St David's rescue^

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St David's rescue^

Post by Mark R » Thu Apr 19, 2012 8:45 pm

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Re: St David's rescue

Post by seascape62 » Thu Apr 19, 2012 8:48 pm

Mark. Do you know any more about this rescue/incident?

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Re: St David's rescue

Post by Mark R » Thu Apr 19, 2012 9:00 pm

Just what's in the article...
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Re: St David's rescue

Post by Stuart Yendle » Thu Apr 19, 2012 11:51 pm

Had a text off taran whos on his 5 star training saying had a fantastic day got two life boats and helicopter involved. Dont know anymore. I assumed it may have been part of some training until i saw this. Had a venture out to strumble head looked absolutly huge out there today.

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Re: St David's rescue

Post by Taran Tyla » Sun Apr 22, 2012 2:43 pm

The incident happened on a 5 star assessment I was attending. One of the Guinea Pigs was struggling a bit with the conditions & had capsized a few times which were quickly sorted out. After one capsize it was decided that he should paddle into Gesail-Fawr, the last get out before St Davids Head, he was doing great considering he had a boatful of water but unfortunately he capsized again just before Penllechwen & got swept past that headland minus his boat.
Just prior to this I was told to tow his boat onto the beach which I did. This left the swimmer, assessor & the other 5 star applicant heading around St Davids Head whilst myself, two other Guinea Pigs & the Assessors assistant landing on the beach.
It wasn't an easy landing & the Assessors assistant quite badly smashed the front of his boat in the landing. the problem we had once ashore was an inability to communicate on the pre arranged channel due to the enclosed location & it was about 45 minutes before we were able to reach the coast guard. In the back of our minds was whether the other group were trying to contact the coast guard & not being successful either.
We had a few options available but decided to take the offer of a lift from the coastguard leaving the swimmers boat above the tideline. It certainly wasn't an easy launch from the beach to reach the coastguard & I'm glad I wasn't last.
We were told that the other group had made it around St Davids Head with the swimmer on the front deck of one of the boats, pretty impressive! & a relief too.
Once back at Whitesands we all got back in our boats & paddled to shore reflecting on what had happened & how we all dealt with the situation. Hindsight is great in these situations & I will always learn a lot from them.
a few hours rest & some chart work & we were getting ready for the night Nav :S

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Re: St David's rescue

Post by soundoftheseagull » Sun Apr 22, 2012 2:59 pm

Glad all are safe and well
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Re: St David's rescue

Post by Mark R » Sun Apr 22, 2012 6:21 pm

Will there be any follow-up or investigation of the commercial provider?
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Re: St David's rescue

Post by Taran Tyla » Sun Apr 22, 2012 6:59 pm

Not that I'm aware of Mark. To be honest, all though this was a very real incident, the Coast Guard were called as a precaution as we were unable to contact the other group & establish what was happening with them. We just weren't expecting two boats & A chopper to be launched, guess the Coast Guard were playing it safe too.
Everyone coped really well, especially the two guinea pigs on the beach who were invaluable on the day & I could learn a lot from them & as always the Coast Guard were fantastic :)

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Re: St David's rescue

Post by Douglas Wilcox » Sun Apr 22, 2012 7:17 pm

Hi Taran, I am really delighted to hear every one is safe.
Douglas


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Re: St David's rescue

Post by Douglas Wilcox » Sun Apr 22, 2012 11:24 pm

Hello Taran thank you very much for posting the photos of your 5* assessment, which clearly show the conditions you were expected to demonstrate your ability to perform and make decisions at 5* level in.

I was sorry to see the damage to the bow of the assessor's assistant's grey decked Cetus. It must have been brave to relaunch into those conditions to get out to the lifeboat with the bow in that state. Did he have a buoyancy bag/full dry bags/inflated paddle floats in the bow compartment in case of flooding?

Did the party consider leaving the damaged Cetus on the beach and taking the swimmer's kayak out to the lifeboat instead?

I ask this because the late Jim Broadfoot and I were involved in a very difficult rescue of a kayaker (a member of another party) whose bow suffered similar damage and his kayak then pencilled with the stern in the air after the bow flooded and sank. Ever since, I have used buoyancy bags in bow and stern compartments. I know Murty Campbell in Stornoway advises having reserve flotation when rock hopping.

Thanks again for posting and linking to the photos.

