Finally, the RZ85 meets the Usk

Some time ago I noted our dismal failure to get a Pouch RZ85 collapsible canoe from the shed into the foaming surf. Well with Naomi, Hel and Robin away, and a long weekend to fill, Lois and I had another go.

Lessons learned, it was much easier this time, though still pretty tricky and some bits seemed warped with age (know the feeling). We looked at photos of other assembled RZ85s on the internet to work out how the gunwale bits went together (not easily!), and had to make do without a couple of nuts. Here’s the finished article, after about an hour of building:

RZ85 correctly assembled at last

Now there’s not much water in our garden, so the next step was to lug the thing to the river at the Prom, where Lois assured me there was a purpose-built entry ramp for canoes. The thing felt quite manageable for the first thirty feet or so, but then became surprisingly heavy and awkward, so lots of rests were called for. Tim Cronin zoomed past on a mountain bike, one eyebrow distinctly raised, while we contemplated crossing the road.

We made it to the Prom, chucked the thing in the river, and watched intently to see whether water came pouring in. It didn’t. Then we put a Lois into it, and I watched for a while longer – still no water, so I added my substantial self, and since all seemed well we paddled off upstream.

We only had one and a half double paddles, as one had a split thingie, so Lois took the half, being more used to Canadian canoeing.

Lois in the RZ85 with half a paddle

We went as far as Forest Beach the first time, and chickened out at the rough water and barely-submerged rocks, as Lois thought it wouldn’t be nearly as much fun if we made a hole in the bottom hull.

RZ85 on the Usk

RZ85 on the Usk

We’d also noticed that some bits of the frame weren’t as correctly assembled as we had thought, which we couldn’t fix from the inside. So we hurtled back to the Prom (the thing is really quite nippy with two people paddling, and this was downstream), got it onto the bank, and pummelled it into submission. Then back into the river for a tour of the weir and back up to Forest Beach, where this time we braved the rapids and made it through, only to be truly defeated by major obstacles a bit further up. Must try again when the water is higher.

Anyway here we are back again at the Prom, eagerly looking forward to the uphill lugging back home. We need a trolley!

RZ85 at the Brecon Promenade

It was a fun expedition, but the logistics of the unpacking, construction, moving and vice versa are a chore, so I’m not sure how much use it will get in Brecon. It wants a camping holiday by a lake, with lots of other things to do for the people who aren’t in the canoe.

Notes about the Pouch RZ85

Some history of Pouch

And a truly amazing steam-powered version