Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Thames Traditional Boat Society at Beale Park

As usual, the Thames Traditional Boat Society brightened up the Beale Park Thames Boat Show with its beautifully-maintained collection of antique Thames skiffs.
I got to row Thomasina, a vision of wood under bright varnish. I can't believe it was the first time I have rowed with Thames-style rowlocks, the hardwood frames that can be slid out for replacement if damaged.
The oars were familiar, with their original buttons made of layers of leather held down by a pair of copper nails. They were ubiquitous once, so even today the plastic collars on carbon-fibre blades ares still referred to as 'buttons'.
Thomasina was a joy to row, especially with the friendly TTBS members who took me out. Despite the usual problems fitting into a boat evidently designed for midgets.
The display included a racing punt, a terrifyingly narrow plank that was nonchalantly being propelled down the river by an expert. The invited me to have a go but I really hadn't packed enough spare trousers to cope with the inevitable ducking so I declined. Some other day perhaps.

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