2004-06-06

CRCA Level 1 Course

Modern sea kayaks are based on water craft that evolved in the north over thousands of years. While they come in several varieties, one built for touring can generally handle some fairly rough water. The weak point is usually the paddler. This is why is it a very good idea to take a kayaking course. In Canada, the Canadian Recreational Canoeing Association (CRCA) has a tiered system rangeing from Flatwater to Level 4. This weekend I became Level 1 certified by the Newfoundland Kayak Company.

Friday evening I arrived at the Aquarena in St. John's. I was a few minutes late because I was over an hour late leaving Lewisporte. It seems like there are always things that come up to delay me when I have to travel anywhere. This meant I didn't have time to stop along the way, do the shopping I needed to do, or get more than a quick bite for supper.

Ian met me at the door. I knew him from when he led our group at the kayaking retreat a couple weeks previous. The class was forced to relocate, so he guided me through some twists and turns and eventually to where my 13 other classmate were. Justin had already gone over some things, and people were introducing themselves. I just got the tail end, so names are still fuzzy.

Following some general instruction on kayaking safety, coastal navigation, and so on, it was time to get changed and hit the pool. Once on the water, it looked like just about everyone else was as apprehensive about inverting their kayak as I was. We had to force the kayak upside down, pound on the hull 3 times to attract attention, wave our arms back and forth as long as we could, grab the pull strap on the spray skirt to release it, and then tumble foreward out of the kayak and come to the surface still holding the paddle and the kayak - no problem.

Actually, it wasn't that bad. I watched the instructors do it, and some of the other students, to program the moves into my brain. I took some deep breaths and threw myself to one side to force a normally stable kayak to roll over. I did each of the steps, and the next thing I knew my head was out of the water with kayak and paddle close at hand. Nothing to be scared of at all. For the rest of the night we performed various rescues as victim and saviour. At about 11:30 I was loading my kayak back on the car and heading to my brother-in-law's place for a few hours of sleep.

On a cool, windy, and rainy Saturday morning we met at Long Pond just north of the university. Here were were going to learn boat control. We paddled forward, stopped, paddled backwards, and then sideways. Next we turned and pivoted. In the afternoon we covered bracing - the art of righting yourself before you tip over. Some people didn't quite get the hang of it until they did go completely  over. That gave us opportunities to practice our resuces again. During the day we did some navigaton and planned our trip for Sunday, so the night session was cancelled. (I'm sure it had nothing to do with the big hockey game on that night...)

Sunday morning we all gathered at the Village Mall parking lot with plans to get underway for Cape Broyle by 0800. That meant another night with not enough sleep, but we needed an early start, if people like me could get away before supper. So, a convoy of kayak topped vehicles set forth down Highway 10. We stopped at a convenience store to grab some extra grub and change into our paddling gear, and then headed for the local beach to load up and do some paddling.