The initial open boat training in the docks had been done. Now the plan was to go on a river trip!
For some, this was simply another river in another type of craft. But for others this was their first paddling adventure away from the docks – AWESOME!
Canoes collected, spirits high, we headed to Farndon to paddle the river Dee. The chatter in the car was excited and loud, well it had to be to overcome the sudden cloudburst that we were driving through, but that didn’t dampen spirits.
Everyone helped to unload the kit, subconsciously picking up tips about how to secure boats, and got ready. Food was packed into dry bags, dry kit left in appropriate vehicles and the plan was sorted:
- This is the river.
- We are paddling 10 miles that way to Eccleston ferry (no time restriction on car parking as there is at Sandy Lane).
- We are stopping for lunch, make sure you have food with you.
- Speak up if not feeling well / cold.
- Stay out of the trees. Watch out for the river wide tree that we have heard about but we can get through.
- If you get side onto an object, lean onto it.
- Have fun!
After those rousing Churchillian words, the team lowered the boats to the river (using excellent manual handling techniques) and headed off on the adventure.
It started well.
It didn’t last!
Keith decided that he would be chief child on the trip, so with a big grin he proceeded to pull the full length of my fluorescent pink swimline out. No reason why, just because he could. Thanks!
Not perturbed, we carried on. The teams practicing their tandem team work as they glided down the river, using great communication to ensure they moved the boats where we wanted to go – past fishermen, the strange assortment of huts on this section of the Dee, pirate gnomes, but luckily no cows dancing the conger.
The new open boaters were making this look easy. Luckily the river provided with a slight constriction of flow. Never one to miss a learning opportunity, we used this to practice ferry gliding and break outs. The photos don’t do it justice, but this simple piece of moving water allowed for half a hour of really fabulous river learning. Paddle stokes and power were modulating according to need, angles of attack were played with, and bow rudders there were many.
All too soon we headed off, a quick stop for lunch and then effortlessly travelling down the river to Eccleston ferry (this avoids the boring run into chester) and journeys end.
A fabulous day, I had a really nice day on the river AND there was real progression by paddlers who had done very little open boating.
Open boaters – half the paddle, twice the paddlers.
You missed out if you weren’t there!
Mike, Ruth, Keith, Graham, Rim, Joyce, Karen, Martin, Steve & Ellie