At the pool session on Thursday I managed the roll in my seakayak easily in the first leg (what a surprise, seems it really helps not to think). Than a break and in the second leg, the whole thing again, this time with BA. Goodness me, this was hard work. I had forgotten that the timing is a different one, the roll is slower. But when I adjusted the speed it was ok, I got the boat around 360degrees a few times.
The weather forecast for the weekend wasn't ok. Wind F5, guest up the F7. A little bit to much for 3 star which wants to have F2 to F3.
The first 1.5hours or so was indoor, we talked trough the 3star syllabus and the training notes before we went out on the water, just outside the base. The group consist of 4 students (2 males, 2 femals), a shadow and the instructor. Seems that this instructor has a colour code as like in October when I did the first 3 star training the shadower at this time was paddling a yellow boat, wearing yellow BA, yellow drysuit and yellow paddle blades. The todays instructor had at least a dark coloured BA, but everything else was yellow.
Eventually I got my hang to the draw strokes. I forgot that there are 3 different ones and that a hanging draw and the skulling draw aren't one of them. Only my right shoulder wasn't happy. Having the right hand for quite a long time on the left side above my head was painful after a few metres. We worked in pairs, the ladies together and the gents, so one pair was supervised by the coach, the other by the shadow. For the draw strokes the task was to manoeuvre the boat with the nose close to the pontoon and the boat perpendicular along the 3 watersides and return, so that each of the draws were done on both sides.
It was much more difficulty to paddle in eights, reverse. Woman an parking reverse it is not only a story in the car, but also in boats. It needed a lot of concentration to do the eights as I forgot quite often where I was on my path along the eight.
Our training area was a canal, quite protected but we had our F2 several times. So practising using the skeg was an easy thing as it was enough wind to get response from the boat. We were the "full" day in this small training area. 40 x 300m (most time only used 40x 100m). But Donald managed it that no one get bored practising basics, instead we got a lot of input and learned eagerly. To keep me entertained with basic stuff and full attention to the person in front of me is not an easy thing. Well done, Donald.
When finished with the first day, boats, paddles and parts of the equipment were left at the base and everyone went home (or too his accommodation).
The night was a nearly sleepless one, the birds were singing when I eventually asleep (spring must be very close).
Back to the base and waiting for the prep-talk for the day I was then so tired, that I had to rest my head on my arms on the table for a wee nap.
Weather forecast was still to bad regarding the wind. It was even worst then on Saturday. So the decision was to go to Loch Dochfour where we should find enough shelter to do the most of the assessment there and then for the wet stuff back to the base and the canal, so that we have only 10m between the cold water and a warm place to get change afterwards.
Perfect start for me, not. One of my middens was not at the kayak, even I was sure I saw it just 2min before. So I went off with only one, still better then none. Next thing was that when paddling in line I overheard parts of the instructions from behind (can I blame the headwind and the rain?). I got the "10 paddle strokes, then to the left, let the others passed and back in line. Until the last pontoon". I (and the person in front of me, the lead) missed the part which told us to go to the left using draw strokes in the move and to use draw strokes to get back into the line. So after the first set of position change, we were stopped by the coach and today's assessor.
Instructions were repeated (and extended, one time leaving to the left and the next time to the right, then left again and so on), I got them all this time, next attempt. Wow, first time that I did proper draw strokes in the move and it wasn't a hanging draw. But now we struggled to keep the 4 boats close together for a smoothly position swap. Some boats and paddlers had more problems then others with the headwind and get the boat in the right angle for the draw stroke.
Next exercise was crossing to the opposite shore, it ended in doing a ferry glide as wind but also water streaming from Loch Ness, to Loch Dochfour into the River Ness, it was a kind of tidal flow.
Another task and then the task I hate in every kind of athletic sport: Fartlek.
Bimbling speed (10 strokes), no problem. Touring speed (even against the wind, 30 strokes), no problem. Sprint/Emergency speed (20 strokes) is a problem. Whereby it is more the higher cadence then the more power behind the strokes which I have problems with and again from the start until we had covered a certain distance.
We reached a very sheltered area (no wind at all) and were split up in pairs again, ladies one pair and the gents the other. I forgot some of the tasks, but eventually we had to do rounds out of the sheltered area, into the wind, around a big green buoy (marker) downwind to a small mooring buoy and into the sheltered area again (and the other way round). Crossing the wind was no problem for me and Rubber Duckie, but as soon I wanted to turn downwind Rubber Duckie was stubborn and it needed a lot of edging and sweep strokes to get it around. The skeg was working and fully down.
A discussion with the coach followed when I told about this problem. My stern was lower in the water then my bow as all my load was in the day hatch and the rear hatch. My argument that no weight in the bow, but load in the rear and skeg down, should it make easy to turn downwind was not accepted, I should adjust the trim of my boat during lunch break.
So I put everything from the rear hatch in the front hatch and guess what happens when tried to turn the next time from crosswind / headwind to downwind. Rubber Duckie still wasn't easy to turn downwind. (Coach, sometimes you should believe your students. Some of them know their boats. That's what I like about Rubber Duckie, it is very stable in keeping the steering, though turning fast/without stalling could be difficulty, especially turning downwind).
With loaded up the energy it was time for the hard work: towing. Know you equipment and not ever you should trust more experienced paddler, when their help you setting up your equipment. The daisy chain stopper was on the wrong end and the float was to close to the end. The float position was in the wrong place when a quick release should be able on both ends of the tow (preferred version for this coach).
