Safe paddling in high water levels

Members are reminded to take extra care at times of high water levels and high flow speeds. Duty Officer’s duties do not extend to being responsible for club sessions on the water so members attending need to ensure they are operating in a safe manner.

A large group during a club session will probably want to divide into smaller groups, some may be using the weir whilst others venture up or downstream. Groups should ensure they have at least an experienced paddler with them to assist in a safely planned trip and then advise the DutyOfficer of their intentions.


A helpful guide for a group is the ‘traffic light’ system operated by the Marlow rowing club on the other side of the Thames. When their light is at amber, they are recommending only experienced rowers venture out. When the light is red,they are instructing that no rowers be on the water. For canoeists, we are usually able to cope with the more difficult water but we do need to be more aware. If the light is red, novice paddlers should really not be on the water since they will not have the necessary control to avoid hazards.

Fast flowing water can be very dangerous and inexperienced paddlers may be surprised how difficult it can be to make progress paddling back upstream.

A tip for paddlers trying to make headway upstream in fast water is to keep close to the banks, paddle on the inside of bends in the river and make use of the slacker water behind obstacles.

Be safe out there,

Adrian Cooper


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