An interesting story is coming out of the UK this week. On the 19th of April, seven sea kayakers were out paddling in very rough seas when they got into trouble and had to be assisted by Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).

What’s interesting about this is that they were all advanced paddlers and several of them were sea kayak instructors.

From the RNLI press release:

Initial reports indicated that there were people in the water. When the lifeboat arrived on scene it was quickly established that three people, one of which had been washed out of his kayak, were ashore on Porthmelgan beach. It was decided that St Davids inshore lifeboat should be launched to escort two of them back to Whitesands while St Davids coastguards brought one person to Whitesands in their 4x4.

I wanted to do dig more into this and went to my trusty UK news source, There I found a forum thread with a more detailed report and discovered that the incident actually took place during a BCU 5* assessment.

Taran Tyla posted the following:

The incident happened on a 5 star assessment I was attending. One of the Guinea Pigs was struggling a bit with the conditions & had capsized a few times which were quickly sorted out. After one capsize it was decided that he should paddle into Gesail-Fawr, the last get out before St Davids Head, he was doing great considering he had a boatful of water but unfortunately he capsized again just before Penllechwen & got swept past that headland minus his boat.

Just prior to this I was told to tow his boat onto the beach which I did. This left the swimmer, assessor & the other 5 star applicant heading around St Davids Head whilst myself, two other Guinea Pigs & the Assessors assistant landing on the beach.

There is more to the story and you should read through the entire conversation thread. Taran also posted a detailed report on his blog with some amazing photos of the sea conditions, riding home on the rescue boat and close-ups of one of the damaged kayaks.

I decided to highlight this incident not to pass judgement or play the old, you-should-have-done game like so many currently are in the forum. I wasn’t there and not positive that my decisions would have ended up with a different result. What this is is a good reminder that that incidents can happen to anybody. Even when you are on the water with some of the most highly trained instructors in the world.

Update 9:30pm: Reading through the thread since I posted this, Douglas Wilcox has brought up a couple of very interesting points in his comment on the forum and is worth a read. I agree with his point that peer review of all incidents is critical in making sure that we learn from our mistakes so the patterns don’t repeat again. Here is the link.

Photo credit: Taren Tyla

Published in Industry Stuff

BCU 5* Training. Photo credit:

If you are looking to get some more sea kayak training under your belt before the 2011 paddling season ends, check out the duo certification course going on this October in Nova Scotia. Partnering together, Coastal Adventures and Committed 2 the Core are offering a Paddle Canada Level 3/4 and BCU 5* training course October 1-5.

The first 3 days will be spend on the eastern shore of Nova Scotia working on navigation, rock hopping, on water leadership, surfing and tidal paddling.

The last 2 days will be spent on the Shubie tidal bore learning about advanced tidal paddling, rescues, tide race paddling and more leadership activities.

The coaching staff includes Scott Cunningham (Paddle Canada Level 4 Instructor Trainer), Christopher Lockyer aspirant level 4 coach and guest coach Nick Cunliffe who is a BCU level 5 sea coach.

Nick’s name might be familiar. He is the same coach on the Kayak Essential’s kayak instruction DVD series that I reviewed last week.

If you are interested in participating, you had better jump on it soon as registration closes August 25th and there are currently only two spots left.

The cost is $900 which includes food, camping, a course manual, Paddle Canada certification fees and coaching.

There is the registration info.

Photo credit:

Published in Events

the guides...

For those looking to get kayaking instruction this season there are several very interesting courses taking place in my neck of the woods that I thought I would pass along.

Coming up this June here in Toronto, Harbourfront Canoe and Kayak center is running a pilot program partnering with SKILS to offer a Day Guide program (Guide Level 1) from the Sea Kayak Guides Alliance of BC (SKGABC). This is the first time that this type of program has been run out of British Columbia.

The 5-day program looks pretty solid and would appeal to anybody who is taking people out on the water. SKGABC certification has international recognition including places like New Zealand, Denmark and South America so if you are the working/traveling type, the certification card has traction in those parts as well.

More info: (1/2 way down the page)

Paddle Canada Level 2/BCU 3*

If guiding isn’t your thing but you are interested in intermediate kayaking skills why not join Bonnie Perry and myself in Wawa, Ontario this August. We are putting on again a joint Paddle Canada Level 2 and BCU 3* program at Naturally Superior Adventures on the north shore of Lake Superior.

