John Davey Hayward.

Camping out with the British Canoe Association : with chapters on camping, canoeing, and amateur photography online

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during which we dropped the Doris, and were
hunted home by the Queenie. We finished some
minutes behind the Vital Spark Queenie third,
Cacique fourth, Doris fifth : the first three in
being the prize-winners. It was interesting in
the evening to sail about the harbour, and to in-

Camping Out. 71

spect the racing yachts at anchor ; some of them
flying winning-flags, and all being things of
beauty ; and it was pleasant to sit in the parlour
of the Greenbank Hotel, sipping shandy-gaff,
watching the frou-frou of a regatta evening in
the harbour, and talking over the day's events.


At Mylor Regatta, a few days later, there was
also a race for canoe yawls. At high water this
creek is a lovely and extensive sheet of water,
and on ariving at its head we found quite a lively
water picnic going on. There was a band upon

72 Camping Out.

the Committee mark-boat, well practised up in
* See the Conquering Hero ; ' crowds of rowing
boats were splashing about, and the banks were
crowded with holiday folk. The weather was
bright and warm, and the music, the gay colours
of the ladies' attire, the white sails of the boats
and yachts, contributed to a pretty picture, not
unlike a miniature edition of the famous Henley
Regatta. Besides the sailing races, there were
rowing contests and a canoe paddling race. The
course for the canoe yawl race was down the creek
and out round a buoy in the harbour, back up the
creek and round the flag-ship twice round. As
regards the race itself, it may be shortly described
as Snake first, the rest nowhere. This wonderful
little canoe yawl from Oxford was just suited by
the smooth water, and the constant tacking up
the narrow channel. It was a pity she did not
arrive in time for the Royal Cornwall Regatta,
as it would have been interesting to compare her
performance in the lumpier water and stiffer
breeze, and with the longer boards of that day.
It is probable that there also she would have made
an example of the rest of our canoe yawl fleet,
for later on, after the camp had broken up, she

Camping Out. 73

beat the famous Mosquito Yacht Fleet 40
minutes on a 2O-mile course in a strong breeze,
at Falmouth Town Regatta.

During the fortnight in camp, only two of the
expeditions carried out were arranged for by the
officers of the Association the coach ride to the
Lizard, and the voyage to the Helford River. For
the other cruises members were left to make their
own arrangements, to go alone, or in small fleets,
or not at all, as they willed. There being such
different classes of boat present rendered it diffi-
cult to make distant expeditions to suit every
kind of craft ; especially as the British canoeist
is jealous to resent the least appearance of " boss-
ing." Nevertheless the writer feels that it might
have been better to have endeavoured to persuade
all in camp to join in more expeditions than was
done. By so doing the habits of loafing around
the tents or sailing about just opposite the camp
might have been combated ; as might the tempta-
tion to sail round Trefusis Point into the inner
harbour, moor at the Greenbank quay, and sit in
the cosy parlour of that hostelry looking out on
the busy Venice-like scene in the haven, smoking
and lazying the happy hours away mea culpa,

Camping Out. 75

mea magna culpa ! True, canoeists are at these
meetings in search of recreation, and, no doubt,
there is plenty of rest and repose in such a life ;
but it is just a little stagnant, and afterwards
there is a sense of not having made the most of
one's opportunities. Like the Lazy Minstrel at
Streatley, we used to

" Sit and lounge here on the grass,
And watch the river traffic pass."

And could sympathize with him when he sings :

" Upon the winding Thames you gaze,

And though the view's beyond all praise,
I'd rather much sit here and laze,
Than scale the Hill at Streatley."

It Is in vain for Commodores and Secretaries
to urge energy, and to enumerate the views that
ought to be seen, and the places that should be
' done.' The lazy laureate of the Thames should
have been made a life member of the B.C.A. for
writing that verse :

" And when you're here, I'm told that you
Should mount the Hill and see the view ;
And gaze and wonder, if you'd do
Its merits most completely :

76 Camping Out.

The air is clear, the day is fine,
The prospect is, I know, divine
But most distinctly I decline

To climb the Hill at Streatley."

Of a large proportion of the men in camp it
might have been said, just as truly as of the
House of Peers : They " did nothing in particu-
lar, and did it very well."

