Sea Kayak Trip/Training Sept 14th

With winds forecast at between force 6 and force 8, the trip evolved into a rough water training session in a relatively safe environment. The chosen location was  a Goldilocks affair. Original choices; Largs, Fairlie and Seamill were thought to be too calm. Replacement choice, Irvine was just too wild. Eventually we settled on the excellent Ardrossan South beach which looked just right. In fact the very high winds generated very frequent and very steep waves that did not look too large but made the kayaking very difficult.

Main finding; it is virtually impossible to do any rescues in surf. Rafting is potentially lethal, re-entry virtually impossible and pumping out without a spray deck completely on, pointless. However the experience was both useful and extremely good fun. We will be back when the surf is up.

Sue, Seylan, Hugh and Alan (Photos: Geoff)
Sue, Seylan, Hugh and Alan (Photos: Geoff)

Hugh and Sue make their way out through the surf

Alan in a quiet spot
Spot Seylan and try rafting!
Seylan
It's behind you!

Sue investigates the underwater view

Success for Sue and Ruth in Race around Kerrera

The round Kerrera Race from Oban took place last weekend (4th Sept) and I am delighted to report the success of Sue Smith and Ruth Clark. Sue became the veteran ladies champion and took 2nd place in the Open Ladies category  in a remarkable time of 2hrs 40mins for the 20km paddle (took me all day). Ruth was close behind and took third place in 2hrs 46mins. Many congratulations

Sea Kayak Safety

Mandatory Safety Equipment/Adverse Weather Procedure

Our club has a good safety record but that does not mean we cannot reduce the probability of incidents still further. It is considered prudent to expand the information in the documents Trip Considerations and Kit List (Nov 08) and Touring Requirements and Abilities (April 09) to give clear instruction on what must be carried on day/multi day expeditions both at sea and on fresh water lochs. The following is recommended practice for all except close inshore training and short paddles under instruction. All individuals are expected to carry yachting type coastal flares of the hand held design; 1 x red, 1 x orange smoke as a minimum. A red 350 metre parachute flare is also recommended for ‘regulars’. A whistle and head torch/strobe must also be carried together with spare clothing (unless wearing a dry or wet suit) as a matter of course. The hand flares, whistle and torch/strobe must be carried in or attached to the buoyancy aid.

Other pieces of kit that regulars should consider obtaining in due course are;

VHF radio – for kayakers the submersible type is probably best. Guidance and training in their use can be arranged as necessary. Waterproof radios are available around £90 and submersible around £150. VHF hand held does not have a long range but can be invaluable in situations where shore stations, other vessels or aircraft are in reasonable proximity. They also receive weather broadcasts where location is favourable to reception.

Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) – The title says it all and is only for use in situations of dire emergency since once it is triggered, reception via satellite is virtually guaranteed and the resulting response is automatic i.e. emergency services are scrambled. The devices work anywhere in the world and there is a registration scheme for owners. One of the best and cheapest for our purpose is the McMurdo Fastfind 210 Personal Locator Beacon with GPS (transmit only) at a cost of £200. The device weighs 150grm, has a battery life of 5 years and transmits on a monitoring and a homing frequency with GPS position transmitted to increase response speed, hence the name. The alternative to an EPIRB is SPOT (see Geoff) at around £90 plus annual subscription of £90.

Strobe Light – a waterproof strobe light. Example is the ACR C-Strobe with a visibility of 2 miles in all directions on 2 x AA batteries at a cost of £23.

Tow Line – Suitable for sea use. These can be fixed permanently to a kayak or fastened round the waist of the paddler.

It is the responsibility of every individual to remain in close proximity to leader/group in poor conditions to enable communication. This is fundamental to risk reduction and response to any casualty situation. In conditions where spoken communication is difficult or impossible it is proposed to use two whistle signals.

One long blast: Meaning – You are too far away from me.

Action – Close up (or wait if someone has dropped back)

Two long blasts: Meaning – I have (or have seen) a problem.

Action –  All go to assist

Where a member of a group cannot for whatever reason carry on paddling (two whistle blasts), the first action of the group, will be to close up to the casualty and either support and tow or, if there is sufficient sea room, raft up to consider/agree actions. Appropriate actions may vary but scenarios will be discussed in training. Handling/rescue of an unconscious (or otherwise unable to participate) casualty will be added to the self-rescue and buddy rescue requirements in the pool and open water.

It is quite possible that having purchased some of the above equipment you will never use it because your skill and judgement have kept you safe. That is exactly what is intended. If however you are involved in an incident you may well be grateful that you are fully kitted up.

