If you just go for a paddle than you can stop thinking about wanting to go for a paddle.

Monday, September 11, 2017

2017: Post 18 – If it's not raining, it's not training

This weekend past would be the last one in September that Shane would be available to do another Sea Kayaking Level 1 course.   Like his first course, he only had three students, (Shane, Emily, and Mark) and he asked me to come help out once again.  

Unlike Shane's other courses, I decided I would attend the theory portion of the course on Saturday morning.  It was an information refresher for myself, and I added a few pennies worth of comments here and there.  What I found was that it gave me a chance to meet the students and for us to get to know each other a little before getting on the pond in the afternoon. If Shane asks me to help him out on future courses I plan to attend the theory session portion again... I think it has a positive effect on the group dynamic rather then if I just show up at the pond in the afternoon.   

At the pond the first order of business was to show people how to properly carry their kayaks and then to get kayaks and gear ready.


All three students had wetsuits as is generally the case with newer paddlers, and Shane and I were a little concerned about them getting chilled in the forecasted afternoon rain.  But we tried to keep them moving between learning things to stay warm.

Wet-exits and basic T-rescues were taught near the shore, and then we moved out into deep water to do them all over again...



... and again, and again...


... until they could both be the rescuer and the rescuee to Shane's satisfaction.  They also did the paddle float self-rescue as well.  Just when I thought Shane was done with the rescues  he had them all do it one more time, and then we headed to shore for a stretch and a break from sitting in the kayaks.  But it wasn't a rest from learning.  I sat on the shore with my string and shovel handle and explained and demonstrated the forward stroke..   I prefer to sit on land to demonstrate and break down the forward stroke, and then get into the kayaks to learn it on the water... 





The afternoon went quickly.  Although all of the intended strokes had not been covered, Shane was thinking maybe it was time to call it a day so the students could get into some dry clothes and get warmed up, but they all said they were okay to go another while.  So Shane continued on with his instruction, and I think it was 5:30 when we finally called it a day.  At one point Student Shane commented that "if it's not raining, it's not training..."  i thought that was a great attitude, which all three students seemed to share.

The forecast called for more rain on Sunday and the wind was to be at the high end of Level 1 from the Northeast; this would be perfect for the day.  We  drove to the put-in at Conception Harbour, had a little discussion, and then got on the water...



We paddled down to the shipwreck, had a little on-water discussion about what to do in the event of a salt water capsize, and the importance of sticking together and watching out for each other.

Using our best forward stroke, we paddled over to Middle Cove where Shane went over low and high bracing, and then he had me demonstrate and explain sweep strokes and edging...

video

We handrailed the shore, stopping here and there to continue to work on things taught, and learning new things like contact tows, stopping, and stern rudders... 

In Gasters Bay there was a following sea going to Broad Cove and the students had to use paddle stern rudders to keep their kayaks going straight.

Before we arrived at Broad Cove one of the students unintentionally capsized and we watched the other two students spring into action... Emily was the first person to reach Mark and put her training to work.  Student Shane was on standby to help out and I think he misplaced a paddle stroke and he unintentionally capsized as well.  So Instructor Shane went into rescue mode while I sat on standby for whomever may need me, snapping a couple pics and a short video.... 


video

I like when these things happen unintentionally on the ocean during courses; it emphasizes to students that something like a double capsize really does happen, and how important it is to have sufficient knowledge and competent paddling partners.  It really nails home why we need to learn and practice what you have been taught so you are prepared to deal with a situation like this. 

Before we got on the beach I went over on-water communication using paddle, hand/arm, and whistle signals. 

On the beach Shane got out his tarp to put up so we could have lunch out of the rain.  Water was boiled for a cup of tea to have after our lunch.  



We didn't hang around too long after lunch before getting back on the water... 


We handrailed back along the shore...




... until we arrived at the little cove just before Ballyhack Point where the students could have a little rest and Shane gave a little more on-water instruction.  



Once we rounded Ballyhack point we were in full protection from the Northeast wind.  The rain had stopped and it was a rather pleasant afternoon.  We paddled our way down the shore a little and then made the small crossing over to and around Middle point  where Shane had everyone line up, stern to the shore.  The instruction was to use good forward stroke and paddle as fast as they could over to the shipwreck to see who could get there first... it's always a fun way to end the day.




