Newsletter, February 17, 2024

Do you know LEFT from RIGHT?

A strange question you may say, as we all know the difference….don’t we? Maybe, but…. as a paddler on a stretch of water it’s not that obvious and there may be a time when you’ll need to know. For example, if you are paddling upstream or downstream, left and right are as you would expect and it is courteous to paddle on your right to allow approaching water users to pass on your left.

The important exception comes when one gives an instruction such as ‘River Left’ or ‘River Right’ and, for this to make any sense, you need to know which way the water is actually flowing.

For example, if you are paddling downstream with the river flow, ‘River Left’ will be on your LEFT!
If paddling upstream against the flow, ‘River Left’ will actually be on your RIGHT!
Understanding this nomenclature will help you in identifying potential no-go areas as some commercial operators (i.e. TNR at MEM) and land owners use these phrases to clearly identify private property that is ‘out of bounds’ to river users. This knowledge could also be crucial in a rescue situation.

Many of you will have paddled past this sign on the bank of the River Dee by Sandy Lane car park, perhaps made a cursory glance at it but never took any notice as to what it meant and why it was at that particular point.

The River Dee, like most waterways, has designated rescue points along its route and these signs inform the emergency services where the nearest point of vehicle access is in relation to your current position.

In this example, you are at rescue point ‘7’ on the bank and the preceding letter ‘R’ signifies the closest vehicle access point is on RIVER RIGHT.

So next time you are out paddling, please take more notice of the various signs along your journey as this apparently trivial information could help save someone’s life!

Stay safe and happy paddling

Keith Brocklehurst, Deva CC Secretary.