BCU 5* Training. Photo credit: committed2thecore.com

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: committed2thecore.com

Published in Events

Capture: Sea Kayak Essentials Volume 1

BCU Level 3 Coach, Nick Cunliffe and Matt Giblin recently released their second instructional DVD in the Sea Kayak Essentials series. Last time they focused on foundation kayak skills aimed at beginner and intermediate paddlers but this time they are stopping it up a notch as they focus on intermediate and advanced boat handling skills.

Sea Kayak Essentials covers a wide range of topics including open water forward paddling, moving water skills, tide race paddling, rock hopping and surfing skills.

The paddling nerd in me really liked this video. Be warned that in some areas it’s very technical which could turn of casual paddlers looking for pure entertainment. That being said; they do a fantastic job breaking down some very technical skills (eg. tidal race paddling) and present it in easy to digest chunks.

If you are the self learning type of paddler then this DVD will appeal to you. You know who you are; you read info in books or watch a DVD then go out and practice yourself and figure it out. This DVD will be right up your alley.

One thing that I do really appreciate is that the producers have also written 40 pages of technical notes to go along with the DVD allowing you to get even more detail out of the video. It’s a great resource for students but I believe it will also be a fantastic resource for instructors who are looking to increase their technical knowledge for rough water paddling skills. You can grab a copy of it on their website.

Except for Jennifer Lopez’s masterpiece Gigli, no film is perfect. One thing that I do wish Nick and Matt did was to spend more time explaining some techniques from a boat. Nick does a great job as host and instructor but I sometimes noticed the editing formula would be to introduce the skill and explain the key concepts while standing on a rock then cut to a boater in rough water doing it with nice background music. There was a couple times where I was longing for a voice over or specific graphics so I knew what to look for. As somebody who easily got distracted by the amazing rough water footage and scenery, it would help snap out of dreaming mode and back into learning mode. Of course didn’t happen all the time but it was a noticeable point to me.

Final verdict? If you are looking for a solid video textbook to get you going I found it for you.

You can grab your copy for £19.95 if you live in the UK or £21.95 if you are living anywhere else in the world. Sea Kayak Essentials is available in both PAL and NTSC formats.

Published in DVD Reviews

Canoe Canada Video Capture

My friend Graham was digging around through some off-site storage at the Paddle Canada world headquarters when he stumbled upon a box of ancient VHF tapes labelled Canoe Canada. For the young kids out there; VHS was a format long before DVD’s that was good for movie rentals or to record that episode of The Dukes of Hazard you missed because you had to work Friday nights at McDonalds. But I digress...

Not owning an actual VHS player; Graham shipped it off to the closest person he knew who had one which actually happened to be ½ way across the Canada in Alberta. The video was converted over to DVD and uploaded for your viewing pleasure.

Canoe Canada Video Capture

Canoe Canada was a ½ instruction ½ canoe promotion video that was funded by Paddle Canada and the Canadian National Search and Rescue Secretariat.

Not sure of the exact date but we figure that Canoe Canada was produced in around the very late 1980’s or early 1990’s so it’s a great opportunity to see some really classic camping and paddling gear. I haven’t seen so much plaid jackets and bushy beards since...well, yesterday since they are both back in style with the cool kids here in Toronto.

Here is the intro below to whet your appetite. When you are done, click through to the Paddle Canada site to see the last three parts. It’s some classic footage indeed.

Published in Video


Over the past week two really good articles were posted online that I would have a lifetime of regrets if I didn’t mention them.

Firstly, head over to paddling.net and read Wayne Horodowich’s fantastic post, The Seasick Paddler. Getting seasick while on the water is one of the worst things that a paddler can face. Simply put, your paddling day is done and you are in for some good times throwing up or feeling like you are about to.

If you are in any type of leadership position (or paddle with friends) then you owe it to your clients/students to read the article.

Here is a quick teaser of something I hadn’t thought about:

[blockquote]Anyone who has ever vomited knows that during the regurgitation process your normal breathing is interrupted. When your trunk muscles contract you are not able to inhale. However, after you do expel the contents of your stomach you usually feel a need for a big breath. Imagine if you leaned over the side of your kayak to vomit and you capsized in the process. Do you think you would have the control to hold your breath and not inhale while you were under the water? If you have that kind of control great. If not, you may suffer severe consequences. The protocol I developed for our classes and trips was to educate the paddlers when and how to vomit if they did get sick.[/blockquote]

Click through for the full article.

Kayak Surf, Lake Ontario

The other great article was written by Eric Soares on Entering the Surf Zone. Its chalk full chock-full of tips and ideas for anybody who is nervous or has had trouble leaving the beach while waves are rolling in around you.

[blockquote]The worst likely thing to happen is you get wet.  Big deal.  So don a wetsuit or drysuit or whatever clothing you need to make you comfortable in the surf, and then wade out in it.  Let the breakers hit you.  Practice jumping over the waves and diving under and right through them.  Swim around in small surf and eventually progress up to 3-foot waves.  Body surf until you get a few good rides under your belt.  Once you feel good swimming in surf, the worst is over. The fear of getting wet is replaced with the joy of immersion in ionized water.  You are now ready to paddle through the surf.[/blockquote]

Read the full article here.

Published in General News

Sea Kayak Essentials Capture

There is a new kayak training DVD about to be released called Sea Kayak Essentials and it’s put together by the same gang that brought us Kayak Essentials last year which we were happy to review at the time.

