I'm just now getting around to posting. Dave knows all about it, being my FB friend. At the end of Oct. I went to Tybee Island, GA, with my friend Joel, for the Sea Kayak Georgia symposium. IT WAS SO GREAT!!!!! I learned more in 5 days than I've learned in 3 years--by a factor of 10! My primary stated goal was to get the roll. If you guys recall, I've been struggling with finding appropriate instruction, being here in whitewater land, Middle Tennessee. I took a few pool classes with WW instructors and got close to getting the C to C roll, but didn't make it. Last summer I took 2 privates when I went up your way to visit my mom -- at Pacifica Paddle Sports on Van Island, which was a C to C that turned into more of a layback roll when the instructor realize that worked better for me, and then at Ecomarine, with Mike Gilbert (GREAT GUY!!), who put me in a tulik and a Greenland boat and got me SO CLOSE to getting the roll. He said I did it myself a few times, but they then we'd been at it 2 hours and I was exhausted. When I got back home and I tried it in my boat, I failed over and over for 3 hours and finally gave up. I decided to wait for the symposium. So the pressure was on Dubside, who taught rolling at the SKG symposium, to be the one to help me get it. SO . . . When we arrived on Sunday, we checked into our cabin. This was a great find--we each had separate areas, so there was privacy, and we had our own shower, which seemed like a good idea after 6 hours in and on the water. Also a little kitchen and a fridge. I cooked veggie burgers and roasted corn that first night. On Monday, we didn't have anything official to do until the late PM so we took a paddle in the bay and the marsh. The wind was up and it was a grey day, but it was beautiful anyway and we had a great time. At 3 PM we met with the Sea Kayak GA folks to try some boats. It was NOT an ideal day to do that LOL. As it turned out, the wind was at 28 knots by the time we got started, and compared with Joel's and my wide, stable, non-edgy boats, the NDKs felt very tippy, and in that wind, even more so. Fortunately, we were able to get opportunities later in the week to test the boats. On Tuesday, I was signed up for rolling with Dubside. And the FIRST DAY, after 10 minutes, I GOT THE ROLL! He said ONE THING (to push my hand OUT after letting the paddle float and switching to "happy hands" (his way to explain cocking your wrists back), and BOOM. I had it!!! Several people said that it was amazing that the first boat I rolled was my wide, fat, stodgy Wilderness Systems Tsunami! That boat is almost impossible to capsize and is equally resistant about rolling up LOL. But it's not about strength, as Dubside said. Once he told me he's rolled a sit on top, I knew I could do it. Here is video proof from that day. The first one sucks--I buried the paddle b/c I was nervous w/ the camera on. The other 2 are OK. It got even better later on in the week, after the second class. Dubside, BTW, is FREAKING AWESOME. What a cool guy. And what an amazing roller! He gave a demo of his Greenland ropes stuff one night, which was really something to see. I tried it and let's just say it is NOT EASY!!!! Here he is rolling (hand roll). On Wed. and Thurs., I took BCU 3 star testing. That was a kind of interesting story. I went into that figuring that it might be a bit of a stretch for me, but the training was very easy. In fact, the first day, there was light chop in the bay and the instructor said, "This is 3 star conditions." The other student and I looked at each other in confusion--I had thought conditions were far less mild for 3 star. But the coach insisted, and we spent the day back in the marsh, on glass water, working on strokes and rescues. It all seemed very tame. The next day of 3 star training, we went out into the surf a bit -- ONLY, the coach said, b/c I had been bemoaning the fact that I wasn't going to get a chance to surf at all (since I live in TN I have very few opportunities!). He said that surfing was not part of 3 star. The surfing was SO MUCH FUN! My boat is not meant to surf LOL, but it managed, and I didn't even capsize once! Friday, I rolled again. Dubside and I worked on my offside roll, and I got that, too! After a while, it felt nearly as good as the on-side roll, and Dubside said I'm ready to try the shotgun roll on my own. I have the Perry/Wilson roll videos and am scheduled for a pool class (with a borrowed sea kayak) on