Level 2 Rescue Preactice. Photo Credit: Naturally Superior Adventures

Bonnie and I were talking on the phone just the other day howling with laughter while remembering the good times from last year. Bonnie says that she has a whole new batch of jokes ready to go. I’m still on my jokes greatest hits tour so you are going to hear my recycled gems at least three times over the week.

If you interested the Naturally Superior Adventures blog has info as well as a great collection of photos from last year.

Paddle Canada Level 3 is hosting several exciting sea kayaking skill development courses this season including two Paddle Canada Level 3 courses running out of Byng Inlet in Georgian Bay. If you are taking vacation in Spring jump on their course in May or else ask your boss for extra time off in early October.

Level 3 is a fantastic course and is aimed at intermediate paddlers who want to develop their rough water paddling skills. It starts to get into topics with a lot more detail inclding incident management, leadership, multi-day trip planning and advanced navigation.

Here are the course details if you are keen.

Paddle Canada Level 2 Instructor

Finally if you are busy in both June and August then book time off in October when White Squall Paddling Center in Parry Sound, Ontario will be offering a Paddle Canada Level 2 Instructor course.

This advanced instructor course is being held in conjunction with the Georgian Bay Storm Gathering (which you should be coming to anyways!) and taught by two of Ontario’s best instructors, Greg Mason and Graham Ketcheson (who also happens to be Paddle Canada’s executive director).

If you are interested in signing up, contact White Squall and they can give you all the details about the course.

Top photo credit: the guides... / schmish /
Bottom photo credit: Naturally Superior Adventures

Published in Events

Paul Kuthe on the Shubie. Photo Credit: Committed 2 the Core

Friend of the site and fellow P&H/Kokatat team member, Christopher Lockyer from Committed 2 the Core recently announced two really interesting programs he is running out of his amazing paddling backyard (also known as Nova Scotia).

On July 21-25 Committed 2 the Core is running a joint Paddle Canada Level 2/3 and a BCU 4* sea kayaking course. John Camody (level 5 BCU coach) who hails from Maine will be coming in as a guest instructor to help things out. I love the course description: Thick fog, plenty of coastal islands and the Bay of Fundy tides. What else could you ask for?

The other one that will be of particular interest to the advanced paddlers out there is the Paddle Canada Level 4/BCU 5* Training course running October 1-5. The course starta on Easter Shore in Nova Scotia then after a couple of days everybody moves up to the Shubie tidal bore for some rough water training. Nick Cunliffe (BCU Level 5 coach) is flying in from Wales to help out with that one.

You can get more info on the courses on their website.

Christopher is also one of the organizers of the Atlantic Paddle Symposium taking place in Newfoundland this May. As I mentioned before, I’m super excited to be teaching at it as I have wanted to go to Newfoundland for many years.

I recently heard that registration for the event is selling out at a blistering pace so if you were thinking of attending and haven’t registered yet you had better jump on that soon or you will be left out in the cold.

Top photo: Paul Kuthe on the Shubie. Credit by Committed 2 the Core

Published in Events
Wednesday, 22 September 2010 22:29

BCU 5* Training Diary

BCU 5* Training. Photo Credit: Simon WillisIf your goal is to one day sign-up for the BCU 5* training but unsure of what exactly it entails, head over to Simon Willis's blog and read for yourself as he recently participated in the traing with Gordon Brown and Ken Nicol from Skyak Adventures.

The posting is very choppy and it's almost like he only has three minutes to capture his thoughts to paper before his taskmasters have another lesson to teach him with their giant whips.

Sounds like a great time and it makes me want to jump onboard tomorrow.

Below is part of the entry for day three:

Published in Teaching
Adam van Koverden on the BCU site.

It's great to see Canadian sprinter and 2007 world champion, Adam van Koverden highlighted front and centre on the British Canoe Union website. That guy is such a fantastic paddler.

I'm fairly confident that he could beat me in a kayak race across the bathtub.

Published in General News
Washington, DC - Each and every year, an appalling amount of trash finds its way into our nation's rivers and streams. It's a fact that has communities and civic leaders all across the country teaming up with American Rivers to do something about it. As part of National River Cleanup 2008, more than 100,000 volunteers, in all 50 states, and the District of Columbia will stand up for healthy rivers, and the healthy communities they sustain, by pulling hundreds of tons of trash out of their local rivers. "Last year alone, more than 600 tons of trash was removed from our rivers by National River Cleanup Volunteers," said Rebecca Wodder, President of American Rivers. "That's roughly equal to the weight of eight Space Shuttles."

