Monday, July 2, 2012

A Day With MEC

Saturday was the Mountain Equipment Co-Op (MEC) Paddlefest held at Willow's Beach in Oak Bay. Robyn and I signed up for a stokes clinic a few weeks back and the only decision that we really had to make was how we were going to get there. Our options were to drive to the event with our kayaks or paddle in from another put in location.

Of course we decided that paddling into the event would be a cool thing to do so we headed to Gyro Park  (Cadboro Bay) which about a 1/2 hour paddle away from Willow's Beach. Arriving at the put in location the first thing we noticed was the misty low cloud and fog settling into the bay. Preparing our kayaks, Robyn checked the GPS and we headed out on the totally flat water and into the fog.

This was the first time that we had ever paddled in the fog and even though we could just make out the shoreline I have to admit the landscape looked totally alien and I had no idea where we were. Although we have paddled this route a number of times, only seeing a few meters of shoreline made me aware that we normally paddle using a panoramic visual references on a clear day getting the "big" picture. Today they were gone so we hugged the shoreline and followed the GPS to our destination.

At first we could just see the tents from the water then slowly movement began as people started to appear in the fog. We spotted Sheila and her kayak on the beach and made our landing close by. From our vantage point the beach was becoming "alive" as clinics were just starting to form up and head to the water.

The Ocean River Discovery Shuttle crew briefs a group of lucky people for a free tour over to Discovery Island.

We met up with John and Louise (Kayak Yak) who were searching for a new kayak for Louise as well as fellow R/C pilot Al Tamosiunas who is also a kayaker and is looking to start using a Greenland paddle. Checking out the vendors wares I took one of MEC's demo P&H Delphin's out for a spin on the water and found it not to be as stable as my Delta 15.5 but man did that little kayak turn on a dime. Now I know why they are so popular in the surf with many kayakers. Honey...... I need a rock garden surf boat. Just sayin ;-)

At around 11:30 six members of SISKA took to the water to demonstrate rolling and rescue techniques. The Oak Bay Sea Rescue teams also participated in a demo to assist a kayaker in the water. During this time I had the opportunity to be on the water with them to capture video and pictures up close. I was really impressed with how professional the OBSR volunteers were in getting the kayaker out of the water in a short period of time. It's nice to know that we have groups like the OBSR looking after pleasure craft operators and kayakers when in times of need. I managed to get lots of pictures and video of the kayakers in action along with the OBSR and I will get them posted as soon as possible.

After lunch Robyn and I participated in an Advanced Forward Stroke clinic instructed by Corina (I hope I got her name right) also assisted by Sheila. It is always good to get other instructor's perspective and although we knew much of the technical aspects of the clinic we did come away with little things that will only enhance our skill development.

As the saying goes, "time flies by when you're having fun" this was the case and so right after our clinic we stayed on the water and paddled back to Gyro Park with Sheila. The folks at MEC did a great job along with all the other vendors who participated in the Paddlefest. We look forward to future events like this as it is really catered to reaching out to those who have thought about kayaking and those like us who can't seem to get enough of such a great adventure.

1 comment:

  1. Always fun to see these events, Mark. We all missed the one that is usually held on Transfer Beach in Ladysmith but look forward to the event again when there is renewed energy. Paddle on. Duncan.