Volume 14 Issue 4

April 2014

April Paddler
The monthly newsletter of Liverpool Canoe Club

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Are you getting all the information on club trips and activities – club messaging system
As well as the website the club uses a number of different media to circulate details of club activities to all its members.  You can add (and remove) your own email address to a number of googlegroups in order to receive information and posts from members on events, courses and activities. (You do NOT need a Google account or  Google email) The main group can be accessed here….


31/03/14 Major dates for Club events – for more detail check the online the calendar…….

Easter Bank Holiday 17th April to 21st April 2014 Scottish Easter Paddling holiday. Click to book a place.........

27  April 2014  Junior Club - Easter Egg Hunt and paddle at the Marina - Coordinators Jeannette Bond and Joanne Fisher Click to book a place.........

9 -11  May 2014 Bala Canoe Training Weekend - Traditionally our coaches help run this

16 -18  May 2014 2014 Anglesey Weekend No1 Tyn Rhos Campsite at Trearddur LL652AX  Coordinator Peter Massey High Tide:   1:36 PM BST  9.2m

22 -26 May 2014 Pembroke 2nd May Bank Holiday Weekend - Coordinator Jenny Brown 07866820322

13 -15 June 2014 Anglesey Weekend No2 (Junior Club Camping weekend based at 4 Mile Bridge) Pen-Y-Bont Farm LL65 3EY Coordinator Keith S    High Tide: 1:00 PM BST  9.2m

Sun, 29 June 2014 Hilbre Island Sea Kayak Race  Coordinator Keith S  High Tide:  1:14 PM BST   8.6m

11-13 July 2014 Anglesey weekend No3 - Rhosnieger LL64 5XA coordinator Jenny Brown High Tide:  11:37 AM BST   9.1m

25 July – 10 August 2014 Alpine paddling holidayBriancon, France.  coordinator Keith S Click for more information……

26 July – 3 August 2014 River Thames Expedition (Lechlade to Wallingford to Teddington) - Coordinator Carl Leungsangnam email cleungs1@hotmail.com

10 August 2014 Club run Safety Cover for Liverpool Triathlon Club paddlers required to help Click to book a place.........

17-30 August 2014 Sea Kayak Trip - Great Lakes Toronto Canada - Coordinator Frankie Annan  07710269278

19 -21 September 2014 Anglesey weekend No4 Outdoor Alternative LL65 2NQ  Coordinator Frankie Annan  High Tide: 9:34 AM BST   7.8m


31/03/14 March Photo of the Month Competition


Liverpool Canoe Club Photo Competition Winners

Congratulations to Nicky Corbett for her winning photo:

“Mark Pawley’s stick” - Hilbre Island Paddle - March 2014



Runner up Kathy Morton:

“Arisaig Celtic Paddle Festival”


Runner up Richard Quinn:

“River Dee 3 Star Training - March 2014”

Not found your photograph ? – see all the entries for this month………..

Criteria for the photo of the month competition…. 25% Quirkiness and framing of the subject, 25% Quality and sharpness of the photograph, 25% Diversity of the subject material (ie not all one discipline), 25% has LCC logo or clothing in the shot.


28/03/14 Liverpool Canoe Club Band

There's been an idea kicking about of getting a band together to liven up/finish off the 'do's we have at the Marina. Principally the one in December, which I can't mention by name until late Autumn.


So, first thoughts are for an ad hoc Ceilidh / Folk band which we can assemble at whatever club event we're at and just jam away until we're together enough for the big do.


I know ideas get taken on and run away with at this club, so there must be enough talent and ideas out there to get this going and taken in every direction wanted.


So get in touch if you are interested and can play / sing / dance, etc.

Get in touch as well if can't play, sing or dance yet are just interested in learning something.

It's a friendly club and if it turns out there's someone who plays, sings or dances what you want to learn, I'll put you in touch.   


I'm also intrigued to find out what's the biggest instrument (musical) that anyone already fits in a Canoe or Kayak 



(Adrian Mould)         adrian.mould@btopenworld.com      07799065639


27/03/14 Skerries, seals and a sea eagle!

As I listened to the wind lashing rain against the windows all night, I was starting to regret booking in a morning kayaking with Arisaig Sea Kayak Centre before I set off on the 7 hour journey home from Mallaig. I was delighted to draw back the curtains on a clear blue sky, the sunlight bouncing off the sea and the skur of Eigg picked out by the sunrise. This was the way to spend my final morning!

