Getting out on the water gives the opportunity to learn a few things. Here are my top tips .
1) Plan your trip. Check on-line if someone has documented the route. Especially if locks are involved. Let someone know where you have gone and arrange to contact them when you are back on dry land.
2) A decent paddle is a worthwhile investment . Helps to get the best output from all your muscular effort and expended energy. Also can decrease fatigue and increase the distance you travel in a session. Do a bit of market research as there are many variations to paddle design. The manufacturer’s websites give good guides to which paddle design will suite you. Try http://www.wernerpaddles.com
3) Don’t skimp on safety, the water is a great place to have fun but it can be reveal some dangerous situations. My standard kit includes.
》Scotty Bilge pump
Worth taking an old mobile with a Pay-as-you-go SIM card if you feel it’s not sensible to take your prized Smart phone on the water.
4) Take some food and drink. Great to stop off and have a refreshments break, on the bank or just drifting in the quieter waters.
5) Check the right to access water before you go out at a unfamiliar place. ( some rivers have limited access due to fishing rights ) Most UK rivers require a British Waterways license to allow access.
6) Get a British Canoe Union membership. (www.britishcanoeing.org.uk) Gives access to British waterways and Norfolk broards. Some canals, especially those that are run by private restoration trusts, may have a private access scheme in place. I’ve been caught out by this one once, where I had to get a day permit to use a canal. Only found out when I looked at the by-laws posted at the lock gate.
7) Obtain canoe insurance. Third Party liability insurance is a must as there are some expensive boats out there. British Canoe Union membership comes with liability insurance. Worth getting canoe and kit insurance. Again BCU offer good discount on this. I tend to lock my kayak and trolley with a chain and padlock whenever possible. While transporting the kayak on the roof rack I use a product called a “Play Boater Rack Guard” . A simple and effective roofrack theft deterrent. Most kayak shops sell this useful accessory.
8) On the coast check the tide times. Bear in mind that 10 miles up the coast from the location on the tide tables can change the times by more than 1/2 hour. (www.tidetimes.org.uk or www.bbc.co.uk/weather/coast-and-sea/tide-tables ). One idea I use occasionally is to purchase a tide table booklet giving a full years set of times. Some of the on-line tables only have a limited period like 4 weeks. Good idea to know ahead if you are planning a holiday and wish to know which days would be best to get out on the water.
9) After being out on the sea wash everything down with fresh water. Salt can accelerate rust and corrosion. Maybe a job to do once you are home, but good to keep everything lasting for years to come.
10) Invest in some good dry bags. Worth getting a variety of sizes. Over the years I’ve built up a collection from 1 litre to 15 litre. Also a waterproof mobile phone bag is a must. I use Aquapac products as they allow the mobile touch screen to still work through the case.