allsorts, had previously been explored by the great painter. He had a friend,, Edwin Edwards, who lived at Sunbury and owned a large skiff with a canvas cover and the pair of them, with other artist pals, went on sketching jaunts for miles up the Thames. Edwards' wife recalled: "Whistler often came to see us, turning up always when least expected. He might, for example, send a line to be met by boat at Hampton Court. He went in our boat when he did the plate Encamping and possibly Sketching and The Punt, and got rheumatism." Whistler's picture above shows Edwards and here is Edwards' one of Whistler sketching at Moulsey Lock:

The following two, attributed to Whistler, are from the same voyage. The exhibition is over now but I hope that it reappears elsewhere.

Add a Comment

Update posted by Martin Wainwright On Nov 17, 2018

Clemmie is back in action again, beguiling customers at Annie's Tearooms like a (very modest) version of Shackleton's James Caird at Dulwich College. The reason? It would be so excellent to get to £10,000 by Christmas when the start of construction work on the Treehouse Project will be only four months away. We're only £1500 off.

I have been overwhelmed by everyone's generosity and am not remotely seeking to tap my dear and patient friends. But any help in spreading the word, just as Clemmie is doing at Annie's, will be rewarded with drinks, hospitality at Thrupp and all manner of other good things.

Clemmie is meanwhile enjoying regular although not very frequent outings on the river to keep both herself and her skipper in trim. Penny and I are also undertaking a series of more sedate voyages in our dinghy Dolores, Empress of Thrupp which has been a little neglected of late. This is partly thanks to the focus on Clementine but also because I rowed her so powerfully back in August that I snapped an oar in half.

It was a not very special aluminium one; but now we have a pair of swanky wooden oars from a fascinating company called Collar's, an appropriate name because every oar has a collar to prevent it sliding through the rowlock. Collar's also make very high quality masts for ships and we had a fascinating chat with its head, Jeremy Freeland, about wood. Our oars are made of humble Southern Yellow Pine but the masts use only Silver Spruce and from very pickily-chosen trees.

This excludes ones from steep hillsides where the down-mountain side of the trunk is stronger than the other, leading to the risk of bending after the wood is cut. The best come from forests frequented by salmon-eating bears whose messy eating habits and poos provide premium fertiliser.

Isn't it wonderful what you learn on a sponsored sculling voyage? Oh, and here's a picture of the James Caird. Bigger than Clemmie and Dolores by not by much.

Add a Comment

Update posted by Martin Wainwright On Sep 22, 2018

Clemmy and I went out together this morning for the first time since arriving at Chiswick together with Penny, the Commander of Land Support, a week ago. In 90 minutes of pootling between Osney and Iffley locks, we had five times as much rain as the quarter of an hour of drizzle on the seven day Thames voyage itself. I persevered to get some idea of what the journey would have been like had the weather been unkind. My conclusion was that I could have hacked it but at the expense of my almost miraculous freedom from blisters. It is impossible to stop the oar handles getting wet in prolonged rain, and that spells digital doom.

Meanwhile, the most excellent rowing website Hear the Boat Sing has run a couple of articles on Clemmy's, Penny's and my trip which you can read, given the time and interest, on this link here and this one here. I've been very impressed by the number of rowers who read HTBS, and very good and wide-ranging it is. Thanks ever so much.

Finally, I am keeping this funding page open because, at over £7,500 so far, you have been wonderfully generous. I am not asking for more from noble souls who have already given, but if you know any millionaires or have time to network at all, both I and the Treehouse Project would be tremendously grateful. Work looks like starting in May next year but they still need to reach the full budget. At the moment there is enough for a modified proposal but I am absolutely certain that between us we will get the full whack. Their overall page is on the link on my main page, but I'll repeat it in this link here.

Thanks again everyone, so much! And here's Clemmy again with her new 'Done it' flash.


