John Davey Hayward.

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

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hill, when the crowd would charge down upon it
and fight over it. By this means a good return for
the penny in torn clothes and youthful ill-feeling
was produced, and a few strides respite secured.
Eventually, however, we had to arm ourselves
against the descendants of Glendower and Jones
with half-bricks, and, when round a corner, we
resorted to precipitate and ignominious flight.
About midday we got afloat, and beat across,
under storm mainsail, against a dead ' noser ' to
Conway a wet day's work. Out of the Conway
estuary a strong tide was running, and to make
way we had to row, kedge and tow. The latter
method was very unpopular, the water being cold,
and the bottom consisting of mussels, all and each
of which had its business end upwards and fresh

Next morning we started from Conway, hoping

46 Camping Out.

to get to Rhyl. The wind seemed favourable, but
this was due to the draught up the harbour, for
outside a stiff head-wind was found. A yacht was
spoken, and we heard that she had given up after
trying to beat round the Great Orme's Head. So
we returned for a sail up the Conway river.
Favoured by a fair wind, bright clear sky, and
the tide, we had a glorious sail up to Trefriw.
We could sail close to the banks, on to which
two of us would occasionally leap for a stroll ;
we sang, we ate, we drank, we smoked ; how the
Lotos-eaters would have enjoyed life the more
had they known tobacco! We left the return
journey a little too late on the tide, and had some
difficulty with the channel, having to all turn out
and wade occasionally. The crass stupidity of
the few Welshmen on the banks endeared them
to us personally, but their advice did not much
facilitate our progress down stream. One ' race '
down, which we had to run, gave us some anxiety
on account of the partly submerged boulders,
but we escaped with only one unpleasant bump.
A grand dinner and a subsequent cigar and smoke
with some Mersey yachtsmen at Conway con-
cluded a day well worthy the distinction of a red

Camping Out. 47

letter ; in fact we could not have imagined any
improvement, except perhaps to drift :

" With indolent fingers fretting the tide,
And an indolent arm round a darling waist."

Next day another fine and glorious morning
greeted us, the wind had gone down somewhat,
and seemed more in our favour. A good sail
out of the harbour and estuary was made, but
the wind falling light, it was necessary to row
round the Orme, in order to get out of the tide
setting up the river, and into that flowing home-
wards. The wind veered about in light gusts,
and the greater part of the day was spent in
drifting past Llandudno and getting sunburnt
Many varieties of sea-bird allowed us to come
close to them because we had no gun, of which
fact it is proverbial birds make it a point to
acquaint themselves before they come near human
beings, to jeer at and abuse us for our incapacity
to do them harm. Towards sundown we were
opposite Abergele Church, a well-known land-
mark, and the question arose whether we should
put into Rhyl or sail on through the night. The
latter course was determined upon, but the wind
kept light and occasionally headed us, so our

48 Camping Out.

progress past the lights of Rhyl was a slow one.
We lighted the riding light and put it under the
stern sheets, where we sat abreast with the sail
cover over our legs, thus making a warm air
chamber for our legs, as the night was cold.
Here we sat through most of the night, chatting
and singing until we passed the Point of Aire
light, which we found after steering by a pocket
compass and the stars. Soon we noticed, by our
position with regard to the furnace lights of
Mostyn, that we were being rapidly carried up
the Dee by the tide, so after running into a buoy,
which seemed to get up in the darkness and rush
at us, we found it best to row for an hour or more.
By this means a good course for Hilbre Isle was
made, and a few minutes hard pulling got us
round the point and into the tide for Hoylake,
where we anchored at 4 o'clock in the morning.
It was considered too cold to sleep on board, and
we could not go on to Liverpool on this tide, so
we went ashore in the hope of finding some good
Samaritan to take us in. We hammered at the
Lake Inn for some time, but were ordered to
' begone,' so we ' begoned.' The lighthouse
seemed the only thing awake and friendly, so for

Camping Out. 49

that we made. The keeper took pity upon us
and found us a house where we got a bed, for
which, cold and tired as we were, we were deeply
grateful. After three hours of blissful sleep, an
early start enabled us to reach the Mersey be-
times. Here the boat was run up the Yacht Slip
at Tranmere to the Mersey Canoe Club premises ;
her crew returning to work and the ' busy haunts
of men.' This extensive and successful cruise in
a canoe yawl took, therefore, less than five whole
days ; and by neither a canoe nor a yacht could
it, in its entirety, have been similarly carried out.


