About Us

Bristol Canoe Club is a club for paddlers in the Bristol area.

[ August 2021. Please see our separate page regarding membership applications during the CoronaVirus situation: Membership applications during Covid-19 ]

We are a very active club, and we do lots of things – see the Calendar page for the latest info, but also we do a lot of trips at short notice, organised via our members-only email list.

We are involved in white-water paddling, flatwater racing, polo, plus general leisure. We also have some Stand-Up paddleboards.

Images of different types of paddling

For more information, please see the General Information link, Membership, Contacts, or any of the pages available from the menus at the top of the page.

Our online membership sign-up with webcollect is here: Bristol Canoe Club webcollect page, but we’d prefer if you come down to one of our sessions and say hello before signing up.

Club awards 2021

The recent AGM announced the following awards:

  • River God: Avis Noott
  • Fish of the Year: Tom Brockett, for swimming on the Upper Usk in an open Canadian; Barney the dog, and Ella are co-swimmers.
  • Most improved white water: Julie Watts
  • Phil Longrigg Trophy: Conor O’Neill
  • Polo: Steven Pike
  • Marathon: Alex Petsch
  • Chunder Bucket: Not awarded; no eligible entries

New committee for 2021-2022

At the AGM held on 21st Oct 2021, a new committee was voted in.

  • Chairman: Tom Brockett
  • Secretary: Fran Bamber & Tanya Cownie
  • Treasurer: Conor O’Neill
  • Other members: Joe Nelson, Mark Gillett, Lisa Gunton, Genny Sargent, Joe Green, Ellie Payne, David Brain, Nick Wainwright

Many thanks to the outgoing committee members.

Kayaks and roof racks

Every so often people ask me about roof racks, and attaching canoes/kayaks, so here is my current advice.

If you’re serious about kayaking, you need to have a good quality roof rack. Please DO NOT buy the cheapest Halford one (or similar). I’ve used Thule roof racks for many years; they are very good quality, though they are not very cheap.

Useful links:

Thule do a few styles of bars. We use ‘WingBar’ bars; these are supposed to be aerodynamic, to reduce noise and help fuel consumption, but I’m not sure that has very much effect. They have a slot along the upper side for attaching things to, this makes it very easy to change the bars from carrying kayaks to bicycles. The cheaper bars need to have the attachments bolted on instead.

You buy the bars and a fitting kit (the ‘feet’) separately. That’s because all the cars need different ways of attaching. If you have an estate car it is likely that you will have longitudinal rails along the edge of the roof above the doors, this makes it very easy and secure to attach the bars, but you’ll still need to buy basic ‘feet’ for these rails.

The various websites (Thule, Halfords, and other specialist roof rack shops) all have a page allowing you to specify your car make & model, and it will tell you which feet and bars you should use.
We recommend getting bars slightly wider than they recommend, but not too much wider. This means you should be able to get four boats stacked up on the roof. Don’t get the bars too wide, because you will then hit your head on the bars when you get in or out of the car!

Attaching the boats. I recommend using an upright attached to the roof bar, so that you can carry the kayaks on their edges. Some people don’t bother with this, and instead carry the boats flat, and can carry two pairs nestled cockpit to cockpit. I think that this is slightly more hassle when loading and unloading.

Thule sell a folding, U-shaped upright: https://www.thule.com/en-gb/winter-and-water-sports-carriers/kayak-roof-racks/thule-kayak-support-_-520100
Slightly cheaper from here: https://www.roofbox.co.uk/scripts/rbvehsel4_tab.php/car-specific-accessories/thule_kayak_carrier_for_2_kayaks_no_tu520_1/Qx%40w%2C6M42VAwp3%40Rb%7B~cC4ure5HvA
We normally have ours located three-quarters along the bar, so we can load one boat on one side, and three boats on the other. We can even fit an open canoe on the wider side.
You can get cheaper bolt-on uprights too.

