Sunday, 31 October 2010

The accidental canoeist

On this long journey to L2 assessment its possible to find oneself in the most unlikely of places!

'How does Becky Mason do it?...'
Nevertheless a coach has got to do what a coach has got to do.......

We wrestled the only canoe we have access to off NK's car, into the marina and practised.

Northern Kayaker goes solo.

After a wistful look out to sea we returned to the urban backdrop of our watery classroom.

Fear kills all great ideas

Sea Kayaking UK and Lendal are working on a new DVD over the following year, filming sea kayaking in its most extreme conditions

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Paddle Orkney '11

Northern Kayaker has set up a facebook page for folk to keep up with plans for next summer's event.

Something to keep us occupied this winter while we take turns in the canoe!

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Last roll of summer

Yes it was - and I am starting to wonder if extended boat deprivation will mean the loss of new skills gained this summer. I hope not, but the seeds of doubt are there already. In what is becoming something of a Mackayak annual tradition, I am firmly bank based for the time being.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Glenmore Lodge

After a hiatus in both blogging and boating it was time to get the UKCC Level 2 coaching paddlesport training done. After a couple of attempts to get myself 'sooth' this year were foiled I finally managed to get to Glenmore Lodge for the 4 day course and half day module 'Coaching Young Paddlers'.

Early morning view from the Lodge - mist over the mountains.

 The first day beyond the classroom was in open canoes and kayaks (short boats). Conditions were perfect for an open boat novice like me, flat calm and sunny. Conditions were also perfect for a sea paddler to get into a short kayak and try not to spin round in circles (active blade please!). All the talk about tranferability of skills seemed to amount to nothing when the back of the boat is missing. I realised why this was such an important feeling for me - its the back that makes it track. As I went on I think I learned much more about sea kayaking, by having the boat surgically removed from me, than I thought I would. We worked on feel often, and when I shut my eyes I missed the long pointy bits even more!

Sea Touring boats on the sand  groul.

Proudly surveying the estate - in a YELLOW boat?
 All too briefly we got a chance to use the touring kayaks, which by now felt like an exotic species of boat. I learned again how much difference it makes being in my own outfitted Isel - it was a good lesson to be concentrating hard on skill development in a boat I didn't paddle regularly. I was in a Valley Avocet and all the regular points of reference were slightly different - a rounder hull/no hard chine/less of an inbuilt skeg. (Respect NK!!) Luckily I had a paddle which I could adjust to 45 - 15 vital degrees! Who would have thought such fine detail could make such a difference! Good to have that familiarity when coaching sculling draw though.

 The adventure continued between classroom sessions in canoes and kayaks. We visited an old haunt of mine from the days when my kids were about the size of a couple of large dry bags, when we went to Loch Insch for the journeying part of the course. The journey took us up river and with a little imagination and a Kelly kettle, it was possible to feel vaguely like a voyageur. I learned a lot on this day mostly because we spent a lot of time in the boats and a few expert coaching points had a chance to really sink in be absorbed.

Loch Insch

The journey - Kelly Kettle at the ready.

The final day on Loch Morlich.

The final day was as calm as the first. Loch Morlich looked picture postcard perfect with the trees turning golden framed by the misty mountains. The conditions at first so novel and a welcome break from the constant movement of sea and air, now reminded me of how much the draw of sea kayaking has to do with getting out here on the briny... Just as well the conditions were forgiving all week though, I wouldn't have learned as much if I had been struggling even more with my personal paddling development.

The whole experience would not have been half as enjoyable without the great company and support from the other participants, Andy (Andy's blog here), Andrew, Mark, John, Iain and Imogen. I learned loads from the other participants' breadth of experience and we had a good laugh at regular intervals throughout the process. Perhaps we might see you up here in Orkney for an adventure on the high seas one day!
Perhaps Paddle Orkney 2011?....