Tom's of Maine has generously agreed to be the presenting sponsor of National River Cleanup 2008.

Since its inception by America Outdoors in 1992, National River Cleanup has raised public awareness about the health of our nation's waterways and inspired people to take action for rivers. Over the years, more than 500,000 volunteers have participated in over 4,500 cleanups, covering more than 100,000 miles of waterways.

"With so many cleanups all across the country, odds are that there is one, right in your own backyard," added Wodder. "And if there isn't, there can be. Organizing a river cleanup is a tremendously rewarding experience and registering your cleanup only takes a few seconds on

Thanks to new tools on, registering a cleanup has never been easier. This American Rivers has increased and improved the support it gives to cleanup organizers including hosting individual cleanup event webpages for all registered cleanups, volunteer recruitment tools for organizers, a Cleanup Organizer's Handbook and the all important free trash bags. Prospective volunteers can quickly find the clean up nearest to them, sign up for the cleanup of their choice, and keep up to date with all the latest National River Cleanup news.

River cleanups are fun for all ages. Many environmental organizations, civic clubs, paddle-sports groups, federal and state agencies, and schools organize these events in their communities.

National River Cleanup 2007 Facts

  • Bags of trash filled: 100,980
  • Trash removed: 600 tons
  • Cleanup organizers: 528
  • Cleanup sites: 583
  • Volunteers: 95,109
  • River miles cleaned: 7,453

Notable items removed

  • Toilet seats, washing machines, motorcycle, outhouse, exercise bike, propane tank, baby pool, telephone pole, lawn mower, hot tub, circular saw and tractor.

Civic leaders in attendance

102 (including city council members, state representatives, mayors and even Sen. John Kerry (D-MA)

Media stories

  • More than 200 newspaper, radio and TV stories

Percent of organizers who plan to participate again

  • 99%


Type of Litter in Rivers:

  • Fast food waste (33%)
  • Paper (29%)
  • Aluminum (28%)
  • Glass (6%)
  • Plastic (2%)
  • Other (2%)
How Long Litter Lasts: Orange peel (2-5 weeks); Paper bag (1 month); Cigarette butt (up to 5 years); Leather shoe (45 years); Plastic bottle (430 years); Aluminum can (200-500 years); Disposable diaper (550 years); Glass bottle (Approx. 1 million years); Styrofoam container (1 million years).


American Rivers is the only national organization standing up for healthy rivers so our communities can thrive. Through national advocacy, innovative solutions and our growing network of strategic partners, we protect and promote our rivers as valuable community assets that are vital to our health, safety and quality of life. Founded in 1973, American Rivers has more than 65,000 members and online supporters nationwide, with offices in Washington, DC and the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, Midwest, Southeast, California and Northwest regions.
Published in Press Releases
Monday, 15 January 2007 17:52

My only time to brag...


If you haven't listened to Simon Willis's latest podcast you need to. It is a great interview on how to prepare for a BCU 5* course. I want to personally thank Simon for taking this project on. I wrote Simon way back in October (I think) to see if he could put me touch with an instructor who could help separate fact from fiction on what how to prepare for the 5*.

You see over the years, I have dreamed about taking a 5* course. Everybody I talked to told me stories about how it takes years and years and you need to be such and expert that you can't pass it if you don't also know how to fly the rescue helicopters that will come out and save you. Pretty much; you need to be the Jack Bauer of sea kayaking.

Simon said he would keep an eye out for somebody and send them my way. I kept doing my own research and to be honest, didn't expect to much. Then I got a nice little Christmas present. He said that he turned my idea into a podcast!

Listening to it, I got tons of really great information on what to prep for and what course is really like. Listen for yourself.

Also, let's talk about 24. If you haven't been watching so far, you still have time before the 24 train completely leaves the station.

Here is all you need to know. We are 4 hours into it, Jack is out saving US of A from the bad guys and there has been some mild violence.

Watching 24 has made me decide that I need to work on my fighting stamina. I don't do a lot of fighting and I haven't really been tortured but, I am pretty sure that if I was tortured with a hot knife, bamboo fingernail torture, or even the old knife if the thigh, I wouldn't be able to jump up and bust my way out the door then continue fighting for the rest of the show.

Yep, I am making it my new (old) year's resolution. Work on my fighting/torture stamina... Watch out.
Published in Boring Site News

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