Friday, November 21, 2003

2.2 into 2 Won't Go

The Walkham, feeding into the Tavy (below Tavistock) had been on my ‘hit list’ for a few seasons - but somehow I had never quite managed to get it together – a grade 3 paddle from Bedford Bridge (Walkham) to Denham Bridge on the Tavy. There’s something I really enjoy about a mellow paddle on uncharted waters.

The first mile was a little disappointing – a grade-1/2 bimble. After this the river began to cut in, the gradient increased and we began to enjoy fairly continuous grade 2 and 3 rapids - falling well within everyone’s ‘comfort level’. An excellent training ground for ‘eddy hopping’ with lots of small drops and micro eddies all along the way

The only drop of particular note was a 1 meter drop/slot affair with an ominous horizon line where the river disappears down a narrow slot. Peeling out to the eddy below and looking back at some anxious expressions at the top and I figured that this might provide a little back-looping entertainment – Hailing Tim down he ran the slot at an unintentional 170 degree edge – heavy bracing, through the slot and out – no worries. Karl had a good line and joined me in the eddy.

Honestly I didn’t push him out of this eddy, despite what he says. I merely intimated that the eddy was, perhaps, not quite large enough for the both of us and that, perhaps, it might be best if he moved downstream, through the narrows, to find his own eddy. My attention returned to those waiting to make the run when I heard a call from behind
"Graham, I seem to be stuck"
Perhaps I should explain that Karl was paddling his relatively new I3 – now this is a short boat (something around 2.2M), but Karl had failed to appreciate that some Dartmoor Creek narrows don’t reach that giddy width. 2.2 into 2 won’t go – and it didn’t when he tried to negotiate the narrows broadside.

Now, I have never known anything really phase Karl and, sure enough, he was sitting in his broached boat, at a 45 degree edge with a broad grin coupled with a slightly puzzled expression.

We all gathered on the bank staring down at ‘Calm Karl’ and all of us now adopted his puzzled expression. He was comparatively stable – the deck was holding, jumping ship might well have worsened the situation. We attached a couple of slings to the stern first and tried to budge it – but no go, we fed a line to the bow (on the opposite side of the river) and tried pulling across – but that didn’t work.

Eventually Tim, who had crossed the river further downstream, was able to release the bow and the day (and Karl) was saved. I was somewhat relieved when the others elected to walk the slot and so avoid a repeat performance of what could have proved an epic