Add a Comment

Update posted by Martin Wainwright On Sep 16, 2018

So it is done! But only after the edgiest moment of the expedition when Penny the Land Support Commander and I slid Clementine off her rather high pontoon at Richmond into what resembled a mill race. My failure to consult the phases of the Moon meant that I was unaware - until I met the Richmond waterfront crew on Thursday evening - that the tides are currently very strong. Wobble, wobble, nearly-tip and whoosh. I was rapidly the small object in the second pic, rocketing off towards central London with no extra power needed from my ageing, and now quite tired, limbs.

Having said that, you do need to have some extra power just to steer and avoid boats, bridges etc. Luckily I had mastered this when my cousin Lucy Skirrow unexpectedly hailed me cheerily from the bank and, in a very deft and lightning manoeuvre from some muddy stairs, slipped £90 from her family and my dear Uncle Tim under the spider straps on Clemmy's stern.

I whirled past the somewhat-feared (by me) Richmond half-lock easily in time to beat the 9.20am shutting of the weir sluices, and so into the Tideway stretch governed by the Port of London Authority's rowing code which I described in the last update. You can maybe imagine my nervous state if you look at this page from that code which was bearing on my mind:

But I have learned to trust and admire the PLA and their note that such dramatic situations are rare was reassuringly true in my case. Throughout my 90-minute slalom from the half-lock to Chiswick Pier, I met no large powered craft but only a lot of scullers, pairs, fours and eights, all of whom treated me with great kindness and encouragement. That said, you need to keep a constant watch. I scraped the first of the invaluable red buoys which mark your lane but otherwise managed to keep well clear of everything. Indeed after 20 minutes or so, I was used to the unsettling system where you proceed mid-river with boats passing you on either side in both directions.

My other tidal experience was nosing in to a shingle bank to text the Land Support Team and realising after ten minutes or so that Clemmy and I were firmly aground because the tide had fallen so fast. This led to the final reappearance of the bung problem; the bung-tip protrudes below her hull and forces the bung open when she is flat on terra firma. There wasn't time to sort things out, so I proceeded onwards for the last 20 minutes with Thames water (yuk) slopping round my feet.

And then, bliss! Shouts, cheers and toots from the bank, and a stylish (I boast) curve towards Chiswick Eyot to sweep back in to Chiswick steps and the site of the now-vanished Vosper Thorneycroft motor torpedo boat yard.

It remains to thank everyone who has helped in so many ways, to say how VERY much your generosity has meant to me and the Treehouse team and to offer up paens of praise to the weather gods (15 minutes of drizzle over seven days), the incredible lock keepers of the Environment Agency and staff of the PLA, and above all to PENNY THE COMMANDER OF LAND FORCES, seen below on her own progress through a Thames lock, albeit in friends' somewhat larger boat, without whom this would have been quite impossible. xx M

photo

Colin and I are still madly cheering! So is Badboy the cat. We wish we had your energy. Very well done! Steph Shaw

Stephanie Shaw

Update posted by Sep 17

photo

Huge congratulations, Martin! A splendid achievement all round!

Sue Mendus

Update posted by Sep 16

Add a Comment

Update posted by Martin Wainwright On Sep 15, 2018

Chiswick Slipway today - Huzza! More tomorrow. In the meanwhile, as always, BIG thanks to everyone M - and the Vital Land Support Commander, P

photo

Actually Steph, I’m wondering about rowing up to Lechlade next... Thanks so much for all your wondrous support xx M

Martin Wainwright

Update posted by Sep 16

photo

Yippeee! Uh, they forgot to tell you: you missed a bit and have to row another 50 miles tomorrow. No worries, mate, you can do it before breakfast! Cheerily, Steph

Stephanie Shaw

Update posted by Sep 15

Add a Comment

Update posted by Martin Wainwright On Sep 14, 2018

Evening all - and I can't tell you how encouraging it is to start tomorrow's tidal leg just £13 short of £6,500 for the Treehouse Project (including the £100 given by friends who preferred not to use the online system). I'm also still feeling warm and cosy because of my reception at Richmond; I hope the waterfront crew who helped me there will take it as a compliment when I say that they reminded me of Philip Pullman's Gyptians on the Oxford canal or the water-travellers in Joanne Harris's Chocolat.

