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Kayaking the Thames

By Steve Fagin

Publication: The Day

Published July 18. 2010 4:00AM   Updated July 18. 2010 7:31AM
Side trips into two coves while headed toward the bridge

What is the recommended procedure for aiding a fellow kayaker who has flipped over?

A) Paddle perpendicular to his vessel and help him re-enter the overturned boat after pumping it out.

B) Make sure his personal flotation device is properly secured and paddle alongside him while he swims safely to shore, towing his boat if necessary.

C) Threaten to club him with your paddle if he jeopardizes your own stability by trying to use your upright kayak as a buoy.

If you answered "C," you're in good company, and I admit I may have appeared callous when my buddy Ian Frenkel dumped in the Thames River not long ago while fooling around with a fancy sculling maneuver, but hey, I had a digital camera and voice recorder on board, and I was on a mission.

My job was to take pictures and record audio for this series. And today, thanks to my zealously protective maneuvers, you can see the second part of an audio slideshow of my kayak journey by going to www.theday.com/thamesriver.

The first slideshow covered my start in downtown Norwich as far as the Preston/Ledyard border. This one goes from Gales Ferry to the Gold Star Memorial Bridge.

I especially enjoyed chatting with people along shore in Long Cove in Ledyard, and paddling all the way up Smith Cove in Quaker Hill to Hunt's Brook. I sat there for several minutes, shaded by overhanging branches and listening to birds chirping.

It also was interesting to paddle past the U.S. Naval Submarine Base in Groton, escorted about 50 yards away by a patrol boat with a heavily armed crew keeping a wary eye on us.

In a few weeks, in the final slideshow, you'll see the rest of the river, from the Gold Star Bridge to the mouth of the Thames.

Once again I am indebted to my friends who came along for the ride, Ian Frenkel of Old Saybrook and Betsy and Bob Graham of Ledyard - especially Betsy, who took some photographs.

The Thames is one of the most diverse rivers I've paddled, with its mix of industrial/commercial/residential development and pristine sections. I was happy to see more kayaks out on this leg of the trip. I hope this trend continues.

Just don't run into a nuclear submarine, or try to show off a sculling maneuver - especially if you're accompanied by someone determined to keep his digital camera dry.

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