I spent last weekend working for Isle of Wight Sea Kayaking, running a BCU 3 Star Sea Kayak Training course. The forecast for the first day was N/NE winds at a steady F4, with N/NE, F5/6 on the second day. The two candidates and I decided to opt for a longer sea trip on Saturday, followed by skills and rescue coaching/practice on the Sunday, making use of the shelter from the cliffs in Freshwater Bay.
Dave, Josh and I launched by Totland Pier and after some work on effective forward paddling and edging in the Bay, headed around to Alum Bay with some rock hopping at Hatherwood Point.
After enjoying swell across Allum Bay caused by the wind over the tide, we aimed at the base of the Needles.
Once up close we were able to make an informed decision about wether or not to round the Needles. The Hurst side of the Needles was reasonably rough, certainly for a 3 Star Training course, however the Southern Side was relatively calm with the shelter of the cliffs so we opted to thread the Needles and visit the Lighthouse from the South side before stopping for lunch at Scratchell’s Bay
After lunch we spent some time working with charts and maps looking at distances and timings for the return journey…
…before playing with boat control inside the cave and then working close in along the cliffs as the gentle swell provided some nice, playful conditions.
Josh and Dave made excellent progress and seemed to be enjoying the opportunity to paddle in such stunning surroundings. We took our time working our way back to Freshwater, in particular looking at various contact, short and long tows.
With time disappearing rapidly, we pushed on to get back to Freshwater Bay and enjoy a warm drink and some food before rounding up the day with a quick debrief.
On Sunday, the wind picked up as predicted with a very steady F5 blowing offshore at Freshwater. However, the Northerly wind did ensure flat calm conditions in the bay. We tucked in close to the cliffs in and spent the morning working on skills, in particular developing effective edge control.
After a brief lunch in the Sandpipers Hotel, we kitted up and headed out for some rescue, self rescue and rolling practice before enjoying the warmth of the kit store for the end of course debrief and action planning to help prepare both Josh and Dave for future assessment.
Huge thanks go to both Josh and Dave for their effort and enthusiasm which made the weekend a thoroughly enjoyable one.
If you are interested in BCU or skills development courses on the Isle of Wight, take a look at Isle of Wight Sea Kayaking Website for details and online booking.