Monday, June 23, 2008

Level 1 Course

This past week, the Newfoundland Kayak Company put on a Paddle Canada Sea Kayak Level 1 Skills course. I helped out Richard Alexander with the instruction, along with Craig Burden and Jon Walsh. We spent Tuesday night in the pool learning rescues, Friday evening on the pond learning the first few strokes, and all day Saturday on the pond learning more strokes, practicing rescues and learning about gear, weather and navigation.

And a little fooling around with balance!

Then a day trip on the ocean on Sunday to put it all into practice on salt water. We launched in Cupids on Conception Bay. The sun was out for the first time in two weeks and the wind was light. It was perfect for a Level 1 paddle!!
A few kilometres east of Cupid, we came to the Arches, which is a spectacular archway to paddle through. There was less than one metre of swell but it was noisily crashing on the surrounding rocks, so this was an exercise in trust and confidence-building. But the smiles afterwards were worth the anxiety. Craig took the photo below.

We stopped for lunch and Richard put his pastey white legs on display! We managed to keep our lunch down, while he told tall tales and did funny things with rope.

We got back on the water and paddled around the Brigus lighthouse and into Brigus harbour.

Eventually Craig caught up with the class (boy, is he slow!!!) and I took this photo while he caught his breath.
Seriously, it was a great course and a lot of fun to instruct. We had a super bunch of students and they all progressed significantly during the course. It was very enjoyable teaching with Richard, Jon and Craig! Looking forward to teaching the Level 2 course with Craig next week in Gros Morne!!!

Safety Lessons

After the capsizes on the KNL Cape Broyle paddle, several of the trip leaders met with the KNL Safety Committee to de-brief the proceedings. We gathered descriptions of what happened from most of those involved. Seeing the situation from different points of view is enlightening. There is always something to learn from rescue situations. We'll apply the lessons to future club paddles. This way the club works to promote safety on our paddles and our trip leaders gain valuable insights for next time.

KNL Father's Day Paddle in Cape Broyle

Every year Alex McGruer leads a club paddle on Father's Day to Cape Broyle. This year we had a good turnout and a great day for an adventure. Greg Stamer had a arrived in St. John's a couple of days before and was getting ready to circumnavigate the island. He decided to come out and join KNL members for the day. Above is Greg in the waterfall near the start.

Here's Isabelle wearing a big smile next to the falls.

This iceberg was just off Lance Cove, so Greg and a bunch of us went out for a look. Below is Kam who was visiting from New York and came along for the fun. He loved the icebergs.

We landed at Lance Cove for lunch. Below is Greg wondering if it's safe to join the lunatics by the damp fire?!

You couldn't find a better crowd of paddlers anywhere. The smiles tell the story. Well ... almost...

After the lunch stop, the group split in two. The more experienced crowd headed out to Church Cove and found big swells and excitement. There was no wind, so it was a perfect learning environment for those with less big-water experience. Despite a bout of sea-sickness by one paddler, there were big smiles all-round once we got back to calmer water and the adrenaline subsided. Stretching your comfort zone in a safe situation with capable mentors provides long-term benefits in terms of paddling experience and self-confidence.
The other half of the group headed straight back for the launch site. On the way, a couple of paddlers capsized and were quickly rescued. One swimmer was wet, cold and unable to continue. Alex took him ashore in Freshwater Cove and got him into dry clothes. Alex called the Coast Guard as a precaution, and they dispatched a power boat from Cape Broyle. The Ocean Predator was on the scene in a very short time and took the mildly hypothermic swimmer back to the wharf. A happy ending to the incident. Honour is due to Alex, Malcolm and Peter for their leadership and sound decision-making. And a big thank-you to the Coast Guard Auxillary Boat Ocean Predator and its crew.
With water temperatures here around 5 degrees Celsius now, even a brief swim in a wetsuit and paddling top can seriously chill a paddler. Rapid response by rescuers ensures a rapid recovery.