Ode to a J Stroke or another open boating session by Coach Steve

I had been told I was teaching two people to paddle a canoe, however there was a problem. I had a need of four canoes and the FSRT people needed another two and the club only had five.

Solution stall the start time of MJ one of my open boat paddlers and handily one of the students needed to leave early. In the end it all worked out and we had enough kit for everyone to enjoy the day.

It was a beautiful low tide making for a very easy tide to practice on. Low water was at 1:30 ish so we had plenty of time to practice open boating. After a brief explanation of what a J stroke is and a practice on the pontoon, it was time to get in the boats. With a brief explanation of sitting to one side of the boat thus making the paddle nearer to the water.  It was a shaky start to the paddle. Hopefully all those kayaking strokes would suddenly start to make sense, as they are the same in an open boat.

There are of course a couple of strokes  that you would never use in a kayak as there are better solutions.

We paddled back and forth trying to develop a decent J stroke. We worked on turning, stokes, moving sideways strokes and reverse sideways strokes. We continued like this with one lady returned to shore early allowing MJ to come out (now one of the boats was free) and join us paddling just locally.

We continued with the practice , but now with only one canoeist Heather. We had strayed further downstream than intended, so a quick vee assist helped Heather get back to the pontoon. Tough going through the moored vessels as the tide had turned. Once through the moored boats, Glenn’s FSRT course could be seen in the distance. As Heather had an interest ( Heather is taking the course in two weeks time). With MJ hugging the sea wall and me providing the Vee assist we made it to Chiswick Mall where Glenn was teaching FSRT.

We stayed and watched for a little while, not disturbing Glenn’s course. With sufficient knowledge gained, we headed back to the pontoon.

Heather found paddling back with the current was much easier for her J stroke to work. It was then a simple ferry glide across to the floating pontoon, which with a little instruction Heather perform perfectly.

A bit of chaos at the get off, juggling five canoes whist two groups of kayaks all arriving at the same time, made for a congested area.

One thing to laugh about was I grabbed a canoe, by what I thought was hand hold, which promptly came away in my hand. It left the canoe to float unaided in the river. it was quickly spotted by Coach Dean who was walking by, coach Andy (in his kayak) was on it in a flash and recovered the loose open canoe.

Yet another complication was wanted to leave a boat on the pontoon for modification by our Mr Fixit Julius and as we had also received a communication from the Pier Trust that the boat owners were having trouble getting into their boats. We had to find an immediate storage solution storage solution.

I tied an open on its side on the floating pontoon. All locked away, let’s see if this solves the pier trust problem……we try. It will probably be to the detriment of the boat, but it’s an immediate solution, which was what was required.

With lots going on, it makes for an exciting Sunday paddle.

Let’s see what happens next week.