A wonderful story from our Maidenhead Paddleboarding Club Member, and a key message
One of the things we do when we are out with friends, particularly when down at the pub, is to tell stories. So we collect instances of mishaps, success, tragedy and triumph to share with our friends. This is my pub story.
It was a cold December Sunday, and the early morning mist still hung over the water making it quite ethereal, magical even, as we paddled upstream. Four Canadian geese honked and stared as we sneaked through the lock cut, intruding on their solitude.
Our destination St. Patricks stream for a lively paddleboarding club Sunday paddle with three friends. There was a good flow and we moved with pace between fields and past fishermen’s stands as the stream narrowed and picked up pace. Trees overhanging the water, some sharp bends and plenty of debris to keep us alert, some more bends and then IT happened!
A moment's inattention, a tight bend and a low hanging branch opposite a strainer, sweeping round the strainer, the branch came up fast, my board was at the wrong angle and suddenly I was in the water. The cold hit my O-Zone making me gasp for breath, remembering to count to 5 (thanks Taz) the brain fog cleared enough to give instructions as M came up behind me. Holding the branch she helped me get onto her board, difficult would be an understatement, as I was under the branch and still attached to my board. Once out of the water I managed to release it and E took it from here. No sign of my paddle – but that was the least of my worries, I was wet and extremely cold and my priority was to get into dry clothes.
M and I hurtled down the fast moving stream spotting my paddle in some debris, but unable to grab it as we sailed past. A shout to the others and it was rescued in one piece, then on past some houses, no stopping there! Big, barking dogs were incentive enough to keep us moving until the next private landing stage where I stripped off wet clothes with cold fumbling fingers and replaced them with spare leggings, t-shirt and cag from my bag, and the girls added a long sleeved top, a very welcome woolly hat and some gloves. In the middle of all this the house owner came to offer me a beautiful white towel and an invitation to come inside to get warm. Sounded great, but I was determined to press on and the two large dogs barking behind her were incentive enough.
Happily reunited with my board and my paddle, I needed to generate some heat, so set a good pace downstream and onto the Thames back to our landing stage. Once on dry land the girls bundled me into my car towards more warm clothes and supplied tea and chocolate as they packed everything up. Phew, it was soooo nice to be warm.
No-one was hurt, we all stayed calm and managed the situation, grateful to have recently done the Paddleboard Maidenhead Safety, Skills and Rescue training.
Someone to help strip and reclothe the swimmer. I struggled to do both, but declined help when it was offered – the cold clouding my thinking perhaps. It would have been quicker and more effective having someone to help .
Spare clothing. None of us had a full set of clothes. What made the most impact was the woolly hat, suddenly I could think again. Therefore my recommendation for spares in your dry bag, as an absolute minimum in the winter is the following:
Over trousers (to go over wet leggings) or spare leggings
Short and long sleeve top
Gloves or mittens
Chocolate to revive flagging energies, lifted us all
A hot drink in a thermos in the car is an essential I will make sure I have it going forward!