Sunday, May 17, 2009

MAKF Day 3

The last day of the festival. I was unsure whether I should get up and pack everything or just leave everything in an unorganized heap. The heap won simply because I wanted to get up and on the water quickly to practice a few strokes. It was drizzling out a little and quite a bit cooler today then the previous two days, making it hard to get up and go. We did eventually get up and out onto the water.

Stroke refinement
It didn't really take me that long to master the strokes I needed to work on. It was more a matter of having to remember proper torso rotation in order to accurately perform the stroke. We practiced for about half an hour and I spent most of the time helping her do her strokes correctly then working on mine. We went back in for breakfast and talked to our assessor. He was willing to evaluate us just before lunch. My hope is that the wind will not kick up again like it did yesterday or that there is a good sheltered area we can use.

Rescues in Conditions/Advanced Strokes
I was again registered for two classes today. Since there were not enough people in either class, they merged the two classes together and we ended up with about four instructors total. I wasn't all that interested in the rescues in conditions but the advances strokes sounded interesting. I did manage to learn a lot from the class and an still really jazzed about getting out on the ocean in some bigger conditions. The wind did end up picking up shortly after we started the class. The wind was actually pushing us out to the ocean and it was a real bear of a paddle to get back. My one saving grace was that I decided to demo a dry suit for the event.

We broke up into two groups once we got out closer to the bay. We had the rescues group and then the strokes group. As part of the strokes group, I learned how to effectively turn my boat with or against the wind. This was very helpful to me as I always feel as though I am fighting my boat. And I found out I was fighting the boat. I still have to think about how to get the turning to become more subconscious. If I think about it, I can figure out which is the most appropriate way to turn the boat in the direction I want using the wind to help. Better then fighting it, but I need it to become more intuitive.

While I wasn't that interested in rescues, when we rejoined the other part of the group the one rescue they had not yet performed was an all-in. So other then the instructors, everyone got in the water all at the same time and our goal was to get out as quickly as possible. The waves were a little rough and the wind strong. My little group of three did very well, I had planned on getting in first as I had done this before, but the boats didn't line up nicely, so I assisted someone else in a rescue I am sure exists but I had never seen or done. I actually threw myself over the keel of my overturned boat and assisted them back into their boat. I had to talk them through it as they wanted to do something different that wasn't possible given the conditions. Once he was in, I got in mine then we got the other guy in his boat. Then we actually paddled to shore to drain the first guys boat. We were the first group in which was excellent.

After paddling against the wind for at least half an hour, I was absolutely exhausted when I got back to the little beach. And it was at that point that the other student asked if I was ready. So back into the water without even getting out of my boat and off we went. With the wind so high I wasn't sure we would find a place but there was a boat dock around the corner that was nicely sheltered. We each performed our strokes and I felt I was hitting the strokes much more accurately even though I was absolutely exhausted. He didn't really say anything at first so I had to wait until we got off the water for the final results. She didn't pass the assessment. I did pass which was a great boost. I was almost too tired to be happy.

The lunch lecture that I ended up going to was about how to prepare for an expedition trip. Given that I want to do a large expedition trip next year, this was an appropriate talk to sit in on. Turned out it was just me and another guy plus the lecturer. I learned quite a bit and was left wondering after the lecture just how much over my head this trip was going to be. There are a lot of logistics involved and I am not sure there is enough time.

Greenland Paddling
I am not a huge fan of Greenland paddling but find that learning a different style sometimes help reinforce other strokes. I was more interested in refining my roll again as I had no idea why it suddenly wasn't working for me. I worked through the lesson that the class was set for , but near the end, we worked on whatever the students wanted. I wanted rolls and that was what I got.

I relearned the basic Greenland roll and I worked through learning the combat roll too. I was able to come up with the basic roll but not really with the combat roll. The first time was because I leaned back when I was supposed to lean forward. That was simply me doing what I always to. The second time I missed was because I was really cold, tired and hungry. Not a good combination for learning new things. I had to give back the dry suit I was demoing at lunch and I was only in my shorts and dry top. I hadn't had to swim but I still was affected by the wind which was really chilling me.

