So much learning! Sea Kayak Georgia symposium

Discussion in 'General Paddling Discussions' started by pawsplus, Nov 13, 2017.

  1. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

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    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.

    ET_cabin.jpg

    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.
    ET_paddle3.JPG
    joel_marsh.JPG

    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).
    dubside_rolling2.JPG

    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.
    paddle_marsh.JPG

    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!
    ET_ready_to_go.JPG

    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.

    my_boat1.JPG

    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!
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2017
  2. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

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    Oh, and everything I own is now for sale so I can pay for the Pilgrim LOL. Sold my spare WS kayak with sail yesterday. Won't sell the Tsunumi until I have the new one, of course. Selling my horse trailer and truck, and trading in the car on a vehicle that can take a Hullavator, because the new boat can't go in the truck bed with the bed extender, as I've done with the poly boat. It is 3 feet longer, and that just seems like asking for trouble LOL. I have clothes and tack, and all manner of things up on eBay. If I haven't used it in a year, it's GONE! :)
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2017
  3. drahcir

    drahcir Paddler

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    Good going Paws! The Pilgrim sounds like a really fine boat. My feet might be a big for the Pilgrim, but I have an older Explorer that I really like.

    Of course, you still need to move to the Northwest.
     
  4. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

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    I'm in year 4 of a 10 year plan. Working on it! :)
     
  5. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Outstanding! You are clearly a natural at this stuff. Give yourself buckets of credit for persistence and athleticism, Paws. As for the BCU level 3 certification, I wager that will be a straightforward task next shot, in a more appropriate boat, and after a few sessions of preparation/retraining just prior to the certification trials.

    As you adapt to the new boat, so much of what you have been introduced to will become second nature, making heavy water well within your comfort zone. Next shot at the BC coast, I expect you to be sampling a lot of that.

    Congratulations!
     
  6. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    Thanks for a great writeup and congrats on your progress!
    You will love your new boat!
     
  7. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    Paws:
    It sounds like the instructors didn't spend much time on forward stroke technique?

    What type of paddles were the 'men in Romanys' using?
     
  8. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

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    Nothing wrong w/ my forward stroke. And we did work on that. The problem is that my boat is slow! I was using a Greenland paddle and they were using euro blades, but I've never had a problem keeping up w/ men using euro blades, as long as the boats were compatible.
     
  9. JKA

    JKA Paddler

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    Hi Paws,

    I'm a little confused/concerned over the reason given for you being "not yet competent" :) as a 3* paddler.

    I'm an assessor of sea kayak instructors, in the NZ Outdoor Instructors Association scheme, and I would be very reluctant to attribute someones' failings to their choice of craft. I know that explanation would be subject to appeal, and rightly so. It could well be part of the general impression the assessor forms of the paddler's preparation for sitting the award, but as an assessor my task is to give you the opportunity to demonstrate your competence. Leaving you behind, as you've suggested happened, is not the ideal way to do that.

    I hold the BCU 5* award, which I did in a Nordkapp when every other candidate was paddling a Romany. It was noted by the assessors, one of whom was Nigel Dennis, designer and builder of the Romany, that I had handicapped myself by paddling a narrow craft while everyone else was able to relax in the conditions. They certainly wouldn't have cut me slack if I had struggled and then used the tippy kayak as an excuse, which is the same thinking but in reverse.

    Please don't take the above as a criticism of you, it is rather questioning the methodologies used in the assessment.

    All the best in your preparation for re-sitting the award. The learning is in the journey, the award is just external moderation of your competency.

    Cheers

    John
     
  10. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

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    Well, he just told me I couldn't keep up with them. Which, in fact, I couldn't. He didn't say, "it's b/c your boat sucks," but I know I can keep up with men when we are in smilar boats, and I know how fast the Romanys are, so it seemed clear that the reason I could NOT keep up was my short, fat boat (combined with the fact that I'm a woman and they were men). I think I would have been borderline if I'd been in a faster boat, b/c even though I did everything I was asked, I WAS nervous in the surf, having not experienced that much surf before (big waves, big wind, yes, but surf is different), and that fact probably communicated itself to the assessor. But I think he would have passed me but for the fact that I couldn't keep up in Little Red.