Back at the cars I took the class photo and Shane had a little chat with his students to get feedback.  Student feedback (both good and bad) helps on future courses.  We got into dry clothes and then went over boat design... Shane would normally do this after lunch but we figured it best not to be standing on the shore in the wind and he decided to wait until we got back to the cars.

The students....

Mark

Emily

Shane

And the photo of Shane's third Level 1 class...

Instructor Shane       Mark        Emily      Student Shane    
Emily, Student Shane, and Mark... you guys rock!  You guys really embraced the suck factor over the weekend with the poor weather Mother Nature gave us.  With the weather we had, and the amount of time you guys spent in the water I would rate the course as more like Type 2 fun... kind of sucks to be doing it but you will reflect back on it and decide it was well worth it... I know at times you guys had to be chilly but you were all smiling and seemed to be having a good time.  

This is likely the last Level 1 course Shane will teach this year as he is tied up with his non-kayak life for the rest of September and in October the ponds are cooling off and the air temperature is getting colder.  Most students taking this course have wetsuits and in the colder months it is much better to have a drysuit if you are going to spend any amount of time in and out of the water.  However, Shane did say if someone comes to him to do an October course he would consider it if they have a drysuit.

I had more fun than I thought I would helping out on the courses Shane offered this year since he become a Certified Level 1 Kayak Instructor.  I feel that twelve kayakers in this province received high quality instruction from Shane.  I picked up on some little things that will help make me a better kayaker than I was before... there are always things to learn no matter how long you have been kayaking.  Good job to all of Shane's students he had this year, you all progressed and I think you are better kayakers for taking the Level 1 course.  I hope everybody stays safe out there....

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

2017: Post 17 – Shane's second Level 1 Course

Shane would be free this past weekend and there was some talk of doing some paddling or maybe a little trip as it was a three day weekend.  Instead he decided he would offer another Level 1 Sea Kayaking course if there was enough interest... he ended up with six students; twice as many as he had for his first course. I offered my assistance once again as six people are a handful for just one person to keep an eye on.

He decided to do rescues on the pond Friday evening since with a larger group it would take more time.  There was no discussion of paddle strokes or boat control, but we watched  as the students paddled between rescues to see at what skill levels people were. 




The next morning Shane met his group and went over the paddling theory portion of the course.  I didn't attend but in retrospect I should have... there's always little things to learn and it's a good idea to get re-introduced to basic information now and then.  

During the afternoon we were back on the pond learning about paddle strokes and skills.   I sat on the grass and showed them what I have learned about the forward stroke from previous instructors, and added things I have figured out on my own or learned from books and Youtube... Perhaps it was too much information at Level 1 but I think it's best for people to try to start off right rather then develop bad paddling form and then have to try to correct it later to be a more efficient paddler.  Shane followed up by demonstrating the forward stroke when we got on the water...





Sunday was the day on the ocean.  The weather was perfect for Level 1.  Some of the students had not paddled on the salt water before and I asked a couple of them what their comfort level was... closer to the end of the day I asked the same question and the number had risen... the more time you spend on the ocean the more your comfort level will increase.

We geared up and had a discussion about the the plan for the day and had a look at the Chart and Topo map for the area...



Then it was time to launch... I think this is the part of the course that students look forward to the most...






We made our way across the bottom of the bay and handrailed the shoreline, using the skills Shane had taught the days before.....







As we paddled along there were reminders about torso rotation and using paddle strokes to control the kayak.  We discussed on-water communication, and the importance of sticking together and keeping an eye on each other.  We had a salt water rescue practice or two on the way.  Finally it was time to pull up on a beach and have lunch....


After lunch Shane talked about paddles and boat design...




Then it was time to get back on the water and make our way back to the take-out, on the way practicing things that had been learned... 

Sharon

Heather

Paul

Peter

Jeff

Robert
And of course the class photo had to be taken before people headed for home...

Shane     Jeff     Peter     Robert     Heather     Sharon     Paul

Congratulations once again to Shane for putting off another Level 1 Sea Kayaking course, and to Jeff, Heather, Peter, Sharon, Robert, and Paul for your successful completion of the course.  


