Monday, September 14, 2009

BCU 3 Star Sea Kayak Assessment

Today was the big day. After all that training and paddling I moved on to the assessment to see if I was able to paddle at a 3 star sea kayak level. Today was actually fairly calm compared to the last two days. We actually had to go out of our way to find conditions that would meet with the minimum requirements. We ended up doing a lot of rock gardens. In Maine, with the high tidal difference, there didn't really seem to be many beaches and more there were rocky outcroppings and cliff faces. With the ocean swells we worked our way in as close to the rocky walls as possible even moving through some of the rocky gaps as the swells would allow. It was quite a bit of fun. I had never had a chance to go rock gardening as there are none down here that I am aware of. With the swells moving in, the boats would get pushed close to the rocks and as the swell receded, we would move away. This turned out to be an excellent time to really work on doing hanging draws. A hanging draw is a static stroke taken to help move the kayak sideways while on the move. It really is a very cool stroke when mastered. I feel I have mastered it both in forward and reverse.

Today I was the only girl moving forward into the assessment. We were a group of 6 people with 3 of us having gone through the training together. It was nice to move into the assessment as a group and know we were in it together. For the most part we all did well. At one point, just to make things more challenging, I was asked to trade boats with someone who also had a Force 4. The catch was we were not allowed to get wet. Since the other guy was a little shaky on his skills, I ended up taking over. I grabbed another kayaker to help and we rafted up creating a nice stable platform allowing me to get out of my boat and him to get in before I crawled over all three boats and hopped into his. It was a pretty cool feat to do on a dynamic surface. His outfitting was a little odd with a higher seat. A few minutes later we traded back in a similar manner on as part of a tow.

Towards the end of the day, we were goofing off and playing in the rock gardens again. I went through a small gap in the rocks with no problems. The next guy through also had no problems. When I turned around to go back, the water lifted me up, turned me then drained out leaving my bow and stern up on the rocks while I was hanging head down in the water. I ended up having to exit the boat and came up laughing. I had just been part of a controlled rescue a few minutes ago and had just warmed up then here I was back in the water trying to push my boat off the rocks for another rescue. Everyone thought it was funny too, I am just sad that no one managed to get a picture.

After all was done, we got back to Bar Harbor safely and exhausted. We opted to get our assessment as a group and 5 of us passed. We later found out that the one guy who didn't pass, had known ahead of time that he likely wouldn't and wanted to come for the training and practice. He realized after seeing us paddle that he really did need more work to get up to that skill level. The rest of us went back to the symposium site and partied a bit to celebrate. My individual comments were that I needed to pay more attention to surroundings when doing rescues (or at least designate a looker), and try to keep myself tucked in more to prevent shoulder injuries. The one piece of praise I received which was the same as yesterday was that my finesse strokes are beautiful and well done, but the strength strokes require a bit more work with timing.

I ended up going out for supper that night with a bunch of the instructors who were still in town one more night. I knew two of the instructors from before, Alison Sigethy and Kevin Black, and had kayaked with Russell Farrow at the Mid-Atlantic Kayak Festival as well as saw his talk both at MAKF and ECCKF in the spring so it was cool to actually talk with him. I hadn't met Any Sparks before but he was pretty cool to kayak with and I feel I learned a lot with him over the two day training. The people who run the Carpe Diem Symposium, Mel and Mark, are great people and I hope I can get out there again next time. They let me shower in the bunkhouse. Nothing like a hot shower to feel human again. I hate campgrounds that have coin-operated showers.

No comments:

Post a Comment