Note though, that if you have an expensive (carbon/kevlar) racing kayak, or a nice sea kayak, then you will want to use proper V-bars or similar to support the boat on the roof.

It is worth putting some padding on the roof bars; this makes the boats much more secure once they’re tightened onto the bars. Thule have a rubber strip which fits along their slotted bars; alternatively, but less elegantly, you can simply tie pipe lagging to the bars. If you’re flashy you can by branded Palm padding…

We have multiple sets of straps, of different lengths. A ‘short’ pair of 3.5m straps works to hold the single boat on one side, and a ‘long’ pair of 5.5m straps for the three boats on the other side. It really helps to make sure that the straps are different colours, so that you don’t get them mixed up every time you pick them up. Palm sell coloured straps, but some other makes only come in black.
The shop in Thornbury sell them: https://www.canoeandkayakstore.co.uk/products/palm-cam-straps#foo&gid=1&pid=4
These straps have simple ‘ratchet cams’, which are entirely sufficient. We throw the blue rubber end protectors away; they are intended to help prevent scratching your car, but they get in the way a bit when using the ratchets.
Some people use straps with lorry style ratchets; I think these are a bit more hassle.

Locks. In practice, we are lucky that very few thieves seem to bother stealing kayaks. However, we do have the roof rack with locks, so that the rack is locked to the car. Thule allow you to buy a matched set of locks so that you have a single key for all of them (and for the bicycle racks too, see a bit further down). We also have a long cable-lock so that we can lock the boats to the car, but we only use that when we feel that we’re parked in a particularly vulnerable location: https://www.canoeandkayakstore.co.uk/products/rackguard-lockwire

Bicycles

Thule also sell various bicycle racks which attach to the roof bars. We use these ‘ProRide’ carriers. Again, these are not cheap, but they make it very easy to load bikes onto the roof. https://www.thule.com/en-gb/bike-rack/roof-bike-racks/thule-proride-_-598001
We don’t even need to take the kayak U-upright off when we use these; we just fold it down. And you can get the locks for these bicycle racks to use the same keys as the rest of the bars.
But bicycles are most definitely targetted by thieves; if we ever have to leave any bikes on the car roof, we always add extra big locks (D-locks and big fat chains); we don’t rely just on the basic Thule locks.

Mixing kayaks and bicycles

We sometimes leave one bike carrier on the roof on the ‘single kayak’ side of the upright; this means we can carry one, two, or three kayaks on the other side, plus a bike.
With some effort you can carry two kayaks in the middle of the car, and then add the second bike carrier on the outside to add a second bike too.
And, if you have friends who have the same racks, you can fit four bike carriers onto one roof rack to carry four bikes (but no kayaks at the same time, though).

Beg, borrow, etc

Finally, please feel free to chat with us about this. We can show you how easy it is to install the bars. And if you ask nicely, and have the same slotted roof bars, we can lend you some of our stuff…

Conor

I’m new to kayaking, how do I get started?

Over the summer we ran four beginners courses each for six people, these have now finished and we won’t be running anymore courses until next spring. Dates will go on the website in the spring as soon as we have them, just keep checking back to see if we’ve posted them.

Meantime, if you’re keen to join us paddling and are a complete beginner then it’s best to do a course first to give you the skills to paddle entry-level rivers with us, this is especially important as we head in the autumn/winter season when the rivers are higher and the weather more challenging. Look for providers of the “Start”, “Discover” and “Explore” awards. Check out the gopaddling website to find which is the most appropriate course for you https://gopaddling.info/category/paddling-awards/ There are many providers who run courses over weekends that will give you the skills you need to enjoy paddling with us

If you are over 50 then you might like to look at All Aboard Watersports which is also at the Baltic Wharf, next to where our canoe store is. They run sessions for over 50s (don’t worry, many of us in the club are over 50!) that are very reasonably priced at £10 a session. Look here: https://www.allaboardwatersports.co.uk/book-with-us/courses/course/50-kayaking-come-on-board/

If you are interested in white water paddling, then check out the Cardiff International White Water Centre’s courses here https://www.ciww.com/courses/adult-zero-to-hero/ This is a fantastic resource and a good intro to white water training, and very accessible from Bristol.

