A Canoe Teaching Session on a low tide at Chiswick Pier

The lesson plan was to teach poling, however when the flow is right as it was on this day then a quick practice of S turns on the wave. We followed this up with canoe poling and then how to sharpen our turns. It was then a quite paddle and a bit of larking about and then a sail back to the pontoon.

With a low tide at the get on for the club’s Sunday paddle, it was time to take a limited risk. I had hoped to go straight into teaching poling, but an opportunity presented itself to practice S turns crossing the wave. This is an advanced paddling technique.

It requires crossing the river flow on one edge and ending up across the river on the opposite boat edge. Easy in a kayak, but a little more complicated in a canoe. I demonstrated couple of times and MJ gave it a try. Not good, obviously I hadn’t explained it well enough. Piers was with us and attempted the move using a pole which is an incredibly difficult manoeuvre.

We didn’t have a lot of time to take advantage of the water conditions. We each did managed a couple of  attempts each before the flow reduced to nothing and we had to move on to something else.

This concept of edging is an advanced boat control exercise with practical implementation. Changing the boat edge and use the power of the water on the appropriate boat edge to sail the boat across and then edged the opposite way to turn the boat in the water. If viewed from above you scribe out the letter ess.

We moved on to poling. Standing tall in the boat and using the pole like a tight rope walker to maintain your balance. We started with the full pool length, but moved to a shortened pole to improve pole placement in the water. A whole series of exercises ensued culminating using the full length pole but in the sitting position. It was important to know where to place the pole to generate the power.

At a certain point mental fatigue occurs so a short break beside the Chiswick Eyot and we were off again. This time it was how do I shorten our  turning circle?

We started by using the preferred paddling side and considered with external support how far over you could learn the boat? It turned out much further than was comfortable, so we proceeded to lean it a little further. With forward paddle strokes the object of the exercise was achieved. A much smaller turning circle and with the boat’s wash protesting how sharp a turn it was. A quick look over your shoulder at the end see view the shape you have painted on the water.

We repeated this a few times until it seemed less uncomfortable.

We then approached the holy grail of strokes doing the same stroke, but on the opposite side. It went surprisingly well, but the sense of achievement was immense. So we repeated again to drill it in, not to be afraid to try. Well Done MJ real progress in you canoeing skills,

Enough teaching for the session, so we poled, or paddled to Hammersmith Bridge, where hydration occurred. Piers and I were quickly joined by Julius and Liz, the later in her lovely new boat. They had been part of the main club group and having paddled to Kew Bridge had  now paddled back to join us on the river bank. Very shortly Julies and Michelle came powering towards us in the correct  lane for the tide in their sea kayaks. We waived to each other but being on the opposite side of the river they carried on, we had assumed they were Putney bound.

At some stage Jules and Michelle decided to turn around and joined us on the foreshore beside Hammersmith Bridge. Each told us they had been to Kew Bridge and seen the seal there. Michelle and Julies had a planned swim in the Thames as it was really hot and the tide was almost at low water.

Whilst the group chatted to each other I took a trip across the river and back trying not to loose height on the water. On the way back I tried to wash hang the green safety buoy, but as I got nearer it continuous moved, so I gave up on that. I headed back to the group and then crossed the river a couple of more times and noted there was more wind on the Surrey bank and there was a lot of flood tide coming through the bridge,

Time to hoist a sail and head back. So putting the sailing kit together and noting the group had started to head back. I with the advantage of the stronger wind on the Surrey Bank I took a very gentle sailing trip back to the pier house. At one stage I thought of turning around sailing back to where the main group where, but decided against it and got off the water.

Piers Discovered the sail he had was faulty so no sailing for him and how MJ got on I don’t know as I was on the other side of the river.

From a coaching point of view probably one of the better session I have taught for a very long time. More importantly my student (MJ)  for the moment seemed to gain a new skill or rather extend her existing knowledge. Well Done MJ.

Sorry no pictures to busy coaching.