Sunday, 19 April 2009

Boys heading out to the buoys

Jim, Neil and self head out with the ebbing tide from Llantwit Major beach. There is a little surf breaking on the spit as we launch from the plateaux to the east. The sun is out in a cloudless blue sky, a little bit of swell, this looks like a superb paddling day.

Reynard's Cave at Tresilian beach

To begin we tucking in and follow the shore westward, pop in for a visit to Reynard's Cave at Tresilian. Passing Nash Point lighthouse and move on out to East Nash buoy to pick up the Nash passage rush.

Approaching Nash Point lighthouse

East Nash cardinal buoy

From here we head on over Nash Sand Bar and out to the channel. With the following sea we get a few nice pick me up surfs on our way out to the Mid Nash buoy. We are now about 6km offshore, and it is just fantastic being out here.

Mid Nash Cardinal buoy about 6km offshore

Journey continues towards Tusker Rock which is fully submerged, marked close by with the red danger buoy.

Tusker danger buoy

We are joined at Tusker Rock for a short while by a seal who popped up and followed us for a bit towards Porthcawl.

Yes indeed. A very enjoyable way to spend an afternoon.

10.6Nm (a shade under 20km) trip with a nice 6.5 knot kick through Nash Sound.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Paddling with company

We've all probably done it, put out a call to your mates; anyone want to come along for a paddle? Before long there are a bunch of you on a trip. By default, if you like it or not have you become a "leader of sorts"? True or not?

They are grown ups able to make their own decisions, right? Yes but you but them in a situation didn't you by calling them up for a paddle. Did they check the weather, the route, check out the dangers, have they made a judgement if the paddle is suitable for them, or are they coming along on the same basis as going for a stroll in the park.

I had expected that faced with being put in a potential life threatening situation most people would have concerns regarding their own self preservation. It seems not with group behavior. Paddling as a group, is there an expectation that it is safer, and does this delay bringing to the fore any apprehension or fear? Certainly paddling in a group can be safer. More resources to call on, possibly more options available. But bad group paddling must bring with it some element of danger of its own. I mean bad as in a group that are mismatched in some or many ways. Objective, fitness, experience, expectation would be some of the things that first come to mind.

There are many reasons for people to go out kayaking: rockhopping; sightseeing; mellow social paddle; taking time lots of stops for photos; vigorous A to B and many others.

Knowing the other padddlers expectations and objectives for a trip would go a long way to making it a safer proposition.

I never really considered many of these things in planning trips.

I got to thinking about roles, responsibilities, expectations and the leader by default thing and realised that this was quite a complex issue. Group paddling can get really difficult the more you start to think about it. At the end of the day I realised I knew very little about the whole group issue, so decided to seek out a bit of training in leadership on the water.

I had occasion to see Nige Robinson in operation when he was charged with overseeing the running of the Stackpole Sea Kayak Festival last year. Since, relatively speaking, he was just down the road I fixed up a week end of BCU 4 star leader training with him.

It felt a little bit like doing advanced driving. Mentally quite intense, felt at times as if I were projecting myself into and trying to paddle, everyones boat at once, running through “what if scenarios” all in parallel. Was an excellent weekend though.