I’d driven up to Mallaig a fortnight earlier having had the great fortune to be offered a couple of weeks work between Arisaig and Mallaig. It was just after the  crazy winds of early February. I decided that as wind guru was showing lots of red gusts the whole way up, and I only had 2 weekends to paddle, I’d pack my kit and paddle, but it would be safer to hire a boat than strap mine to the roof. It was the clearest, calmest drive up ever!

Arriving at Arisaig and seeing the calm water lapping around the skerries, inviting me to slip my boat off the roof and squeeze in a quick paddle before sunset, I nearly cried. Instead, I headed to find my local pub and a pint of Red Cuillin whereupon I was swiftly recruited to the ladies darts team.

Not a bad view from the office!

Working 8 til 6pm, I took solace in knowing it would be dark by the time I finished. It was ok that I was boatless, this time!

Taking pity on my urge to be on the water, I was given the home visit to Knoydart. 4pm ferry over, picked up in one of the few cars on the peninsula, quick visit to the 93 year old crofter and back on the 5pm ferry! I couldn’t believe my luck that I was a. on a wee boat trip down Loch Nevis, b. getting paid for it!

The ferry trip helped, but I needed to paddle. Fortunately, the lovely folk at Arisaig Sea Kayak Centre (http://www.arisaigseakayakcentre.co.uk/)

were on hand. They’re always handy to chat to, based in Arisaig Hotel, and I popped in the first week. The forecast was crazy for the first weekend. There was no chance of getting on the water.  Weekend two looked better, but Friday night was squally,  I wondered if we might need to cancel as I headed to bed.

The West Coast always seems to deliver, and I woke to find the perfect paddling day. Kit on, I headed down to Arisaig, found the 2 Mikes loading up the boats and off we (one Mike and I) went down the road to Rhu (worth a trip if you’re ever up that way).

As we unloaded the boats, the seal covered skerries and turquoise seas beckoned us.

Heading out, conditions couldn’t have been better. The tide carried us out from the middle red circle, through the skerries to Luinga Mhor. It got a bit lumpy as the wind started picking up round the back of Luinga Mhor. A handful of deer had decided to spend the winter on the island. Their heads kept bobbing up on the skyline as they followed us along  the north of the island.

We had a quick tea break back in the shelter of the skerries surrounded by the most amazing scenery. As the tide was still dropping, we had a small carry back to the water after only 5 minutes of tea/view appreciation/photo stop. We were further delayed as I somehow managed to take a dip in the shallowest of water, trying to get back in to my boat. 

Having stayed dry but for one glove, we decided there was just about time to pop round Luinga Bheag (thicket island – so called because it is covered in heather). There was some great swell, big breaking waves and fun surf out the back, (at least, I think those are the terms – it was lumpy, there were sudden unexpected high waves and we were definitely surfing).

We turned into the north channel and started to notice the massive tide that we were now paddling against (LW 12:30, nearly on springs). It's pretty shallow in the channel, and Mike ran aground at one point. The prospect of turning into the wind, now a good force 3-4, as well as the tide for the final hours paddle was looming. By way of distraction, there was suddenly an aerial show for us to watch. There were a flock of herring gulls flying about in a rather chaotic way. All seemed a bit odd until you noticed the eagle amongst them. One gull was picked out of the pack, like a lion hunting a gazelle. I initially thought the gull was a goner, but then it dropped the fish it was trying to hold on to, and the eagle swooped down, casually, and caught it just before it hit the water, about 15 metres in front of our boats!! The size and power of it’s wings and legs were incredible. It was only a juvenile,  I wouldn’t like to meet the parents!

It was a hard slog back, paddling into the wind and against the tide, but eventually the van stopped getting further away and we'd made it. We loaded up the van and headed back to Arisaig hotel for a steaming mug of hot chocolate before hitting the road for the 7 hour journey back to Manchester, invigorated by a beautiful morning’s paddle and my first close up experience of a sea eagle! Wonderful! I can’t wait to get back up there.

If you fancy a trip up to the west coast, there’s usually a couple of club trips each year, or the Celtic Paddle Fest May 10-11th looks worth checking out


Or BCU 3 star training in Arisaig in June.