However, the majority joined the expedition
to the Helford River. This creek is some dis-
tance outside the harbour, across Falmouth Bay.
The Naval Manoeuvres had commenced, and a
fleet was anchored in the bay. We spent the
morning sailing round these kettles, longing for
an invitation aboard, which we did not get.
About mid-day the breeze died away to a flat
calm, so some of us had a swim, others a doze.
Soon a smart breeze sprang up, and off we sped
to Helford. We landed at Durgan to refresh ;
there we met the skipper of the Snake, and he
offered the writer a passage back on that curiously
designed little ship. During this sail we ex-
perienced how swift and stiff this little boat is ;
and, oh ! how very wet !

One of the charming features of boating at

Camping Out, 77

Falmouth is the number of lovely creeks opening
out of the harbour in various directions. Most
of them were explored by us, especially those of
Mylor, St. Just, St. Mawes, and Penryn.

The Fal River resembles rather a creek or
arm of the sea than a river, and is navigable up
to Malpas at all times of the tide ; and, when
the tide is up, for some two miles further to the
important city of Truro. Four of us had a very
jolly day up this river in the Tame t being fortu-
nately able to go the whole distance to Truro
and back under sail. With the flood tide under
us, and a fair wind, we ran up to Malpas, and
were entranced with the beauties of King Harry's
Passage and Lord Falmouth's lovely seat
Tregothnan and with the well-wooded banks
of the river, and of the pretty creeks opening
out of the main stream. On reaching Malpas
we found that we had over-run the tide, and so
the channel hence to Truro was between slightly
submerged mud-banks, and the navigation there-
fore difficult. On a rising tide, however, a run
aground on mud is a temporary inconvenience,
and by the help of sailing directions from men
unloading timber from barges at the little quays


78 Camping Out.

on the banks, we managed to get very early on
the tide to Truro. These directions were fre-
quently both complicated and amusing. One,
we remember, was : " Keep the door of the
office on this quay dead astern until you get the
two gates in the big field opposite in a line, then
come sharp round and head for the middle arch
of the railway bridge." Sure enough this course
carried us up a channel, with only a few inches
depth of water on each side of us. At high
water the river from Malpas to Truro forms a
pretty and extensive sheet of water, navigable to
barges ; at low tide there is merely a shallow
stream winding through mud-flats. Clever as
we were in getting to Truro so early on the tide,
we were only a minute or two ahead of the little
passenger steamer which, in a marvellous manner,
worms her way through the intricacies of the
passage up to Truro and back to Falmouth.

Soon after we had tied up near Truro Bridge,
the canoe yawl Queenie and two or three canoes
arrived. We landed and explored the city, and
laid in a store of fresh fruit. The writer had
spent some of his early youth in Truro, and ex-
perienced the pleasure of revisiting, and recogniz-

Camping Out. 79

ing places he had not seen for over 20 years.
He led his friends about to see where he had
formerly lived where he had fallen in the ' leats '
where he had fought and been thrashed by the
grocer's boy, and where the village idiot used to
stand ; he would have dragged them off to view
the farm where he had seen a pig killed, had
they not betrayed a preference for a visit to the
Cathedral. Everything appeared just as he had
left it in this pleasant, stagnant little city ;
nothing seemed to have been pulled down in the
quarter of a century, little besides the Cathedral
erected. Since the decline in the mining value
of the neighbourhood, and the silting up of the
river, this, the chief city of the county, has
diminished in importance, and would probably
have still further declined, but for the stimulus
of the new Bishopric and its interests. Were
the river channel efficiently dredged out, com-
merce and wealth might again return. Familiar
as the river and city were to the writer, he made
the common experience how much less in size
and importance things really are than they
appear in the memory, however vivid, retained
from boyhood long ago. This disproportion is

8o Camping Out.

probably due to the lack of objects of comparison
in the experience of childhood. True, Landor's
monument is high, but not so "blooming" high
as a countryman described it ; Lemon Street is
steep, certainly, but not all that steep, though
the Lemon Street of memory is like the side of
a house. This must be the house in which we
lived ; but, bless my soul ! how it has shrivelled !
Why, our despised and economical lodgings at
home are more imposing ; those leats are not
the broad, clear streams we have portrayed to
our acquaintance ; this river is not the broad,
clear expanse we have described to envious
schoolmates. Distance has not only lent en-
chantment to the view, but, strange to say,
magnitude as well. We once witnessed a dive
from the Town Bridge into the tide below, and
thought the dive a marvel ; since then, whenever
Tommy Burns, or other modern bridge jumper,
has been referred to, we have instanced this hero
of "when we were boys." . Can this be the bridge?
Why, were the river but as clean as years ago,
we'd do the deed ourselves, and ask no bribe.
While others sought the Cathedral we wandered
off to the barber's shop in the market place,

