Getting back on the water
Many of you will have seen or read the Prime Minister’s announcement on Sunday, and may be aware of the statement from the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) that ‘we understand that from Wednesday 13 May, unlimited outdoor activity will be permitted in England and this will include all forms of boating’. Alongside these statements came the information that whilst the amount of outdoor activity undertaken by any individual may be unlimited, the number of people taking part in any activity (that is not exclusively in a family group) is limited to two, and those two must maintain social distancing.
As a result of this prohibition of group activity, and reflecting guidance from both the RYA and British Canoeing, Minima Yacht Club will remain closed for the time being with no organised activity taking place on or off the water. I will update you with further information as it becomes available, but it seems likely that there will be no change to this position until 1 June at the earliest.
For those of you with your own canoes or kayaks that are keen to get back on the Thames before then, perhaps even as soon as this Wednesday, then in order to reduce any practical problems that may arise it is essential that you read the notes the Club has issued today available at https://www.minimayc.co.uk/documents (it is the first item on that page). All of the information there is important, but I would like to stress four things in particular:
- Paddling can take place with others from the same household, or providing you practice social distancing with no more than one other person from outside of the household.
- Except within a household, paddlers must practice social distancing at all times and maintain a distance apart of at least 2 metres.
- Your boat must be licensed by the Environment Agency for use on the Thames and you should carry public liability insurance: for paddlers these two points are usually covered by membership of British Canoeing. Note that as you are not taking part in a Minima club activity you are not covered by Minima’s BC membership and must take this out for yourself. I am sure that the Environment Agency will be checking boats on the water to see that they comply and you should have your BC membership card with you on the water to evidence this.
- To avoid a number of individual, ‘1 plus 1’ or household groups arriving at similar times and therefore forming a larger group, which is not allowed, you must coordinate timing with other members using the email@example.com group.
Please note that due to licensing and insurance difficulties in addition to the COVID-19 risks, the Club boats are not available for use at this time and this will remain the case until organised Club paddling resumes.
Unlike paddling, non-competitive dinghy sailing at Minima is not really ‘a thing’ but some of you may wish to sail your own boats alone or with members of your own household or your regular (or perhaps even irregular) crew. If so, please take note of the points related to paddling above and the recently issued RYA guidance. To avoid timing problems we will coordinate activity using a WhatsApp group we will set up for this purpose: please download WhatsApp on your mobile phone and email your mobile number to firstname.lastname@example.org. It would be useful to have this group working when we are getting back to full club sailing too, so please join even if you don’t think you will be sailing during the current phase of restrictions.
Coordination between the sailing and canoeing groups will be managed by the members who are in both.
As always you are responsible for your own safety and that of your crew, and you must check with your insurer that you are covered in the current situation. You must also ensure that you have a current Environment Agency license for the Thames, this costs £44.20 and can be applied for using this form.
Please take note of my comment to paddlers on Environment Agency checks and ensure your license is fixed to your boat before you go on the water.
For those of you that are not quite ready to get back on the water yet but would like to make more use of their leisure time on the sofa, we have the Virtual Club. Some of us are finding the Virtual Bar a great way to maintain variety in our lockdown schedule, but we would like to see more of you for Virtual Sailing. Everyone I know who has tried it has been surprised both by how much fun it is and by how similar the tactical racing is to ‘real’ boats and how much it has helped them hone their racing skills. If you are an experienced racer you will understand what I mean, but if you have never raced before it is even more worthwhile as you can do more races in an evening than in a whole season on the water!
To try it out on a computer, register an account at Virtual Regatta Inshore (the app is charmingly French and to do this you need to select ‘I register an account’), or if you prefer this sort of thing on your iPhone, iPad or Android device download the Virtual Regatta Inshore app from the appropriate store. It is free to play, and the in-game Sailing School is vital to get the hang of the controls, but the RYA introduction is really good too.
It would be great to see some more of you online in the Virtual Bar 1 hour before it ‘opens’ where we organise the details for setting up and joining races. We always have a couple of coached practice races, and it is all shown live in Zoom if you just want to sit back and watch.
The Zoom meeting ID is [redacted], if you don’t have Zoom this link should take you there.
So for another few weeks at least:
- Wednesday 8pm Virtual Sailing with Coaching, 9pm Virtual Bar
- Sunday 5pm Virtual Sailing with Coaching, 6pm Virtual Bar
See you there!