Canoe Sailing Lesson- with Coach Steve

It’s late September and still lovely and warm for an autumnal paddle with CPCC

So a typical Sunday morning with coaches arriving to take our lovely paddlers out on to the water. There were three groups Coach Leon led the first kayak group with Coach Dean in a canoe as backup. The second group of kayakers was led by Coach Michelle with back up from Liz. The third group was led by Coach Steve, the open canoe group.

It was a split tide day with low water scheduled for approx 13:30, so it was each coach’s decision which direction their group paddled in. Each of the kayak groups headed off towards Chiswick Bridge whilst Coach Steve’s group headed towards Hammersmith Bridge, he had a different plan.

There was a nice breeze blowing and a low tide as we set out. Coach Steve’s group consisting only of MJ had the option of either poling or sailing. MJ chose sailing, so that’s what we did.

Heading out against the tide which was an easy paddle. We headed towards the far end of the eyot. We didn’t go further as there was obviously a sailing race about to head out as they had already laid out their course. It was my intention to teach some sailing in a controlled area. Simply crisscrossing the river and trying not to be blown down the river downstream.

This required a little technical skill and a specific positioning of the canoe paddle, to hold the canoe against the pressure of the water, i.e.create a temporary dagger board. I traversed the river back and forth, however MJ was slipping with the tide nearer and nearer to the pontoon area. When practicing this technique it is beneficial not to have any obstacles which we needed to mindful of. At the same time I didn’t want to travel too far downstream as I knew we would have to paddle back. Not to bad before the tide turned, but hard work after low water.

At approximately 1:30 the river was at low water and knowing it was a relatively big tide I had wanted to remain upstream of the pier to make an easy return when we were ready. We picked up Julius in his kayak launching from the pontoon and decided to head against the incoming tide towards the Chiswick Eyot again with a view to crisscrossing the river under sail. It was nice to chat with Julius prior to him leaving us to head to Richmond.

For MJ and I It didn’t work out like that. We stopped beside the Eyot chatting with Julius. The tide as it was picking up speed forced us back to the end of the Eyot. I sailed out across the river, with a mind of crisscrossing the river again. MJ had something else in mind and headed down river towards Barnes Railway Bridge. MJ thankfully didn’t get far but had still travelled far enough, so I knew that paddling back against the tide would be tough. I headed after her.

I pulled my sail down and saw Young Michelle’s group returning from their trip. MJ had pulled her sail down as well but was at the far end of Michelle’s group. An easy paddle down, but a tough one on the way back.

It was thus a straightforward yet tough paddle back to the club house against the over 6m flooding tide. We hugged the Middlesex bank keeping as much out of the tideway as possible. Staying on that line we paddled up to the rear of Cecilia which gave us good protection. However we knew we would have to head into the full force of the tideway between the historic boats.  It was at this point MJ understood why I hadn’t wanted to be this side of the pontoon. It was a particularly tough paddle, which we just about made.

It was a quick rest in the eddy opposite the pontoon. Ferry gliding across to the pontoon, was straightforward but a little more tricky if you paddle on just one side.

After getting out of my boat with the assistance of one of the guys from Coach Michelle’s group. I took a throw bag out of my kit for that just in case moment, also MJ was the only one on the water. In the end it wasn’t needed, MJ made it across and it was easier for me to drag her in her boat ashore.

With the boats on the pontoon, it took both MJ and Coach Michelle to help me put the boats away. So ended another great days paddle on the river Thames.

Maybe see you there for more paddling adventures.