" A sudden thought strikes me,
Let us swear an eternal friendship." CANNING.

Previously to the year 1887, although the
various canoe clubs of Great Britain had held
meets on different waters for camping and canoe-
ing, no attempt at an inter-club meet had been
made. In August, 1887, three or four clubs
were invited by the Royal Canoe Club to ar-
range a cruise in company on the Norfolk Broads.
A few men from each of these clubs assembled,
and a very successful cruise took place. At a
meeting held during this cruise it was suggested
that an association to arrange for future meets
of the kind should be formed ; the idea was dis-

Camping Out. 51

cussed, was enthusiastically adopted, and, de-
spite influential opposition, has been carried to
a successful issue. The enormous advance in
America of late years in the sport of canoeing,
both in skill and popularity, has been largely
due to the success of the American Canoe
Association, so it was determined to found on
similar lines an association for Great Britain.
As the face of friend sharpeneth friend, it was
felt that such an association, with its meets, camp
fires, etc. where the doings of the clubs, the
designs, rigs, and performances of boats, the
suitability of camping and sailing grounds could
be discussed and compared would give the
sport in this country an impetus there were signs
of its being in need of. Much increased interest
in the sport has already (1890) been the result
of the formation of the society ; and canoeing in
this country owes much to those gentlemen who
founded the Association. The B.C.A. has now
a hundred and fifty members, and its success is
established. The gentlemen to whom this is
chiefly due are : Mr. E. B. Tredwen, its first
Vice-Commodore ; Mr. Percy Nisbet, its invalu-
able Secretary-Treasurer from the commence-

52 Camping OiLt.

ment until now ; Mr. T. H. Holding, and Mr. H.
Wilmer, all of the Royal Canoe Club ; Messrs.
Bartley and Livingstone, of the Mersey Canoe
Club; Mr. G. F. Holmes, of the Humber Yawl
Club ; and Mr. R. M. Richardson, of the Tyne
Club. The Association has been fortunate in re-
ceiving the approval of Rob Roy Macgregor,
who has been its Commodore from the com-

The first meet was held at Loch Lomond in
1888, the second on Lake Windermere in 1889.
Both of these were enjoyable gatherings, despite
the rainy weather which accompanied both
expeditions. The meet in 1890 was on Falmouth
Harbour, and was an unequivocal success in
every way.

We will add a few extracts from the B.C. A.
rules, and can cordially recommend every canoeist
to apply for membership to the Secretary at
i, Water Lane, Great Tower Street, London, E.G.

"This association shall be called 'The British
Canoe Association.' Its object shall be the
promotion of Cruises and Meets, whereby Canoe-
ists of the United Kingdom, irrespective of clubs,
may unite for the purpose of cruising and camp-

Camping Out. 53

ing ; furthermore, it aims to establish reasonable
tariffs for land and water transit of canoes, for
procuring concessions and permissions for the
navigation of Canals, Streams, and Lakes, and in
all possible ways to procure increased facilities
for cruising, camping, and exploration. Any
gentleman may become a member of this Associa-
tion whose application for membership has been
approved, and who has been duly proposed,
seconded, and elected by the Committee. The
officers of this Association shall be a Commodore,
Vice-Commodore, and Rear-Commodore, and a
Secretary-Treasurer, to be elected at the General
Annual Meeting."

Ladies are eligible for membership.



Oh Windermere ! Thy placid charms

I never can forget ;
Thy hills, thy rills, thy pleasant farms,

Thy everlasting wet !
Full many a rainy place I've seen,

In equinoctial clime ;
But there the rain came now and then,

Here it rains all the time !