If you’re on the west coast May to July, drop me a line. I’ll be working in either Mallaig or Arisaig and it would be lovely to see some familiar Liverpool faces and get out on the water.

Happy paddling,

kathymorton74@gmail.com                                          More photos…….


26/03/14 Surfing at Crosby sands - Sunday 23rd March


Paul had arranged to surf Sunday but failed to appear so it was left to the rest of the team to organise safety briefs and risk assessments without Sgt Major Harwood. Now what a team we had with Peter, Steve, John, Tony, Craig, Nick, Sophie and myself and a range of boats to attack the sunny afternoons surf. The wind was blowing and waves rolling with the sun pleasantly glaring in our faces and as we reached the first bout of waves the water splashed above our heads and projected us back to shore.


As the water receded beyond the sand bank the dumping waves reclined and allowed a small passage out to the longest rolling waves we have seen for some time. Whilst paddling out I noticed Steve hurtling towards me on a massive wave uncontrollably sideways, screaming and shouting what I think was Welsh for get out of the way. Quick thinking is needed for a situation like this as only a few options are available.

1 Paddle away quickly.

2 Take a roll or duck dive.

3 Do neither of the above and get whacked by a mad Welshman


After much deliberation option three was literally thrust upon me and towards the beach we both were thrust with a wall of water above our heads as we surfed squashed together sideways uncontrollably back to shore. Amazingly we managed to stay upright with Steve surfing off to the left and I going right looking like the Red Arrows display team until Steve lost balance and decided to swim back to shore.

This was certainly one of the best afternoons surfing at Crosby unusually with sunshine and as the sun went down we walked our craft back up the beach to plan our next outing.


Karl Tattum


19/03/14 Surfing Sunday 16th March


Another early start as we met at Crosby beach for 07.30 with the delight of rolling waves on their way to shore and a touch of sun breaking through the clouds. A couple of surf boats and a canoe thing were launched down the slipway and carried to the shoreline and straight into the morning’s action. The wind was much stronger than the predicted 20mph but this was not going to stop us.


There has been much chatter and debate within the club regarding whether Crosby can produce a surf like wave and if it can really be called "Surfing". I have tried to ignore the e-mails and scoffs from the armchair paddlers for so long but this weekend a challenge was set for any sceptics to observe from the comfort of a kayak and experience the lumpy stuff for themselves. Only two 'paddlers' arrived to join us who took one look at the waves and shouted above the howling wind "you must be crazy - there's surfing up with you lot" and got back into their cars and disappeared.


So it was left to Paul, Steve and I to put in a performance on the LCC officially recognised Crosby Surf. Wave after wave launched and thrust us back to shore over and over again with big rollers coming from differing directions whilst squeezing and projecting us back to shore, sometimes upside down. Steve's first time in a Surf boat was a wobbly occasion and he didn't seem to be his usual self whilst concentrating on the water and his usual whooping and hollering was surely missed. 


Crosby beach can be a great introduction to the surf and accommodates all abilities as the further you paddle out - the bigger and better the waves become. As the incoming tide approaches the beach towards the sand bank it produces a steep wall of water that's certainly not for the faint hearted as it can dump tonnes of water in an instant upon ones (Steve's) head. This can be avoided with a little patience to plan ones route out to the waves and find the perfect wave to Surf back to shore. Once over the sandbank the waves become user friendly and the longest rides can be had.


Another great weekend SURFING at Crosby beach. Now let’s check the forecasts for next week.



18/03/14 Menai Straits Sea Kayaking trip – Sunday 16th March 2014

Gallows Point, Beaumaris to Dinorwic, Y Felinheli  A coach lead paddle primarily aimed at novice sea paddlers some of whom had joined Pete and Carole Thomas’ “Introduction to Sea Kayaking” sessions over the last few months.


We split into 4 groups, setting off from Gallows Point shortly after 10.30am, to meet on the other side of Menai Suspension Bridge for lunch.  We started off in light drizzle which soon cleared, and enjoyed dry, occasionally sunny weather for the rest of the day.


