Saturday, February 16, 2008

Cold and Warn Water Paddling

Sunday (10 February) was meant to be a paddling day and we met John and Louise at the Songhees beach to paddle the Inner Harbour. But with the wind up and getting stronger, John and Louise encouraged us to put off the tour of the harbour–which we did, choosing instead to wander down the waterside trail toward Esquimalt and then head over to Chinatown for coffee and shopping.
After a quick browse through MEC, we ended up in Ocean river Sports, where I was delighted to discover that the hat I’ve lusted after since last May was on sale for 50% off.
Modelled on the Asian “coolie hat” you can see the internal band that fastens around your head. Above this is netting to encourage ventilation, and the conic shape of the hat sheds both rain and sun well off your face and out to your shoulders. What this photo lies about is that the hat is black, not the green seen above.
So there was no morning paddle, but Sunday evening we met Richard H at the Crystal Pool for paddle practice. Now I’m pretty confident in my ability to handle emergencies; every time I’ve been confronted with one, I’ve managed to deal. I can manage a recovery pretty well, and last year at Paddlefest I brushed up on practice and techniques with strangers (which I think is a good idea–especially when the stranger is a BCA instructor). And with the paddle group, we remember to practice our wet exits and recoveries a couple of times a year. This makes me more confident of how others will react in an unexpected situation or even a real emergency. So it was a great opportunity to get some experience with Richard and to ensure that should an unexpected situation arise, we will all be on the same page of the response manual.
So we did the tiring work of falling out of our boats and getting back in again and again and again. One wet exit and recovery is tiring–particularly in cold water (as I was reminded a couple of weeks back)– but doing it a dozen times in different ways is very tiring. Paddling for four hours is a breeze in comparison.
So we did bow step recoveries and multiple “T” recoveries and finally remembered to practice the scoop recovery. The latter made it clear that this is not going to be fun with people as big as Richard and John. On the other hand, it may be the recovery of choice for Paula.
It was also one of the few times I’ve tried solo recoveries in my now-less-new boat. And a paddle-float re-entry is dead easy; the boat and Greenland paddle are very co-operative together, making my re-entry a breeze.
Tally: still 11/100

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