A Past Paddle Review (28 March 2019)

Another week of not paddling and another conundrum was what to add in this week’s newsletter with no paddling stories to share. Easy-peasy, I wonder what our paddle was like on this date last year ….! Nice plan, the nearest date that I could find was 28 March 2019. Doesn’t time fly:

Bank Holiday and sunny weather, that didn’t seem right as it usually rains, but as it happens the stars aligned and it was not only the most beautiful of weather the tide was low and flowing out to the sea. What better conditions to greet our club members and guests then a gentle paddle with the tide in both directions, destination Putney.

Our coaches for the session were Sarah, Dean, Andy and Steve so we were able to take out 25 people some who had never paddled before!
For our experienced paddlers as they say it was nothing, but for our first timers it was a very tough paddle. That raising your arms with a paddle in your hands became somewhat challenging which it is, for even the fittest.
We stayed as a group or rather several pods making progress to Putney, we did stop under Hammersmith Bridge to see if we could view what had broken, but could see no signs of damage. Apparently Hammersmith Bridge is now closed for vehicle access and is now only suitable for pedestrians to cross. The rumour mill says over enthusiastic boat race viewers broke it and there isn’t anything in the budget to fix it. So the dear old Grade 2 listed bridge lies idle for the moment.

On arrival at Putney we had a brief lesson on how to cross the river and which arch to take. Its the lit one, so with Sarah leading that’s the arch we passed through before heading to the shore and the welcoming arms of out preferred rehydration station The Rocket pub. In the heat it was a very welcome stop off point.

Just prior to everyone getting off, Coach Dean spotted a rather large length of iron protruding from the water’s surface. In true Jim all fix it fashion out came a carabiner and a length of rope and having fastened it Dean headed for shore. Several tugs on the rope and what looked like a boats ruining strip of metal complete with nails was pulled ashore. Its really dangerous to have such an item sticking out from the bottom of the river so well done Dean for removing it.

On our return trip the group were given free reign to paddle back to the Hammersmith Bridge where they were told to wait. This was because beyond the bridge the river turns to the left and there is a tendency to be pushed over towards Dove Pier, which is fine accept when you don’t have the knowledge or the skill to realise what is happening. As it says in the coaching manual pre-empt the danger.

With that potential hazard overcome, our groups headed out to our launch pontoon. Our normal procedure for the club’s experienced paddlers is to go straight to the pontoon, however this causes a few issues with our beginners, as we haven’t taught them how to stop, nor how to ferry glide, there could be a long list here, so what we do is stack our beginners in a very friendly eddy opposite the pontoon and instruct them how to cross the river with the skills they have. Simple!

Everyone made it, there were a few wobbles, but everyone remained dry which was the best option. With everyone off the water, it was time to put the kit away so we could each head off to enjoy the rest of the bank holiday weekend.

Who would have thought it was a year ago that Hammersmith Bridge Broke and still isn’t fixed.
Last year we could paddle freely. This year not so.
Lets look forwards to meeting up again for a celebration paddle.
Hope you are all keeping fit with your daily exercise?