Continuing on from last week’s update. We are still experimenting with one to one paddling, however the major frustration are the Pier House restrictions.
Whilst the toilets and changing rooms still remain under lockdown and only two people allowed on the pontoon at anyone time we cannot operate fully at this time .
Our chair ( Sarah Deeks ) has been active in promoting our cause, but as I write this there is still no sign of a change.
It’s not as we would like it, but I think you would agree we are in extraordinary times and like all clubs we are trying to find ways to make it work. British Canoeing are enquiring progress of the government with regard to our sport. From the 1st June, we can have up to six people together in the ratio of 1 coach to five club members, but they must be 2 metre apart and with the toilets closed at present it scuppers our hopes of opening up the club in the short term.
Things have improved with the PLA agreeing to open the river for paddling as have the Environmental Agency, hence we have already run some experimental sessions.
Think positively, things are improving.
Best wishes and keep safe and well
News from Our Experimental Paddles
I am almost embarrassed to write this as I know so many of you will say that could have been me, but we continue to run experimental sessions. Literally to find out what is possible and what isn’t.
I can tell you the joys of paddling without looking over my shoulder to keep an eye open for rowers has been a joy. Also as there is little other river traffic there isn’t any ambient noise so you can hear the paddle swishing through the water, birds singing from the trees and another delight is little or no aircraft traffic.
What it has gained in tranquillity we have noticed an increased in inflatable kayaks, river swimmers with leg floats and stand-up paddle boards, of course most have no idea of the local navigation rules, but with few motorised launches plying the river its a very relaxed attitude out there.
Experimental Paddle No 5
This is an example of an easy paddle that did work out and is an example of why we (the coaches) carry as much equipment out as we do when we go paddling.
Social distancing is still a problem both at the garage and on the pontoon. I note some club’s are offering timed slots to allow more people out than one to one paddlers. On our water, the River Thames, we know can be both benign and a beast. As a club we maximise our coach presents at the start and finish of a paddle. There are various other risk points, but these warrant the higher degree of coaches who can deal with problems.
A quite Sunday paddle the river Thames. Another complicated start which emphasises again why we as a club can’t operate as yet.
I arrived at the club house and a few minutes later so did Young Adel, who had come for a paddle with a Elaine. No problem 1:1 paddling easy. Next Ash arrived with Emma quickly followed by Julius. Ash not being a club member is free to undertake his own risk assessment and as such isn’t part of CPCC.
At the same time Young Liz appeared wanting to take out a boat. Again no problem club member and part of a group and effectively another coach. Liz social distanced herself and when the pontoon area was free waited on the water for myself (coach Steve).
Coach Elaine and Adel were long gone before I had entered the water, we did meet them on the way back whilst we were still on our way out.
First major problem which canoes would Julius, MJ and myself take? There are only three canoes with sailing thwarts, one corelite 15, Julius took that one, the Novacraft and the prospector 16. MJ went in the Novacraft as it had a kneeling thwart and Steve took the prospector without a kneeling thwart.
It was an easy tide on the ebb, so I was expecting To head towards Hammersmith Bridge, but MJ headed off towards Chiswick so the pattern was set for the day. The breeze was very light and very variable in direction, so idea for practicing sailing.
Ash had set off and quickly over took my group, who were by now spread all over the river. Ash and Emma headed off with Julius following using a sail and paddle technique. Julius quickly disappeared into the distance whilst I tried to help MJ master the art of sailing in light winds.
I found out much later that Julius joined Ash and they made it all the way to Richmond. I met a very tired looking group whilst putting MJ’s and Liz’s and my boat’s away. I am grateful for MJ in assisting as I don’t believe I would have the energy to do it alone. I have to say I was exhausted and apart from helping to haul Julius’s boat onto the pontoon, I left for the drive home.
The sail was problematic to say the least. MJ simply made very slow progress, not really getting to grips with sailing. I in a very unfamiliar boat, wasn’t a very happy bunny, but stuck with it. We made such slow progress that Liz must have thought we were having a laugh. In the end I sent Liz off to paddle to Barnes Bridge and back just so she could have something of a paddle.
On we sailed, until inspired but the thought of food MJ started to make progress and we moored up outside the white hart beside Barnes Bridge. With MJ dispatched to pick up vitals. I thought great I can have a quick down wind sail and then work my way back. Here comes the embarrassing bit. I couldn’t turn the boat into the wind and try as I might using edging backwards paddling, changing the ballast in the boat I couldn’t get the boat to turn through the wind. This present a problem as I had intended to return back to MJ, but at that moment I couldn’t!
