Wednesday, December 19, 2012

December Thoughts

This month has been a whirl wind of paddling related activities but not so much in terms of actually being on the water. Simply put, the weather (wind storms) have kept us ashore from a few planned ocean paddles but we found our "kayak" fixes in other places.

Throughout our lives Robyn and I have always liked to give back in some way to the clubs or organizations that we have been part of. Although we are really newbies on the local paddling scene, both of us have offered our services to two organizations that have become the back bone of our paddling network. 

Robyn provides bookkeeping services in the Greater Victoria area and and through our contacts at SISKA we learned that the BC Marine Trails Network could use her expertise. So she has been busy assisting the Treasurer with providing volunteer bookkeeping services for a great kayaking resource.

I on the other hand have offered my services to SISKA (South Island Sea Kayaking Association) to assist the club in the role of Secretary until the next AGM in March. We have gained so much from being associated with both of these great organizations that we felt it was the least we could do to give back in some way.

This past Saturday the fifth annual SISKA Christmas Party and Paddle was planned but due to gale force winds the paddle portion was cancelled. We were very excited about participating in the paddle portion as we had all of our decorations ready for the kayaks. It would have been a great picture to see the 30 something paddlers make their way to the 6 Mile Pub by water and then hike up the bank into the pub to join the other 45 paddlers arriving by their land yachts. However we all ended up arriving by land yachts and good times were had by all. Robyn even won a couple of door prizes consisting of dry bags which you can never have enough of.

On Sunday night it was back into the pool for the SISKA Rolling Clinic which was lead by the club president and good friend Sheila Porteous. Having somewhat been able to roll, Sheila asked if I would like to assist her and Joanne with the group of first timers attempting to roll. Yeah ... for sure!!!!  Robyn also was participating in the clinic as a student but I was surprised when Sheila asked me to help two other ladies  who had no idea about rolling instead of working with Robyn.

After a introductory pool side basics session it was time to get into the water and start putting the elements of the roll together with my assigned students. We gradually worked through the bracing elements with a paddle float and then progressed all the way to both of my students completing their first unassisted roll before the end of the session. I by no means are an expert roller (not even close) but for me I found that I was able to relate to their apprehension since I had just gone though a similar learning process.

Taking a few pages from Sheila and Yves (Go Kayak) teaching techniques I simply reassured them that I was there to ensure them that any fear of being "stuck" under water was gone. What better way than to have the students roll onto their side for the first time while I just held them there in the crutch of of my arm. Here they worked of the sweeping motion all the way to rolling onto the back of their kayak. The other thing that I really focused on was getting them to relax through many stages of the roll and build fluidity into the process by letting go of the natural "panic" instincts. I know how both of my students must have felt completing their first roll but I have to admit I was pretty stoked as well. Do I hear a calling to become a PVC Level 1 Instructor in 2013???  ;-)

Next week is that magical time of year and last year my message was pretty simple. So once again it is our wish and we hope everyone has a safe and wonderful holiday season.

What would this world be like if every day we celebrated peace on earth like we do at this time of year? Even though we are all alone in space, the people of this amazing blue planet somehow manage to put differences aside and show that we care for one another.

Mark & Robyn


  1. Mark and Robyn, your words are very thoughtful. We must, indeed, learn to care deeply for one another and for this extraordinary planet. By the way, I think you guys are long past being "newbies" now...and you've made more contributions through this medium than you may know. :) Safe and happy paddling and best wishes to you both this special season. D & J.

  2. Thanks Duncan & Joan, we wish you a Merry Christmas and all the best for 2013. One day we are going to have to paddle together and share stories. Love following your blog and passion for the outdoors.

    Mark & Robyn