Fifteen of us attended the Basic Skills course which was run out of Clontarf and scheduled over three Saturdays in October/November 2007. It was organised and run by David Hipsley, Mike Eggleton, Henry Van der Kolk and Stephan Meyn, with a cameo appearance by Katrina Keane.
Day 1: From Here Our Beginnings
After a brief overview from David, Henry showed us his amazing handbag (Mirage) and how and what to stash in it for a camping trip. He had neat stow bags for first aid and other safety kit, essentials, food and camping gear. Then Mike demonstrated forward stroke technique. What a revelation — there should be a lot happening under your skirt — hips and legs all engaged in time with upper body activity to perform the stroke.
We weren’t even on the water yet and I had already got my money’s worth — wait a minute — this was free too! We forward-stroked with perfection down to Clontarf Corner to be introduced to wet exits and the finer points of swimming 50 metres in full kayaking regalia.
At the first break, the instructors had whipped out their stools and camp stoves and were sipping hot brews before I even had my PFD off. In the afternoon we practised different strokes including the sweep, draw, and stern and bow rudder. The groups were small so the instructors watched us and gave us individual tips — it was a great mixture of theory and practice. We now felt confident enough to go on our first club paddling trip (to Grotto Point)!
Day 2/3: Aren’t We Having Fun/Putting it All Together
Day 2 had been cancelled due to a forbidding weather forecast so the final session was doubly action-packed. Purchase of fine cherry tarts would prove great preparation for our first trial: the 90 minute paddle. In formation, we headed towards Bantry Bay, with the GPS in the lead setting the pace.
Despite wind and waves, a broken rudder, and frequently broadcast average and top speeds, we stuck together and achieved our goal of an average speed over five km/hr.
Arriving pink-cheeked at Chinamans Beach, we huddled in the rain and devoured our morning tea. Refuelling over, we practised various strokes. Love those low bracing turns — YEEEEEEHA! Time to review wet exits, and recover with ‘T-bone’ and self-rescues. Paddlers vied to display the most unorthodox body positions on reboarding their craft.
Next was the towing trial — each paddler deployed and untangled their towline and towed their ‘victim’, then retrieved, repacked and tried to look capable of doing it all again. Weeks of practising throwing my towline 15 m so I could hit a chip out of a seagull’s beak were to no avail.
We returned to the morning’s launch point as hardened paddlers, ready to collect autographs from our fearless leaders (log books were signed off for grade 1 and 2 skills) and sign up for future club trips into the wide blue yonder.
Thank you so much to all the instructors for sharing not only their time but also their expertise. We learned so much and were impressed by the planning and excellent instruction. What a great introduction to kayaking and the NSW Sea Kayak Club.
- Spear, rotate; spear, rotate… (entering past the toes, and exiting on the wake line).
- Paddle slowly and correctly for the first kilometre to warm up and get your technique going right.
- Practise smooth sequences of strokes, transitioning from the end position of one stroke to the start position of the next.
- Connect your knife using old curly telephone cord.
- Smooth clips on your tow rope make it a lot easier to unclip and clip.
- It’s good to have done it for fun before you have to do it for real (swim, exits, rescues, tows).
- Thou shalt wash thy boat or be laughed at.
Wobble & Plonk have recently joined the NSW Sea Kayak Club and this is their first article. Wobble is inclined to wobble but she doesn’t fall in (not much) or fall to pieces (not yet). Despite no sign of wobbles, Plonk was the first (& second &…) of the pair to need rescuing, although those days are now in the past. They both enjoy a glass of good plonk.