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  • Alick Burt

Felix's Canoe goes Paddling in The Cam!

Hello Folks

Its a while since I have written a blog and I think It is because I have developed a slight dislike of all things online! I found social media and all the other stuff I do online (tedious stuff like paying bills etc) seemed to be occupying too much of my time. I would return home from the workshop, cook and eat my food and then suddenly find it was time to go to bed!

So I eased up on it all for a while hence a lack of blogs.

What this does mean is I have a backlog of pictures to use for blogs on a rainy day like today.

This blog is from a trip I did earlier in the year on the Cam with my WCHA friends.

I had decided that as I know the trip to be a relatively easy and short one I would take Felix's Canoe.

She had been languishing in the workshop since I took her to Beale Park Boat Show back in Early June. I knew this would have dried her out and shrunk her 120 year old planking so I decided as a precaution I would give her a couple of coats of varnish two weeks before I was due to put her in the water. Maybe with luck she would remain watertight...Here she is in the workshop being given what is her 15th coat of varnish since I stripped her for restoration.

or was it 16th...

The route of our trip on the Cam was from Byron's Pool car park down river to Jesus lock for lunch and back .There is one portage and as I said it is a fairly easy flat water paddle so I wasn't expecting any problem.Felix's Canoe was in good company as my good friend Nick Dennis had bought his Cedar Rib “Femme Fatale” and I also had the chance to catch up with Ed Compton who had brought his Old wide board and batten canoe that I re covered with glass and resin for him a few years ago.( before the purists start shaking fists at me It had been covered with green resin and an early form of epoxy before I was given the task of stripping it off and asked to recover it with clear glass and resin.

This is not ideal for a canoe of this age but it does make the canoe watertight and Ed likes to sail her so she gets a fair bit of use.

She is of unknown origin but looks like many old Peterborough Canoes with no inwales only outwales on the edges of the hull.

The route of our trip on the Cam was from Byron's Pool car park down river to Jesus lock for lunch and back .There is one portage and as I said it is a fairly easy flat water paddle so I wasn't expecting any drama.

The put in is slightly awkward platform with a high lip that featured in one of Nick's Calendars a while back.

I had also made a pendant flag to put in my bow deck.( I cut it out of an old pillowcase so there wasn't a lot of cost involved!).

We set off and it wasn't long before I found myself lagging behind.

There was a simple reason for this..Felix's Canoe was taking on water.A lot of water. I suspect the joints are flexing and opening as I paddle or maybe the timber has dried and opened cracks whilst she has been stored. Either way all I could do was paddle faster and sponge between strokes.

You can see an inch of water in her here.

This was a bit of a disappointment as back in June she had not leaked when I took her to Beale Park and I think I will let her dry again before giving her more varnish possibly of a different manufacturer before I take her out again. I read up on the permeability of varnishes and it seems some are more permeable than others. I have used Flag Yacht varnish for many years and whilst it is a good product and fine for my epoxy coated boats I am going to try Le Tonkinoise in the spring. This costs around twice the price but maybe it will work better. We will see...

Paddling onward we came to an area where the river is overhung by trees giving a lovely photogenic scene.

We approach civilisation passing under bridges of which there are many beginning with this footbridge.

When we reached the portage I was very glad of the Chelsea bun Nick had bought us from Fitzbillies. They are very sticky and filled with energy!

Back on the river we now entered Punt Country.

These craft are considerably heavier than our canoes so it is best to keep an eye on them an keep out if their way. Most of them have professional drivers but some are rentals so if you paddle here beware and keep your wits about you!

At our lunch spot I got a quick snapshot of nicks Cedar rib. This is unusual and expensive form of construction as all the planking is at 90 degrees to the keel line i.e. where the ribs are on most boats hence the term cedar rib.

The red boat below is a lovely Atkinson Traveller and we also had Sam's Chestnut with us to the left of Nicks boat.

On the way back I was asked about Felix's Canoe and after telling them she was 120 years old I quickly directed them to the brass plate I had put on her stern deck that tells more about her history.

On the return journey she leaked a little less so I was able to get on a bit quicker. Especially once I had worked out that it is quicker and easier to get out periodically and empty the water, rather than staying on board and using my sponge.

Ed however was flagging party on account of the fact that he still had some of his sailing rig on board making it awkward for him to be in a good paddling position.

In the end Nick rafted up with him and whilst they paddled on we played leapfrog as I would pass them before having to empty my boat while they passed me!

All in all it was still an enjoyable way to spend the day despite the leaks but after all what do you expect with a boat that is possibly over 120 years old.



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