It was a beautiful clear day for my first trip, and I was looking forward to discovering what happens on trips. Dan, Jenny, Phil, Richard, Steve and I were to travel 11.5 miles in total from Old Windsor to Windsor and back, with 2 portages.
The first thing I learnt is that club members are early birds. I arrived at the club a couple of minutes before meeting time and most people were already there with kayaks on cars and ready to go. Must remember to never be late.
After the short drive to Old Windsor, we got the boats into the water and this was the first of 6 times I needed to get into the kayak during the trip. The first was fine but before the morning was over I had climbed down a ladder at one portage to get in (easier than I thought it would be), got out at a wall that was chest height (as hard as I thought it would be), got in and out at a very wobbly pontoon at another portage (harder to get out than it looks), and observed that each kayaker had a different way to get out, which gave me some ideas to practice.
Most of the group went through one of the locks on the way out, but I wasn’t yet ready for that experience. Paddling past Windsor castle was very picturesque, and before we knew it, it was time to stop for morning tea. The group seemed to know a lot of coffee and cake locations on a lot of rivers – another thing learnt: coffee and kayak are key parts of kayaking.
The river near Windsor is much quieter than near the clubhouse and was generally very smooth, except for one crazy boat that looked like it was trying to create waves to annoy us..aargghh..but it was disappointed as everyone stayed steady and upright. The pace was steady but not too fast, and I had the impression I wasn’t slowing the group down, so I think other new members could also do this type of trip. Everyone was very friendly and I got good reminders about technique at the beginning of the trip, and tips throughout. I would recommend that other new members also try these shorter (!) length trips to expand their paddling experience and enjoy other lovely stretches of river.