Thursday, April 21, 2016

SISKA Instructors Instructing

Over the April 9-10th weekend I participated in a couple of South Island Sea Kayaking Association (SISKA) events and both were related to being an instructor. 

On Saturday, the first SISKA Instructors "Peer Day" took place at Trial Island and as a new Paddle Canada Sea Kayaking Level 1 instructor I was invited to attend. With the recent warm spell on the west coast, the morning fog has been developing and sure enough when the 6 of us arrived at the McNeill Bay beach it was a little "soupy". 

Can anyone see the Trial Island Lighthouse????
L to R: Jennie, Michael, Mike, Dorothea (sitting) and Jo

It's out there somewhere .... but where??

We went about our business preparing our kayaks and then had a discussion about heading out towards Trial which was eerily just starting to show itself. With the improving visibility, calm conditions and a few of us having GPS's on board we decided to head out across Enterprise Channel.

By the time we reached the main island where the lighthouse is located the sun had burned through enough that we were able to get down to business. The purpose of the day was to share teaching methods, skills demonstration ideas and practice any skills as a group that we might use in the future.

Jo and the Trial Island lighthouse

We were also fortunate to have a pretty decent low tide and Mike Jackson taught us a little bit about the inter-tidal zone life we were able to see.  It was great to see pisaster ochraceus, generally known as the purple sea star or ochre sea star just above the waterline. In recent months starfish around here have been dramatically reduced in numbers due to Sea Star Wasting Disease. Mike also explained the differences between surf and eel grass, black chiton and mossy/hairy/woody chiton as well as dire whelk and frilled dog winkles.

Once again the fog rolled in and the lighthouse disappeared. .... time for lunch!!

The fog again lifted as we enjoyed lunch on a small pebble beach below the high water line.

During our lunch break, Mike Jackson also gave a short lecture on the pros and cons of using a Greenland paddle and how to paddle with it effectively. I was intrigued enough that once back on the water Mike kindly let me use his carbon fiber Greenland Paddle to head back to McNeill Bay. I have to admit that crossing Enterprise Channel which was now flooding at about 3-4 knots made me feel a little uneasy as the "stick" I was using felt that I didn't have any bracing capability at all. However, once we crossed the channel I started to experiment with the paddle by doing extended paddle bracing in a small flowing channel between a couple of islets. I kinda liked it ;-)

Back in McNeill Bay we worked on the Hand of God rescue with yours truly being the victim. I have actually seen it done a couple of times when a kayaker became disorientated under water and couldn't locate the "holy *hit" strap on the spray skirt. Since that time I have been working on it with Robyn and Kari and although difficult for ladies to do, if the mechanics are correct they too can bring up a big guy like myself. 

Michael Egilson trying to hand brace. It worked pretty good!!

It was a great day of sharing ideas and trying a few things and I look forward to doing another instructors day in the future.

2016 Paddle #11 - Trial Island
Distance: 3.17 nm (5.87  km)
YTD: 77.82 nm (144.215 km)

On Sunday morning I assisted Jennie Sutton (lead instructor for the day) on a SISKA beginner / intermediate currents clinic at Cadboro Point. To take advantage of the conditions our group of 8 students launched from Cadboro Bay (Gyro Park) at 07:30am and headed out towards a small channel that we hoped would have enough water for us to play in.

Jennie leads Janet, Willi, Dana, Wendy, Tim, Deb, Julie and Dave through a beach talk about what to expect out there.

Arriving at the channel we found a wonderful ebb flow and Jennie and I were able to demonstrate low brace turns and ferrying across the current. As the assistant instructor I located myself a little bit downstream and coached the students to exit the main flow and into the back eddy where I was located. I also was there just in case one of them happened to edge the wrong way and ended up in the water. I was pleasantly surprised that not a single one of them edged the wrong way enough to go swimming. I like to think of them as being FAT (Flexible, Available and Trainable) that day because they watched and listened to what was being taught by Jennie and myself and then simply did it for themselves. So awesome to see their progression throughout the clinic and of course to see their big ear to ear smiles!

Wendy working in the current

Then, as the conditions started to increase, the students got to explore their comfort level a bit more by hanging out in mid-current looking for little eddies that would allow their kayak to remain in place. We also taught them how to paddle upstream using eddies behind rocks as we leap-frogged against the current.

Jennie keeps a close eye on Janet who really did quiet well being her first time in currents.

Deb showing that resting in the currents can be fun too!

Dave can't stop smiling. Think he likes currents??

Tim also having fun just hanging out in the currents.

A few of the students playing in edge of the Baynes Channel flow. 

Nearing the end of the clinic the ebb conditions started to decrease and many of the features that we used a few hours earlier simply vanished. However, a few of the students ventured out into the edge of the Baynes Channel flow once again pushing the envelope just a little bit further. Still, nobody went swimming!

We were off the water just before lunch and by the comments we received it seems like everyone had a really good time, learned some new skills and hopefully overcame some nerves about paddling in currents.

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