The groups took different routes, our group lead by Keith S and Carole Thomas included “3 newbie’s” John Fey, Julian Davies and I.  We followed the beautiful Anglesey shore line, our first taste of sea paddling being watched by Oystercatchers and Cormorants.  We kept a slow and steady pace, admiring the beautiful Welsh scenery, chatting and played “pick your ideal home” from the palatial properties.


Carole, Keith and Ian Bell helped the 3 newbie’s through our first eddy experience at the Menai bridge where the tide was racing through creating great boils and swirls.  The long sea kayaks were difficult to control in the confused water.  We were much relieved to reach dry land for chat, cake and a breather.  I think it’s safe to say we were all now hooked, just as Pete Thomas had predicted.


Having refuelled and rested we headed towards Dinorwic  (Y Felinheli), enjoying a few more wobbles on eddy’s and whirls at The Swellies, being joined at one point by a seal who was eating a fish that he had just caught.  We moved towards the middle of the Menai Straits after Britannia Bridge, testing our new skills on some lumpy water and stopped off for a little nosey at the archways under Plas Newydd Country House.  At 2.30pm we were all on shore at Dinorwic, we were mighty pleased with our 10km paddle.  2 of the gang kindly took all the drivers back to Gallows Point to collect their cars, all then returning to load kit and eat yet more cake before heading home.


Personally, I was nervous and excited at the prospect of testing my very basic skills, nerve and possibly my dry suit if I took a swim during my first paddle away from the docks.  Carole, Keith and Ian were on hand with reassuring, friendly encouragement when I tackled new challenges, hesitated or had a wobble, boosting my confidence and skills ready for next time.


Thank you to the entire LCC group, a friendly encouraging gang made for a memorable day.  Particular thanks to Pete, Carole and Keith for organising, coaching and leading.  Thanks to Ian for coaching and jumper hire.  Thanks also to Julian, Julie and John for helping me out with car share and equipment.


We all look forward to the next paddle.     Joanne McWatt                 More Photos……….



15/03/14 Three Star WW training

On Friday evening after work I was getting some gear ready for the 3 star white water training day when a knock on the door turned out to be my new boat being delivered by a courier, result! After half an hour setting it up it was ready for the morning even though it felt very small compared to my Remix I was taking it to try for its first outing.


Five of us met at the Ponsonby arms at 0930 and then a quick shuttle to the top car park. After getting on at Horseshoe we spent half an hour warming up and practicing paddling on one side only while holding an edge. Then it was off down the river with Richard leading, stopping off at eddies on the way down and breaking in and out at every opportunity. At serpents we inspected first and Keith ran it first in his boat, then walked back and took Richards boat down. Mark followed and then Tony, I was last to go and took a swim! stupid boat.


Then it was off down the river again eddy hopping, stern squeezing and ferry gliding as much as possible. After a short stop for lunch it was off again and we were soon down at Nomads site. Tony took an unlucky swim and we carried on to the bottom wave where again we all got involved.


Then down to town falls.  Mark ran the main chute while the rest off us moved over to the left channel and slid in to the right just by the bridge, eddying out under the bridge we practiced with throw lines and all took a turn at being the swimmer.   Then a short paddle to the get out at the Ponsonby Arms. 


A really good day out on the water and hopefully we all got a lot out of it. I certainly learnt a lot and came away knowing what I have to practice. My new boats got some scratches so its not new any more ;(


Instruction by Keith S & Mark Garrod,  many thanks for organizing today, much appreciated.


Monkeys,   John Cooke, Richard Quinn, Tony Doyle                      More Photos…..


10/03/14 Why not the Wyre?

Earlier in the week we had conversations with Mike Alter, Brian Green and Kathy Morton, all of which were about “shall we or shan’t we get out on the water for a paddle this weekend”.  Saturday was due to blow what hopefully might turn out to be the last winter storm but Sunday looked much more promising.

Caz and I are a bit “restricted in our ability to manoeuvre” at the mo and have to stay fairly close to home so we were scratching our heads how best to make use of the neap tides and paddle something interesting. Out of the blue, Dave Blake circulated his plan to paddle out of Fleetwood for a play somewhere near the Wyre Light, so, never having paddled there before, we both signed up and on a misty grey Sunday morning at the north shore of Fleetwood on the banks of the River Wyre, we met Dave and his very experienced mate John Roberts from Ribble Canoe Club.

