Tuesday, September 27, 2016

My Level 2 Experience!

Last July was my first real sea kayaking experience.  Since then I've been in a decent range of different situations and conditions, so I said to myself that the next opportunity I have to participate in a level 2 course I'm going to take it.
The Newfoundland Kayak Company and PNL came together and put off a level 2 course the weekends of the 17th-18th and 24th-25th.
On the 17th we spent the morning in class going over the theory part of the course like navigation, weather, currents, and map reading.  In the afternoon we headed to Gull Pond for a few hours to go over some of the basic stokes we are expected to know for the course, and to refine what we have already practiced on our own.
On the 18th we met at 8:00a.m. at the TCH Irving and headed off to Placentia.  When we got to Placentia and got all geared up and on the water we immediately headed over to play in the eddies created by the tail end of the flood tide.  When that fun tapered off we headed up to a little cove to practice a few more of our strokes, where again the instructors, Richard and Neil, did an excellent job fine tuning our work.  We found a perfect little clearing inside the cove where we pulled up and had a rest, few laughs, and a lunch.  When we got back on the water we were facing a decent headwind, so Richard wanted us to guess the distance across the arm and the time it would take us to get there.  Fun little exercise.  Not to proud of my guess so no point in going into details here. ;)
When we reached the other side it was time to have some fun doing a bit of rolling.  I had taken the rolling instructors course with Richard earlier this year, so myself and Dave helped out Richard and Neil as best we could with teaching the much sought-after roll.
Thanks for coming up Roy,  you made it look like I knew what I was doing...lol
When we finished up with the rolling practice we all had a turn going through the strokes we learned while Richard recorded us so we could go back and look at what we were doing.  Excellent learning tool!  By the time we finished our demos the tide began to ebb, so we were back over practicing our low brace turns, s turns, and rescues in the current.  I've been to Placentia 4 times this year and each time I go I enjoy it more than the last.  It's perfect practice for breaking in and out of eddies, ferry gliding, rolling, and if you time it right and really want to test your skills, head out and play in the tide race! 
The second weekend was our camping trip.  We had an excellent time on this trip!  We met at the TCH Irving again and all headed out to Colinet to spend the night at Pinchgut.

We're all gear up and ready to go while Richard gives us our pre-game chat on tow lines and DOT required equipment, and Neil runs through how to best back a kayak with gear.

All ready to get the boats in the water and get this thing started!

Richard, Neil, and Jenn were the instructors so all of us split into 3 groups to head to our campsite for the weekend.  Our group was Richard, Cathy, Wilma, and me.  Richard put our navigation skills to the test as we took turns leading the pack.  Unfortunately I bombed this exercise....BUT I redeemed myself shortly after so Richard decided not to fail me and give me a second chance...j/k ;)

My redemption!  We all took a bearing to practice our dead reckoning navigation, but one reading was different than the others.  After a closer look one protractor was flipped giving the off bearing.  This is a perfect example of why everyone should take a bearing and compare, and not just rely on one person. 

And with the skill of 4 of the best navigation experts in the province we made it to Pinchgut!

First thing we did was set up our tents.  Then we changed into our camp clothes and had some lunch.
The NKC provided the main meals for the trip and I gotta say they were AWESOME!!!
For lunch we had chicken and ham wraps with fresh peppers...Delicious!

Myself and Roy shared a tent on the trip as this was his first camping trip and he didn't have a tent.  Funny thing is this was my first camping trip last year and I also had to share accommodations.
I took a page out of ol' Neville's book and put up a clothes line to hang our drysuits on.

Richard, Neil, and Jenn gave us a basic camp tutorial on things like how to light a stove, make coffee, use and sharpen an axe...

After lunch we went on the hunt for tarp poles and firewood.  Didn't take long before we had our poles cut and a pile of firewood ready to go.

This is kind of a simple little exercise but it was fun all the same, and it just goes to show the effort the NKC puts into their courses.  There were 5 or 6 main categories and each person got 3 cards with different camp scenarios.  The idea was to talk through each situation and decide on the appropriate category.
After we finished up with this we got dressed and back on the water to go through some of the more challenging strokes like the bow rudder, hanging draw, high brace turn, and my personal favorite..."the newfie swirl"
Richard, Neil, and Jenn did and excellent job once again fine tuning out strokes.  I never thought such slight changes could make that much difference.

Beautiful picture of our kayaks lined up the beach.

Bobby took a nice picture of me so I thought that I would add it as proof I was here and I'm not making this up ;)

I always have a favorite picture from all my trips and this one wins the prize for this trip.
Pretty sure this one will be hung on my wall sometime soon.


 Richard outdid himself on this one... Marinated beef tenderloin grilled on a campfire... Best steak I think I ever had.  Grilled peppers and Garlic mashed potatoes! ...and not that powdered crap.  Real roasted garlic, mashed in with boiled potatoes made fresh!

I like to think I'm amazing at BBQ so I wasted no time volunteering to cook the steaks.
Picture compliments of Jenn :)
This was one of the best parts of the night...between cooking my favorite meal and Roy feeding me ice cold beer...whats not to love?!?!?!

For dessert Julie made us brownies, and they were DELICIOUS!

Happy hour!  Listening to music, telling jokes, and having a laugh!
This is my favorite part of the camping trips!

Always try to get a good fire shot in.

Sunday morning view from my tent!

Everyone cleaning up and packing up camp after a pancake breakfast with fresh blueberry sauce from the berries we picked that morning.

Just a few shots from the beach.

Really like this picture too.

We packed up camp and got all of our gear loaded into our kayaks and before we set off back to the launch Richard went over some boat designs, boat handling, and paddling styles.
We had a quick lunch and then headed out!

Richard front and center!

Our Level 2 Group 2016!

After Richard bugging me all weekend to use my new GP I finally caved... look at the smile!!! he's hooked ;)

We had some fun with rescues on the way back.  One person fell over with a dislocated shoulder where a scoop rescue and a tow worked well.  The other was a person fell out of their boat with no whistle to call for help.  Once we all got sorted we grouped up to talk about what happened and how we could have done things better.  I love learning this kind of stuff! A lot of fun!!

Rounding the south end of Pinchgut Island heading home.

When we got back to the launch we did a few self rescues and a bit more rolling practice.  Very pleased to say that with this only being Roy's second weekend learning the roll he had 5 successful rolls!!!  Great job buddy!
We all helped each other unload and pack all the gear into the cars.

Richard wrapping up the weekend and everyone saying what they thought of the weekend in one word... mine was FUN!

We all passed and earned our Level 2 Sea Kayaking Certification!
Great Job guys its well deserved!

I wasn't sure what to expect from this course in the beginning, but from the start in the classroom learning about navigation and weather, to rescues in the current in Placentia, and how to be a team player and make camp life a blast for everyone, this was an AWESOME experience and I'm glad I had the opportunity to do this course with The NKC and some of my good paddling friends!
Thanks Richard and The NKC and thanks PNL!!
And thanks to Neil and Jenn for all your help!