Rowing down the river

Update posted by Martin Wainwright On Apr 06, 2018

Clemmy and I finally had our second date this morning, in spite of dire 'Don't navigate' warnings from the Environment Agency which has opened most of the weirs on the rain-swollen Thames. We were fine, confining ourselves to the Wolvercote backwater, with the greatest challenge nothing worse than skirting marooned picnic tables. The biggest hassle of the first sea trial, tight gated-rowlocks which made feathering very cranky, has been solved by Paul Godsafe who runs matchless Glide Boats. It was simply a matter of loosening the rowlock. Job done; all good. Clementine's slender shape also proved in handy in reaching a new launching place on Port Meadow which is currently mostly Port Lake. Ratchet straps are the remaining challenge; at the moment I spend almost as much time puzzling them out to avoid accidents on the way home, as I do enjoying myself on the river.

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Update posted by Martin Wainwright On Apr 03, 2018

The weather and very high river levels are delaying my practice outings, but my latest picture in the gallery shows today's morale-boosting step forward. Clementine now bears her name proudly, in a tastefully bordered lemon yellow to go with her bright orange.

The brilliant Paul Godsafe of http://www.glideboats.co.uk Glide Boats, Clemmy's creators, did the business, not because I am wholly incompetent and liable to get lettering all wobbly, but because the high density polyethylene which is responsible for the boat's excellent robustness is resistant to adhesives unless its polarity is changed by warming with a blowtorch. This is scientifically and technically a step too far for me. But Paul did the magic in moments, helped by my specially-constructed tarpaulin. The typeface is Britannic which I think goes nicely and is also the only marine-related font I could find on Gmail's list. I have to add that the real-life HMS Britannic - pic below - was the slightly larger White Star Line sister ship of the Titanic which was taken over as a hospital ship during the Dardenelles campaign and sunk by a mine off the Greek island of Kea in 1916. She is the largest wreck on the ocean floor, followed by the Titanic. But there are no mines in the Thames.


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Update posted by Martin Wainwright On Mar 23, 2018

Just to add that the two pictures below the main one (note pint and pie, a good rower's diet) show the magic moment of my capsize - the only one so far, fingers crossed - and my early days as a born-again sculler on the darkly sinister Big Lake at Hinksey Park in Oxford which is crossed by an even more sinister bridge carrying a path known as the Devil's Backbone. This connects with the fragmentary remains of the famous road between North and South Hinksey built by undergraduates including Oscar Wilde under the altruistic direction of John Ruskin.

Wilde wrote about this with characteristic wit in Art and the Handcraftsman published in his collected Essays in 1879:

We were coming down the street—a troop of young men, some of them like myself only nineteen, going to river or tennis-court or cricket-field—when Ruskin going up to lecture in cap and gown met us. He seemed troubled and prayed us to go back with him to his lecture, which a few of us did, and there he spoke to us not on art this time but on life, saying that it seemed to him to be wrong that all the best physique and strength of the young men in England should be spent aimlessly on cricket ground or river, without any result at all except that if one rowed well one got a pewter-pot, and if one made a good score, a cane-handled bat. He thought, he said, that we should be working at something that would do good to other people, at something by which we might show that in all labour there was something noble. Well, we were a good deal moved, and said we would do anything he wished. So he went out round Oxford and found two villages, Upper and Lower Hinksey, and between them there lay a great swamp, so that the villagers could not pass from one to the other without many miles of a round. And when we came back in winter he asked us to help him to make a road across this morass for these village people to use. So out we went, day after day, and learned how to lay levels and to break stones, and to wheel barrows along a plank—a very difficult thing to do. And Ruskin worked with us in the mist and rain and mud of an Oxford winter, and our friends and our enemies came out and mocked us from the bank. We did not mind it much then, and we did not mind it afterwards at all, but worked away for two months at our road. And what became of the road? Well, like a bad lecture it ended abruptly—in the middle of the swamp. Ruskin going away to Venice,when we came back for the next term there was no leader, and the 'diggers', as they called us, fell asunder.
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Bravo. All power to your elbow!

Timothy Knight

Backed with £50.00 On Apr 19, 2018

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Anonymous

Backed with £180.00 On Apr 16, 2018

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Anonymous

Backed with £50.00 On Apr 12, 2018

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Ratty would be proud.

Peter and olivia Fergie

Backed with £40.00 On Apr 11, 2018

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William Outhwaite

Backed with £50.00 On Apr 11, 2018

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Good luck Martin!

Felicity Wood

Backed with £50.00 On Apr 09, 2018

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Sarah Meredith

Backed with £50.00 On Apr 08, 2018

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Well done Martin! A tricky challenge for a very good cause indeed. Best of luck Clare and Steve

Clare Roberts

Backed with £30.00 On Apr 07, 2018

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"A day spent on the water is never a waste of time" - and never more so than when contributing to such a worthwhile enterprise. Good luck!

David Evans

Backed On Apr 04, 2018 Amount Hidden

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Good luck with your voyage Martin.

Glenn Harrington

Backed with £50.00 On Apr 03, 2018

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