Just a couple of miles offshore, the Wyre Light was erected in the mid-19th century to aid navigation into and out of what was then a bustling and important Victorian fishing and ferry port.  Padding with Dave and John proved to be a fascinating journey back in time as they explained how the wrought iron design of the latticed pile and brace structure supporting the light was adopted by light tower builders in other parts of the world. As we passed the decaying remains of an old trawler high and dry on a sand bank, we were also treated to a bit of a history of wrecks in the area, one of which was a Range Rover which presumably got stuck in the mud while trying to salvage some of the scrap from the wrecked trawler.

We soon passed the light tower and noticed that, after recent violent winter storms, there was little material left at the bases of the main piles supporting the light platform. The tower remained standing mostly due to the strength of the cross bracing but, even this looked not far off collapse. The poor visibility blocked views of Blackpool, the Lake District and the shipyards of Barrow but heading south, now close to the bottom of the ebb tide, Dave pointed out a shoal area (White Scar) that was significantly higher than the surrounding sand banks. He explained a theory that, way back when the sea was miles to the west, this may well have been the site of fortifications used by some of the tribes that inhabited the area in pre-Roman times.

For a short break, we caught a ride into this bank on the backs of messy small waves and noticed the remains of yet another wrecked navigation light. Although the sea was mostly calm, slight remnants of the swell from yesterday’s high wind remained so, getting back into out boats, we headed round the corner a bit and found some cleaner waves to play on for half an hour until deciding to take the flood tide back to Fleetwood. As we did so, the mist cleared and the sun came out. The views all around us were a reminder of why this place used to be a popular seaside resort.

It’s only a little trip and we were out for just four hours or so but Caz and I really enjoyed being on the water in a “new” area. At just over an hour’s drive from Liverpool it’s well worth the cost and effort, particularly since, unlike many other trips in the area, this paddle can be done at any time, springs or neaps, without having to carry boats over miles of sand.

Back at the cars, parked under Fleetwood’s “Lower Light” we entertained the locals as we faffed around sorting out our boats and gear in the sunshine. Struggling, as usual, to get out of her dry suit, Caz discovered that she had spent all morning paddling with a coat hanger across the front of her shoulders inside her suit!!!! She said she felt something odd but though her buoyancy aid was twisted somehow and just put up with it. For fear of looking daft, she asked me not to tell anyone so please keep this to yourself and try your best not to smile next time you see her in her drysuitJ

Paddlers: Dave Blake, John Roberts, Carole Thomas, Pete Thomas                                                More Photos….

10/03/14 Sunny Sunday at The Burrs - 9th March 2014

With no wind, waves or tides, we were in a bit of a quandary of what to do this weekend. A plan was hatched on Thursday night to go to The Burrs, in Bury, and paddle the weir, the play features and just do something different for a change. The crazy 8am start time didn't get any takers other than Karl, Steve and me. One reply did suggest that we would be home for breakfast after our paddle and we would have the whole river to ourselves!
We met at my house at 7am, Steve arrived at 720am. Twenty minutes late was pretty good for him. His record is 9 hours late to Anglesey! We arrived at Bury at 8am and the sun was starting to shine. The river was pretty low and Karl and Steve started to question why I was bringing them here. "We're used to manic wind and 6 foot waves. What's this?"
We quickly changed and  paddled up the canal to the big weir. Karl and Steve could hear it and started to question how big it was. When they saw it, they looked like I feel when the moment of hesitation comes to me when I see a six foot vertical wall of water hurtling towards me and I know I'm going to be back looped and smashed. "Are you really going to do that? Have you done it before?" " My nine year old son has done it, you bunch of Jessies!"


So I, the guinea pig, went first whilst the two hard men of surf looked on. As soon as they saw I was safe, in they jumped. We went down a couple of times, then followed the mellow current down to the first small hole. Karl and Steve looked afraid, so in I bounded, with my open canoe, to show them it was okay. Steve was prodding the water with his paddle looking for an excuse not to side surf. Karl refused point blank. What is it with these hard men of surf. Scared of a six inch wave? Soon I was tearing up the river and the boys started to  mess about and actually enjoy something different. We bashed, pushed, splashed, nudged and capsized each other in all of the various features of the river and were having a ball. In no time at all it was 1030am and we knew we had to be leaving for home soon. So we planned a race from the weir to the get out.