We do run pool sessions during from Sept to March at Bristol South pool where we do some informal coaching and provide an opportunity to practice skills learned on courses and on rivers. It’s better to learn the skills to paddle first then get some practice in at the pool to hone those skills. Everyone of course wants to learn to roll a kayak, but as one of our longest standing members says, “better to learn how not to need to roll a kayak so you don’t have to!”

Nick

Beginners kayak courses 2021

Beginner’s kayak courses 2021

We are pleased to announce that we will be able to offer some beginner’s kayaking courses this year. These will run on Monday evenings from our base at Baltic Wharf, and run for four weeks. Each course will involve a limited number of participants, and will be Covid secure. On successfully completing the course you’ll receive the British Canoeing Paddle Start award.

*** All our courses are now full ***

Course dates

** Full ** May: Monday 10th May, 17th May, 24th May, and 7th June

** Full ** May/June: Wednesday 26th May, 2nd June, 9th June and 16th June

** Full ** June/July: Monday 21st June, 28th June, 5th July, 12th July

** Full ** August: Monday 9th August, 16th August, 23rd August, 6th September.

The courses are intended for adults who are thinking about taking up kayaking with the club and want to learn basic kayaking skills in order to get started. It’s important that you can attend all four sessions and be there at promptly at the 6.30 start time. All equipment will be provided. The cost is £80.

We are unable to offer places to those under 18. 

For further info, email Nick Wainwright on enquiries@bristolcanoeclub.org.uk and include ‘beginners course’ in the subject line.

Canoe club update: Harbour sessions

[ Message issued by Tom (Chairman) on 23rd Mar 2021 ]

Hi Everyone!

I hope everyone is doing okay with the latest lockdown and I’m sure you’re all raring to get back out and enjoy the sun as soon as possible!

With the changes coming in on Monday 29th March, we will be able to meet in group of up to 6 which means we can start bringing the club back up and running again. Firstly, this means that al club kit can now be used again so if you are looking to go out on the harbour, you can use any of the kit in the cage. Also, we will start up the harbour sessions again from Thursday 1st April(Not an April fools promise!). We will meet at the harbour at 1800 on the Thursday and try to make the most of the longer days by getting out on the water as quick as we can. But in order for this to happen we will have to follow some rules:

  1. Stick to groups of 6. Once 6 people have turned up and got ready they need to head out and start paddling so another group can head out afterwards. This is so we follow the government guidelines so please make sure that we stick to this until the rules are eased further. Make sure to leave enough space for each group
  2. Only 2 people in the cage at one time. This limits the contact with each other in the confined space of the cage
  3. Any equipment borrowed needs to be cleaned as much as possible using wipes/sanitiser provided
  4. Stick to social distancing rules

We will also be able to start running some trips again but don’t get too excited…These trips will have to be single day trips and they will have to be possible without having to share a car as this is still not allowed. For example, a trip to the Jolly Sailor at Saltford would be acceptable but a trip down to the Dart will have to wait until a little later in the year. If you do go on a trip, make sure it is well within your ability as we want to limit the risk of having to rescue people.

Hope to see some of you on Thursday next week!

Tom

Harbour Office COVID-19 update

This Notice to Mariners was issued by the Harbour Master’s office on Mon 1st March.

Events in Bristol Harbour

04/21 Harbour Office COVID-19 update 1 March 2021

Following the Government’s announcement of A Road Map Out of Lock Down, Harbour use will be subject to the following restrictions.

As the Country moves out of lockdown there remains some uncertainty about the impact of easing restrictions. Consequently, the dates for each step may be subject to delay.

Step 1 (a): 8 March to 29 March

The Harbour is closed to all visiting craft.