After several attempts which only resulted in crossing the river I realised the problem wasn’t my technique but was my position in the boat. I had to kneel in the very centre of the boat to gain control of the front end. I am annoyed with my self for not working it out sooner, but as they say familiarity breeds contempt.
MJ had managed to find someone to launch her boat and she sailed down to near where I was moored on the beach. MJ supplied a very nice salad and we discussed what to do next. As we had come to sail, I thought what the heck, let’s sail on down to Chiswick Bridge. It’s down wind sailing, so butterfly the sail hold the sheet and away you go.
I started to followed but getting out from where I was moored meant dealing with a few rocks, so I was some way behind before setting off after MJ. MJ had a real hoot properly sailing and was now very upbeat about the concept of sailing. Arriving at Chiswick Bridge I decided this was far enough, so we turned around and started to paddle back. Unfortunately as we had taken so long to get there the tide had now turned and not only did we have the tide but the wind in that section against us along this specific section..
MJ tried to turn the boat but couldn’t make any progress. I was in an unfamiliar boat, which now required me to kneel (no kneeling thwart) which I didn’t fancy at all. So what do you do?
My solution was to line the boats back to Barnes Bridge. Not an easy solution but one that I knew would work. Having set up a simple lining system, I attached the second boat to it. Mistake – I’ve never tried to do this two boats before – the inner boat caught on the rocks on the shoreline. Decisions had to be made quickly so a revised rig was improvised with MJ’s boat now on the outside of the pair and with two boats their associated kit we walked the river bank from Chiswick Bridge to Barnes Bridge.
Once through Barnes Bridge it was simply get back in the boats and paddle back to the pontoon. MJ wanted to do a vee assist (she paddle on the left and I on the right. Having pulled the boats my right arm was a tad sore, so I decided this just won’t work. So we simply paddle on.
Once back at the pontoon it was simply a case of putting the boats back in their rack positions on the pontoon. MJ helped positioning and tieing as I was super exhausted. We put Liz’s boat back in the rack, out kit away and we were good to go.
MJ left to go eat her diner, whilst I finished tidying. I was just about leave and Ash’s team arrived back. They all looked exhausted and were paddling with the two canoes pencil rigged together. They had had an amazing day sailing all the way to Richmond where they had fish and chips. It had been a tough paddle back against the tide for them to.
Having said my goodbyes, I signed the boats as being back from their trip out and headed home.
Coach Elaine’s Paddle
Elaine had invited Adel to come paddle, from what I can understand from a chance meeting beside the river?
You’ll know this was on Sunday, as I mention in my experimental paddle No 5, I met them at the pier house.
I didn’t see them launch as with Ash’s group their would have been too many people on the pontoon at the one time. Suffice it to say they launched safely and in fact MJ and I met them on their return leg. We still hadn’t made it to Barnes Bridge by then!
Elaine reported a lovely tip to Kew against the tide. Much fun was has playing the gusty winds and the wash thrown out by the occasional speedy launch.
Of course Elaine logged her boats in and out and wiped all surfaces used with an appropriate virus killing fluid.
Elaine managed to take some more pictures, the others are supplied by Adel, so thank you for adding some variety to our club blog.
Ash’s Group headed off to Richmond. Having made it, apparently Julius sailed all the way there, not bad for a beginner sailor. They suffered a bit on the way back having to paddle against both the wind and the tide.
Coach John’s Paddle Titled Picnic at Tower Bridge
John has posted his latest trip into Central London whilst the rivers aren’t busy. Bumped into Sarah/Michelle/ Evie on way back. A mud larker turned out to be an old friend.There was nobody going but on way back around Chiswick it was Piccadilly Circus…Inflatables zig zagging all over..There must be somebody selling them around Barnes Bridge…Must have been about 10-15 The RNLI will have their hands full in gale.Those scullers must finally appreciate how considerate we are to them at CPCC! Bit of a slog to come back as little tidal help.John always cleans his boats used with at least 70% alcohol just to be safe and signs his boats in and out.
John is very pro wearing gloves or using antiseptic wipes where appropriate as we all should be.
Hope the Beefeaters didn’t ask you to move on?
Latest Covid news: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public
We hope you are enjoying our experimental paddles and we will continue to paddle safely when we can.
That’s all for this week’s newsletter. Next week we may have more news about what is possible and what isn’t! As I said at the beginning, we are running some experimental sessions, however it is unlikely that anything like normal paddling will return before the pier house is reopened, even then it will be subject to the changing conditions.
Stay safe and keep well