Douglas

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Re: St David's rescue

Post by Mark R » Mon Apr 23, 2012 12:05 am

'I havent mentioned who I did my assessment with as I got the impression they wanted to keep the rescue thing quiet as people post their own opinions & make the incident sound like something that it wasn't. It was a real incident, yes, but it was kept under control.'

Under control? Are you sure?

The job of being a coach is to take folk paddling, in any way or style that doesn't lead to the outcome you describe.

And the next day, they passed judgement on your suitability to plan and execute trips...
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Re: St David's rescue

Post by PhilAyr » Mon Apr 23, 2012 1:21 am

Mark R wrote:'I havent mentioned who I did my assessment with as I got the impression they wanted to keep the rescue thing quiet as people post their own opinions & make the incident sound like something that it wasn't. It was a real incident, yes, but it was kept under control.'

Under control? Are you sure?

The job of being a coach is to take folk paddling, in any way or style that doesn't lead to the outcome you describe.

And the next day, they passed judgement on your suitability to plan and execute trips...
My thoughts exactly. :-(

This incident sounds very similar to a previous rescue that happened not so long ago. In that one I seem to remember an unfortunate paddler who went for a swim twice. The group split up and were not able to contact each other on VHF. Because of that the CG were called. Are there not some lessons to be learned ?

Taran thank you for taking the time to talk about this rescue and linking it to your blog. I sincerely wish you better luck on your next assessment, and if its any consolation, you can coach me anytime ! :-)

Phil

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Re: St David's rescue

Post by JonC » Mon Apr 23, 2012 7:13 am

Good bit of feedback Taran.

Conditions off the rocky beach looked pretty untidy, and presumably conditions were the same when trying to rescue the swimmer. Not an easy situation to deal with, especially once the swimmer is seperated from his own boat.

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Re: St David's rescue

Post by Taran Tyla » Mon Apr 23, 2012 9:15 am

Hi Douglas, the assessors assistant did have a proper inflatable bow bag & certainly did consider swapping boats but stuck with his own .

Mark, i think the 5 star assessment is meant to test us, it was certainly an interesting couple of hours & stimulated good input from all those involved. as I mentioned before the Coast Guard were called as a precaution. During leadership training we are taught to look first after ourselves, then the group & the the victim. By calling for help we eliminated to possibility of things escalating & were able to establish that the other group were OK.
I dont think it got out of control. Uncomfortable yes, but the outcome was good.

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Re: St David's rescue

Post by Kayaks'N'Beer » Mon Apr 23, 2012 9:28 am

PhilAyr wrote:
Mark R wrote:'I havent mentioned who I did my assessment with as I got the impression they wanted to keep the rescue thing quiet as people post their own opinions & make the incident sound like something that it wasn't. It was a real incident, yes, but it was kept under control.'

Under control? Are you sure?

The job of being a coach is to take folk paddling, in any way or style that doesn't lead to the outcome you describe.

And the next day, they passed judgement on your suitability to plan and execute trips...
My thoughts exactly. :-(

This incident sounds very similar to a previous rescue that happened not so long ago. In that one I seem to remember an unfortunate paddler who went for a swim twice. The group split up and were not able to contact each other on VHF. Because of that the CG were called. Are there not some lessons to be learned ?

Taran thank you for taking the time to talk about this rescue and linking it to your blog. I sincerely wish you better luck on your next assessment, and if its any consolation, you can coach me anytime ! :-)

Phil

Cue Debbie :-)
"Are there not some lessons to be learned ? "

The main lesson to be taken from this is that sometimes groups get split. Sometimes that's down to conditions or sometimes you make the decision to split based on any number of factors. I can't help agreeing with Taran here - all casualties were removed from harms way before the coastguard was contacted, therefore the call was not a mayday, therefore it was, indeed "kept under control". I have no doubt in my mind that, had they been unable to contact CG, no one would have been in danger as a result. This, to me, is pretty much the definition of under control.

Another lesson Id' take from it is the unreliability of hand held VHF radio. It's another gadget, with a lot of points of fail. By all means carry one but, if I was ever in a situation where I needed to radio for help I certainly wouldn't be assuming it would work. We tried to radio the CG earlier this year when we were delayed a day, getting back to the campsite after informing the proprietor when we'd be back. We wanted to pass information to CG that we were perfectly safe, just in case the campsite owner got worried and raised the alert. We tried for about half an hour to get a hold of them but eventually gave up. Luckily the campsite owner was cool about the whole thing and hadn't even thought to make the call.

