The Canoe Section part of the site tries to give you an idea of how SOC trips work, and what sort of things we get up to, with both overview articles and writes-up of past trips. Being a multi-activity club, many of our newcomers have a background in adventure sports, but not necessarily paddlesport. In many ways, this sets us apart from more mainstream Canoe clubs who may cater for newcomers who have no previous experience of any 'assumed risk' sports. There's a lot of stuff here, so we've tried to structure it for easy digestion - do delve deeper in the menus and links. There are Frequently Asked Questions lists for both Whitewater and Sea Kayaking.
SOC has for many years not been a coaching club owing to an historical commitment made to an insurance company. This restriction no longer applies and we are now able to organise coaching both within the club and with external providers - we hope this will lead to the club being increasingly beginner-friendly over the next few months. We have been running Pool Sessions on Friday nights over winter 2012/13 and these have proved very successful both for beginners practicing skills and more experienced paddlers trying to perfect their roll. It's expected we will resume these sessions towards the end of the year. Even on normal river trips, there's always plenty of advice for those who want it and many of our current paddlers learnt the sport entirely by paddling with the club.
Most people from one adventurous activity will be good at evaluating risks and their own ability and will be well aware that not all the risks are readily apparent to a newcomer to the activity. Trips catering to beginners and improvers are always run with this in mind and our often casual organisation sharpens up on more difficult sections of river. This section of the site includes an overview on safety, and our detailed generic risk assessments for both sea and river paddling. Reading through these will answer a lot of questions about safety, but perhaps draw your attention to a lot of risks that you hadn't thought of. Don't let this make the sport seem more dangerous than it is - identifying the hazards is all a part of making sure that we are taking appropriate precautions and running trips in a way that minimises the risk.
This section of the site also has two categories "Sea Touring and surf kayaking" and "Whitewater rivers and inland touring" under which you will find more detailed information about these two main aspects of Canoe Section activities. These include Frequently Asked Questions (and answers) but possibly the most frequently asked questions tend to be about the likely conditions for the next trip, which is not something we can address on the website, given the nature of the weather, so use the mailing list and/or forum, or even phone the contact numbers in the programme to see what is happening in the immediate future. Trips are often organised that weren't in the programme, if the conditions suit (this is particularly the case if the rivers rise in summer as they need to be paddled at short notice before they drop!) See previous river trips where there are a number of reports (often dated in midsummer) of these short notice trips. A lot of the rivers you'll see in the quarterly programme are ones we do quite often and are very familiar with. We have descriptions and photos of many of these rivers in our Favourite River Trips section, which will give you a different take from the usual guidebooks, and a feel for how SOC trips run.
If you are the sort of person who may be available for a midweek paddle, use the mailing list and make sure those of like mind know you are interested and have your number! Days at the seaside surfing are also usually short notice trips.
Programmed trips may be changed to suit either the water level or the people available to paddle, so the mailing list, in particular, should always be open on your desktop waiting to offer you the chance to get out paddling. If we have a bit of notice about a change to the programme, particularly a new organiser/contact, it will be noted at the head of the Planned Trips page.