One of them, known as Boaty Jo, kindly made this YouTube film, if you would like a reminder of this old dear:

Meanwhile, the indomitable Commander of the Land Forces and I have an early start tomorrow to get Clemmy and myself through Richmond half-lock before they raise the sluice gates two hours after high tide. Here's a diagram showing the complexity of this wondrous Victorian device:


After passing that, I have shortish spell of hugging the starboard bank in my usual fashion before entering what amounts to a contraflow which allows racing boats to do what they call 'Working the Slack', which means using the quietest water when they are rowing against the tide. Here are a couple of maps and a diagram which will be vital for me tomorrow, from The Port of London's Rowing Code.


This one shows the principle of Working the Slack, with the orange arrows the strongest area of tide and the pink dotted line showing the racing boats' route. The one below shows where it applies:




And finally, here are the lanes. Mine is the green one second from the bottom; or as the PLA well puts it, the starboard side of what amounts to a river within a river. Please wish me luck, and patience from all other boats.





photo

Best wishes for your final day Martin, a brilliant achievement for you and your support team. Lovely to see a map of the lock and weir; as a sprog I used to catch sticklebacks next to the half-weir in ’Old Dears Park’. Hope you hug the towpath for the final stretch. Great promo video - relieved to see that you are wearing a life-jacket! Martin K

Martin Knops

Update posted by Sep 15

Add a Comment

Update posted by Martin Wainwright On Sep 13, 2018

A week after slipping away from the Wolvercote millstream on Port Meadow, Clementine is resting on a pontoon outside a floating puppet theatre, a hundred miles down the Thames. She and Penny and I are gearing ourselves for the voyage's finale on Saturday, when the plan is to row through the high tide window at Richmond half-lock, probably around 9am, and allow the ebb tide to take C and me the five miles to Chiswick slipway, hopefully by 11am or so.

This may be an, um, exhilarating experience according to the waterfront team from Eel Pie Island and Richmond who found me Clemmy's exotic berth. "It's not you, it's the moon," said David who was painting the theatre barge. "It's big at the moment and so are the tides. You may be doing four knots." That's about four-and-half mph which is well above my usual rowing speed. I just hope that I can stop.

The last three days have been pretty much an idyll - indeed I had to backtrack when I told one of the many cash donors en route that I was having a marvellous time. "In that case, I'll have my money back," he said. He was only joking, I am glad to say. Here are some of the sights with which the river from Marlow to Teddington is packed,: Hammer's House of Horror near their Bray studios, now the swanky Oakley Court hotel and Christine Keeler at Hanky Panky (actually Spring) Cottage in the stunning Cliveden gorge; Stanley Spencer's Cookham and a lookalike statue of Richard Dimbleby at his former home on Ray Mill island in Maidenhead from which he yelled at speeding boats; the spooky mansion on D'Oyle Carte island near Weybridge and an aerial view of same; and the stunning gates at Hampton Court, a mansion designed to be approached by boat, plus the Runnymede Bridge which takes the M25 roaring over the murmuring Thames.

After slinking beneath this huge set of spans, plus a similar one for the M3, I reckoned that I was in the low emission zone. Actually on the Thames you are always in a low emission zone; the perpetual though often hidden presence of walkers on the Thames Path is a deterrent to making unseemly bodily noises when rowing.