Equipment and Policy

The club currently possesses:

  • 8 River kayaks (including 2 children size)
  • 3 Open Canoes (2 person)
  • 3 Sea Kayaks (to be delivered)
  • 1 Trailer (4 canoes/sea kayaks or 12 river kayaks)
  • Associated equipment (Spray Decks, Paddles, Buoyancy Aids)

Thanks to the local Scouts, for larger training groups we also have access to 11 all purpose kayaks on a 3 level trailer (6 canoes/sea kayaks).

Club boats are available to members for loan free on all club events.

Club boats are also available at a nominal cost of £2 per day (£4 for canoes) for other trips if not being used by the club.

Trips & Events, September & October 2010

September Trips

Wednesday 15th: An early start (7.30) for a prompt return (by 7.00). Destination TBC dependent upon weather but likely to be Kerrera or Lismore in Firth of Lorne.

Weekend 1st-5th October. Again destination tbc but possibly dolphin watching in Moray Firth

T.B.C. We are anxious to run a river trip during September on either the Teith or Tay

Other Events

Wed 6th to Sat 9th October:  Helensburgh 2010. We have a stand at the ten yearly “Clubs and Societies Show”. Offers to man stand gratefully accepted but in any case come along with friends and relatives to see what we have done and are planning to do.

Weekend 23rd/24th October: Paddle 2010. The Scottish Canoe Show in Perth which, this year, includes a Tay descent. See SCA pages (http://www.canoescotland.org/events/ScotlandsCanoeShow.aspx) for more details. Lots of gear, talks and demos. A must do for anyone remotely serious about the sport.

Sunday 24th October: Come and Try Day. A follow up from Helensburgh 2010 for newcomers to come and try different canoes and kayaks

Training Autumn 2010

We are offering 3 courses in September and October

1. Basic Skills. This is intended for members with little or no experience and consists of 7 pool sessions starting Sept 14th and 3 open water sessions on 18th Sept, 10th October and 23rd October with a 2 BCU Star/ Paddlepower assessment for those who want provisionally on the 30th October. There are up to 8 places. Minimum age 12. Cost is £20 plus assessment costs. Register before 14th September by email or at the pool on the 7th (tonight). Pay on the 14th.  Membership forms available at pool.

2. Advanced Sea Skills. This is intended for experienced sea kayakers developing safety and rescue techniques (including rolling). Please contact Hugh

3. Open Canoe Skills. This is intended for adult members who want to develop skills in open boats. Particularly relevant to those who do or would like to coach youngsters. 4 sessions starting this Saturday 11th and on the 25th September and 9th October. Register at the pool.

In November we expect to start 2 further courses

1. Sea Kayak Expedition Training. Intended for those who want to take part in and organise expeditions. Covers basic safety and rescue skills (including self rescue and rolling), equipment (emergency, camping and clothing) and navigation (understanding tides and charts, planning)

2. Rescue and Rolling. A follow up for those who have acquired the Basic Skills.

Pool Sessions

A pool session is available at the Helensburgh Pool on a Tuesday from 8.15 to 9pm. Meet outside by 8pm.

You will need to be a member and the cost is £3 per session. You may bring your own boat provided it is spotlessly clean.

Loch Awe, Weekend 27th-29th August 2010

The trip was the bad weather alternative and a strong westerly wind force 3-5  was the dominant feature of the trip. Loch Awe is the longest loch in Scotland (longer than both Loch Ness and Loch Lomond) but had few outstanding features. Previous trips had explored the north so the group headed south west into the wind. The Friday evening paddle covered 6km to an excellent site at Inverinan.

Around the Camp Fire
The fire without the flash
The Site

Cold, wet and windy, the highlight of the following day was the remarkable Innis Chonnel castle. In many ways much better than its partner to the north (Kilchurn) but much less well known because of its island location.

At the entrance to the castle
Mick beneath the main tower of the castle

Lunch on Liever Island followed by a river trip down to Ford then a long paddle back up the loch to a glade site at Barr Point a toal of 36.8 km (21miles) in less than ideal conditions. An excellent fire before heavy rain drove us to bed.

Campsite at Barr Point

Sunday proved to be bright and breezy. An attractive paddle up the loch with short breaks for elevenses and lunch and back to Portsonnachan for 3pm. A pleasant if rather unexciting trip in excellent company.

Heading north with Cruachan in the distance
The group: Stewart, Geoff, Ken, Ruth, Mick, Hugh and David

Loch Lomond, Wednesday 26/8/10

This was a short gentle stunning trip through the islands to end the summer season. Loch was flat calm and it was a beautiful evening. Attending as photographed: Mike, Natalie, Sam, Dave, Callum, Mel, Ross and Angus. Not pictured – Geoff who took the picture and the three camera shy wallabies.