These are some of the more common questions that we get asked about our club. If you can’t find the answer you’re looking for or want to ask us about something else, get in touch.

Do you rent out kayaks, canoes or paddle boards?

No, unfortunately we don’t rent out our equipment or boats for public use. However, club members can access to our fleet for their own personal use once they either pass their 1 Star certificate or demonstrate some basic skills from past experience. Find out more about the benefits of being a club member.

If you’re really only looking for a one-off experience, the Canal Centre offers a rental service on kayaks, canoes, rowing boats and pedalo’s.

How do I join the BCCC and what type of membership do I need?

All the details about joining the Basingstoke Canal Canoe Club can be found here, including our downloadable membership form, pricing for the various membership types, and information on which would suit you best.

What can I do to help?

We are a volunteer organisation, members contribute their time and skills to the Club because they enjoy the sport of paddling. All members can help by making sure that they look after boats, returning it clean and dry to the correct rack; spray decks and buoyancy aids hung up to dry. Paddlers can consider getting some coaching qualifications and pass on their knowledge. Non paddlers can help with bank side organisation for events, this could be timekeeping, help with catering, car parking attendant.

What do I need to bring to a beginners session?

BCCC will supply all specialist equipment. You need to bring a complete change of clothes including underwear, footwear and a towel. Manmade fibres are better than cotton because they hold less water and dry quicker. In the summer a short sleeved top and shorts is sufficient. In spring and autumn you should add a fleece top, tracksuit bottoms and a lightweight waterproof cagoule, possibly a fleece or knitted hat as well.

What footwear is suitable for paddling in?

There are sharp stone and all sorts of rubbish in the bed of the canal. You need to protect your feet on the towpath and if you come out. Ideally a pair of neoprene beach shoes, you can buy these from the supermarket, Argos and HM Supplies in the summer months and from Marsport and Whitewater Canoe Centre all year round. Alternatively an old pair of plimsolls will do. Please do not wear chunky trainers, wellies, crocs or flip flops.

What happens if I fall in?

You will get wet! Before your lesson your coach will have advised you on the capsize drill for your craft. He or she will help you empty it so you can get back in and do more paddling. There are showers available in the Visitor Centre at Mytchett.

What is the water quality like?

Water quality is usually very good. The canal is a Site of Special Scientific Interest for most of its length. Unlike the rivers there aren’t any sewage or industrial waste outlets discharging into it, but you do get rainfall run off from fields and roads. All fresh, surface waters carry the risk of Leptospirosis (Weils disease) This is an extremely rare, but serious, bacterial infection. We recommend that you cover all cuts and scratches with waterproof plasters, thoroughly clean any cuts or abrasions received during paddling. Wash your hands before eating or handling food and wash or shower promptly after water sports.

How much does it cost to borrow a club boat?

It’s free, to adult, junior or family club members. We do not hire out boats to non-members of the club. Nor do we give you the door code to let you borrow boats for unsupervised use, until club members have demonstrated competence in them. Please read the rules for using club boats.

What happens after my beginners lessons/course has finished?
  1. Try out a different craft
  2. Join club outings
  3. Buy roof bars and j bars
  4. Buy a buoyancy aid & paddle
  5. Expand your wardrobe

Number 1: Before buying, try out the different craft the club has to offer. For example, once you have been briefed and assessed in racing boat techniques, you may fancy gliding off in a Hobby or Lance (two of the club’s beginner’s racing kayaks) perhaps entering the monthly Hare and Hounds trial over 2, 4, or 6 miles and see your times improve. Dave Howie, our race captain, will encourage you in good forward paddling technique safely. You do not have to race! Alternatively, try steadily building up your endurance in a touring sea kayak, to be ready to paddle further afield, inland or tidal. Rick Covell will help you prepare to explore. As a further option, try one of our open canoes. Brian Biffin is always happy to point you in the right direction. Having recently joined the club, when using club equipment, you need to be paddling as part of a club group or under supervision. This satisfies the rules governing your affiliation to Paddle UK through the club.

Number 2: Whatever craft you decide to use, to benefit from your new skills, you should get out and paddle regularly. Throughout the year the club paddles on Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday mornings, plus Thursday (summertime) evenings. Build up a degree of endurance in your chosen craft – as a guide, you should feel comfortable paddling the 4 miles to Ash Wharf and back within around 1.5 hours. You will now be ready to join us on the Thames, paddling St Patrick’s Stream, the River Wey loop near Guildford or the Kennet and Avon Canal above Reading. You will soon become interested in our tidal trips, such as exploring the pubs on the Hamble Estuary, discovering Poole Harbour or the Old Harry Rocks. These trips are advertised on the website in the diary.

Number 3: Although the club has a trailer, not everyone has a tow bar. Planning a trip is much easier if you are able to bring a boat on your roof rack.

Number 4: Depending on the water you choose to navigate, you will soon discover which type of paddle you prefer. Some club members are willing to let you try out their paddles! Most people have specific preferences with buoyancy aids, a zipped pocket here for the (waterproofed) phone, a pouch there for a bag of sweets, and perhaps side pockets to warm your hands in while pausing. Above all, it must be comfortable for a full day’s paddling.

Number 5: If you limit yourself to summertime paddling, read no further!

In cool weather (around10c) it is quite remarkable how warm you get by paddling steadily and continuously. It is not the weather to stop and admire the wildlife too frequently. You need long-sleeved acrylic, moisture wicking thermal base layers such as Lifawear, Craft, Peak, Palm. Buy a windproof cag. For canoeing, some prefer the Rooster Aquafleece, which is not watertight but has a flock lining inside. For kayaking, when water is likely to run up your arms, a more expensive cag with sealed neck and cuffs is better. If you feel your activity may result in a capsize, a thin wetsuit longjohn (one without sleeves) is advisable. If you are likely to spend any length of time immersed, then go for a drysuit.

When the weather approaches freezing, look after the extremities: you will need a warm hat plus pogies, neoprene mittens or smittens for your hands. Sealskinz socks inside beach shoes will keep your feet warm.

If in doubt, ask around – everyone has different ideas for keeping warm.

Time to start compiling your Christmas wish list!

I have done some canoeing on holiday/with the Scouts/Cadets. Do I still need to do a beginners course?

No. If you can demonstrate that you are at a minimum of Paddle UK (formerly known as British Canoeing) 1 Star standard then you do not need to do a beginners course. Please arrange with one of the coaches at a regular session to demonstrate your skills.

Can I use my own boat on one of the beginners courses?

Please discuss this with the coach running your course. We run beginners courses in general purpose kayak, open cockpit (flat water racing) kayak and open canoe. Your boat may not be appropriate for some courses. You do, however, need to arrange a licence to paddle your own boat on the Basingstoke Canal and many other inland waterways. The cheapest way to do this is to become a member of Paddle UK.

Do you provide life jackets?

No! We provide buoyancy aids. These help you float, but not always in a “face up” position. We have sizes to suit most people from about age 8 upwards. If you are a Family member and wish to take your young children canoeing then you should buy them a life jacket suitable for their size, then if they fall in the canal they will float in a face up position.

How far does someone have to be able to swim to canoe/kayak?

You need to be able to swim at least 25m unaided to take part in Paddlepower and other courses. Swimming with clothes on in cold water is very different from swimming in a pool which is why you need to wear a buoyancy aid. Family members can take young children afloat under their own supervision who do not meet this requirement, but we strongly recommend they wear a correctly sized life jacket. Members of affiliated groups, eg Scouts and Guides will have to meet the swimming requirements of their organisation.

How do I report broken, missing or non-functioning equipment?

Please report all damage using this online form.