Travel outside of your local area is not permitted, and therefore we are unable to facilitate visits to the Harbour.  Vessels entering the Harbour to access maintenance and repair facilities may do so only at the discretion of the Harbour Master.

Leisure use of Powered Vessels

Leisure use of powered vessels is not listed by the Government as a reasonable reason for leaving home and therefore not permitted.

Owners of powered craft must not leave their moorings unless it is to access necessary maintenance and then only after permission has been sought from and given by the Harbour Authority.

Manually Propelled Craft

In line with Government regulations on exercise owners of manually propelled craft that hold Annual Navigation Licenses may continue to use the Harbour.   Such use must adhere to Government restrictions below. 

You can exercise in a public outdoor place:

  • by yourself
  • with the people you live with
  • with your support bubble (if you are legally permitted to form one)
  • in a childcare bubble
  • or, when on your own, with one person from another household

Licensed, manually propelled club activity may continue with adherence to above and compliance with relevant association guidelines.

No new licenses will be issued. If a Navigation License is not already held for a vessel, use of the Harbour is prohibited

Commercial Activity

Apart from the maintenance and repair of vessels, no commercial activity may take place on the Harbour.

Locking Services 

Locking Services will only be provided to facilitate permitted commercial activity and will be at the discretion of the Harbour Master.

Harbour Staff

Harbour Staff will be on duty daily from 9am until 5pm to carry out dock patrols and permitted locking and tidal duties.  

They will respond to emergencies and will carry a limited supply of pump out tokens, electricity cards and other sundries for purchase by card only.   The emergency telephone service, 0117 903 1484, will still be available during operational hours (using option 2) on the answering service. 

Harbour Office

The Harbour Office is closed to the public. Should you wish to contact the office by telephone, call 0117 903 1484 between 10am to 3pm or email harbour.office@bristol.gov.uk

Step 1 (b): 29 March  

The Harbour will remain closed to visiting craft.

Overnight stays are still prohibited, and therefore we are unable to facilitate such visits to the Harbour.  Vessels entering the Harbour to access maintenance and repair facilities may do so only at the discretion of the Harbour Master.

Powered and Manually Propelled Vessels

Holders of Annual licenses for powered and manually propelled vessels may use their vessels within the limitations set out by the Government during this period.

Licensed, club activity may continue with adherence to limitations set out by the Government during this period and compliance with relevant association guidelines.

No new licenses will be issued. If a Navigation License is not already held for a vessel, use of the Harbour is prohibited.

Commercial Activity

Recognised Training Centers, Ferries, Hire Boats, and Leisure Activity Suppliers may operate in the Harbour with adherence to limitations set out by the Government during this period.

Locking Services

Locking Services at Cumberland Basin and Netham Lock will be available to facilitate trips onto River Avon for Commercial and Leisure Users. Overnight stays away from home are still prohibited. Requests for Locking Services to facilitate an overnight stay away from home will be declined.

See relevant Notices to Mariners for details on booking 

Harbour Staff

Harbour Staff will be on duty daily from 8am until 8pm to carry out dock patrols and permitted locking and tidal duties.

They will respond to emergencies and will carry a limited supply of pump out tokens, electricity cards and other sundries for purchase by card only.  

The emergency telephone service, 0117 903 1484 will still be available during operational hours, using option 2 on the answering service. 

Harbour Office

The Harbour Office is closed to the public. Should you wish to contact the office by telephone, please call 0117 903 1484 between 10am until 3pm or email harbour.office@bristol.gov.uk

Step 2: No earlier than 12 April

The Harbour will open to visiting craft.

Bookings for Locking Services to facilitate overnight visits will be taken.

Licensing

Temporary Navigation and Mooring licenses and New User Annual Navigation licenses will be issued.

Powered and Manually Propelled Vessels

Holders of licenses for powered and manually propelled craft may use their vessels within the limitations set out by the Government during this period.

Licensed, club activity may continue with adherence to limitations set out by the Government during this period and compliance with relevant association guidelines.

