No one Expects the Unexpected!

On a chilly and wonderfully clear morning in November, I took out three intrepid adventurers on what was to be an eventful paddle…

Expect the unexpected! It’s something as a guide, leader, and instructor that I always bear in mind. And, usually, something slightly unexpected will happen on each trop; som happen to clients, some to me – most of which you won’t even know have happened as I’ll have come up with a safe (and amazingly clever) workaround 😉 (and this is what I risk asses for, both dynamically and pre emptivley)
Sometimes a trip will be more exciting and eventful and keep throwing the unexpected at you! A few clients and I got to experience such a trip on a canal adventure towards the end of last year…

Don’t forget to check your kit

The first thing to try to throw a spanner in the works was the most common issue we come across – a missing bit of kit!

On this occasion, a client had forgotten their fin. Not the end of the world as some paddleboards have fixed fins, so can be paddled without the main fin. Nope. Not this time.

Not a problem, I think, I always have a spare fin or two…

So. There are at least 4 types of fin I can think of straight away, each with a different way of connecting the fin to the board. Of course, I didn’t have the correct fitting on any of my spare fins! Time to pump up the spare board!

3 of the many fins connection types from

Whilst pumping up the spare board, my client runs up to me, fin in hand ‘I’ve just found it in my board bag!’. Relieved, I put my pump down and gave them a big thumbs up, let out an inaudible sigh of relief and started to deflate and pack up the spare board. Obstacle one: cleared!

If you think having a spare fin would be useful (in case of loss, breakages, or if someone forgets one…) we can get discounts on accessories from Two Bare Feet and Sandbanks style just drop us a message.

How cold is it?

We got on the water with no further hiccups and started the leisurely paddle away from Brecon Canal Basin. Starting slowly, making sure the participants were able to build their confidence in their own time, helping out with technique where needed, and putting everyone at ease.

We paddled for a while, enjoying the crisp air and the freshness you only get in the calm aftermath of a winter storm, when I noticed the water looking very flat, without a ripple on the surface at all.

A thin layer of ice from canal bank to canal bank

There was a beautiful, thin layer of ice across the width of the canal. I had paddled a kayak through ice before, but rarely on a paddleboard so, I was a bit apprehensive but confident the ice wasn’t going to be an issue. I tentatively paddled into the ice and it broke up with a gentle sigh as the ripples from my SUP moved it away.


Our next obstacle was also a sure sign there had been a storm recently! A tree had fallen across the width of the canal and was bobbing just below the surface.

Trimming the board forward (by moving the weight to the front) to clear a submerged tree

So that we didn’t take up time and energy getting off the water and walking around the tree, we decided to try and stay on the water. As the tree was partially submerged we got out weight forward on our boards and trimmed the front down. This lifted the back of the boards and the fins up so they wouldn’t catch on the tree.

With a little bit of shuffling and wiggling we all managed to get across the tree, no problem. Phew!

However. A bit further along the canal, we did come across another tree brought down in the storm which wasn’t submerged. This one we would have to portage around.

Portaging around a canal-wide fallen tree.

One of the great things about paddling on a canal is the ease at which you can get off the water almost anywhere! The banks are quite low, and there is a footpath running alongside the canal making a short portage convenient and easy.

We made the most of the beautiful, clear weather and had a wonderfully slow, relaxing adventure, completing the journey in the reverse, passing back through all the obstacles we encountered on the way, but knowing what was ahead!

If you’d like to join us on a (hopefully less eventful!) slow-paced, gentle paddle trip, all our upcoming trips can be found at

If there are 3 or more of you, contact me directly to set up a trip where and when you’d like to go!

WhatsApp: 07859 795 785

Facebook: OutdoorExploreWales

Instagram: OutdoorExploreWales

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: