The Florios’ Canoe Training – for our West Africa River Gambia Expedition

She’s ready to roll…into the Wey Navigation, Surrey – ‘811 16.5′ Ally Folding Canoe’ by Bergans of Norway. Image © Jason Florio

Sunday 9th September 2012:

Betwixt all the full-on River Gambia Expedition pre-planning we also have to squeeze in some time on the water, with our ‘811 16.5′ Ally Canoe’ (one of two that we need – we are still working on the funding to get the 2nd ‘An Exchange’). However, this also happens to be the fun part too – something we really do enjoy. Which is rather a good thing, considering we may well be paddling for over 1000km when we get down to West Africa!

Helen takes the bow – The Wey Navigation, Surrey © Jason Florio

We got up early yesterday, packed up sandwiches, fruit and a flask of coffee, strapped our 16.5′ canoe onto the top of the truck, and set off for the Wey Navigation – our main practice playground (when we’re not hanging out with the Surrey Canoe Club gang, or it’s trainers, on the River Thames). We headed for Pyrford Lock to get the Ally into the water – opposite one of our favourite watering holes on the Wey, The Anchor.

‘Keradorong’ on the Wey Navigation

As we paddled along, we had one of those wonderful, serendipitous, moments when we spotted the name of the above long boat. Although the spelling is different (and surely has a totally different meaning), there is a word in the West African Mandinka language, ‘Kaira dorong’ – meaning ‘I am in peace/peace be with you’ – and this is the what we both thought, instantly, in seeing the word, painted on the side of the boat. It then got us musing over what we should call our canoes. Perhaps one of them should be ‘Kaira dorong’…

Florio. Post-Portage. Image © Helen Jones-Florio

Click of the Fujifilm XP GPS (thanks Fulifilm for the support!) to get our co-ordinates © Jason Florio

There was a fair amount of traffic on the Wey yesterday – the weather was glorious so how could there fail to be – but, most of the time, we still felt as if we had the river blissfully to ourselves.

Bridges and Reflections – The Wey Navigation, Surrey. Image © Helen Jones-Florio

We had to portage the canoe through a number of locks, en route – including one where we had to dodge the traffic, across a very busy main road, with the 16.5′ canoe propped on our shoulders!

However, we came to one lock just as a long boat was waiting to pass through. So, instead of portaging, this time we went through with the long boat – hanging onto the the side of it as the water level dropped. Our first lock (see ‘Wobbly Productions’ footage following)

Helen – waiting for the next long boat to come through – this time we’re doing the lock! Image © Jason Florio

click on image to watch

According to our GPS (thanks to Fujifilm for the XP GPS Digital Camera), we’ve made 9km’s – paddling from Pyrford Lock and its time for a coffee break and to catch up with whats going on in the rest of the world. A lazy hour, lounging in the sunshine, reading the Sunday papers, before heading back towards where we set off a few hours earlier.

Time for a coffee break and to read the Sunday papers. Image © Helen Jones-Florio

And we were joined by a curious little, four-legged, miniature something or other (more interested in our sandwiches then us, if the truth be known). If we cut a puppy-dog head-sized hole in the side of our Overboard Waist Pack, we’d could make a fortune back home in Greenwich Village, NYC – selling these as doggy carrying bags!

A perfect fit for H’s Overboard Waist Pack! Image © Helen Jones-Florio

Serenity and the Wey Navigation, Surrey. Image © Jason Florio

Time to head home and get in a little product placement whilst we are at it. Big thanks to Overboard – ‘the leaders in waterproof bags and cases’ for their very generous support for the River Gambia Expedition. We are now totally stocked up on waterproof bags for the journey.

H models her Overboard Waist Pack. Image © Jason Florio

A perfect end to a perfect day. Image © Helen Jones-Florio

A grand day was had…indeed. Cheers!

The Florios

To find out how you can support the River Gambia Expedition and get one of Jason Florio’s limited edition fine art prints in ‘An Exchange’, click on the image below:

Click image to view


About River Gambia Expedition 2012

Jason Florio, FRGS: award-winning photojournalist. Helen Jones-Florio: expedition & photography producer. 2009: The couple co-led the West Africa expedition 'A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush - a 930km African odyssey' - the first circumnavigation of the small West African country, by foot, with two donkeys and a cart. Resulting in the award-winning series of portraits of Gambian village chiefs (Alkalo's) (under 'Projects') 2012-13: The couple co-led their second West Africa expedition - 'River Gambia Expedition - 1000km source-sea Africa odyssey' over-landing for 400km and canoeing the River Gambia for 720km
This entry was posted in Adventure, Carbon footprint, Culture, Documentary, Environmental, Expedition, Fundraising, Guinea, photography, Photojournalism, Portraits, River Gambia, Senegal, Sponsorship, The Gambia, tradition, Travel, Vimeo, West Africa and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Florios’ Canoe Training – for our West Africa River Gambia Expedition

  1. Pingback: The Florios’ Canoe Training – for our West Africa River Gambia Expedition | Home Far Away From Home

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