Camping Out. Si

where our childhood's hair had been cut. Joy !
the barber with the funny name was still alive.
We entered, and, for old time's sake, waited while
he finished his lunch and another customer, just
to have him cut our hair again (it did not want
cutting, and, alas ! there's less of it to cut). Art-
fully we led the conversation back to years ago ;
the old man thought he remembered us, probably
in compliment to our evident expectation that the
whole population of the place had followed our
subsequent career with pride. Relatives and
friends, however, he could talk to us about, and
had heard that some of us were ' doing well ' in
London and Liverpool. To ' do well,' alas !
Truro's sons must leave their lovely, sleepy,
dwindling native place. We too soon found that,
to do well, the quicker we did the same ourselves
the better, for the tide was falling. Once, when
a boy, our boat had stuck in the mud of the river
and been left by the tide, and one such experience
will last an ordinary lifetime, if economically
used. After a few exciting stick-in-the-muds,
we reached Malpas in safety. From there the
breeze was right ahead, and came in knock-
down puffs round corners, and through gaps
in the woods on the banks.

82 Camping Out.

A lot of patient tacking was necessary to get
out of the river, but there was too much incident
in the proceedings for this to be at all monoton-
ous. One moment we would be laughing over an
anecdote, while the sail flapped idly, the next
four anxious faces would be observing the centre-
board from the vantage point of the windward
coaming. From Trelissick Point, however, a true
wind and a long board put us in position to lay
our moorings.

Falmouth town was quite a short sail or paddle
from our camp, and an interesting place we found
it, with its long street running parallel to the
busy inner roadstead. It reminded us strongly
of several little towns we know on the Riviera.

The Camp Committee made a new departure,
by arranging for camp dinners in the evening in
the large tent. These were much appreciated
by those too late, too tired, or too lazy to prepare
their own meal. On several evenings a few de-
generate campers dined at the Greenbank ; this
unworthy proceeding so sapped the moral nature
that, facilis decensus, one of them remained there
to sleep.

Fishermen visited the camp with freshly caught

Camping Out. 83

fish, very welcome for breakfast as rivals to the
popular kipper. Had time allowed we might
have supplied ourselves with fish, for shoals of
mackerel were in the harbour all the time. Al-
though more familiar with the paddle and the
tiller than with the cricket bat, eleven of us
accepted the challenge from the Ganges to a
cricket match. The boys won, but the canoedlers
were not disgraced.

One day was devoted to a united driving ex-
cursion to the Lizard. After the famed rocks
and lighthouses had been inspected, and seven
amateur photographers had eased their minds
by the exposure of all the plates they had with
them, a capital meal was discussed at the Lizard

The camp created much interest in Falmouth
and the neighbourhood, and was visited by a
good many people. A successful concert was
held in the committee tent one evening, to
which visitors were invited ; after this the camp
was illuminated, and the camp band rendered
night hideous. This band was enrolled early in
the meet ; it was chiefly remarkable for the dis-
cordancy of its performance, and the extra-

8 4

Camping Out.

ordinary attire of the performers. The chief
instruments were a fog-horn, a gong, a toy
trumpet, and a drum, and, for the uniform, hat
shops and millinery establishments had been
ransacked at Falmouth. Early in its career this
band developed symptoms of taking upon itself
the duty of securing early rising in camp ; but
remonstrances, in the form of strong language
and weighty missiles, on the part of those dis-
turbed, induced the musicians to confine their
attentions to an after breakfast parade.


Camping Out. 85

On one evening the popular B.C.A. Secretary
and Mrs. Nisbet gave a reception in the com-
mittee tent. The dressing for this function
afforded some amusement ; for, as visitors and
ladies were to be present, a toilette was essential.
Chins, which for days had grown more and more
stubbly, were sacred from the razor no longer,
but were painfully rasped by candle light. The
clothes of civilization were unearthed from bags
and boxes ; until, by a system of mutual accom-
modation in the way of coats, collars, watch-
guards, etc., a more or less respectable appearance
was the general result. An enjoyable evening
was spent, and, after the ladies had retired, a
noisy sing-song was continued into the "wee
sma' hours " beyond the twelfth.

