Last weekend I headed over to the Isle of Wight to work for Owen at Isle of Wight Sea Kayaking. The two days were spent with Mark and Simon, a father and son who had booked two days of private coaching to take their current paddling skills (predominantly rivers and white water) onto the sea environment.
The weather gods smiled upon us providing a stunning weekend of sunshine and F3/4 NE winds on Saturday dropping to F1/2 on Sunday.
We started the Saturday with some navigation and trip planning theory before heading onto the water. The remainder of the day was spent in and around Freshwater Bay allowing us to work on various strokes in the sheltered lagoon and then developing their selection and use in and around the caves, stacks and cliffs. This was interspersed with some dynamic risk assessment and leadership practice and topped off with a session of rescue and self-rescue practice at the end of the day.
Sunday morning began with Mark and Simon planning the days paddle. With low winds from the NE and tides I took the opportunity to suggest a trip around the Needles from Totland Bay to Freshwater Bay. The guys did a great job of the planning exercise and we shot over to Totland Bay to get launched.
The paddle along the coast and then across Alum Bay provide opportunities to further develop strokes, try a bit of rock hopping and work on their ‘on-the-water’ navigation, looking at timings and distance.
Ahead of use we spotted another group of paddlers who had crossed over from Keyhaven obviously on route for the Needles. Alum Bay was about the calmest I have ever seen it, glassy smooth sea providing a superb paddle across the Bay. Rounding the Needles through minimal chop we were able to paddle at touching distance down the back of the Needles before crossing over to the Beach on Scratchel’s Bay for lunch and chat to the group from Upper Hamble Canoe Club we had seen ahead of us. In a typical ‘small world’ scenario my two students had met one of the UHCC members 5 years perviosuly at Plas Y Brenin!
The run back along the cliffs to Freshwater provided further opportunities to visit caves, work on manuovering around the rocks and get used to the wave action and swell close in to the cliff faces. There is a slight possibility I scraped the nose of my kayak down the cliff face trying to run a short slot which leaves me with some gel coat work to do this weekend.
It was brilliant to see how both Mark and Simon grew in confidence over the two days and how enthusiastically they approached every task or challenge set. After a short debrief at the end of the day we said our goodbyes only to bump into each other on the ferry home and enjoy a last half an hour together before they headed back up to Hertfordshire. This gave me time to get back to Hythe and upload the photos from the weekend to dropbox by the time they had arrived home – the best of the bunch can be seen on this gallery page.
A superb weekend on the water with a couple of superb students in stunning conditions. Doesn’t get much better than that!