LTRC tackle their latest tour

On Saturday 30th November, five intrepid rowers from Lower Thames Rowing Club set off on their latest adventure – a 20+mile row. Touring Captain Ron Sverdloff gives his account of a challenging trip…

‘Originally billed as the River Nene Part 2 from Fotheringay Castle to The Wash, this had to be changed due to unscheduled lock closures on this section. So, from eight intrepid oarsmen and women in the original line-up for the twenty or so mile adventure row, we ended up with only five. The remaining rowers – Alan Sealey, alias ‘Grandad’ who really couldn’t walk without the aid of a stick, myself with a streaming cold, Linda with a bad back, Jackie who never knows the front of the boat from the back and Steve who always rows in fancy dress – breezed unannounced into Bedford Rowing Club. We were directed to the Captain, Mike, who couldn’t have been more helpful to our motley crew. Whilst moving our cars about in order to be available at the finish, the girls made use of the bar.

‘We launched our two small 14-foot skiffs, Scout and Mallard, from alongside their low level landing stage. Our gunwhales were flush with the jetty and the bow and stern pinched in firmly in order to embark ‘Grandad’ and his walking stick safely. What a challenge! Standing supported by his stick and facing Scout, he leaned over and placed his stick into the centre of the skiff and tried to board. It soon became obvious that he was about to pole vault himself over Scout and into the tide! Realising his severe limitations, we quickly helped him back upright. Plan B: Alan then laid down on the side of the jetty and clumsily rolled into the bilge of the boat. Great – so far so good – he had finally embarked, in a rather ungainly manner – much to the amusement of passers-by and those overlooking from the members’ gallery. However, the encore was yet to come. He rolled upright in the bottom of the boat and then with great effort heaved himself backwards up onto the seat but overshot and fell backwards into the bow with his legs in the air. There were guffaws of laughter all round. Grandad, it wouldn’t be the same without you!

‘The rest of our crew, dressed in bright orange club colours – all except Steve who prefers to row in his dinner jacket ready for the next pub lounge – boarded the boat. Finally in a fitting manner we managed to get underway, much to the amazement of several eights as they glided effortlessly past us with their well-oiled crews. Almost immediately we came across our first guillotine lock, passing through in about 15 minutes, then continuing down this beautiful river for about two hours in glorious late autumn sunshine. We decided to hove to for the night at the Anchor pub by Great Barford bridge and ‘oil’ ourselves at the bar.

‘After a comfortable overnight stay at a Travel Lodge we started on the next stage of our rowing to Huntingdon. It was a frosty start and we were lucky again with the late autumn sunshine. We passed through several locks until we arrived at St Neots where we found another convenient riverside pub, The Bridge, where we settled ourselves suitably in the bar for our Sunday roast. Not wanting to leave, we thought we would lose the light if we didn’t, so off we went. The light started to fade – too quickly – until looking for our final disembarkation point a few miles short of Huntingdon we ended up rowing in pitch blackness- much to the horror of Jackie and Linda who had never experienced rowing in the dark before!

‘After 21 miles, tired but happy, another great adventure had been achieved and we headed home for X Factor and a hot bath!

‘Thank you again LTRC!’

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