The camp-site for 1889 was situated at Bee-
holm, at the Waterhead end of Lake Winder-
mere, on the opposite shore to the landing place
for Ambleside. The camping place was in a
very pretty spot, on ground sloping down to the
water, and well sheltered by lofty trees. The
shore consisted of sharp stones, therefore small
wooden piers were constructed in order to facili-
tate the landing from and the embarking in the
boats, and to afford a diving place for the morn-
ing swim. The water of the lake is so cold that,

Camping Out. 55

on rising in the early morning, it took some time
to determine whether it was not 'altogether too
chilly this morning for a bath/ or whether one
had not 'got a bit of a cold coming on,' or
whether a swim on an empty stomach was not a
bad thing in general, and this morning in par-
ticular. Now, when there was, in addition to the
anticipated shock, a painful limp over stones all
carefully arranged by a painstaking dispensation,
with the points up, while the cold water crept
slowly up one's shivering frame, the odds were
against the bath ; the result being that one went
about all day with that feeling of a cowardly
dereliction of duty, which seems to generally
haunt the Briton who has omitted his morning
dip. After the stages were constructed, this slow
wading into the element was unnecessary; it was
much less excusable to funk ; the pyjamas were
resolutely thrown off, a run down the plank
taken, and, although the water was always
"co-o-older than ever this morning, boys" ; still,
each boy felt he would be disgraced before his
conscience if he did not screw his courage to the
sticking place and take the plunge.

The Meet was fairly well attended ; several

56 Camping Out.

lady members lodged at Waterhead, or at Bee-
holm Farm ; two of these were brides, one being
on her honeymoon. There is always a funny
man in camp, so of course these poor creatures
were told that they had come to the camp in
the search for ' canoebial ' bliss.

The canoes were unloaded from the trains at
Lakeside, and, as the camp was at the other end
of the lake, it was necessary to sail or paddle
them thereto.

The farm at Beeholm supplied dairy produce ;
for other stores Ambleside was very convenient,
and, the Association having rented a big row-
boat, the camp attendant was able to bring stores,
letters, and whatever else was required, across
from the village to the camp.

The view from the camp was a lovely one, in-
cluding the Langdale Pikes and other hills ;
Waterhead, with Mr. Mclver's seat and landing
place ; and, further down the lake, Lowood, be-
loved of the newly wed.

Although there were one or two very fine days
during the fortnight, still on many of the days the
Lake District upheld its character for ' heavy wet.'
There was too much weather about, and the rain

Camping Out. 57

was " frequent and painful and free," as was the
language in which it was discussed, or merely
4 cussed.'

Fortunately, the very finest day of the meet
favoured the coaching expedition. A coach was
chartered for a drive to Keswick ; the previous
rain had laid the dust, and, the day being glori-
ously fine, the drive through much of the loveliest
part of the Lake District was thoroughly enjoyed.
It was a very pretty sight to see the fleet sailing
over to Waterhead to join the coach at the
Waterhead Hotel. The club flag was hoisted
behind the coach, and the language, of course,
was nautical. The driver never rightly under-
stood how to port or starboard his horses when
requested so to do, and it took some time to
induce him to stop by the command to 'cast
anchor.' It is very probable that he considered
us quite a new variety of lunatics ; for the long-
shore loafer, with his mouth full of nautical terms,
is not so common an object at the Lakes as at
the seaside. He was perhaps more accustomed
to discordant noise such as the din we succeeded
in making with his coach-horn ; for it is probable
that, by practising on this instrument in turns,

58 Camping Out.

and assisting it by a sixpenny trumpet, we estab-
lished a record in the district After an enjoyable
drive through lovely scenery, a luxurious meal
was provided at the Royal Oak at Keswick ;
after which the company strolled about the
neighbourhood ; many devoting their energies
to buying Keswick lead pencils with the names
of the purchaser, or of friends at home, stamped

Sing-songs were held in the camp on several
evenings, banjos and good voices being at com-
mand. There was a piano in the committee
marquee, and two concerts were carried out, to
one of which visitors from the neighbourhood
were invited ; a creditable vocal and instrumental
performance resulted, which earned the com-
mendation of the local press. After the concert,
one of the brides presented the little flags won
in the races which had been held ; for, although
racing is not regarded as a feature of these meets,
a few had been arranged and carried out.

Two evenings were enlivened by lantern-slide
exhibitions of canoeing cruises, held in the mar-

On one evening a convivial supper of the

Camping Out. 59

members and their friends was discussed at the
Waterhead Hotel ; after this the boats were
illuminated by Chinese lanterns, and were pad-
dled and sailed about the lake between the camp
and Ambleside. A very pretty effect was pro-
duced, and was witnessed by large numbers of
people from the neighbourhood. Processions in
line and in file were carried out, the evolutions
ending in a mass meeting in the centre of this
end of the lake, and here songs and choruses
took place, after which the lamplighted boaties
returned to camp.

