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Fowey Estuary Risk Assessment

Route Description & General Hazards

The routes outlined above are 4 possible routes and can be decided on the day depending on the winds and tide.

Fowey Estuary – St Winnow Route

We launch from Golant Pil and head left to the upper estuary keeping as close to the west bank (left) as possible. You will reach a historic little boatshed at St Winnow point (where the estuary splits. Take to the left and head all the way to St Winnow church. Use the orange buoy as a turning marked and start to head your way back.

Fowey Estuary – Penpol Route

Starting at either Golant Pil or Golant slipway, cross the river to the east bank and head to the mouth of Penpol Creek. From there follow the creek right to the end, where you will reach the little hamlet of Penpol. Turn when there and head back to the start.

Fowey Estuary – Low Tide Route

Launching from Golant slipway, you will follow the outgoing tide towards Fowey. Once you launch, keep to the west bank (right hand side), until you reach the metal jetty, at this point cross to the east bank (left). Follow the route on the left bank past Mixtow and Fowey docks, once you reach the large pontoon, turn and follow the same route back. Please be aware this route is usually a bit busier.   

Fowey Estuary – Lerryn Route

We launch from Golant Pil and head left to the upper estuary keeping as close to the west bank (left) as possible. You will reach a historic little boatshed at St Winnow point – where the estuary splits. Cross to River Lerryn (on the right) and head up this stunning creek to an area of woodland and a small creek on the left (Ethy rocks) – turn and follow the route back.

Key Points for AquaPaddle – The Fowey Estuary

Please be aware that every paddler must obtain a Fowey Harbour Paddle sports licence. This license is £20 and valid for a year. It can be found via The Fowey Harbour website on

The speed limit on the estuary is 6 knots.

The estuary is considered a sheltered waterway; however, the tide runs at 2 knots and can feel faster in there are higher winds, spring tides and low-pressure systems. Paddling the estuary can help improve your technical abilities and conditional awareness, but please be aware to check the conditions before you leave and paddle within your own ability. There are a number of moorings, boats and other water users. Please wear a suitable PFD and leash for this environment. No children under 10 on paddle boards due to the complexities of the environment and the strong tidal flow.

The Fowey estuary is a designated AONB and has an abundance of beautiful wildlife. We ask that you keep a respectful distance to ensure they are not disturbed.