Tues. so I can start working on that. Saturday was 3 star assessment day, and of course, we had a different coach assessing us. It became clear pretty quickly that we had not really gotten the whole story from the first coach. We headed right out into high, confused seas, which was great, but not what the training had prepared us for! We did several rescues out there in that--it was far lumpier water than I had ever done rescues in, and we had a little trouble with the bow rescue (not being able to get in there in time b/c of the surf pushing us away), but we did OK, I thought. Then we surfed, and again I was proud of myself. The surf was MUCH bigger that day, and much bigger in the location where we were--the COACH was excited by the surf, which tells you that it wasn't baby surf LOL. He seemed to want to surf and surf and surf. I capsized once and dammit, lost my paddle briefly, but given that this was the second time I'd ever been in surf, and I was in a totally inappropriate boat, I was pleased. After lunch we headed out again. More surfing. More rescues in rough water. It had been hard from the beginning for me to keep up -- both the others were men in NDK Romanys, and here I was in my fat 14 foot Tsunumi. I wondered a few times why the coach was leaving me so far behind--but I kept plugging away. I wasn't really tired, despite the long day and all the surfing and bracing and rescues--my boat just only goes so fast and there wasn't a lot I could do about that. Then we rolled. My roll got a "Beautiful! Really lovely and fluid!" from the coach. That made me happy, given how hard-won it was! When we returned to shore, we each had a de-briefing with the coach. I guess I was fairly sure I'd passed. I had done everything I had been asked to, and while I was nervous some of the time in the big surf, I handled it really well and the coach even said that. We'd done the rescues, several times each. We had rolled. But I didn't pass. And it was basically b/c of my boat. That seemed really unfair to me at first--I mean, it's not my fault that I'm a girl in a short, fat boat and they were 6 foot tall men in NDK Romanys. But I did come to understand that 3 star is about being a useful member of a group, and that if I cannot keep up -- for whatever reason -- I'm a liability. I do wish that BCU would make it clear that you need a nice boat for these assessments. The rules just say, "a sea kayak with bulkheads," which I have. But I'm OK with it. If I'm honest with myself, I felt a little over my head in the conditions--mostly b/c we were not prepared for them by the coach--and that means that I wasn't really ready. NEXT TIME FOR SURE!!! The end result of all THAT is that I have put on layaway the most beeeooootiful NDK Pilgrim Expedition! It was custom made for Eila Wilkinson--she and and Nigel Dennis were supposed to be coaching at the symposium, but they got "Trumped" -- prevented from coming b/c of issues with Trump's visa waiver program. We were all surprised to learn that apparently the US is at war with the UK now! Anyway, the boat is gorgeous. It even has a little "Smarty Hatch," just in front of the cockpit, that holds glasses or a phone. I haven't paddled it, but I paddled Pilgrims and Pilgrim Expeditions several times during the week, and what a lovely boat. So responsive and FAST! Joel and I will go back to Tybee to pick it up in late Winter/early Spring, and we'll get some private lessons at the same time. Joel bought a boat as well--an Explorer HV--so he's keen to get help with learning to paddle it in more interesting conditions than we have here. All in all, it was a great week. Despite not getting the 3 star rating, that day out in the lumpy water was a real highlight for me. It was the first time I really had to USE the braces I've learned, and they worked! It was the first time I had to work out how to rescue someone when the wind and the water were not cooperating, and I did! The whole experience was great--from hanging out at the local bars with the coaches, to the evening programs, to testing all sorts of different boats, to meeting people who will be lifelong friends, to learning new things and accomplishing that roll. I want to say thank you to everyone here, and ESPECIALLY to Dave, who has mentored me since I blundered onto this site 3 years ago after getting hooked on sea kayaking during my 5 day trip in the San Juans. This is a great sport, with some really great people in it!