I enjoyed watching you guys progress from start to finish over the weekend.  I hope you all keep getting out there and practicing the things you learned, and decide to take it farther and learn things beyond what is taught at Level 1 in preparation of continuing on to take the Level 2 course later on.  Stay safe in your future kayaking endevours while you are having fun.  


Monday, August 21, 2017

2017: Post 16 – Club paddle in Cape Broyle

Yesterday a group of twenty four people in twenty three kayaks met for a club paddle in Cape Broyle.
A lot of my pics had water spots on them, and I didn't take many on the way back after lunch... but here's some of the pics that I did take....

















It was a fun day for me... I hope those who came along had fun and learned some things about kayaking...

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

2017: Post 15 – Young Grasshopper becomes the teacher

Shane started showing up at our St. Philips practices a few years ago.  He was in a big, blue aircraft-carrier-of-a-kayak.  What he lacked in paddling knowledge he made up for in his youthful enthusiasm.  He showed little fear in trying things and asked lots of questions.  He capsized often and we pulled him out of the sea many times.  I remember joking with him on several occasions, calling him 'Grasshopper' and telling him that when he could snatch the paddle from my hand he would become a  paddler... a take off from the old Kung Fu show from the 1970's... click here for the clip of the scene from the show.  

Shane recently obtained his Level 1 Sea Kayak Instructors certification and it was time for him to put it to use.  He did a little advertising and three people signed up for the Level 1 course.  I had the feeling he was a little apprehensive and so, although I am not a certified kayak instructor,  I offered to assist him if he called Paddle Canada to make sure it was okay for me to do so.  He had a conversation with the powers to be and confirmed there was no issue at all for me to be an Instructor's Assistant... and after all, another set of eyes greatly serves to increase the safety of everybody on the water.  So last week Shane put off his very first Level 1 course...

In the morning of the first day, Shane met with his students and covered the required theory portion of the Level 1 course, and then I met them after lunch on the pond.  


Instructor Shane went over some kayaking equipment and then we took to the water where he demonstrated and had the students practice the various kayak strokes, as well as paddling and rescue skills...




Near the end of the day it was time for the students to get wet and practice assisted and self rescues...




On the morning of the second day we all met and drove out to Conception Harbour for the salt water portion of the course. 

We readied the gear and kayaks at the put-in...


... and then Shane went over the plan and we talked about the differences in a topographical map and a nautical chart.



Then it was time to get on the water.  


Paddle strokes were practiced as we paddled our way to Middle Point and up to Ballyhack Point where we were treated to the sighting of an eagle.



When we arrived at Broad Cove Shane demonstrated and had the students practice more paddling skills.  From there we carried on across the bottom of Gastor's Bay where we discussed on water communication and signals.  Some more rescue practice and some more paddling and we eventually pulled up on a beach and had lunch.

During lunch we discussed a little bit about VHF radio's and GPS units and Shane explained about different paddles...


... and then went over kayak designs before getting back on the water.


Once we were on the water there wasn't really much more for Shane to teach as he had gone through the required curriculum of the Level 1 course.  So  we pretty much just let the students put into use what they had learned as we paddled back to the take-out, although there were reminders to not bend elbows and to push on foot pegs as we paddled along... 


Although my primary role was to serve as the Instructor's Assistant, I was also the official photographer... so I made it a point to get a picture of each student as we made our way back to the slipway...


Peter

Craig

Christine
I also made sure to take a picture of Instructor Shane and his very first group of students...



Congratulations to Shane for putting off his very first Level 1 Sea Kayaking course.  I thought he did an excellent job explaining things to his students and he seems to have a natural propensity for teaching.

Also, congratulations to Craig, Christine, and Peter for taking the Level 1 course.  From my perspective, I seen an improvement in all of you from the start to the end of the course, which I think serves as a compliment to Shane's excellent instruction and your willingness to learn to be better kayakers.  I sincerely hope you all continue to learn and enjoy the sport of recreational sea kayaking.  Stay safe out there while you are having fun on the water, and remember that 'we are all in this thing together'...