From the farm, milk, eggs, and butter were
obtained. Junkets and Cornish cream were
consumed in such quantities as to prove that
canoeists do not possess livers, or have unlimited
faith in the healthiness of their out-door life, or
the skill of their family doctors.

No accident of any importance occurred during
the meet, although three upsets in sailing canoes
took place. Two of these were due to ' pressing,'


Camping Out.

and were not unexpected ; the third was of an
amusing nature. A new member, desiring a
picture of his canoe in full trim, for exhibition to
the friends at home, induced a comrade to go
out in a punt with a camera, in order to take a
photograph of the canoe as it was sailed past.
After getting everything ship-shape, and having
manoeuvred into position, our neophyte's anxiety
to get both ship and crew on to the negative
directed his attention from the necessary balanc-
ing, and over went the whole concern. A photo-
graph of this catastrophe was all his friend

Camping Out. 87

obtained for him on this occasion, and it is
doubtful whether that will be exhibited to the
" old folks at home."

The piano in the committee tent was in fre-
quent request. The B.C. A. is rich in musical
talent, instrumental and vocal, and the ladies
were always kind in the matter of accompani-
ments. Perhaps the most popular song was
' The Agricultural Irish Girl ' ; its refrain might
be heard in the distance as wandering canoeists
strolled back to camp. In fact this song became
a kind of B.C. A. National Anthem ; at all periods
of the day the virtues and charms of the Irish
Girl were chanted ; and her memory beguiled
the toilsome return to camp by road or water,
when, but for it, tired arms and legs would have
felt still more weary.

The annual meeting of the B.C. A. was held on
the 4th of August in the committee tent. Rob
Roy Macgregor was re-elected Commodore, and
Mr. H. Wilmer, R.C.C., Vice-Commodore ; while
Mr. Percy Nisbet could not resist the unanimous
request that he should continue the B.C.A. Secre-
tary and Treasurer.

Take it all in all, the B.C.A. meet of 1890 was

88 Camping Out.

a success which will long be remembered by
those present A jolly set of fellows assembled,
who fraternized cordially, and who, it is to be
hoped, will meet again in 1891.

Thus ends my short account of two holidays
with the British Canoe Association. If it induce
one good fellow to join our cruises, he will never
regret it ; and if it serve to recall happy days to
old members, the writer will not regret his trouble.

Many a time at the camp sing-songs have we
enjoyed the Eton Boating Song trolled forth by
our genial Secretary ; many a time, as we paddled
or sailed back in the dark to our lamplighted,
home-like little camp, have we joined in the
chorus. With the sentiment thereof I close this
humble account of boating holidays with the
B.C.A., in the hope that

" Nothing in life shall sever
The ties that unite us now."



" To hold, as 'twere, the mirror up to nature."

To canoeists, and boating men generally,
photography supplies the one thing needful to
make their sport the most fascinating of any
under the sun, by enabling them to secure per-
manent pictures of scenes and events, to be en-
joyed at times and seasons when, in this country
at least, it is impossible to pursue the pastime

The canoeist visits scenes in river valleys rarely
visited by any other than an occasional fisherman ;

9O Camping Out,

in such valleys he finds scenery more lovely than
any on the roads and highways of more general
resort. Few are gifted with the artist's skill, but
all may cultivate the artistic sense to detect
what will make a good picture, and anyone may
readily master the chemical and mechanical
details of the photography-made-easy of the
present day. The artist has the advantage in
the matter of colour ; but the canoeist has seldom
time to spend in the production of painted
pictures, and, as a photographer, he has the great
advantage of being able to prepare lantern-slides
from his negatives. These enable him, on winter
evenings, to sail his cruises o'er again, to picture
his travels to friends and brother canoeists, to
enliven the camp-fire, and to illustrate his enter-
taining descriptions of adventures by flood and
field. By this means he may kindle others with
the desire for similar voyages. The writer, an
ardent canoeist, but an indifferent photographer,
rejoices to know that, to lantern-slide exhibitions
of past cruises he has made, more than one
vigorous canoeist of to-day owes his first attraction
to the sport. All enthusiastic canoeists marvel
why everybody does not canoe, and are eager for

Camping Out. 91

others to participate in the delights the sport
affords ; and we believe that lantern-slide exhibi-
tions are amongst the best recruiting means that
could be adopted by the clubs.

