Book Reviews

Book Review - Sea Kayaking Strokes
Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Visit your local the book section at your local outdoor store and you will find a boatload of books on sea kayaking skills. Generally speaking they are written towards the novice paddler and cover a wide range of skills from packing your boat to how to keep your boat going straight.  Sea Kayak Strokes written by Doug Alderson is slightly different in that it only covers the foundation skills for paddling. By leaving out all the other areas of kayaking like rescues, camping or navigation skills, Alderson is able to focus and go into an immense amount of detail for each different boat-control skill or paddling stroke. Doug Alderson is a very analytical thinker and it is very evident as you read through the book. In it, he has taken each skill and broken it down into key points, application for real life and exercises to work on common mistakes.
In 2006 the British Canoe Union released an addition to its very popular Canoe and Kayak Handbook. The new Coaching Handbook is an ocean of useful information and practical tips for coaches and instructors whether you are involved with canoe, white water, sprint slalom, or sea kayaking. Rather then just getting the perspective of one author or instructor, the Coaching Handbook was written by a group of 18 top BCU coaches in their particular sport. At over 380 pages there is more then enough information to satisfy both beginner and advanced coaches.  The Coaching Handbook is broken down into three major parts. Part One deals with coaching theory and fundamentals such as psychology and physiology explained in terms that make sense to a practical coach.
This book review was generously donated by Andrew Elizage at The Dash Pointe Pirate. You can view his blog here.  One of my favorite kayaking books, and one of the books I highly recommend to any sea kayaker, is Deep Trouble: True Stories and Their Lessons, by Matt Broze and George Gronseth. It's a compilation of incident reports published in Sea Kayaker magazine, harrowing stories of death and near death by blunt force injury, drowning, and hypothermia, especially interesting for me because so many of the cases occurred right here in the Pacific Northwest. Thumbing through it now I realize that a lot of what I first learned about sea kayaking safety probably came from that book. Nothing teaches a lesson like a gripping story of a trip gone horribly wrong. I’d like to see more of these incident report compilations. Isn’t anyone out there ready to write Deep Trouble 2?  It's probably not easy to collect these stories. Understandably, people are reluctant to talk about lapses in their judgment and report near misses, injuries and deaths. The situation that our 4-star class found itself in last April, dealing with an acute coronary event on the water, would have made an exemplary incident management story worthy of Sea Kayaker Magazine. I haven’t heard of any plans to write it up though.
Ask 10 paddlers which skill they would say is the most difficult to master and the vast majority of the group would say learning how to roll ranks up there at the top of the pile. The same is true for teaching somebody else how to roll. It is more difficult compared to say, teaching how the low brace.  One of the reasons why teaching the roll is difficult is because, as an instructor, you need to be able to watch your student critically and notice the subtle mistakes causing their roll to fail. You also need to have resources and ideas in the back of your head to overcome those mistakes so they can be successful and not get discouraged. No easy task for sure.
Page 2 of 2

Strategic partner

Paddle Canada Logo