I learned a lot over the course of the day and the festival. I wish it could have gone on longer but alas it is back to the working world for now. I am really happy I passed my ACA L3 assessment. Since I hadn't packed up everything, I had to hurry back to the cabin to shower and change then pack up everything. I then had to get back to pick up my boat and gear plus talk to one of the organizers about the ACA paperwork. I got home rather late and I was unable to warm up in spite of having the heat pumping in the car the last part of the trip. Turns out I had a mild case of hypothermia. Not a very pleasant thing to have but a hot cup of hot chocolate fixed that for me. I would have rather snuggled up in bed but it was just a little too early for that.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

MAKF Day 2

Today is Saturday and the festival has really starting to get underway. There were more people here and there was actually live music. I was registered for two classes today, the ACA L3 assessment and Incident management. Since I was the only person registered for Incident management, I was moved into Rolling in Conditions.

ACA L3 Assessment
After registering for two classes for the day, I then learned at the festival that this was supposed to be a full day assessment. But since it was only two people again, it turned out it was possible to condense the assessment down into a half day. I was glad for that as I really wanted to get out and learn more stuff. The same person I had as an instructor for the BCU 3 Star training turned out to be my assessor for the ACA L3. This was both good and bad. It meant he already knew what level I could paddle at, and I was going to have to show improvement in order to pass my assessment. What I had going for me was that I learn very quickly and this was the ACA system, not the BCU system. There were actually a few differences between the two systems and I was learning some strokes as I was trying to demonstrate that I knew them. I did get hung up on my sculling brace and the reverse hanging draw stroke. He told me that if I could demonstrate I could perform those strokes before he left, then he would pass me. So I was still in limbo and still on edge.

Since lunch was two hours long, the festival coordinators had small little lectures on various topics scattered around the room. I chose to go to the navigation talk as I wasn't all that sure about how to do navigation either from the cockpit of the kayak nor how to plan before a trip. I thought this would be a good class to take and I was right. I learned a lot both on how to figure out where I was as well as how to generate a set of bearings to follow while on a trip to stay on course.

Rolling in Conditions
I went out in the afternoon with a larger group. In fact this was the largest group I had been with, anything more then 2 students was larger. This was a nice group size. I wasn't sure about taking the advanced rolling class as I had missed my roll twice the day before. I figured even if I couldn't get my roll down I would at least get a chance to go out in conditions and play around a little bit. We actually worked a little on rescues to make sure no one had to swim so at least I had that covered. A few of us with less then perfect rolls ended up working in a more sheltered area on rolling and I worked a little on the strokes I needed to pass my assessment. The wind had really kicked up in the afternoon and sheltered locations were few. I still felt I got a lot out of the lesson even if I couldn't do what they wanted, I could at least see how it was supposed to be performed and once I get my roll back I can work on learning those new skills.

The evening entertainment was actually given by several people. I listened to a talk about saving sea turtles out in Baja. I heard a short talk about the Arctic Voices paddle as well a short video about commando paddling. All very good and interesting. I was really happy to hit the sack that night. I had plans to get up early with the other girl I was taking the assessment with to practice the few things we needed to pass. Hope all goes well in the morning and I pass.

Friday, May 15, 2009

MAKF Day 1

I was only registered in one class today. Although most of the classes were only half day classes, the BCU 3 Star training class was expected to be a full day in length. I wasn't sure if it was a good thing or a bad thing that not only did we not have the right conditions to play and learn in but there were only 3 people total in the class. Me and the other student did get really good one-on-one instruction in the class and while I felt I knew how to do many of the things he was teaching, it was nice to break a few habits and learn how to do the strokes correctly.

Problem areas
I have discovered that I simply do not do enough torso rotation. While I am flexible enough to rotate to the position I need to be in, I just don't do it. So I have to focus on correct torso rotation both in my forward stroke and in many of the side strokes.

Another area of contention was that I tend to keep a death grip on my paddle. I already knew this but forcing myself to relax both my hands will go a long way. Having someone constantly pointing it out to me also went a long way to. I am a little more relaxed in my grip.