Commercial Activity

Recognised Training Centers, Ferries Hire Boats, and Leisure Activity Suppliers may operate in the Harbour with adherence to limitations set out by the Government during this period.

Locking Services

Locking Services at Cumberland Basin and Netham Lock will be available to facilitate trips onto River Avon for Commercial and Leisure Users. Requests for Locking Services to facilitate an overnight stay away from Home will be accepted.

See relevant Notices to Mariners for details on booking 

Harbour Staff

Harbour Staff will be on duty daily from 8am until 8pm to carry out dock patrols and locking and tidal duties. 

The emergency telephone service, 0117 903 1484, will still be available during operational hours (using option 2) on the answering service. 

Harbour Office

Front of House Services will be available from the Harbour Office between 8:30am and 4:30pm. You must follow restrictions on entry posted at entrances.

Should you wish to contact the office by telephone, please call 0117 903 1484 between 8:30am until 4:30pm  or email harbour.office@bristol.gov.uk

Step 3: No earlier than 17 may

The Harbour is open to visiting craft.

Bookings for Locking Services to facilitate overnight visits will be taken.

Licensing

Temporary Navigation and Mooring licenses and New Annual Navigation licenses will be 
issued.

Powered and Manually Propelled Vessels

Holders of licenses for powered and manually propelled craft may use their vessels within the limitations set out by the Government during this period.

Licensed, club activity may continue with adherence to limitations set out by the Government during this period and compliance with relevant association guidelines.

Commercial Activity

Recognised Training Centers, Ferries, Hire Boats, and Leisure Activity Suppliers may operate in the Harbour with adherence to limitations set out by the Government during this period.

Locking Services

Locking Services at Cumberland Basin and Netham Lock will be available to facilitate trips onto River Avon for Commercial and Leisure Users.

Requests for Locking Services to facilitate an overnight stay away from home will be accepted.  

See relevant Notices to Mariners for details on booking 

Harbour Staff

Harbour Staff will be on duty daily from 7:30am until 10pm to carry out dock patrols and locking and tidal duties.

The emergency telephone service, 0117 9031484, will still be available during operational hours (using option 2) on the answering service.

Harbour Office

Front of House Services will be available from the Harbour Office between 8:30am and 4:30pm. You must follow restrictions on entry posted at entrances.

To to contact the office by telephone, call 0117 903 1484 between  8:30am until 4:30pm  or email harbour.office@bristol.gov.uk

Step 4: No earlier than 21 June

All covid restrictions lifted.

Club Update – COVID-19 Lockdown Guidance

[ Message issued by Tom (Chairman) on 7th Jan 2021 ]

Hi all,

Hope everyone had a good Christmas and made the most of the time outdoors before we were all stuck inside again!
Unfortunately we are all back in another lockdown…. And with that comes changes to how we operate as a club again.

The latest guidance from British Canoeing and the Government is that all clubs should postpone any activities during the lockdown. This means all trips are off and we aren’t able to meet in groups larger than 2.
The rules are as follows:

  • No using the Bristol canoe club equipment. You may use your own kit if you bring it with you or if it is stored in the cage, but the club kit can’t be used for the time being because the club is effectively closed. See the email below for more info if you are collecting your personal kit from the cage.
  • We are allowed to paddle on the harbour but you must stick to the government rules relating to exercise. You can only exercise with your household, social bubble, or one other person. Check the gov link here for more info around the latest lockdown https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-lockdown-stay-at-home
  • No trips organised through the club. As the club is shut down for the time being, please don’t use the club email to organise trips, unless it’s so far in advance we’ll all be free from Covid!
  • If using the harbour, stick to social distancing rules and advice from the government

I know this isn’t the best info for anyone who uses the club regularly but we need to follow what advice and incinerate told so I hope you all understand. We’ll all make it through this and be ready for a cracking summer of paddling, drinking and BBQing together(let’s hope in groups of more than 6)!