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Re: St David's rescue

Post by Stuart Yendle » Mon Apr 23, 2012 10:06 am

Where is the lesson to be learnt?

I don't think the lesson to be learnt is in the rescue. I think the right decision was made, neither group knew of the others situation and therefore it's best to be safe and get the situation under control...for all they knew the other group could have all been swimming around the other side of St Davids Head. Glad all were safe.

I think the lesson to be learnt is prior to the incident. Obviously there was a paddler there that couldn't cope with the conditions and therefore inevitably put the whole group in danger (I'm not mocking the paddler he's braver than me and like Taran said did well considering he had a boat full of water). Should the group be on the water in those conditions in the first place? I know the 5* is designed to train and prepare paddlers for the worst but where's the cut-off? If it wasn't a 5* course most, if not all paddlers would have stared out at those conditions and thought 'leave it for another day', maybe just have a little play instead and not go far. The last point is St Davids head doesn't provide many escape routes, and due to tide your basically committed to going around the race at St Davids Head. Where is the cut off point for putting yourself and the group in danger for a 5*?

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Re: St David's rescue

Post by Douglas Wilcox » Mon Apr 23, 2012 10:24 am

Hello Taran you are obviously a committed and enthusiastic paddler and I hope this incident does not put you off. As Phil says, you would be most welcome to join our little group any time you are up here. Maybe I am the wrong person to comment as I don't have any stars at all. However, you state that two of the reasons you were failed were lack of leadership and weather forecasting ability. I think that was one the the coach was right on.

Taran
>I think the 5 star assessment is meant to test us<
If I had been on that beach on Thursday morning, being assessed if I could safely lead two guinea pigs I had not met before on a kayaking trip, I would have demonstrated my leadership and said that current conditions made the proposed route unsafe and suggested another location saying why it was safer. I would have pointed to the heavy breaking swell along a committing coast (personally I wouldn't describe Gesail-Fawr as a "get out") to justify my decision. You could also talk about the tides, which were just about springs (they usually are on an assessment) and you could have talked about the wind and the forecast. I have no idea what the wind in the south Irish sea was forecast to be on Thursday but I have been paddling in the north Irish Sea for the last several days and there, the wind was forecast to get up on Thursday lunch time which it did. I decided not to go out. The North Irish sea is not a million miles from the south Irish sea and I would be surprised if the forecasts were dramatically different.
Despite the conditions we were all pretty comfortable paddling & enjoying ourselves. however, one of the Guinea Pigs was struggling a bit with the conditions & had capsized a few times which were quickly sorted out.
There is a whiff of testosterone here. I think another mistake you made during your assessment was not deciding to turn back from such a committing trip after the guinea pig fell in the first time. I have been a guinea pig on a five star assessment run by Gordon Brown. At one point a guinea pig intentionally fell in and pretended to hurt his shoulder. It was in a localised rough area of water but there were plenty of shelter nearby. After the candidate rescued the guinea pig, it was made clear that this had been part of the assessment and the guinea pig's shoulder was OK and the candidate was asked to continue leading the trip.

I hope that helps for the next time.

If I had been the coach I would have watched you launch then called you back and failed you on the spot for lack of judgement and leadership. As it was, the responsibility for this major incident (which is exactly what it was and no number of words can pretend otherwise) lies solely with the coach/assessor not with the candidates. Sean Morley was recently involved in an incident when acting as a coach in which rescue services were called in and deployed. Afterwards he openly said where he had made mistakes and what he had learned. (His stature as a coach has almost certainly increased as the result of his openness).

If getting a five star is important to you, then my further advice would be to carry on getting as much experience as you can, for a good length of time, to make yourself truly ready, then use your navigational skill to find another coach, there are plenty to the north, south or east.

Good luck, enjoy your paddling and give us a shout if you are up our way.

Douglas

PS I am trying to make constructive comments about leadership, responsibility and decision making at sea. I am not intending to pass judgement because I have been in the same situation. I put out a 999 call to the coastguard at an early stage during a windsurfing incident when I lost sight of my friend. It resulted in a major incident which caused the launch of a helicopter from HMS Gannet and the deployment of many coastguards round the coast. My friend was safely ashore on the far side of the bay but out of touch. However, I still view it as a major incident, which was my responsibility. I hope I have learned from this experience, which was in the eighties. The main lessons I learned were to exercise caution in choosing the conditions I was prepared to launch in, to make my own decision and not be influenced by testosterone and peer pressure.