At the annual meeting of the Association, Mr.
R. M. Richardson was elected Vice-Commodore ;
and various places for next year's meet were
discussed. After the meeting the members were
photographed in group for the new Year-Book.

When the time came for our pleasant camp to
break up, it was agreed that such gatherings
were the best way to spend one's holidays, and
with Black-eyed Susan we cried :

" We only part to meet again."



" A wet sheet and a flowing sea,

A wind that follows fast,
And fills the white and rustling sail,
And bends the gallant mast."


For the fourth inter-club meet, and the third
of the British Canoe Association, Falmouth was
selected by the votes of the constituency ; the
other places submitted for consideration by the
management having been Holland and Lough

A better choice than this magnificent harbour
could not have been made, and the meeting was
a success in every way.

The camp field was situated at Pencarrow
Point, on the outer harbour, about a mile and a
half from Falmouth town by water, and about the
same distance from Flushing by the road, from
which village there is a ferry across the inner

Camping Out. 6r

harbour to Falmouth. The postal address was
Mylor ; the camp being situated at the mouth of
Mylor Creek, and near the parish church. Stores
and other necessaries could readily be obtained
from Falmouth by road or water ; while a farm
close by supplied the campers with dairy and
farm produce. The camp was situated near the
shore station and recreation grounds of the train-
ing ship Ganges, and to the officers of this ship
the Association became much indebted for the
loan of water-breakers, forms, tables, etc., as well
as for their presence at some of the camp festivi-
ties, and, with their ladies, for their patronage of
the club concert. Several campers had the
advantage of inspecting the Ganges, and of at-
tending the Sunday services on that vessel.

The meet was favoured with beautiful weather.
Good breezes were the rule, and capital sailing
was possible every day, although towards the
end of the fortnight there was just a shade too
much weight in the wind for the smaller boats.

The Liverpool contingent and their boats
journeyed to Falmouth by water, being shipped
on board the Mary Hough, in the Trafalgar
Dock, on Saturday, July 26th. After a pleasant

62 Camping Out.

voyage Falmouth was reached early on the
Monday morning, the boats were slung over the
ship's side into the harbour, and sailed, rowed, or
paddled to the site of the camp ; extra stores,
gear, and luggage being transported on a ' quay
punt,' as a variety of sailing craft is called in this

On arriving in view of the camp, one of us
remembered having read in a guide-book that
the water of Falmouth Harbour is pleasantly
warm. He stated this as a fact to his com-
panions, so, although it was very early in the
morning, overboard some of us went. Possibly
the lively anticipation of something of the nature
of a hot bath caused the shock to be more felt
than would otherwise have been the case ; any-
way the writer had not reached the surface after
the plunge before he had thoroughly made up
his mind to slay the pretended friend whose
misrepresentations had induced the performance.
This individual's head was also above the surface,
and was also gasping for breath ; his evident
consternation assisted him to shift responsibility
on to the guide-book, but not until the dispute
had rendered us all pleasantly warm. The sea

Camping Out. 63

is not so tepid at Falmouth in summer as one
would expect from its geographical position.
Nevertheless, very few of the campers omitted
the morning swim. In the shallower waters of
the roadstead, slimy filaments of seaweed, many
yards long, are so abundant as to interfere with

the comfort and even the safety of the swim.
Near the camp shore, however, this weed was
fortunately less plentiful. For anyone who ob-
jected to wade down the pebbly beach, a good
dive could be got from the quay wall at Pencar-
row Point, or from the top of the house-boat
moored opposite the camp. One bright morning

Camping Out. 65

the writer took his hand-camera and photographed
some of the men in the air as they dived from
the quay.

It is not intended to give any detailed descrip-
tion of the doings at the camp, or of the scenery
of the neighbourhood ; but merely to refer shortly
to the more prominent occurrences.

On arrival at the camp it was found that the
London men had already pitched their tents ;
that the committee tent was up ; and the piano
hourly and anxiously expected. During the
first day we Mersey men pitched our tents, rigged
our boats, and got generally fitted up for a fort-
night's gipsy life.

The camp was prettily situated in a field facing
the Carrick Roads. In this enclosure there were
eventually over twenty tents erected, besides the
commodious committee marquee. A tall flag pole
was raised in the centre of the field, and from it
waved the Association's blue and white burgee.

