Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Gecko Goes Blue

When I first started kayaking coming up to 5 years ago, I never would have thought where it would take us and what I would be doing with it now. Some of you who know me well enough might have guessed pretty close but I can honestly say that I didn't see it coming.

The Gecko Paddler blog has been primarily our personal kayaking journal right from day one back on September 12, 2011 and my goodness we have done a lot since then. Looking back it makes me wonder how the heck we found the time and money to make it all happen. No regrets at all .. none! But now ... it's time to give back.

This past weekend I was asked to be the head instructor for a Paddle Canada Sea Kayak Skills Level 1 course for Blue Dog Kayaking based at the Mill Bay Marina. Blue Dog Kayaking is owned by David Nichols and I received my Paddle Canada Sea Kayak Skills Level 3 and Paddle Canada Sea Kayak Instructor Level 1 certifications over the past 18 months from him.

So this blog post really isn't about another one of our adventures but really is about 3 people who decided to start or enhance their own sea kayak journey like Robyn and I did a few years ago.

Talk about a small world .... Sandra and Kevin live on the mainland and decided to take a Paddle Canada course with Blue Dog Kayaking while visiting her parents nearby. Where did they find out about Blue Dog Kayaking? None other than the Gecko Paddler blog so they were really thrilled to have "the" Gecko Paddler as their instructor for the weekend. LOL  The only kayaking experience they had up to this weekend has been using Delta Kayaks 10's a few times.  

Katelyn is a SISKA member who just joined the club after having relocated from the interior where she has done some lake paddling and kayak camping. Her goal this weekend was to work through the Level 1 skills to prepare herself for a Level 2 course with Blue Dog Kayaking at the end of June.

Tagging along for the weekend was Robyn who also is Paddle Canada Sea Kayak Skills Level 3 certified and she fulfilled the role of demonstrating some of the in the water rescues with me. She also partnered up with Katelyn which allowed our students to do more instead of sitting back and watching.

The Paddle Canada Sea Kayak Skills Level 1 course is jam packed with lots of different paddle strokes and rescues that need to be completed on day 1. Day 2 is really about using the skills learned on day 1 while planning and going on a day paddle. Being my first full hands on course I needed to keep a close watch on our timeline to ensure that we would complete the skills requirements. Time management was key and I prepared well in advance the week before by having my flip chart, waivers and schedule ready to go for 9:00am on Saturday.

Sandra, Katelyn myself and Kevin ... time to get to work

Checking out different types of paddles. I think Kevin likes the twig one. LOL

Saturday morning was all about paddle strokes with an emphasis on the forward paddle stroke.

Coming back to the dock for lunch Sandra uses her newly learned draw stroke.

It was really amazing to see the paddle strokes skills progression during the morning. From the time our group left the dock until we returned for lunch it was like night and day. For me that is the reward I seek because during this short period of time they learned to purposely maneuver their kayaks in a manner that they were dictating what the kayak was doing instead of the kayak dictating where it wanted to go. And the smiles .... Oh my!!!

During lunch it was time for me to present short Seamanship, Weather and Navigation lectures that would prepare them for Sunday. Once again my preparation paid off as I didn't need to write on the flip chart while speaking and I found the students to be like sponges soaking it all in.

Utilizing time well ... lectures while having lunch.

After lunch it was time to get wet and for Sandra and Kevin they would get to experience their first wet exit which probably is the #1 apprehension of most new kayakers.

Time to get wet. Nervous .... heck no!!!

Kevin went first and Sandra preformed the Assisted Rescue with him.

Then it was Sandra's turn!

See! Big smile!! Not so bad huh??

I demonstrated a paddle float Self Rescue

Kevin completing a Bow Rescue on my kayak

Being a relatively small paddler Katelyn performed an Assisted Rescue on Kevin and
worked through the expected issues of helping a larger paddler.

Kevin back in the kayak. It's not about strength but more about technique and Katelyn figured it out nicely!

Sunday morning they were back at it at 9:00am and started working on their day trip planning. This involved getting the latest weather report via VHF, internet (since we had connectivity) and I also introduced a few apps that I like to gather information from. Then it was onto looking at the local chart, discussing tides and currents, how weather interacts with the water to create the sea state and then look at a float plan for the day. Lots to cover before we headed out but the lesson was that this is something that needs to be done every time before taking to the water.

Using the chart we could determine where we were going, how long it should take us and when we
should be returning. And ... how the weather, tides and currents might impact the paddle or change during the day. 

Big smiles on day #2.... Like!!

Just a slight breeze with an incoming tide allowed for a leisurely pace to our destination. 

Before stopping for lunch we did a little boat management. This is a skill helpful in performing rescues.

And communicating from a distance. 

During lunch I talked about Leave No Trace, the environment and a little bit about the history of the areas we paddle in.

We also covered off contact towing without ropes and towing using tow release systems

These students were F.A.T. - Flexible, Accessible and Trainable which made my job easy.
Congratulations to the newest Paddle Canada Sea Kayak Level 1 certified paddlers.
Thanks Dave at Blue Dog Kayaking for letting me join your team of instructors!
A big thanks to my wife Robyn for being the scenario / support paddler ... loved having you along

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