    I'm really OK about it. When I DO pass, I'll pass with flying colors and feel really great about it! :)
     
  11. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

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    Another point: In the initial discussion he and I had after the assessment, he said that the problem was my "stamina." I was confused by this, as I have great stamina, and I could have kept plugging away in my short, fat boat for hours LOL. It was eventually determined, through another coach, that this was a language barrier thing--he simply meant that I was not keeping up w/ the boys. That made me feel better, b/c it seemed clear to ME why I wasn't keeping up, and it sure wasn't stamina.

    It is possible that I could have gone a little faster w/ a Euro blade, but it's not really been my experience. I feel more comfy with the GL paddle and that's how I learned to roll, so it seemed risky to change things up at the last minute.

    My friend Joel, who bought a boat in Tybee as well, but brought it home with him (lucky dog) and I will be paddling on Sunday, and he knows he's going to have to really back off to keep from smoking me in that long, fast boat. Until I get the new one, that's just how it's gonna be! I told him he's welcome to take off and test its speed, as long as he waits for me later on LOL.
     
  12. Mac50L

    Mac50L Paddler

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    As JK-A says, a bit confusing using that excuse to fail you.

    Maybe the others should have been failed for not keeping you in the group. As for the paddle, I'd paddle faster with the GP than a Euro. It is simply boat speed related to length.

    As for a tippy kayak, if you can handle it, surely higher marks than someone who has to use a more stable kayak to survive in. When I went to a really tippy kayak my bracing became automatic and I don't notice doing it. Isn't that a safety thing?
     
  13. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Paws, I agree the assessment was flawed. Two points, based on the short time we paddled together a year or so ago:

    1. You do not lack for stamina. Tough as anybody I have paddled with, irrespective of body mass/musclature or gender.

    2. Your forward stroke is good for an untutored paddler. I would judge you to be about 70 % there wrt efficiency and form. Most folks with the experience you have are not that far along. With your extraordinary fitness and strength, as well as how readily you benefit from competent coaching, I think a couple sessions with a good coach will bring you very close to 100%. It is difficult to develop a powerful, efficient stroke without the benefit of other eyes on your technique. Video clips of yourself, reviewed within a session, are really helpful. After a couple sessions, and some time perfecting your stroke, get another video session. You will be astounded at the difference.
     
  14. nootka

    nootka Paddler

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    My Pilgrim Expedition is waay faster than my Romany.

    You should assume your new Pilgrim will be flawed somehow, even if it's only the leaking skeg cable hole in the aft seat bulkhead. There may well be more flaws. Fixing your new NDK boat is just part of owning one.
     
  15. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

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    Thanks, Dave! I think I'm WAY better now than when you saw me paddle, well over a year ago! I've done a lot with my forward stroke since then. :) I specifically asked 2 instructors if there was anything I needed to work on vis-a-vis the forward stroke and the both said it looked great. I did work on some techniques specific to the GL paddle with Dubside. :)
     
  16. semdoug

    semdoug Paddler

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    To be frank, I would not put much faith or effort and expense into obtaining a BCU rating. The important thing is that your are taking the steps to be a skilled and safe paddler regardless of some title offered by an arbitrary evaluation and authority.

    Nice looking boat, something cool about a black hull.
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2017 at 5:22 PM
  17. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

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    Thanks! Yeah, I know re: ratings. BUT the rating does tell other people, who may not know you well, if you're up to whatever. That is important when, like me, you don't live around a lot of sea kayakers. I can see myself being interested in joining up with others for trips, and since I don't live up there, how would people know for sure that I could rescue myself and others, etc? That's it's value to me. :)
     
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  18. Kayak Jim

    Kayak Jim Paddler

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    ... except when the chopper is trying to spot the overturned hull.
     
  19. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    If I lived in TN and did paddling in BC and WA, I would use the same rationale that paws employs. That said, most of us know that the training and evalution standards do vary, place to place, with some of that due to the difficulty of finding suitable conditions both for training and for evaluation. There is no magic fix for that. In her situation, it might be well to do a little tune up on arrival in BC for a summer kayak trip with a competent instructor for a day before taking off. All of us need regular refreshing and testing of our techniques. Easier for those of us who can cherry pick the days for refreshing techniques. Tougher for her.
     
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  20. semdoug

    semdoug Paddler

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    Is this hyperbole or do you have an actual event, backed up with a real SAR case, mishap report or case study) where this happened? If so, please share.