Monday, 24 May 2010

Assault On Lake Windemere

Tim Birtwistle and his doubles partner from Royal Chester (Paul Johnston) decided to double scull the shoreline of Lake Windermere. Tim initiated this as he learnt to row on the lake 43 years ago at his grandparents lakeside home, this was initially in a inflatable but progressed quickly to a plastic tender. How things have moved on!
The Early May bank holiday weekend (30th April to 3rd May) was chosen as it allowed the most contingency for poor weather. We stayed in a wonderful log cabin near Wray Castle. Our bank support team consisted of Ann, Chris and Miho who would cycle down the paths and minor roads of the west shore of the lake down to Lakeside.
We went for a 40 minute paddle late morning on Sat 1st May up to Waterhead (Ambleside) and back in flat calm conditions and the sun on our backs.
We decided the big scull would take place on Sunday 2nd. At 7.50am we put the riggers on and waded out into the cold waters eventually setting off at 8.10am into a brisk cold northerly wind up to Waterhead. Stopping for 10 mins in the shelter to prepare for 11miles of downwind sculling. The wind was picking up but we soldiered on into the south lake via Bowness Bay, we took a look at the chart to make sure our route would avoid any rocks. We sped past the cable ferry into the roughest part of the lake as it was so exposed to the wind, our Carl Douglas was almost surfing down the waves and we started to get wet by spray being thrown up by the riggers. We were hoping for some shelter behind Storrs Hall Temple but there was none worth looking for so we ploughed on past my grandparents old boathouse (the actual house having being demolished 15 years ago and replaced by a very grand new house), we still had 3 miles to go and has to go through some very rough water and had to stop a couple of times for the steamer wash to die down. A great day for sailing I thought! Arriving at Lakeside at just after 10am we decided to miss the last 100 meters as the waves we just too big and we could not guarantee to miss a number of moored yachts. Our support team we waiting next to the steamer jetty with cakes, we could not go ashore without risk to the boat. After 20 mins we set off back up into a force 3 cold northerly wind. Even though the Carl Douglas has excellent buoyancy we still shipped loads of water which is not pleasant when sloshing around your feet, we stopped 6 times to bail out and rescue Paul's drinks bottle which has knocked his speed coach off. All I can say was for the next 1 1/2 hours was like having a cold bucket of water thrown over you every 5 minutes as the large waves came flying off the bows and riggers. We made it back to Wray cold, wet but happy to have completed this challenge after 3 hours 50 mins, total distance was 33.3km.

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