A sunny summer afternoon gave another opportunity to paddle the new boat. This time my youngest son accompanied me, so we were tandem, using the cronje as intended.
We decided to take a trip along the Sheffield Canal from Victoria Quay to Tinsley locks and back, a pleasant couple of hours on the water. It was the first time I had used the cronje tandem, so we spent the outward journey getting used to the boat’s handling, balance and speed with two crew.
With a following wind, we made good speed outward-bound, and found that even though it tracked well, turning sharp corners was quite easy for a tandem team working well together. It seemed to be that rarest of boats, a hull that holds its direction until you want to turn, then will spin around with minimal effort or loss of speed.
Our return leg was slower, both because of the wind, and due to photo stops that we had ignored on our way out. Unusually, we met a full size ‘Sheffield Keel’ coming down-lock from Victoria Quay. This one had been converted to a day-tripping tourist boat, but with its extra-wide beam, there wasn’t much room even for us in a canoe to squeeze by. It must have been a challenge in places when this waterway was a busy industrial highway.
Last summer, we made the same trip a week or two earlier in the summer. I had been delighted then to find a huge patch of fringed water lilies coming into bloom. Being slightly later in the season had brought more flowers to their peak, so we passed to make a few images from the canoe.
Although it was still quite breezy, the lily pads kept the water calm. I played with composing around the reflections of flowers and sky, managing to improve on the images I made in the same spot last year.
One of the nice things about being on the water is being able to reach the other bank with ease. As we journeyed back through Athersley, we enjoyed a refuelling stop, picking succulent blackberries unreachable from the land.
That treat gave us a little boost to see us home, after a very pleasant trial tandem run.
So far so good with the new boat. It runs well tandem, with a good hull speed. It’s directionally stable, with good secondary stability, but it still allows you to heal it into turns, and we found it nicely agile. We had play with draw and pry strokes, bow and stern rudders, side-slipping and experimenting with wide and tight turns as we travelled, and reached the quay satisfied we’d made the right choice in buying the cronje.