Paddles and pedals

It’s the time of year again when I blog about Beale Park Boat show – that sunny weekend of catching up with all that is eccentric and quirky in the sailing world; where Wharram catamarans, coracles and electric canoes share a lake with miniature schooners, steamboats and a one-man home made submarine.  Everything was in place this time,  including opera singers performing on an anchored cruiser in front of the beer tent – but the traditional sunshine failed to show up. It rained so heavily that it was hard to tell where the lake ended and the showground began, and gazebo-crunching gale force winds added to the misery on the first day and night.

So the first day was a wash out, but on the Saturday out came sunshine and steel band and the show came to life again. My own pick of the show goes to this ingenious and slightly bonkers canoe/bicycle ensemble, designed and built by the rather clever and not at all bonkers Simon Cooper.

Simon is very knowledgeable about sustainability and natural materials. The canoe is made out of linen and wood, hardened with a natural, chemical free flax resin.  It is light enough to be fast and easy to handle, but robust enough to take the bicycle on board once the front wheel is removed and the whole bike stowed in the stern.  There are also special slots for the two trailer wheels so that you can pedal, then paddle wherever you like.  Simple, but brilliant. Simon told me that pedalling down the high street with a canoe towing astern is a real head turner – but very useful in areas of flood warning!

Simon’s canoe is taking its longest journey next year when cyclist/adventurer Alistair Cope pedals and paddles his way from Thurso to the Lizard.  The tour aims to promote sustainable activities and materials as well as fund raising for charity – more about this on   If you want to find out more about Simon’s many and varied boaty and sustainable projects, have a look at

Looking at Simon’s displays at the boat show, from cookery demonstrations to coracle making, I remembered a piece of artwork he commissioned from me a couple of years ago – nice to see it in use!

I always learn something new at Beale Park; this time I discovered a few new skills for camping without a tent.  One:  make sure you have a friend with an estate car – preferably one of those old fashioned Volvos which now cost more to fill with petrol than they do to buy.  With the seats flat there’s exactly the right amount of space to put an airbed and sleeping bag.  Two: Make sure you have another friend with a spare bit of tent space you can stand up in. This is essential for getting dressed and undressed, as the Volvo only has space lying down.  Trying to put trousers on whilst  wriggling on an air bed in the back of a car in full view of assembled campers is not something I’d care to repeat.  And because of the unhelpful weather I also learnt the trick of swinging legs out of sleeping bag, opening car door with feet straight into wellies and oilskin trousers before stumbling across the field for that early morning visit….. my, don’t I know how to live! Roll on summer.

2 thoughts on “Paddles and pedals”

  1. Rik Homan says:

    Dear Claudia,
    The same time you were in Beale park in the rain, I was sailing the East coast race in Brightlingsea. From the gossip I heared that you live now on a boat moored in Melton. Shame that I did not know when I sailed up to Woodbridge the week before!
    Hope to meet you again anoher time when I sail in England, Holland or Brittanny.
    Best regards
    Rik homan

  2. Claudia says:

    Hello Rik, how lovely to hear from you – hope all is well and that our paths cross somewhere on the water this summer!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



◄ Back to blog home