As always, every day adds to the people to whom I owe thanks and on this leg, the Clemmy team are specially grateful to Mark of the Eel Pie Island Boatyard, his right-hand man Captain Barry, Dave the Boat Painter and all at the Barge Puppet Theatre. Also Molesley Boat Club, home of Olympians, who hosted Clemmy the night before and their very nice former committee chair who came out specially to inspect her after reading this on the website Hear the Boat Sing. Plus my marvellous cousin Andrew Skirrow who shouted 'Martin Ahoy!' from the bank at Teddington much to my amazement and then helped me clean and re-insert Clemmy's slightly leaking bung. He had been at the fearsome-sounding but actually very efficient Teddington Locks to see if I had been through, adding in view of all the flags etc: 'You won't miss him' Thus, when I sculled up after bidding Andrew farewell, I was genially greeted by the lock keepers: "Ah, we've been expecting you'.

Please think of me on Saturday morning when I hope that those barriers in the pic below of Richmond half-lock will be safely down


photo

I will be thinking of you, Martin. What a great adventure! What a great cause! What a great achievement!

Sue Mendus

Update posted by Sep 13

Add a Comment

Update posted by Martin Wainwright On Sep 12, 2018

Hi all! The expedition is bedded down only five miles from Teddington locks, with Clemmy also snug at kind and generous Molesey Boat Club. Today's 17 mile row from Old Windsor featured water like glass, the first, brief drizzle in the whole voyage and an eerie cruise through the riverine suburbia of Shepperton and Walton-on-Thames where everyone eslse seemed to have disappeared.

Dosh continues to be handed over,including a tenner deftly transferred to Clemmy by means of one of her oars. The plan now is for a penultimate row tomorrow to Eel Pie Island and a grand finale ar Chisick on Saturday afternoon. More soon!





photo

Martin Well done indeed! We love the notion that you were pulling in the (blade) puddles of Morris. How is the licorice holding up? All the best Peter & Juliet

Peter Johnson

Update posted by Sep 13

Add a Comment

Update posted by Martin Wainwright On Sep 11, 2018

Hi all!

Just in case you thought that this was all about rowing, here is this morning's put-in at Marlow:


And here, below, is the hop-out at Datchet after 17 miles of mansions, kingfishers anid loads more dosh for the fund:


More soon..

photo

I am so impressed by your energy - not only the rowing but all that "manual handling"! Once again, many congratulations - you are amazing. Avril x

Avril Collins

Update posted by Sep 12

Add a Comment

SHOW MORE UPDATE
photo

Well done Martin (and Penny). Sorry I was late to this.

Andrew Bounds

Backed On Jan 03, 2019 Amount Hidden

photo

Anonymous

Backed On Jan 03, 2019 Amount Hidden

photo

Anonymous

Backed On Dec 30, 2018 Amount Hidden

photo

Jill Armstrong

Backed with £25.00 On Dec 24, 2018

photo

Andrew Turner

Backed with £25.00 On Nov 23, 2018

photo

Good luck Martin! Please tell me you're taking a support team with you?!

Pippa Hale

Backed with £20.00 On Nov 23, 2018

photo

Penny Madden

Backed with £25.00 On Nov 20, 2018

photo

Anonymous

Backed On Nov 12, 2018 Amount Hidden

photo

Bravo. Atlantic next

simon beattie

Backed with £25.00 On Oct 21, 2018

photo

Anonymous

Backed with £50.00 On Oct 20, 2018

SHOW MORE COMMENTS
Add a Comment

photo

Martin Wainwright

Campaign Owner

send a message

photo

Jill Armstrong

Following Since Dec 24, 2018

photo

Rosanna Whitehead

Following Since Oct 12, 2018

photo

Stewart Morgan

Following Since Sep 18, 2018

photo

Jeannette Page

Following Since Sep 17, 2018

photo

Bill Hall

Following Since Sep 15, 2018

photo

David Musson

Following Since Sep 08, 2018

photo

Angela Raffle

Following Since Sep 07, 2018

photo

Pete and Angie Taylor

Following Since Sep 06, 2018

photo

Peter Thompson

Following Since Sep 06, 2018

photo

Michael White

Following Since Sep 05, 2018

SHOW MORE FOLLOWERS

Not Ready to Donate?

Did you know a 10 second Facebook share raises an average of £25?

Share on