The hand camera, the so-called detective, is
particularly suitable for the canoeist. It need
be of but small weight and bulk ; it is simple and
inexpensive. It is, of course, impossible with
the hand camera to take pictures equally good,
from an artistic point of view, as those which may
be taken with the stand camera ; but, in canoeing,
incidents are constantly occurring for the record
of which the stand camera is useless ; moving

' O

scenes and objects appear, and, long before the
stand camera could be ready, the opportunity to
fix them is past. A small hand camera can be
kept safe and dry in the smallest of Rob Roys,
and is pre-eminently the camera for a canoeist.

It may be thought that no eulogy of photo-
graphy for the canoeist's purposes is called for
in these days when nearly everybody photographs,
and when the term ' amateur photographer '
generally has the adjective 'ubiquitous' attached
thereto ; but it is to indicate the special suitability
to the canoeist of the detective camera that this

92 Camping Out

chapter is written. This camera does not advertise
its presence by standing obtrusively on three legs,
and so often attracting an inquisitive and insult-
ing group of passers by ; it may resemble an
innocent bag or basket externally, and, even in
crowded thoroughfares, may pursue its task un-
noticed. The amateur who uses the ordinary
stand camera is a familiar object. We see him
strolling about our city streets or country lanes,
laden like a pack-horse, gazing up at the windows
and roofs of the buildings like a glazier on the
look-out for a job. When he gets a view which
he considers suitable for distortion, he proceeds
to unload himself of his paraphernalia, revealing
stools and bags, instruments of various kinds, and
a series of things like fishing-rods. After he has
scattered apparatus all over the roadway, he pro-
ceeds, with infinite trouble, to fit things together.
Generally he has forgotten how to do it, or has
left some indispensable portion of the machinery
at home ; but sometimes he gets the concern put
together eventually, after collecting a mob of
errand boys and other loafers, and engaging the
suspicious attention of the policeman on the
beat. Of course he is under a constant fire of

Camping Out. 93

chaff, and is told to "Mind and get me in, mister;"
but he endeavours to display himself oblivious to
all this, and, with a far-away gaze at the desired
object, he goes through a conjuring performance
under a black duster. His expression of intent
suspense gives way to one of relief, and he either
laboriously takes the concern to pieces again, and
loses part of it, or he staggers along with it all
standing like the proprietor of a Punch-and-Judy
Show, and accompanied by a similar retinue, to
some other point of vantage. At last he is satis-
fied, and marches off with something in his box to
inflict upon his friends ; probably with a portrait
of some inquisitive urchin's head occupying most
of the foreground.

So cumbersome is the apparatus for any but
the smallest pictures, as to lead sometimes to
amusing misunderstandings. It is told of a
canoeist that, desiring a morning effect, he left
camp early with his camera for a neighbouring
village. Here he began to erect his tripod. A
rustic inhabitant watched the proceedings with
interest for a while, and then ventured the re-
mark : " You bees rayther early, mister." " Not
so very," replied the photographer, " it's past nine

94 Camping Out.

o'clock." "Aye, aye," continued chawbacon,
"just so, but I mean you bees rayther earlier
than t'others. Fair don't begin till Toosday."
Now the proprietor of a detective camera escapes
all this trouble and publicity ; his apparatus is
simple and unostentatious. The modern hand-
camera is a most ingenious construction. It is
small, light, and simple. It contains everything
required for taking good photographs within
itself, and nothing is loose, so as to be lost or
forgotten. The sensitive plates are contained
within the camera itself, and as many as fifty or
more pictures may be taken without opening the
box. Its use is simple, and easily learned ; in
fact, with diy plates and a hand-camera, photo-
graphy is almost as easy as the proverbial falling
off a log. The hand-camera has its own peculiar
faults, nevertheless. For one thing, it is not
suitable for portrait taking ; but this may be
almost reckoned a virtue. For sea and landscapes,
as well as for instantaneous work, amateurs can
confidently compete with professionals ; but the
portraits of the former, even with stand-cameras,

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Online LibraryJohn Davey HaywardCamping out with the British Canoe Association : with chapters on camping, canoeing, and amateur photography → online text (page 4 of 5)