Along the sea front of the field were ranged
the Mersey tents, nine in number. This was
dubbed Mersey Row, and, as the various tents
had fancy names on painted signs, communica-
tions could be addressed to Lilyshaven, Tavies-

66 Camping Out

holm, Wolfsden, or the Pocket - handkerchief
Mersey Row, B.C.A. Camp, Mylor.

At the top of the field, furthest from the shore,
were four prettily-decorated tents ; these were
the married quarters, although only one lady
actually slept in camp. In all there were 48
members present at the meet, including six of
the fair sex ; while there were over thirty boats
belonging to members. The open character of
the sailing ground probably accounted for the
large proportion of canoe yawls present, for of
these there were a dozen. In addition, there were
a yacht, a house-boat, and a rowing boat, the
remainder being canoes. Three men lived on
the house-boat, the crews of two of the yawls
slept on their boats, two or three men with
families slept in Falmouth or at the farm, the
others lived in the camp. Three of the canoes
were of the Canadian pattern, and weatherly
little boats they proved with their centre-boards
and drop-rudders.

The regatta of the Royal Cornwall Yacht Club
took place a day or two after our arrival, and the
Committee arranged a race for canoe yawls.
Seven of these craft started, and a very interest-

68 Camping Out.

ing race resulted. The writer sailed his new
canoe yawl the Tavie in this race, so will give
a short account of the affair from his point of
view. The Tavie is of the class called Mersey
Sailing Canoes she is 17 feet 6 inches long,
4 feet 7 inches beam, I foot 9 inches gunwale to
garboard, with a centre-board dropping i foot
6 inches ; she carried main and mizzen rig on this
occasion ; but for light winds she has a larger
mainsail, carries a jib, and discards the mizzen.
There was a strong breeze blowing into the har-
bour, and, while sailing about before the start,
our mainsail had been close-reefed. Having
noticed the Vital Spark, a larger boat with a
heavy lead keel, put her gunwale under in some
of the puffs, we at first only ventured to shake out
one reef. Relying, however, on our crew of three
heavy-weights, we shook out the reef just before
our first gun. While we were waiting for our start-
ing gun, the racing yachts came back into the
harbour for their first time round the course, the
renowned ' Thistle ' leading the fleet. She came
tearing into the harbour before the wind, and as
she rounded Pendennis Point her spinnaker was
handed, and a row of men along the weather

Camping Out. 69


gunwale tailed on to the mainsheet in a line, and
got into swing for running it in. A grand sight
she was as she cut round the Committee mark-
boat, bursting up a hissing wave from her bow
as she came on the wind, for her reach out to
sea on the final round. She formed a vision of
speed and beauty, and of smart yachtmanship,
we shall never forget While admiring her, and
keeping out of the way of her competitors, we
heard our first gun. The five minutes' interval
between the guns was filled with as much interest
and manoeuvring as if we had been all clipper
yachts. The Tavie got off with a good lead,
Vital Spark being second. It was first a long
and a short leg among the shipping in the inner
harbour, to a buoy moored opposite the Royal
Cornwall Yacht Club. Just after rounding this
the Tavie was passed by the Vital Spark and a
yawl with green sails ; on the reach out to the
Chequer-buoy these boats increased their lead,
while the Doris, Queenie, and Cacique closed up
on us. By the manner in which we heeled over
as we got into the open water and the breeze
outside the harbour, we began to funk the ap-
proaching gybe, and to be sorry we had taken

70 Camping Out.

out that last reef. The manner in which our
green-sailed rival gybed was anything but re-
assuring ; she lurched over, took in a lot of the
briny, and wobbled a moment or two, then came
on the wind, and fouled the buoy ; so her crew
dropped sail, bailed, and returned to the harbour.
A moment later our boom was over, and we were
tearing along before the wind for the training
ship Ganges, with the Vital Spark a-head, and
the Doris and Queenie alongside. And now be-
fore the seas we rolled badly, our boom lifting
and occasionally dipping in the waves ; so we
made bad weather of it, and got to leeward of
Doris and Queenie, the former being also a-head
of us. By putting the boat-hook on the boom,
and seating two of the crew on it, we steadied
ourselves ; and, sailing by the lee, we managed to
be second round the Ganges. From thence to
the flag-ship it was a dead beat to windward,

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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 3 of 5)