A group of 7 student came together for a 5 day training course to improve our skills in more challenging environments and prepare for 4 or 5 Star Award Assessments. Gathering in San Francisco, paddlers from California, North Carolina and Minnesota collected for two classes, BCU 5 Star Training course and Open Water and Tidal Planning, taught by Jen Kleck and John Carmody.
This summer, Michelle and I taught 2 classes that are new to our local club (Inland Sea Kayakers): “Where Water Meets Land” , or as we nickname it: WWML and look forward to doing it again. A total of 12 students went through these classes and had a lot of fun. Besides learning the new skills of paddling close to rocks along with rescue strategies, we also journeyed to an inland lake and the Susie Islands to work on navigation skills.
“Thanks a ton for a great weekend up north. I had a blast weaving between the rocks and watching the group get more confident. Thank you for leading and teaching! Well done. ” S.G.
Review by Deb Strike:
Wow this class was serious FUN. It could also be named where skills meet reality. Lots of things to learn and do, it was the kind of class a paddler could take many times and always be challenged. The instructors have kept the class small so each participant gets challenged within their comfort level.
The first day was a quick review of strokes that would be useful as we moved closer and closer to the rocks. Eventually playing “pat the walrus” with our new confidence and skills. OK, so some of us left a little gel coat here and there, but nothing serious.
We learned different kinds of rocks form different kinds of water patterns. Overfalls can be fun, but watch out or you might get parked on a rock. Experiencial learning was going on all the time. As a group we decided to do some contact rescues near the rocks and we each got several attempts to clean up our strokes to get close enough to rescue someone.
Clean strokes and manuevers were a goal and the water quickly instructed us on technique. We learned why you don’t want your paddle at too much of an angle or out too far when doing a bow rudder. It also helps to be decisive, but that is a work in progress. A longer term goal would be to link the strokes and have them become unconcious or automatic. We each set individual goals and got individual coaching.
Day two was a paddle to the Susie Islands to do some distance, navigate and practice what we learned on day 1. The weather and the lake provided ongoing teaching. The fog rolled in and the weather changed, so the instructors changed the curriculum. We paddled out quickly and safely by handrailing.
Day three the wind and waves dictated the schedule. Instead of paddling to the Palisades and practicing amoung the rocks, we did launching and landing in waves, turning in waves and around rocks in the swells. Who knew we were too slow putting on our spray skirts. This is something calmer conditions don’t reveal. We had races putting on spray skirts using gloves and keeping track of paddles. It was the little things that became important.
The town of Grand Marais puts on some mighty fine fireworks and if it is raining you can just head into town and eat at one of the very good restaurants there. We all enjoyed that.
If you want to move out of practicing on flat water to learn and apply some of the strokes and manuevers you have learned take this class. It is just too much fun to pass up.
Many thanks to Jeff and Michelle for the superb coaching.