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Canoe thieves at Pirate Castle

Joyriders steal kayaks and then dump them up the canal

12 December, 2019 — By Nick Ferris

THE  head coach at a well-known paddlesports centre has told of her disappointment after it was hit by a series of thefts by joyriders.

Staff at the Pirate Castle, which helps young people take to the canal waters in Camden Town, said there had been four recent incidents where people had pinched kayaks. They said they have had to rely on other boat users, from the London Waterbus Company and even London Zoo, to flag up where their canoes ended up after being dumped.

Head coach Beate Hohmann said the charity and community centre was trying to provide opportunities that would mean people did not feel they need to break in.

“We are here for the people of Camden – whether you are 8 or 108 and you want to paddle, come and speak to us and we will make that happen,” she said. “It’s so disappointing when people take advantage like this.”

Kal Webb, development manager at the Pirate Castle, said the perpetrators were mostly punting across onto the centre’s private pontoon and taking the kayaks out along Regent’s Canal.  In October, thieves broke into main building which led to a teenager being arrested. Boats are now being locked up for the first time.

Ms Hohmann said staff were working hard to bring more people into the Pirate Castle with overall attendance up 40 per cent on last year.

“We are here to help – to give belonging and something to enjoy. It’s not just sport – it’s about adventure,” she said. “We want to help them do it properly, to really feel the adrenaline. People have moved on to bigger adventures like white water rafting. “Even if you don’t have the money, come along and we’ll get you on the water.”

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