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Re: St David's rescue

Post by Stuart Yendle » Mon Apr 23, 2012 10:41 am

This was Strumble head on the Wednesday evening...

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Re: St David's rescue

Post by Oarsome » Mon Apr 23, 2012 10:55 am

Stuart Yendle wrote:This was Strumble head on the Wednesday evening...
Wow, that doesn't look good. I'm in the camp of "Shouldn't have gone out there".

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Re: St David's rescue

Post by Taran Tyla » Mon Apr 23, 2012 11:11 am

Some interesting points Douglas. Myself & the other guy being assessed were asked to plan the days paddling & chose a route to the North of St Brides Bay & in the lee of the wind. To be fair we were playing it safe & in my case hoping to get through the assessment as easily as possible :D
Our route was however overridden & we were told to paddle the North Coast. I don't think it was dangerous at all as we were all very experienced & comfortable in the conditions with the exception of the swimmer (no disrespect to him). In fact is was bloody good fun out there & an opportunity for the swimmer to build his experience with 5 other paddlers all perfectly capable of looking after him. That is after all how we progress as paddlers & also how the more experienced paddlers can develop too by dealing with the incidents that arise.

An interesting point was brought up about the VHF. I think Its important not to rely on these solely as they don't always work. The Monday night before the incident I was practicing navigation out of St Brides Bay, despite the Coast Guard advising otherwise due to the strong offshore wind. They asked that I contact them midway on the VHF & keep them updated which I was unable to do. I did get off the water by the time I told them I would & contacted them by phone to let them know I was safe. To be totally honest I was quite surprised not to get a signal on the VHF considering the amount of shipping that moors in St Brides Bay. Something to learn from!

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Re: St David's rescue

Post by Mark R » Mon Apr 23, 2012 11:26 am

Mark R wrote:'I havent mentioned who I did my assessment with as I got the impression they wanted to keep the rescue thing quiet as people post their own opinions & make the incident sound like something that it wasn't. It was a real incident, yes, but it was kept under control.'

Under control? Are you sure?

The job of being a coach is to take folk paddling, in any way or style that doesn't lead to the outcome you describe.

And the next day, they passed judgement on your suitability to plan and execute trips...
I think I might have been misunderstood by some. My comments were querying the actions/ judgements of the assessors, not those under assessment (Taran etc).
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Re: St David's rescue

Post by Dave Thomas » Mon Apr 23, 2012 11:30 am

Taran Tyla wrote:To be totally honest I was quite surprised not to get a signal on the VHF considering the amount of shipping that moors in St Brides Bay. Something to learn from!
Reception of transmissions is patchy/non-existent from close inshore along the south coast between St Brides and Martins Haven (not surprisingly, considering where the transmitter is wrt the cliffs!). It is also, more surprisingly, quite patchy along the N coast (eg very poor just off Porthclais). I have once had a call from there relayed by Wooltack Point NCW lookout in the absence of a direct contact, and once had to go (on foot!)a little way up onto the coast path above the inlet to 'report back in'. No experience of what it is like re transmissions from a hand-held at sea level out in the middle of the bay.
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Re: St David's rescue

Post by Taran Tyla » Mon Apr 23, 2012 12:30 pm

Stuart Yendle wrote:This was Strumble head on the Wednesday evening...
I think its worth pointing out that Stuarts footage was most likely taken on the evening flood & at a challenging location not to mention a different day, cheers Stu ;D

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Re: St David's rescue

Post by sleepybubble » Mon Apr 23, 2012 12:47 pm

Taran Tyla wrote: Our route was however overridden & we were told to paddle the North Coast.
and then you were failed on leadership.... Never be afraid to tell an assessor to go screw themselves. Sounds like you were taking the play safe option and were forced into an unsuitable location.

Bit concerning that the provider/assessor doesn't wish to be named.

Stick with it and get some more practice.

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Re: St David's rescue

Post by Fast Pat » Mon Apr 23, 2012 1:18 pm

Taran

First off thanks for writing up your report in such an honest and open way. Secondly slow down!! Looking at your blogg it is clear that you did your 3* in March 2011, 4* training in August, 4* assessmnet in October 2001 - you don’t need to measure your progress on the sea by how many stars you have, don’t book another assessment, just get out and paddle and practice all the skills.