Back to the canal for the short paddle to the weir and I have never laughed so hard for so long. Steve had forgotten to put his bung in, so I offered to put it in for him. This was a mistake.  I decided to push the stern of his boat under water to fill it up with foetid water. He was not happy so decided to pull my boat over in revenge. So there I am, upside down T rescuing off the back of his boat which is being filled with water. Suddenly, no more water can enter and the back of his boat sinks. His bow comes up and back enders into the canal into 2 feet of water. I follow him in, bung still in my hand and float there watching him eject from his boat. The thing is, two feet of water was covering 3 feet of mud.  We both sink to our thighs and Steve is retching as he's taken a mouthful of murky, smelly water. We are both clinging to our boats to try and beat the suction of mud and asking Karl to come and help. He knows better than Steve and stays away, laughing his head off. a few minutes later we are out of the water on the canal bank, Steve retching, and me and Karl are laughing. We start again and head to the weir.


We start the race at the top of the weir and don't stop until we are at the last wave at the get out. A bit more surfing is had but, Steve and Karl get out earlier than me. I am at the other side of the river and I can see these two lurking. I know what's coming. Its the same routine at the beach every week. Rugby tacked out of the boat!


A fantastic morning out on the water. I will definitely do the Burrs again. It is a bit like surfing in the fact that it is FAFF free. Turn up, paddle, go home. No shuttles, no messing. This is how it should be. See you out on the water.


Paul Harwood                         More Photos…….


09/03/14 Led trip, Welsh Dee - Carrog to Nomads / Mile End Mill (02/03/2014)


The plan was to run this trip slightly differently, in that whilst the run from Carrog to Horseshoe can be done very quickly, we wanted to use the river to the max, slow the trip down and allow everyone to have fun and practice their moves on a river that most already know. After Horseshoe we had options, Canal to the Festival Site or river to Nomads.


With three willing volunteers and six participants, we met at 9am at the Festival Site. This was to allow us time on the river and to allow for any change of venues if the river was too high. We outlined the plan - split into groups of three that would operate as semi independent groups within a larger whole (Ruth and I floating around with oversight), positioned cars at both finishes to give options, ensured all contact details were stored, signals understood and then headed to Carrog.


A quick photo shoot and well before 10am we were off to play on the first rapid as one big group (11 of us).  Following some superb surfing, and crossings using the river features, we split into our smaller groups – it’s easier to count to 3 heads than 11! Our 3 groups were: 1) Others, 2) Dads and 3) Hotshot Lads in playboats.

Pretty soon the Dads and Others were catching every eddy and surfing every wave they possibly could – but I had to feel for Mick, Graham & Andy were doing everything possible to knock him off the wave just as he was getting on it – it was like war! But with lots of big smiles and some good surfs, I think we had six people surfing the diagonal wave at one point!


Moving down the river, although separate groups we operated the CLAP principal (Communication, Line of sight, Avoidance is better than cure, and Position of most usefulness) to descend the river safely and move through each of the harder rapids. I lost count of how many eddies young Sam got when paddling through one of the longer rapids.


The occasional fisherman was passed with curtsey and respect, even when one stopped to take photos, and because the sign said no canoeing, one member of the group decided to swim past a fisherman instead. How thoughtful  ;-)


Down to Horseshoe and second lunch – all accept for Sam, who wanted lunch but a passing dog decided it wanted Sam’s lunch more. We then discussed how we wanted to end the day and the group split into those taking the canal to the end and those doing the river – with an agreement that we would all meet at Nomads.

After some more playing, we reached the get out at Nomads about 3pm.


A nice long day on the river with lots of time to practice skills, just as was planned. Sometimes it’s nice to not rush, plan to spend time, allow practice and chatting time as you play the river and make your 2hr normal run last all day.


Cheers to everyone for going along with our plans and making it a great day, hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.

Mike, Ruth, Team Others (Richard, Mick & Graham), Team Dads (John, Andy, Chris), Team Lads (John, Matt, Sam) 


03/03/14 Intro to Sea Kayaking - Coordinated by Pete Thomas

Sunday we had our last “Intro to Sea Kayaking” session on the docks with Pete Tomas, I felt a little sad that we won’t be in the safe confines of the dock any more but at the same time very excited at the prospect of being let loose on open water!!  The weather as always didn’t disappoint, cold, raining and at times windy.  But that didn’t matter because as ever we were there to learn and in my case get wet, very wet!

