Updated: Nov 13, 2020
As I sit and write this on a laptop staring out at a cloudy sky, this summer already seems like a long time ago. During those few months when restrictions were lifted so many of you decided to join us, or others on the water. It was great to see so many people taking part in watersports, and getting to enjoy the restorative nature of paddling. It's hard not to think that this may have had some effect on the Government's decision to allow recreational paddling during this new 4 week lockdown. We are highly fortunate that, unlike some other sports such as tennis and golf, we have been given the go ahead to get out there.
However, with great fortune comes great responsibility, so we've put together this handy guide for you to see what the major relevant bodies are saying with regards to SUP at the moment.
BC have worked with the powers that be to announce that recreational paddling is allowed during lockdown. This can take the form of paddling..
on your own
with the people you live with (your household)
your support bubble
on your own and with one person from another household – this could be a coach for 1:1 coaching
As I'm sure you'll agree, this is excellent news for us all. Now that we know what we can do, we just need to know where to do it.
So here goes...
Port of London Authority Water (aka the Tidal Thames – from Teddington downstream to Putney)
The PLA issue regular notices to mariners, and their November 5th notice outlines everything you need to know about paddling on the tidal Thames during lockdown. The main thrust is that you can paddle recreationally on the water, that you should consult the guidelines of the relevant governing body before going out, and that you should not paddle in situations that are above your skill level.
We wouldn't recommend going for a solo paddle on the tidal Thames at this time of year, but we are offering one-to-one sessions for the next few weeks if you wish to get on the Tideway. If you do go out with a paddle buddy, please bear in mind the PLA's Safety Notice earlier this summer with regard to the use of (or ideally non-use) ankle leashes. If you get into difficulty on PLA water, dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard.
Environment Agency water (AKA The non-tidal Thames)
The EA have responsibility for a number of waterways in the UK, but most pertinently to us, they look after the Thames above Teddington, all the way to its source at Cricklade. Environment Agency advice on use of the Thames can be found here. However, they do not, as yet have a specific policy on paddlesports.
Canal and River Trust water
As the name would suggest, the CRT are responsible for numerous canals and waterways in the UK. In London, their most recognisable stretch of water would be the Grand Union Canal. You can see all of the CRT advice re paddling here. As with other organisations, they are allowing recreational paddling providing you are in your household/support bubble, or meeting up with 1 other person from a different household.
So... good news all around. As long as you stay safe, check the tides, weather and river flow, wear a buoyancy aid on moving water (and actually a good idea on any water during the colder months), and do not paddle with more than one other person, then you should be OK to get on the water during lockdown. Don't forget of course that it's a good idea to have insurance when paddling, this can be purchased by joining British Canoeing or BSUPA. So get your wetsuit or warm layers on, and get out on the river!
One certain way to paddle in a safe, licenced and responsible manner is to book a one-to-one session with us, but even if you don't, we really hope that being on the water can be a source of relief for all of you over the next month or so.