It was fresher’s week, and in my ultimate wisdom, like many other young fresher’s I took it upon myself to join clubs and societies until my money was no more. One of these clubs happened to be the canoe club. But could I be blamed? Who hasn’t had fun pushing people out of canoes in dodgy adventure centres?
The stand was one of the more impressive, with several colourful kayaks on show and the secretary doing her best to paddle her way across the hall (she never made it… probably due to the lack of water). So I paid the 15 quid and went along to the pool session later that night, determined to be awesome.
Of course when I saw the boats I realised that I had never actually been in a kayak before, those big hunks
of plastic that you sit on in the aforementioned adventure centres? Yeah, they’re not kayaks. You see in a kayak you sit in the boat not on it, sounds like fun right? It is. Well… until you capsize. You see when you first join the canoe club there’s a sort of barbaric initiation (the committee claim it’s for insurance purposes… but really they just enjoy seeing the fear on fresher’s faces).
What does this initiation entail you ask?
Well first there’s swim. This part is just to tire you out. I hear that the committee secretly lace the pool with chloroform to accelerate the onset of fatigue, but anyway. Once the swim test is complete you go over to the safety officer Niall (it’s pronounced Neil, he spells it wrong but it’s okay) and he gives you a tick beside your name.
Then, the ‘capsize test’ this is where it gets tough friends. So you manage to squeeze yourself into the kayak and stick on the spray deck, after a few seconds you lose all feeling in your legs (don’t worry it comes back after a few weeks) but decide that yeah, this is pretty cool. And then you’re underwater, fighting the seriously tempting urge to panic. After that taxing swim you wonder if you’re making it out of this alive. Relax, bang on the boat a few times and then get the fuck out of there. Job done.
There’s a few thing that everyone should know about the canoe club.
First of all, the members are awesome. Everyone is so friendly and willing to help you out, be it to stop you from drowning or to get you plastered.
Second, no matter what anyone says, the committee deserve medals. They will welcome you with open arms and teach you how to paddle like a boss, no matter how pathetic you are.
Third and most important, being captain sucks. Pints poured over you, thrown into rivers, mopping up fresher puke at 2 in the morning. Don’t be captain. Ever.