Five Open Boats Paddle the Mighty River Thames

Canoe Session at Chiswick Pier Canoe Club

Date 8 May 2022

Five open boats paddle the mighty Rover Thames at Chiswick with Coach Steve

A great day on the water with all the club’s open canoes in operation.

Now this wouldn’t have been possible without our club’s kit man (Julius):and his efforts to kit them each out with kneeling thwarts.

We had two people completely new to paddle these canoes, one who hadn’t paddled one for over a year and a newly qualified coach and of course Coach Steve.

The day was helped by excellent sunny weather, so the sun screen was slapped on by all. There was a bit of pause before we started whilst everyone was kitted out with buoyancy aids and paddles. As per the Chiswick Pier way there was much faffing, this time for a reason. Coach Steve wanted the river level to drop and thus the flow speed reduce before we even attempted to get on the water.

First issue of the day was getting five canoes down onto the water ready for use took further time. Where demonstrations of how to perform a J stroke were performed on the edge of the club’s floating pontoon was performed. The J stroke is a power stroke flowed by a stern rudder. The tricky bit is rotating the forearm so the thumb points downwards at the end of the stroke. Easy when you know but tough on the forearm when you aren’t used to it. The final part of the puzzle of paddling forwards in a straight line was to kneel to one side of the boat.

With those instructions each of the group headed off into the by now very diminished tide race.

Everyone was instructed the area to paddle within which was beside the floating pontoon. In one direction it was easy (float with the tide) coming back presented a little problem. It’s trickier then you think, whist in a kayak you can compensate by using both ends of the paddle shaft whilst here they only had one blade in the water.

Back and forth they each paddled getting to grips with their craft. Both kneeling and sitting to one side they each found challenging, but the longer they paddled the better it became. Learning to keep the paddle in the water at the end of the stroke also meant they had to use their core strength to maintain this position.

Gradually things improved and we made our way at almost low water down to the end of Chiswick a Eyot. On route there had been a little poling lesson using either the windmill technique or the cue release pole recovery method to then put the pole into the water and push off the river bed. We even had a little vee assist on route to the end of the Eyot.

Then it was time to return to the pontoon and our lesson was over. Getting back as it was now almost low water still presented a challenge to our new comers, but they stuck with it and slowly we made it back to the pontoon.

It was then a little knot tying lesson whilst we put the boats and kit away.

A most successful days paddling on the mighty a river Thames at Chiswick and as with everything we all learned a little.

Hope you enjoyed reading this little lesson on a canoe paddling lesson on the mighty river Thames.

Photo supplied by Ash

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