Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Northstar Expeditions Meets Kingston Kayak Instruction

NorthStar Expeditions is the official name for a group of 4 guys (including myself) that I canoe trip with every year. This spring, as a Father's Day gift, our wives signed us up for kayak lessons through Viki at Kingston Kayak Instruction. Some of our group had a bit of experience but mostly we're fairly novice paddlers when it comes to kayaks so we signed up for the Flatwater Skills course. The course included a session discussing various aspects of boats and paddling, a pool session, and most of last Saturday was spent on the water at Pike Lake. Getting the opportunity to practice rescues in a pool was a great way to get comfortable in the water where tipping over in the kayak becomes play. The highlight of the pool session was jumping off of the 5 meter platform - that's a long way down and a lot of time spent falling to think about regrets. Jay jumped off of the 7 meter platform and he said it was a big step up from 5 m. Thankfully, the 10 m platform was closed.

Saturday at Pike Lake the day started off pretty nice with warm and sunny skies, but eventually thunderstorms and rain rolled in (as previously posted). The rain really didn't matter too much since we were spending the afternoon largely in the water anyway. A bit warmer might have been nice but it was OK. My outfit for the afternoon while we were wet and practicing rescue techniques was a "shorty" wet suit, a polyester t-shirt, cycling sleeves (arm warmers), PFD, paddling gloves, with my light cycling jacket thrown over top of everything (I didn't realise how odd the jacket over everything made me look until I saw the pictures later - think red beach ball with a head on top). I tried goggles for about 30 seconds but they immediately filled with water.

After getting pretty confident with our "eskimo rescues" (aka T-rescue) I decided it was time for an impromptu test. While paddling fast alongside Jay, I called over to him and asked "Jay, are you paying attention?" He looked over and said "yeah" or perhaps it was "nah" or maybe "huh?" I promptly flipped over (while still under steam) and began banging on my kayak hull, the signal that I need assistance. My thought was that Jay would just paddle right over and present his bow for me to grab onto allowing me to right myself without leaving the cockpit of the kayak. Only problem is that Jay was paddling fast in the slowest turning kayak in the group. By the time he even realised what was going on, I was under water, banging on my boat and moving my hands back and forth waiting for the sudden appearance of his bow in my hand. Everything also seems to go a little slower while your are hanging upside down under water. I quickly ran out of breath and had to wet exit. By the time I came up in the water alongside my kayak, Jay was rounding the turn in his kayak and just about on his way over to me. Well I guess it ended up being a good practice of assisted re-entry techniques.

At the end of the class our families found us and took some photos. Unfortunately the batteries on our camera were dying so the videos that my wife took didn't turn out.

In the photo below the class is grouped around Viki who is wrapping things up.
Viki and the others head back while the 4 guys paddle over to the families.
NorthStar Expeditions

Using the water pumps to spray the kids.
After the class we launched my daughters' new kayak. I still have to crop & upload the photos so that post will be added in the next couple of days.