It was a rather big day for learning some new things. I learned quite a few new maneuvers and relearned some others. I am a little nervous about my ability right now as I feel I am learning so much and tomorrow I registered to be tested on all these skills. In fact I am not tested on my ability to just do the skills, I will be tested on my ability to show I can consistently perform at a certain level. I am not sure I can perform at that level if I am just learning the strokes and concepts. Tomorrow will tell.

The festival so far has been very relaxed and low-key. I have been having a lot of fun so far and can't wait for the weekend. There are few people here today and the classes are very small. I am really enjoying the personal attention and feel that this is going a long way to my learning these strokes and concepts correctly the first time that I learn them. The area that the festival is taking place in is a YMCA camp and the bunk houses are nice. They have been providing us all with food and the food has been very good too. I was a little leery of eating food so far off my diet so I opted to stick mostly with the vegetarian fare and I felt that would likely be the safest. So far so good on that front. The evening entertainment was a talk I had seen at the ECCKF about a month ago but it was really cool to see it again. I have been really psyched up for this big expedition trip and I really hope both of us are ready to go when the time comes.

I really wish Kayaker Boy had been able to join in on the festival too. I think he would have had a really good time. But alas he is about to start a new job and sadly couldn't make it.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Its all about the planning

While I have spent an entire summer paddling in the area, I still feel that I haven’t done a lot of kayaking in the area. Most of my kayaking has taken place in a really small area, mostly on the Potomac River either upstream for white water or a little bit downstream for flat water. I haven’t really been out on the ocean in the area nor have I been out on the Chesapeake Bay. I was close to the bay once when I was paddling around a point where the Potomac River empties into the Bay but that was quite some time ago in late summer. So it was with some difficulty that I had to figure out what was needed when I started to pack up the required gear for the upcoming festival. I was getting nervous in fact, as I wasn’t sure I was prepared, mentally or physically. I had received an email from the company that is organizing the event informing the participants that we would have to bring our own linens for the beds. So I grabbed a towel, sleeping bag and pillow making it the easiest part of the packing.

I wasn’t sure what temperature the ocean water would be but I did assume it would be cold. I packed wool base layers, a dry top, some neoprene booties, a shorty farmer-Jane style wet suit, and gloves. The wool layers included a wool support layer, a wool brief layer, a micro-weight wool camisole, a light-weight wool long sleeve and a mid-weight wool shirt for warmth at the end of the day. I packed paddling shorts as my only non-wool layer as that was about all I had in the way of bottom clothes. I packed wool socks to go with my neoprene footwear to prevent chafing as it is still early in the season. In order to be prepared on the water I also packed up my sunglasses and sun block, a few power bars, and water bottles. More safety equipment included my helmet and a small first aid kit.

Since I had purchased the whole weekend package I knew that food was going to be included as part of the daily activities. I figured they would have vegetarian options as I knew of a few vegetarians who were going to be there. I am not normally a vegetarian but having just switched over to a raw, vegan diet for various health reasons, I felt that given a choice between cooked meat and cooked vegetables, that the vegetables would be the way to go. I did pack a few power bars just in case.

My boat had been on the car up until a few days before when I had to take it off for a business trip. Normally I don’t drive my car very much but in this case I had to drive an hour to the airport and didn’t want to leave the boat on the car nor at a parking garage. I felt that the boat on the car would have enough clearance but why take the chance. So this meant I had to put the boat back on the car which with an 18-foot boat is not easy to do alone. I didn’t have anyone who I could easily get in touch with for help so I just did it by myself. It would have gone a little more smoothly if it hadn’t been for the pole that I was parked next to. The pole did make it a little more challenging to slide the boat up onto the car as I had to push the boat a little off to one side before I could line up with the kayak saddles. I was a little afraid the boat would slip off and hit the ground but luckily it didn’t.

So after all this packing and planning, am I ready? I really don’t feel ready. I do have my directions to get to the location but I am nervous about what the festival will be like and who will be there. I am also a little nervous about the assessment I signed up for on the Saturday. I have my fingers crossed, and my toes.