Introduction to White Water 14th/15th November

River Dart with the Open Canoe Association

Philip Sowden and Ian Jones went on the OCA Intro to White Water weekend in mid November which certainly had its highs and lows! Using Phil's lightning reactions to change the trim of the van, we survived the strong crosswinds and made it to Buckfastleigh Caving Centre late Friday night. Survival, however, didn't stop there as sleep depended on blocking out the monumental snoring of one of our instructors. After a hearty breakfast, all had one eye on the crazy weather conditions that had followed a day of torrential rain and strong winds. We all prepared to go on the water, but once at the riverbank, it took only half a nanosecond to persuade Phil and I that a long life depended on taking a rain check. To me a novice, the water was humungous and the wind biblical! There followed a day spent sat in the car reading "The Times" and the "Farmers' Guardian" further down river, waiting for the experts to make their way down to us. Trees featured highly in their trip with one falling in not far from the group and one chasing them down the river. They all made it and that night we enjoyed the usual pub meal together, although Phil and I felt we'd not really deserved it.

Sunday fared a lot better and with the wind and water much calmer, we ventured forth, ferry gliding front, back, sideways, all ways, with style and mostly without style. We took in the rock garden as a mere ripple as the water was so high, and Phil and I cruised the broken weir, although I baled 30 times once through it, whilst watching a riderless canoe pass by....... It was hard work at times and certainly kept the ticker going, and as always, the instruction and organisation was excellent - thanks to Pete, Neil, Clare, Steve and all the other instructors - and yes one of these days I'll get the hang of ferry gliding. Phil even got chance to do some poling which always makes his day. Ian Jones

One final note: as difficult as it is to sit out a trip - the final decision to go on the water is yours - & it could one day prevent a tragedy...

- Ian