So I get hooked on Kayaking. What next? Figure out how not to die - probably a good plan. I was really wanting to go on the Ocean, but given my last few follies on the sea, I think I needed a bit of direction on strokes and rescues. So I plonked down some cash for lessons with Ocean River here in Victoria. It was a 2 day course offering introductions to rescues and strokes starting in thetis lake and moving to Cadboro bay the next day.


I arrived at thetis lake to dead calm water and a bunch of excited people. I was introduced to Ian Ross and Gary Allen, our instructors for the course, and we proceeded to gear up and get ready for a beating. I was paddling in a rotomolded Wilderness Systems Tsunami 145 - nearly everyone else had current designs boats, but I'm just too big for the common CD models. The morning part of the course focused on mostly basic rescue techinques and how to execute a wet exit the right way. Needless to say it was fascinating to just pick up so much information so quickly.


The basic two person rescues were much less daunting on nice flat water and it seemed all was going well until I found a fatal flaw (or 2) in my boat design. This is the best story I have so far. :) It came time to do solo rescues, I put the paddle float on the paddle and put the paddle under the deck lines. I went to hop up on the boat and it summarily tossed me off, and I noticed it had absorbed a whole lot of water from earlier rescues. I laughed a bit and jumped right back up and my hand went right through the rear hatch cover. The kayak was sitting very low to the water already due to a leaky cover and a whole lot of rolling over for wet exits. Before I could get off the deck, the boat was swamped - the much maligned cleopatra's needle. We spent nearly 15 minutes getting the boat to float enough to get back closer to shore using pumps to get rid of the water and paddle floats to add buoyancy. Once we were closer to shore, it just took a couple attempts to get back in because my pfd kept catching on the stupid seat back. All in all that boat got crossed off my list. It doesn't matter how comfortable a kayak is, if it's going to swamp because of poor hatch cover design, that's a massive liability. I guess I got more lessons for my money (and a good story).


The latter half of the day was spent in the classroom chatting about weather, currents and safety. We planned out the conditions for the next day's paddle in the ocean. The next morning we met back in the classroom to give one last check over our calculations and decided to paddle Cadboro Bay. The wind had been picking up that morning and when we got to the beach, the winds were blowing about 15kts. Luckily the bay is so protected there's almost no fetch. We just had a bit of a headwind here and there, but as the day progressed the winds died down. After doing some basic maneuvering strokes, we altered course and had lunch on the beach we launched from. Just outside of the bay, you could see whitecaps, and the instructors decided not to take us out and around the point.


Back on the beach, we ate lunch and talked about navigation. We sighted a few of the islands just offshore and triangulated our position on shore and learned how to mark a chart properly. Once they finished the map conversation, we went to learn more paddle strokes in a more protected area. We learned a few basic draw strokes and a basic low brace to help get out of trouble. Once the lesson on strokes concluded, we went for a bit of a free paddle out and around the rocks just before the mouth of Cadboro bay. After exploring the area a little and trying our luck in a few of the rock gardens, we headed back in before the next weather system (lots of rain) got to us.


Back on shore, we peeled off the wetsuits and racked the boats and we were handed out little certificates for the course. It was a great time on the water and I felt a lot more confident after doing the training. I'd reccomend it to anyone.

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