Throw lines at the ready @ Symonds Yat

After loading the canoes quickly on two cars and everyone remarking how speedy we had been with hardly any faffing, we set off.  Well one car set off………… we knew it was too good to be true.  Dawn decided some faffing was required and adjusted the roof rack on her car.  Naturally the other car decided to leave them to it and hopefully see them at Symonds Yat.  A couple of sensible people decided to make their own way and meet us there.

Once all kitted up, we launched on to the river using the specially made bumpy canoe seal launch. The club’s seal launch is a lot smoother.  Steve and David paddled down to join us. They had decided to make a weekend of it and camp.  Now I believed that our club had installed a helmet policy for any rapids or moving water features.  This policy had obviously missed Steve as he believed a buff would be acceptable on a day of practicing white water safety and rescue!   Finally after the king of faff….Steve was ready with new blue helmet and gear all tied into his open canoe, we paddled down to the rapids. 

I thought we would warm up with a practice of breaking in and out, ferry gliding etc. Symonds Yat is a great rapid for practicing these skills as it has clearly defined features with big eddies and with no unexpected boils or whirlpools.   Others namely Nick showed great keenest and got straight into the wet stuff.  We practiced rescuing kayaks by chasing after them and pushing them to the side with the owners safely on the bank.  It’s amazing how quickly an empty kayak can pick up speed and for a few seconds you think you are not going to catch the kayak, let alone get it safely to the bank.  Again people (Dawn) showed keenest and moved onto how to rescue a kayak pinned onto some rocks before I had planned.  We then moved to the other side of the island out of people’s way to do some rope work.  Good discussions between the group were had on the methods to rescue a person and a pinned kayak.  Well done to Dawn and Roger for leading the way.  Lunch time was enjoyed in the dry. It has rained at the start of the day while we were getting ready but luckily the weather got better as the day went on.

After lunch Brian was keen to try out the dry suit and demonstrated the best way to enter the water by a horizontal star jump.  The best way to describe, is you leap forward with your arms and legs spread out wide so that you buoyancy aid and stomach hit the water first thus stopping your whole body from sinking too far down into the water.  Give it a go; I think it was one of the highlights of the day activities.  We practiced wading out in a group to rescue a trapped person.  It is so much easier wading in the water as a group than as an individual.  Of course we also practiced our throw line skills with everyone happy to be swimming victims.  The water was actually fairly mild. Lessons learnt from this activity…….

  1. Check your throw line for carbineers before actually throwing.
  2. Practice, practice and more practice is required.  Some more than others (could possibly relate to myself)
  3. Be prepared to swim and save yourself as the throw line may never reach you.
  4. Carbineer can be used to help pack the rope back into bag. (see photo of Jodi demonstrating) Handy little tip I thought.

To round the day off we practiced our swimming across the river. Although excellent fun, I forget how much energy this requires and how unfit I am.  Needless to say a drink to end the day at Saracens head was enjoyed. Well, it wouldn’t be a club day out otherwise.

Paddlers:  Jodi, Roger, Simon, Brian, Andy, Dawn, Nick, Dave S, Steve, Dave W, Janet and Tania – chief photographer

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