Safety Skills Courses
The Thames Skills & Knowledge (TSK) 1 course aims to provide a good knowledge of the main risks for people navigating the Thames in unpowered craft. It has been developed with advice and help from the Port of London Authority (PLA). All content has been agreed with the Assistant Harbourmaster responsible for sport and recreation. The course costs £75. Boards, paddles, wetsuits and buoyancy aids are avalable to participants.
The 4-hour course includes detailed information about tides and how they affect Thames users. Also wind effects and navigation rules for paddleboarders and other river users are covered. Risks, such as being pinned by strong currents against moorings and pontoons and collision with other craft are discussed, as are strategies for avoidance. The course is organised into two parts.
Part A covers theory and is classroom based using slides to illustrate hazards, tide tables and internet resources available. Part B is carried out on water and aims to illustrate the risks discussed in Part A on the river. Participants are also expected to demonstrate a level of personal competence and confidence on the river and be able to paddle against the tide, carry out a self rescue, cross the river safely and turn effectively.
Although mainly aimed at paddleboarders, this training also relevant to canoeists and one canoe club has been recommending it to members. Participation on this course is required by the PLA for anyone wanting to paddleboard downstream of Putney Bridge and above Chelsea Bridge. It is aimed at people who have some experience of SUP / canoeing on the Tideway but who want to expand their knowledge and paddle alone / in unguided groups (above Putney) or in small unguided groups (Putney – Chelsea Bridge).
More TSK 1 courses are planned in 2020 and we would hope to train over 100 more people this year. The course is a requirement for all Active360 coaches.
In 2016, we piloted the TSK 2 course, which allows competent and experienced paddleboarders to paddle unguided downstream to Tower Bridge in groups of 3+. The course is organised in four parts. It covers specific risks downstream of Chelsea, dealing with a pinning situation, leading a group, egress points and specific hazards.