This time round they are looking specifically at sea kayaking with a focus on the following skills:

  • 5 Essentials of Boat Speed, Angle and Trim; Body Position, Stroke Linking
  • Fundamentals of Posture, Connectivity, Feel and Power Transfer
  • Core skills of Forward paddling, Balancing and Turning
  • Use of the Skeg
  • Boat Awareness exercises

There are also sections that go into more detail on how to paddle in advanced conditions including tidal races, surfing and rock hopping.

I’m really looking forward to seeing this DVD. Kayak Essentials was well produced and focused a lot on the technical skill development so there was a lot of material to work with. Sea Kayak Essentials looks to be in a similar vein and very promising.

A trailer was recently posted and it’s embedded below.

You can find more information about Sea Kayak Essentials on their website.

Published in Teaching

Canoe Instruction at Sunnyside

We have all been there. There is only an hour left in your lesson but you have two hours of material left to teach. Where did the time go?

A sign of a good instructor is the ability to keep on top of your lesson plan and finish things off in the allotted amount of time. With one eye on the students and the other on her watch, the instructor can keep the lesson going without getting flustered or stressed that she behind schedule.

Below is a set of random tips and ideas to help you manage your time while out teaching this summer:

Lesson Planning

  • Write your lesson plan out on paper in a chronological order throughout the day so you don’t need to waste time trying to find your place while on the water.
  • When planning your lessons, be realistic in how long something is going to take or learn. Travel and paddle time always takes longer then you think and don’t forget to take into account wind and a beginners paddling pace.


Teaching Time

  • Streamline housekeeping. If your students need to fill out paperwork at the beginning of the course encourage them to get there early to take care of it before the course starts. As students finish up their paperwork use that time to learn names and morning expectations.
  • Set realistic time expectations with your students. Let them know how much time they have for lunch so they are back on time. Tell them your goal is to be on the water in x number of minutes so they know if they have time to find that last minute item in the trunk of their car.
  • Watch your travel time on the water as it eats up a lot of time very quickly. Don’t move your class unless you need to.
  • Getting on and off the water always takes twice as long as you think it does (did I mention that before?).
  • Try to teach your on-land segments at the same time (just before or just after lunch) to minimize water/land transition time.
  • If you need to paddle for a short distance to your planned teaching location, watch and lean how long it takes. It’s important to know how long the paddle home is going to take!
  • Take advantage of class downtime for quick mini lessons. For example, lunchtime is a great time for a fast weather or safety lesson.
  • When your students are off practising their newly learned skill take a moment look ahead in your lesson plan to figure out what’s next. That will help keep the lesson momentum from stalling out.
  • Watch your mouth. If you are running out of time it’s likely because you are talking too much. Start with the goal to cut your talking down by half then go from there.
  • If your class runs over two days, hand out homework for them to read. It’s great for theory topics and other easily digestible material.
  • If you realize you are running out of time and can’t teach everything in your lesson quickly prioritize and teach only what you can. Is there anything that you can get students to read or learn via a follow-up email later?
  • At the end of the day make note of what worked and what took more time then you thought. This will allow you to properly adjust your schedule as necessary next time.

Got other time saving ideas? Post them in the comments area below.

Photo credit: Canoe Instruction at Sunnyside / Bobcatnorth (Away) / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Published in Teaching

White River Ontario Canada

According to Ontario Parks, 25% of all Ontarians have never gone on an overnight camping trip (I thought it would have been higher). Research revealed that lack of camping knowledge was one of the primary barriers to new Canadians getting out camping so Parks Ontario is trying to address that issue with their new Learn to Camp program.

The Learn to Camp program involves a three pronged approach including an online website, community-based evening sessions and overnight classes at several provincial parks.

Throughout the camping season the Ontario Parks staff will be organizing free evening sessions in partnership with local community groups around the Greater Toronto area. The clinics will allow people who are thinking about going camping learn about provincial parks and how to make their first trip a success.

If you are a fan of emersion learning then you could sign-up for one of the overnight programs. It costs $46 and can have a maximum of six participants. It’s much more in-depth then the community sessions as it covers some of the key outdoor skills to make sure your camping experience is successful including settings up a tent, building a campfire, equipment choices, and food prep.

Finally, if you can’t get to an event in person, Ontario Parks has rolled out a fantastic online resource with all clinic materials online. I really appreciate that the site content is very practical and clearly aimed at the beginner camper with the goal of breaking down the intimidation factor. For example, the food section includes a sample meal plan as well as lots of information on things that I would never think about like how to actually cook on a stove safety or how to properly pack a cooler.

I love this initiative and congrats to Parks Ontario for rolling out.

Photo credit: Our camp at Nipigon Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Published in Industry Stuff

SUP Stroke Analysis

If you are new to SUP or an expert looking to get more performance from your paddling you need to watch this very technical breakdown of the stroke used during Stand Up Paddling. It’s developed by Jim Terrell, the creator of QuickBlade Paddles.

The SUP Instructors out there, watch closely when Jim breaks down each of the paddlers stroke pointing out some of the key elements to watch for along with the common mistakes that beginning SUP ‘ers often make.

The video is listed after the jump.

Published in Teaching

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: paddletoronto.com (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

learntokayak.ca 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 / http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/
Bottom photo credit: Naturally Superior Adventures

Published in Events

Playing around after a rescue clinic. Photo Credit: David Johnston

Here are a couple photos from a trip last week up to Lake Superior last week. I had the pleasure of being invited to teach a Paddle Canada Level 2 sea kayaking course at Naturally Superior Adventures with my co-instructor; the very funny and hugely talented Rev. Bonnie Perry. Long-time readers will remember a piece I wrote a year ago when she was nominated to be the Bishop of Minnesota.

Published in Teaching
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