Wednesday, 27 June 2012

How I learnt to row

Rowing is hard work, and you may find it best to sit by a friend
and row with one oar each.
Sit with your back to the front of the boat 
and the way you want to go,
with an oar each side of the boat.
To take a stroke, move your end of the oars forward
so that the blades dip into the water behind you.
Then pull the oars towards you, 
so that the blades pull through the water.
Lift the blades out, and take another stroke.
Look at the track of a rowing boat and the eddies will show you
where the blobs of water pulled by the oars 
are still moving through the water around them,
while the boat has moved away in the opposite direction.
If you use only one paddle or oar 
the boat will tend to turn round in circles,
but you can stop this by paddling first one side, then the other. 
Remember the wind will blow the boat about,
and if there is a current you will be carried with it.
Never set out in a boat unless you are certain
you can manage the wind and currents ...

There was never any danger of this in my cardboard box
rowing boat on its linoleum river,
but inspired by my copy of Swallows and Amazons
I took the instructions very seriously.

If you do capsize, hold on to the boat
and do not try to swim for land for it is easier
for rescuers to see a boat than a swimmer.*

Capsizing was the best bit.
I flailed convincingly on the surface
as the currents swirled and threatened to carry me away 
downstream to the far end of the room.

The theme tune to the 1962 BBC series Swallows and Amazons.

A very short clip from the original series.

*Something to Do - June


  1. Heavens, was that in Something To Do? While I was making padded coathangers ... in February?
    Unfortunately, my childhood was lacking in water as well as stickyback plastic. And there were never enough squezy bottles to go around five of us. Especially as Mum was inclined to wash up in a handful of Daz.

  2. I learn't to swim on lino - diving could be a tad dangerous (wrote the headbanger!).