Tuesday, 30 November 2010

More handrolling

Tonight was another KKC pool session.  Due to the cold weather, snow on the ground and school closures, we had fewer participants than usual.  This meant more time in a boat.

I started trying to practice handrolling at the side of the pool but after doing a few, seemed to loose the knack.  I got (more) annoyed and gave up.

Having done a little bit of coaching with various people, I had another go in the boat, this time attending ‘Malcolm’s school of handrolling’.  Another student had already successfully passed out this evening so it’s clearly the place to go!

Later Malcolm suggested I watch this video.  If only I was an activist and not a theorist……

(No) Planes, trains and automobiles

Having been down to Inverness for our L2 Development day and our canoe coaching sessions, we had to try and get home to Orkney.  With Justin’s help, we got away from Muirtown in good time and got to the airport to return the hire car without a hitch.

Having been delayed by two and a half hours on the journey south, we were suspicious of claims that the plane was running to schedule.  We checked on the internet and found that it hadn’t left Sumburgh in Shetland, never mind leaving Kirkwall or arriving at Inverness.IMGP0395Snowy runway

On Sundays we coach the beginners in the pool but the delay on the plane meant that we couldn’t make it.  Emergency phone calls were made and the other Orkney L2 trainees were enlisted to deliver our session, having been instructed where to find the lesson plan saved on my computer!

More time passed and after about an hour and a half, we were unsurprisingly told that the plane had been cancelled.  We were all booked onto the next available flight which was 9.55am on Monday, then Flybe put us in a taxi and sent us to Nairn to the Newton Hotel, across the road from where we had been staying with Steve and Mags!IMGP0397Newton Hotel, Nairn

The morning did not start well with 4 of the passengers being taken to the airport in a taxi at the appointed 8.15 while the others were left for over 45 minutes.  Several calls were made to Flybe and eventually taxis came for the rest of us.  IMGP0398

Mackayak looks bored part one – no taxi

Upon arrival at the airport, we were checked in but told there was a delay to our flight.  We, of course, looked on the internet and found that it hadn’t left Shetland….

I’m sure the Flybe staff were doing their best but there was a complete lack of information all morning.  Everything in the airport was cancelled because the airport had run out of de-icer so we were very sceptical that we would fly at all.

After a while, we decided Plan B was required so we started getting information on buses, trains and ferries.IMGP0399Mackayak tries to get information from the information desk

Just before 12 we were told that the next announcement would be at 1 but we knew that since the train left at 13.59 and we had to get tickets etc that really we couldn’t wait around that long.  We asked the Flybe people if they would pay for our train and ferry but they said no because our flight had not been cancelled (even though we were cancelled on Sunday).  Instead we asked for a refund (which as yet I haven’t seen) and set forth to Inverness.

Our initial plan was to take the bus to Scrabster but we had a feeling the railway line was more likely to be open than the road so we opted for the train.IMGP0424Means of escape!IMGP0402Well it rhymes with plane…   IMGP0405Mackayak looks bored part two – awaiting four hour train journeyIMGP0408Inverness Airport ran out of de-icer.  This man was keeping Scotrail moving with only a brush and a can of Car Plan de-icer!        IMGP0416The line to Thurso

Scotrail should be commended for running their train in difficult conditions with only a half hour delay.  The guard on the service was also extremely helpful and contacted Northlink Ferries to tell them he had a train load of ferry passengers and could they hold the boat if necessary….   

When we finally made it to Thurso, there was no sign of our taxi, but we found one going the right way and got to Scrabster in good time for the boat.  Phew!  Once on the boat, it was time for a well deserved drink.          IMGP0430Mackayak stops looking miserable!  You can count on Northlink!!! 

After a pleasant crossing we finally made it to Orkney where a taxi awaited to take us home to Kirkwall (after I’d retrieved my car from the airport of course…)IMGP0432 Hamnavoe in Stromness

4 Brave souls

Having decided to attend the UKCC L2 Development Day in Inverness on Saturday, Mackayak and I thought we would make use of our Sunday to get in some canoe coaching.

We were very kindly helped by our friend Eleanor MacDonald from the Inverness Club who did a wonderful job of finding us some people to coach.  Thank you!

Our first hurdle of the morning was getting from Nairn, where we had been put up by Steve and Mags, to Inverness where we were doing our coaching. IMGP0377Mackayak makes use of the Young Drivers of Canada award  IMGP0379NK driving IMGP0380 The A96

Taking it slowly, we got to Inverness without incident and made our way to the Muirtown Basin.  We weren’t sure if anyone would want to come out when it was so cold!IMGP0382Brrr…..

Justin, who was at the L2 day with us on Saturday, had by this point asked to join in so we were able to get access to the Scout Hut for shelter and warm drinks using his keys.

We were surprised to find that 4 brave souls had turned up at the Basin ready to be coached and were even more impressed when one rang to say she was coming across town in a taxi because her car had frozen shut.