Stay safe and we’ll all be back to normal before you know it! 

Tom

Harbour Office COVID-19 update

This Notice to Mariners was issued by the Harbour Master’s office on Wed 6th January.

Events in Bristol Harbour

03/21 Harbour Office COVID-19 update

Following the government’s announcement of a national lockdown. From Wednesday 6 January 2021 harbour use will be subject to new imposed restrictions.

The harbour is closed to all visiting craft

Travel outside of your local area is not permitted, and so we’re not able to facilitate visits to the harbour.

Powered Vessels

Leisure use of powered vessels is not listed by the government as a reasonable reason for leaving home and so not permitted. Owners of powered craft must not leave their moorings unless it’s to access necessary maintenance, and then only after permission has been sought from and given by the Harbour Authority.

Exercise

In line with government regulations on exercise, owners of manually propelled craft that hold Annual Navigation Licenses may continue to use the Harbour. Such use must adhere to government restrictions.

Licensed, manually propelled club activity may also continue with adherence to government restrictions and compliance with relevant association guidelines.

Navigation Licenses

No new licenses will be issued. If a Navigation License is not already held for a vessel, use of the Harbour is prohibited.

Harbour staff

Harbour staff will be on duty every day from 9am to 5pm to carry out dock patrols and essential locking and tidal duties. They will respond to emergencies, and will carry a limited supply of pump out tokens, electricity cards and other sundries for purchase by card only.

The emergency telephone service: 0117 903 1484, option 2 will still be available during operational hours.

The Harbour Office is closed to the public and should you wish to contact the office by telephone, call 0117 903 1484 between 10am until 3pm, or email harbour.office@bristol.gov.uk

Harbour Authority Tier 3 And 4 procedures

This Notice to Mariners was issued by the Harbour Master’s office on Mon 4th January.

Events in Bristol Harbour

02/21 Harbour Authority Tier 3 And 4  procedures in force from 4 January 2021

Fom Monday 4 January 2021 the Harbour Authority will be changing some of their Tier 3 and 4 procedures. 

This is because of the sudden increase in the Covid-19 cases in the Bristol area. It’s essential that we protect our staff and the Harbour community to effectively fulfill our statutory and essential duties.

These changes will remain in force whilst Bristol is in Tier 3 or above. 

Harbour staff

Harbour Staff will be on duty daily from 9am until 5pm to carry out dock patrols and only essential locking and tidal duties. 

They will also respond to emergencies and will carry a limited supply of pump out tokens, electricity cards and other sundries for purchase by card only.   

Emergency telephone service

The emergency telephone service 0117 903 1484, option 2 on the answering service. 

Public slipway

The public slipway will be open daily between 9am to 4:30pm for all leisure craft that hold an annual navigational license. However use must be in accordance with the latest government Covid-19 guidelines

Short Term Navigation Licences

No Short-Term Navigation Licence’s will be issued until the Harbour Authority feel it is safe to do so. Any vessel failing to comply with Government rules will be removed from the Harbour and licenses will be suspended until further notice. 

Group activities

Commercial and group based activities are still suspended and will not be permitted while Bristol remains in Tier 3 or higher. 

Harbour Office opening hours

The Harbour Office will remain closed.

To contact staff call 0117 903 1484 between 10am and 3pm. 

Tide/locking operations

Tidal and locking operations will only be done when essential and any unnecessary down and back journeys will not be permitted. 

Bookings must be made with at least 48 hours notice and approved by the Harbour Master (or his Deputy) before the commencement of any journey. 

For bookings call the Watch House on 0117 927 3633 leaving a message so a Harbour Staff member can return your call. 

Future updates

The Harbour Master will continue to review these changes and should Government guidelines or safety be compromised the Harbour Authority reserve the right to amend any of these procedures at short notice. 

Should, or when, Bristol be downgraded to Tier 2 (without the likelihood of returning to a higher Tier) the Harbour Authority will be pleased to review these changes.