Risk Assessment

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Hazards arising from activityControl measure in place to reduce risk from each hazardArrangements to ensure the control measure continue to be implemented
*Please note that the risk assessment covers kayak/Canadian canoe hire also*  
Collision with mooring buoys and other static objects.Instructor and assistants to give clear guidance and path the avoid obstacles.Review path/crossing annually and ensure associates are fully trained.
Strong tidal conditionsClients/associates to be advised on tide/current and drying out dangers. Instructor/Associates to always check conditions before tour/session/hire commences.Associates to check conditions and ensure clients have read and understood terms and conditions.
Mudflat dangerClients/Associates to be advised on drying out times in case of grounding. Highlight the dangers and that walking on the flats should be avoided to exit the water.Associates to ensure the tides have been checked and tours/sessions are conducted two hours either side of the high or low unless it is agreed otherwise by the lead Instructor/Associates. One-way tours can be conducted on either ebb of flow.
Hazard from prevailing wind and weather conditionsSUP school and kayaks will not operate over 15 mph standing wind (depending on the wind direction) unless a safe location is found and agreed by two instructors. Assess by Associates, check weather forecast. Use of powerboat to transport clients to a safe location may occur. If thunderstorms occur after a tour/session has begun, ask the clients to return to a safe area on the bank if there is less than 7 seconds between the lightening flash and the thunder. This follows the BC guidance. 
Darkness and “Nature by Night” toursMake sure the sunset SUP/kayak/hire or any of the other day time sessions are back before nightfall. “Nature By Night” tours will be conducted my two instructors with two lights per vessel. Obstacle positioning such as moorings need to be assessed priorCheck sunset hours and conditions. Ensure all equipment is working properly and brief clients on safety correct measures.
 to the tour.  All other relevant risk assessments areas apply.  
Fog and poor visibilityInstructor/Associates to check forecast and if in doubt go to location to check the conditions. Specialised equipment to be taken on sessions/tours if required, such as lights etc.Assess by Associates, check weather forecast.
WildlifeBrief clients about approaching wildlife, maintaining a safe distance whenever possible. ‘If its free, let it be’Ensure associates relay information to the clients.
Other water users including power boats, sails, kayakers etcAlthough engine should move for paddle ensure the group maintain a safe distance from other vessels where possible. Always move and keep clear of shipping and other river users.                        Conduct training with EC associates. 
Railway line crossingEnsure clients check both sides before crossing.Make clients aware of railway crossing hazard.
Sawmills/Golant Pill bridge crossingEnsure the clients lower their heads and or kneel on the high tide.Inform all clients before reaching the bridge to ‘duck’.
Golant pill moorings and ropes.Advise clients where ropes/boats/moorings are and direct to a clear spot. Access to Golant Quay Users Risk Assessment.Local direction given.
Over hanging branches Make group aware that there are over hanging branches along the riverbank or lake shoreline.Make clients aware of potential over hanging branch hazards.
SUP Yoga/PilatesBoards to be either weighted or tide together on arrival to the lesson spot. Briefing and safety to be conducted and medical information to be obtained prior to the session. All other areas of risk assessments apply where applicable.  Equipment and conditions checked regularly as well as customer ability.  
Falling from inability to standDuring the tour/session talk through the correct way to fall and climb back on a board or kayak.Bring clients to a safe spot on the riverbank and assist back on the vessel. Make clients aware.
DrowningAim that all clients are aware of EC T&C’s and are equipped with buoyance aids. Where necessary attach SUP leashes to buoyancy aids to act as quick release.By booking clients have automatically agreed to EC T&C’s. Ensure Associates are trained where applicable.
HypothermiaClients to be given info about appropriate dress and associates to give the clients a wetsuit if deemed necessary.Carry foil blanket (if the instructor sees fit). Make sure the clients are out of the water
  and taken to an appropriate assemble/exit point and call for emergency assistance if need be.
Spinal injuryEnsure all clients fill in medical information form.Teaching techniques and awareness of fall techniques and potential hazards.
Injury from damaged equipmentCheck PSI regularly. Ensure regular equipment checks are carried out. equipment. Daily/monthly Associates checks. All equipment checked regularly.
Hazard from slipping or tripping. Brief Associates and clients on the danger of slipping and tripping at all entry and exit points if necessary.Briefing/checklist of associates used at start of the session.
Pre-existing medical conditionsTerms and conditions require the person making the booking to notify any relevant medical conditions for their group prior to arrival. If the client has NOT informed EC or relevant Instructors/Associates/Guides, those parties are NOT responsible for any incident involving said condition.Instructor/Associates only to authorise session admission where safety precautions can be put in place. DO NOT TAKE CLIENT OUT IF UNSURE OR WITHOUT A DOCTORS NOTE. Instructor/Associates to ask about medical conditions during land base intro.
Emergency situationEnsure that the casualty and group are all called to a designated assemble/exit point. Call appropriate FHC/Coastguard/Partners/emergency services if require. Annual emergency drills to be conducted. Signed terms and conditions by clients. Follow EC emergency action plan and brief clients at the start of the session.
ChildrenChildren under 18 do NOT need to be accompanied by an adult on sessions/tours due to EC AALA license. No children under 8 to allowed to participate on SUP and 3 on kayak unless agreed by partners. Child buoyancy aid to be provided.Identified on booking form which asks for age. Safety boat to accompany groups with children if necessary. 
Breakup of groupInstructor to pay close attention to all clients/group members (particularly while crossing the river)Moving in between group members to keep control. Whistle control – short sharp whistle blasts to gain group concentration and help to shepherd. Large groups to have additional Instructor/Associate for help if need be.     
Safety BoatSafety Boat to be used for various activities or to transport clients to river locations that are safely out of the wind/tidal pull if deemed necessary. Also, to be used in the event of an emergency.All EC Partners to have completed the RYA Powerboat level 2 qual. In house Associates training to all other employees.
 Maximum manufacturers limit of 8 persons in an emergency only (Quicksilver HD380 boat). Collisions to be reported to FHC.   
Propeller DangerThe safety boat will be fitted with a kill code to ensure the engine cuts out if needed (as RYA advise).Kill code to be fitted to the engines and used at all times, Associates training given.
Beaching All operators must be trained and familiar with the local conditions – tide and channels. If beached contact EC office and FHC.Associates training given
Engine and fuelEngines are to be routinely serviced. Fuel to be securely stored on both the boat and at The Boatshed.    Associates training.
SUP Leashes and entanglementSUP leashes are to be worn on the estuary unless it is deemed to be an entanglement risk.   Leashes are not essential in Golant Pill or Loch McVie due to the gentle flow rate and exit points.   Entanglement from submerged plant life   Quick release belts are advised and assessment of the conditions/abilities of the group to determine route.   Loch McVie – Lake has been dredged to clear under-water obstruction. Specific pocket knife to be carried by instructors on duty
Land-based activities and Golant Village Green/ParkIndicate hazards such as play/sports equipment, waters edge etcEnsure that the participates are aware of the risks and take personal responsibility to manage it
Geocaching and guided walksIbe aware of various hazards such as tree branches, tree stumps, water’s edge, tiredness, slipping.  Ensure that the participates are aware of the risks and they take personal responsibility to manage it – including wearing appropriate clothing, walking carefully, taking regular rest breaks.