We split the day into 4 sessions, giving all three of us a chance to coach.  I started off by talking about paddling forward in a tandem boat, thinking mainly about shaft angle, blade exit and trunk rotation.  When we started to get cold, we all headed in doors with our paddles to recap what we had done on the water.IMGP0387 Andy the Canoe Ninja in his getaway vehicle

After a few minutes break, Justin took over and started his session on turning a tandem boat from the comfort of the Hut.  We then all headed outside where the heavens opened!  Justin talked about using sweep strokes, draw strokes and prys to help turn the boat when static before talking a little about turning on the move.IMGP0389

Justin coaches – all that snow had fallen during his session!

After a welcome retreat into the Hut for lunch, I did another session on solo forward paddling.  We discussed trim (with no wind) before reiterating what we had learnt in the morning about the forward paddle stroke.  Because we were now in solo boats, we introduced the correction phase of the stroke using J stroke and emphasised getting the paddle shaft vertical and parallel to the centre of the boat.  We also discussed how edging the boat helps achieve the most efficient forward paddling stroke and there were some lovely edges on show by the end of the session.IMGP0388Mackayak thinks about solo turning

The final session of the day was from Mackayak and was on turning a solo boat.  There weren’t enough boats for me so I observed from the shore.  Because there was now a stiff breeze, Mackayak talked again about trim.  She then moved on to sweep strokes and broke them down into several phases and used self-check and reciprocal coaching.  I was too far away to hear exactly what was happening so I can’t give a very good appraisal (sorry).   IMGP0393Solo turning with Mackayak

We were really impressed that all four of our coachees had stuck it out for the full day, as the weather was very cold and at times very inclement.

The day was exceedingly useful for us as coaches and was very beneficial to us.  We hope that those we coached found the day as equally useful and did, at least, learn something!

Thank you to Sharon, Andy, Angus and Dan for braving the cold and allowing us to get out and coach, to Eleanor for sterling organisational work and to Justin for all his help, especially when we ran off at the end of the day to catch the plane

L2 Development Day

If you have been reading this blog over the last year, you will know that Mackayak and I have been wrestling with the beast that is the UKCC Level 2 coaching qualifications.  Although we have done heaps of sea kayak coaching in the pool and over the summer, the award requires equal proficiency, and ability to coach, in both double bladed and single bladed craft.  Thus we have to canoe.  But on Orkney we only have access to one canoe and it’s always windy…  Problem!

This weekend we made the journey from Kirkwall to Inverness to attend a L2 support day where we could discuss our difficulties and get assistance from an experienced coach.  As the opportunities for us coaches to get coaching in Orkney are non-existent, we jumped at the chance to attend.  Our coach (and host) for the day was Mags Duncan, a level 5 coach based in Nairn.  IMGP0376Mags finds a sheltered corner to coach in

We were joined on the day by Justin Grant from the Inverness club who is also primarily a sea kayaker and who we know from Paddle Orkney ‘09 last year.

Canoe training and coaching were at the top of the list so that was the focus of the day.  It was blooming freezing at Muirtown Basin in Inverness so we did lots of indoor and outdoor sessions making sure everyone kept warm.IMGP0369“Well at least it isn’t frozen over”

We started the day discussing L2 and at one point I nearly gave up and cried because it all feels so unachievable.  However, after a bit of encouragement from Mags and some time out on the water, I felt a bit better and am hopeful that one day I will actually pass assessment!IMGP0372Mackayak paddles along

Mags worked with us on our canoe skills and we discussed lots of ways to break things down so that we could coach them effectively.  Markers and flags!!!  Block, random and varied practice.  Coach centred, recipricol, self check, guided discovery…….

All in all it was a really useful day and really helpful to meet up with someone else going through the same process and to be able to mine Mags for information!  IMGP0375Justin 

Now if I can just get in 10 hours of canoe coaching, I can sit assessment.  Then it’ll be on to 4*, moderate water endorsement, L3, L5……..  Or maybe it’s all just a pipedream?

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Forward Paddling

Tonight we were working with the beginners on their forward paddling.  We talked about all the different aspects involved in the stroke – lots to think about! (Please point out all my mistakes!)

IMGP0345Albert works on his stroke  IMGP0342Mackayak demonstrating IMGP0343Susan gives it a go 

Everyone did really well and their forward strokes had really improved by the end of the session.

We finished the session with a game of sort of canoe polo.  Who’s idea could that have been?

Mackayak also took a bit of time to think about her single blade coaching for next week. 

IMGP0341Where’s the other blade?!’

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Polo Friday

Last night was another polo training session.  I didn’t play very well but still enjoyed it.


Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Playing at the pool

Tonight was another KKC pool session.  I’ve had a hectic and stressful day today presenting a paper at an archaeology conference in Kirkwall so it was good to get into the pool for some messing around.

