Hampton CC has just had two excellent training sessions with Teddington RNLI. In the past they’ve dealt with incidents with kayaks, so they were very receptive when approached with the idea of joint training.
First of all, the RNLI came to Hampton, for a joint session with, and at, Hampton Sailing Club. The RNLI told us that their patch includes tidal and non-tidal Thames from Richmond past Teddington to Molesey. The crew are all volunteers living near the lock, 23 good souls in all, and they have two D Class lifeboats there. They showed us how they react to a shout: they’re afloat within three minutes, which I think is amazing; and they get through Teddingon lock in one minute and forty seconds, which is astounding. They shared with us sound wisdom about cold water, life jackets, etc. 23 Hamptoneers attended, together with 16 sailors and 7 from the RNLI. Jenny organised a wonderful lunch for us all afterwards.
HCC goes to Teddington
The following weekend, which was last weekend, we went to their base on the ground floor of a modern block of flats near The Wharf restaurant just downstream of Teddington Lock. In all we were nine, coaches or experienced paddlers. We had given some thought to what we could do with the RNLI that would be worthwhile for them, so we planned the afternoon in three parts:
- land-based briefing from Derek Heath and Mark Lewis: they explained the features of our various boats, and how those differences impact rescues (we showed them a canoe, a WW boat, an open cockpit K1 and a sea kayak). Then Derek and I demonstrated some of our rescue techniques, so they wouldn’t think we were completely clueless !
- on the water, the RNLI rescued the various boats we’d brought. Peter Loy, Richard Fisher and Andy Garbett were on hand to flood the boats, and to explain and encourage effective rescues. The open cockpit Cirrus was the most difficult to rescue, as you’d expect.
- on the water, the RNLI rescued Mike Channon from his WW boat, Michele Springall from her sea kayak or Morten Lunde from his Nordkapp sea kayak with a tiny ocean cockpit (that wasn’t easy). And they tried Hand of God rescues, plucking the ever-grateful Morten from his capsize. Monitoring us all, ensuring that the RNLI didn’t run out of things to do, and taking the photos, was Charles Taylor.Over the course of the afternoon we trained with 15 of their crew (ie four boat crews), and they were grateful and appreciative, and were speaking of a continuing relationship, with another session envisaged for the spring. What’s more, they’re setting up a similar session with another local club, Royal CC (we wouldn’t mind showing Royal how things should be done !!).
And what did the RNLI think of it all? Here is what their training co-ordinator said:
“I wanted to say, for myself and on behalf of all my crew who attended on Sunday 19, how truly fantastic you and your fellow paddlers were! We were all amazed and not a little humbled by the enthusiasm, expertise, hardiness (Morten may just win man of the match on that one), and sheer love of your sport that you all showed. My crew absolutely loved it and were still talking about the afternoon throughout our training on Tuesday – I think some are even keen on having a go themselves, inspired by you guys, and Hampton CC would be a natural port of first call for that after all we have seen.