I started with the long tow and head out into the wind fast instead of doing a big round in the sheltered bay first. It took quite a while until I felt the stress on my tummy, even that the boat was slowed down and heavy to get forward fairly early. Finished the round and when set up the tow again to swap it over, so that I can be towed, my right should was not happy. Ouch. Specific lifting movement sent some little pain. Not good, this is my rolling side. To be towed is not this funny as it sounds, not when there is wind and you drysuit went a little bit damp in the rain. It is cold sitting in the boat and doing nothing.
Time for paddling back to the car, but first the weakest person in the group got the task to tow two of us, upwind! So again I sat there and was not allowed to paddle, but got some excitment, when the big, green buoy get very close, so close that the boat on my right side was scratching along it. Then our tow boat got assistance as another boat was put in front of it. It was a little drama as the towed raft was nearly overtaking the towing kayaks when they sorted out the connection.
After a few hundreds metres the coach came close to us in the raft and advised us to release our end of the tow and rushing immediately to the left. Releasing the hook from the deckline was not a problem, but then the knot was jammed on the very end of my deckline so it took us a few second to be complete free. But it took the towing kayaker in front of us much longer to recognised that we were on the loose. The coach had to shout several times. Next drama was then, when we were told that each of the towing kayaks should raft up with one of the free kayaks to stuff the towlines in the dayhatch.
My dayhatch wasn't usable as it was already full with my food, drink and emergency kit. So I put a second towline into my cockpit as I had stuffed mine there after the last exercise were I needed it. It took ages until I received the towline as some mistakes were made during and after the release from the towed kayak, but the second raft had much more problems and needed even longer. It was a terrible performance by all of us.
We took everything on board (not only literally) and enjoyed the surfing and sailing back to the mooring as we had now the wind and the flow from behind.
We had two hours left in the day, but before we started the wet stuff, so that all boxes for the assessment can be ticked we warmed up at the base and some video clips about rescues.
Before someone went swimming, a quick demonstration of a X-rescue by the coach and then everyone has to practise twice using a boat without paddler, just to be sure that we know what we have to do for a quick rescue so that the swimmer has not be in the water too long, before we headed of in pairs to get the (potential) wet stuff done, alternating after each side/task.
First box to tick was low braces. Tick. Next were the high braces, if failing them it is a chance to tick the box for the roll/eskimo-rescue/x-rescue.
I hate high braces, either I use them far too early and I'm still in a position where a low braces can also do the trick or I went over (in the pool) in the moment my boat is complete out of balance in the perfect position for a high brace as my brain decided to secure my shoulder. I managed one where my elbow was in the water (not my head), but for the coach it was enough, though he talked in this moment with his shadow. So again and this time I got my boat nicely out of balance and in the perfect position for a roll, I was upside down. Paddle alongside the kayak, right hand in front, sweep stroke, body on the rear deck and upright. "Wow", "Well done" and applause. WHAT? Did I really went over and rolled up without any effort? Yes, I did. And not only once. I was quite sure that the most of my next attempts of high braces weren't proper ones as head was fairly up, so probably still in the range to get this sorted with a low brace. As soon myhead was close to the water, something in my head blocked me and decided that icecream head is the better option. So 2 more rolls followed and one capsize I used to tick the eskimo rescue box.
I had already written of that I passed the assessment, I wasn't convinced about my performance over the day. Ok, I managed the roll (YEPPEAH) but this is only one technique on a whole list. Oh, and the high brace on the right side was also still missing. No further attempts on the left, as the last one wasn't got for my shoulder at all.
So some more chance to do a roll (for the last roll I needed a second attempt) and also to have my swim to be rescued. Great, hanging on the bow of the other boat and every move in this position (and later when the arm has to be lifted) resulted in pain (not much, but enough to tell better to stop before it get worst). I was nearly there to request a scoop rescue as reaching out with the left arm wasn't a good idea, so most of the work had to be done by my right arm. After the 7th time upsidedown I was also dizzy with all the cold water in the ears (the Chillcheater hood is really tight around the next, but didn't stop the water to get easily in the ears, though once in, it didn't get out). So a accompanied short paddle to the pontoon to get a break, my boat empty, my head clear before going again onto the water as I had still to do a X-rescue.
I saw Liz in the water as victim for a rescue for the second time and it was the shadow rescuing her (or did she a rolling attempt and failed?). Liz didn't wear a drysuit, unfortunately the other two had left the water and beside Liz only the assessor and his shadow where available as victim. Actually this meant that only Liz was available. The poor woman had to capsized a third time. I was so sorry for her. I should hurry up to get her out, but I did a mistake when she went over. I had her on my right side, meaning I had to reach over with my left arm to touch her boat. Ouch. Also was she, when out of her boat, between both kayaks and her paddle jammed under her arm between her and her boat. So getting her paddle took me a few seconds, but turning her boat in the right position to empty it and to get her in happens fast.
Back to the shore, I was ordered to get changed as my face was blue. Was it? I didn't felt cold, I wasn't shivering and my drysuit was dry ( I put my other on for the wet session as the one from the first part of the day let to much water trough around the neck, even when it is only raining). Probably the blue colour was because of a lack of oxygen as the hood was choking.
Whatever, the tea mug was used to warm my hand when watching the explanation how a roll is working, using some drawings on the whiteboard and finally it was 6pm, which means course finished.
Oh, apparently my performance was not this bad, I was told I passed the assessment.