I started off at ‘Malcolm’s school of handrolling’ and with some encouragement and fine coaching, managed a few handrolls.  I quit while I was ahead.

Later I practiced a few rolls and took myself to a quiet corner to practice handrolling without the pressure of Adam watching!  I feel a bit queasy now though!

Kayaking tonight was fun!

IMGP0305 Malcolm’s School of Handrolling

Monday, 15 November 2010

Mackayak Masterclass

Today Mackayak booked the swimming pool for a sea boat session as she was champing at the bit to get wet again.

A few of us joined in and got wet ourselves.  Mackayak demonstrated her usual grace in her boat, I flailed around a lot.

Mackayak gave some tips to the other participants who were just as successful if not as graceful.

Later on we coached the beginners at the pool.  We introduced the boat, practised capsizing and got them paddling around.  At the end we tried some boat balancing.  I think it went OK but it’s hard to judge your own coaching.Picture 004NK gesticulates! (photo Malc)Picture 006  Paddle like this! (Photo Malc)

Mackayak has written a fine summary of the day on her blog

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

No grumpiness allowed!

Tonight was another KKC pool session.  It was busier than last week which meant less time in a boat.

I started with some rolling……IMGP0296NK rolls the polo boat

Then took butterfly roll and static brace lessons from Mackayak……IMGP0299Mackayak demonstrates static brace

Watched Christina do some exercises………IMGP0301The queen of polo

Then finished off at ‘Malcolm’s School of Handrolling’ once again.IMGP0303 No Christina, this is not my meerkat impression!IMGP0307Hmmm…..IMGP0305 Almost up

My handrolling was much poorer than last week.  I think I need to move my body further to the side in the set up and make sure I really push with the right foot as I come up.  More practice needed!

Now that wasn’t too negative now was it?!

Banks and Boats

In my real life, I am an archaeological geophysicist based in the Archaeology Department of Orkney College.  Recently, my colleagues have been working on a Neolithic burial tomb at Banks, right on the southern tip of South Ronaldsay.  The site was found during works to level a car park so this is a rescue excavation trying to uncover as much as possible with very limited time and resources.  The excavation finishes tomorrow so today we got the chance to visit the site with the County Archaeologist.010Happy Trisha in her hole 001Excavating one of the chambers      007 The extent of the site008Another chamber 

You can find out more about the excavation by watching the daily video blogs here.

While I was at the site, I couldn’t help but stare at the sea.  It was amazing after the recent storms we’ve had.  At first I thought it looked like a good surf spot but I think in hindsight, you would get completely mashed!015Waves

The sea was really hammering in against the cliffs.  I said to my friend I wished I was a good enough paddler to be out in that.  She said anyone who thought about going out in that must be mad.  Errmmmm………021Hammering in from the south

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Novice Paddler

After several months of not paddling on any trips, today I made the effort and went along.  I don’t know what put me off paddling, I think I tried to do too much and burnt out.  My enthusiasm for paddling dwindled to nothing which was very strange indeed.IMGP0276An unusual sight

Having not paddled for so long, I knew I would hold everyone up and that I wouldn’t manage to do too much, so I requested a short paddle going with the wind.  We plumped for Sandwick to Moi Geo in South Ronaldsay.  When we arrived at Sandwick, the wind had really picked up and seemed to be coming straight into the shore.  I had to confess that I didn’t think I’d manage into the wind, so we decided to go to the east side instead.      IMGP0281 Dennis explores the coastIMGP0282Malcolm and Ansgar IMGP0283Malcolm below the cliffs

We launched from Pool of Cletts with the intention of heading to Windwick Bay.  This is one of my favourite pieces of coastline, some what geologically different to other places, giving interesting caves, tunnels, stacks and rocks.

We were going to paddle south so we knew that we would have to go into the wind to begin with, but hoped for shelter under the cliffs.IMGP0286Tunnel in


Tunnel out

Turning the corner to Windwick meant we were going straight into the wind.  It was HARD work!  I was glad of a rest…IMGP0295Malcolm, half dead NK and Dennis stop for lunch

After lunch we set off for home.  From no where, a significant wind chop had built up, or as Malcolm put it ‘there’s a bit of a swell on’.  Fortunately, the now increasing wind was either behind us or coming from the side so it wasn’t a struggle to paddle against, but the large steep seas were very off putting.  I was OK, but found myself tensing up, when I knew that was the worst thing to do.  More than once I thought I was going in.

In order to add a bit of spice to the proceedings and to make sure my ‘first’ paddle was a memorable one, Dennis decided to throw himself in and test our rescue and leadership skills in more challenging conditions.  After strong direction from Ansgar and a bit of a team effort, we got Dennis back in the boat and sorted out. 

We were then blown in towards the shore, landing just before twilight.  A memorable paddle indeed!