We started the course back in November and the after the introductions Pete had us bending and stretching muscles some of us had forgotten we’d had, “it’s very important we warm up before doing strenuous activity” he told us.  Apparently this applies to lifting pints of Guinness too...   We got into our boats and hit the water, a dozen or so unsteady and unsure paddlers all trying to circumnavigate the polo goals.  Pete began by showing us forward paddle techniques and using the paddle efficiently, then to sweep strokes and draw strokes.  It was a revelation to me to discover that to turn left I actually had to lean over to the right!

As the sessions progressed so did the winter and along came the wind, hailstone, sub-zero temperatures, sunshine, and that was just in one day!   We discussed various items of kit including types of boat, paddles, buoyancy aids and dry suits etc.  With regard to safety equipment we discovered that it’s not how much kit you have that’s important, its being able to effectively use the kit you have quickly and safely, and understanding that unfamiliarity with safety kit can actually exacerbate an already difficult rescue situation.

During the session on rescue scenarios Pete and Caz demonstrated the “X Rescue”, particularly memorable was the part where Pete showed us the effect that water has on a broken drysuit zip, bbrrrr!!   Ian Bell showed us how with the use of a sling you can practically step back in to your boat.  John Worswick was also “volunteered” to be a casualty in need of rescue on several occasions, the effects of cold water could clearly be seen on him partly due to the number of times he was in the water and partly due to the lack of insulation on his head!

As we practiced each session, we were closely watched over and encouraged by the other volunteers and everyone could be seen to be making progress and gaining in confidence.  Each session was followed up with copious amounts of homework, I mean “Learning resources”...   All of which I’m sure we all found very valuable and entertaining (Especially the “beardy” weather ones).

Overall I found the course extremely valuable and lots of fun, I believe I’ve learned a lot and hope to put it all into practice out in the sea sometime soon.  My bank manager is also very pleased that I did the course!   A very big thank you to the volunteers Carole Thomas, John Worswick, Ian Bell, Martin McCoy, and Peter Dickinson who all gave up there time and braved the cold each session, and to Pete Thomas for putting it all together.


Karl Winrow  More Photographs……


03/03/14 Hilbre Island on a sunny March day.


With an email from Pete about a Hilbre paddle, the roof rack was on and the kit was ready in a flash. I turned up at 8.30am and Pete and Caz were nearly ready, Tony pulled up behind me and as it looked like it was just the four of us, Andy arrived at the eleventh hour and we all set off just after 9am.


A little chat before launching and Mark showed up – but he’s a big boy so he was left to get ready and catch us up.

Within a couple of minutes it was obvious that all the layers of clothing were not necessary, the sun was strong and it was a glorious day, zero wind. The sunglasses would be needed for the way back.

We took the usual direction, waiting to pass Little Eye before swinging a right towards Hilbre. Mark took no time in catching us up. It was Tony’s first Hilbre outing, so a little advice from Pete about how to approach the beach and we all landed safe.


The flasks and snacks came out, but we had to be quick because the really big tide was threatening to float our kayaks away or jam us all into the corner of the small beach. A lone paddler approached and had a brief chat – Colin – known by some of the club.


Once back on the water we had a little chat about going around Hilbre, Tony – even though he must have been quite nervous - was up for it, so off we went. The over falls looked quite calm as we approached the corner but once around the top of the island there were a few big waves and a bit of surf could be had. Tony took it in his stride and did extremely well dealing with the tricky conditions and we paddled back the way we had come so as not to disturb a huge gaggle (sounds better than flock) of birds.


It was a calm relaxing trip back, with plenty of opportunity to chat as a few of us had not been out paddling for quite a while.

Upon our approach to West Kirkby slipway, it was obvious that there was still lots of water left from the huge tide, so we paddled on – almost as far as Thurstaston before turning and heading back. It was obvious no-one wanted to waste any of this glorious weather and the view of Hilbre and the open sea was dreamy – see pics for proof!!


Nicky Corbett, Caz Thomas, Pete Thomas, Andy Garland, Mark Pawley and Tony Robinson  More Photos…….

01/03/14 March 2014 Newsletter Published
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