We arrived at the CIWW Centre in magnificent time thanks to Liam driving our fully-laden Land Rover and trailer like a demon. We somehow managed to squeeze eight of us in it with plenty of room for jokes and idle chatter too. We had Joe and Jon with us for their first Isis CC away trip and we were all naturally on our best behaviour, well actually we decided to initiate them into the Isis fold with some truely bizarre conversations. I think Joe came off the worst being sandwiched between Simon and Gwylim.
After reading a two page document, providing a full medical history and promising you had read all manner of safety documents, we simply had to sign on the dotted line (fifteen times - I kid you not!) and hand over our £10.
A quick glace at the empty course and everything seemed great. We made the most of the lovely new changing rooms and lockers and were on the water before you could say 'wind burn'. Simon took a quick paddle down the course to see what it was like and joined the rest of us a little wetter to let us know that it was 'mean and unforgiving' which immediately put us all at ease.
We all made our way to the most awesome invention for kayakers...the travelator. We all piled on one by one and slowly glided to the top of the course and upon tunring a corner we all saw what Simon meant. The first wave was a big one which you could punch through easily enough, but after that there was no stopping as you just had to keep battling on down the course and stay out of the way of any rafts that were also trying to play.
There were a few swims, but given the pace of the water (8 cumecs) and the lack of any decent eddies for our beginners, that was hardly surprising and we held our own admirably. You knew that it would be a wet day when the centre actually provided a man whose job it was, all day, to rescue swimmers with a throw line. It turned out to be a welcome service, one which we couldn't do in case we got our ropes in the pumps which cost £1,000,000 each! There were a few clubs on the course all learning the hard way how to tackle bigger water. But credit to our Isis team who walked out of the water got back into their boats and got back on the travelator for more punishment.
One thing we all learnt to our peril was just how shallow the course was. You could push off the bottom with your paddle if you were going over and more than one helmet has an impressive number of scrape marks on it from the bottom. However, I think everyone learned something, if only how to keep smiling when you know what is in store of you, and by the end of the day people were more confident about how to tackle different sections. We'll definitely be going back...in summer when it is much warmer...and on a 4 cumec release day so we can slow things down a bit.
Well done to everyone who had a go, we'll see you on the next trip in January!-Jen
Photos by Helen.