You should not need to go out to practice your navigation the week before an assessment or any other practice, when you are ready for assessment ALL the skills that make a good 5* paddler will be second nature to you - when you get to that point then book an assessment.

Pat

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Re: St David's rescue

Post by TechnoEngineer » Mon Apr 23, 2012 2:19 pm

Fast Pat wrote:First off thanks for writing up your report in such an honest and open way. Secondly slow down!! Looking at your blog it is clear that you did your 3* in March 2011, 4* training in August, 4* assessment in October 2011 - you don’t need to measure your progress on the sea by how many stars you have, don’t book another assessment, just get out and paddle and practice all the skills.

You should not need to go out to practice your navigation the week before an assessment or any other practice, when you are ready for assessment ALL the skills that make a good 5* paddler will be second nature to you - when you get to that point then book an assessment.
Seconded. And Kudos to Taran for being open and honest about his experience.
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Re: St David's rescue

Post by Douglas Wilcox » Mon Apr 23, 2012 2:47 pm

Taran
>I dont think it got out of control. Uncomfortable yes, but the outcome was good.<
Taran
I don't think it was dangerous at all
Hello again Taran please do not think I am criticising you. I applaud your openness and willingness to learn (and share) from what happened.

My idea of non dangerous sea kayaking is not having the least experienced member of a party traverse 3- 4km of St David's Head without his kayak in those tidal and wind conditions (which your photos illustrate). The guinea pig was put into a risk situation (after several capsizes) which was beyond his limits and beyond what I think a good number of experienced sea kayakers would consider safe. The members of the rescue services were also put into a risk situation. The fact that the coach's experienced assistant (presumably with 5* himself) trashed his kayak also suggests that things were "not in control" and possibly out with the remit of a 5* assessment. There is a very fine line between a good outcome and a bad outcome in such conditions and luckily this was a good outcome. Is it responsible to put others at risk for our own recreation when we choose to go out when there is an element of luck in determining the fine line between a good outcome and a bad outcome?

There is an issue of public safety here, not to mention the reputation of the sport. Lives were risked (as a result of professional activity) and not all were risked voluntarily or with full insight. When I worked as a doctor (providing professional services to the public) if I put a patient at risk (as a result of my actions) it could be classed as a "critical incident". In the local health board I would need to explain my actions to a group of experienced peers. Sometimes accidents just happen and if my actions were of a standard that could be reasonably accepted as the standard of practice required of doctors, then no action would be taken against me. However, we would discuss the case and see what we could learn from it and if necessary change future practice to avoid putting further patients at risk. If there was any suggestion that my actions had been negligent then my case would be referred to the professional licensing body and if further investigation showed I did not reach the required professional standard then a variety of disciplinary outcomes might lead to retraining, having to work under the supervision of another doctor or having my licence to practice removed.

I seldom comment on rescue reports but in this case, I am alarmed that your impression was that the professional "wanted to keep the rescue thing quiet". I sincerely hope you were wrong and as a member of the public I hope that the professional and relevant professional bodies (who are made up of competent professional peers) will see what can be learned from this incident to help ensure that in the UK professional sea kayaking services are provided to the best standard.

The sea is unpredictable and we all acknowledge that sea kayaking is a risk activity. It may well be that the conditions (shown in your photos) which led to this major incident were not forecast, so I am not implying that anyone is to "blame". All I am saying is that professional providers (I assume you did pay for the assessment) have to be openly seen to provide the best possible duty of care to their clients. That is the reason I sincerely hope your impression that the professional "wanted to keep the rescue thing quiet" is totally wrong and that is why I applaud Sean Morley's reaction after his incident, in which the rescue services were also called.

Trying to pretend that it wasn't a real incident after the rescue services have been called but "weren't needed" is burying our heads in the sand. When I called 999, I needed to, because at that point I was out of control of the situation. I had no idea what was happening to my friend.

Lastly I am not saying anything about his (I have assumed that no women were present) judgement but the person who got the swimmer round St David's Head showed amazing technical proficiency and competence. Well done!

with very best wishes,
Douglas

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Re: St David's rescue

Post by Taran Tyla » Mon Apr 23, 2012 2:51 pm

sleepybubble wrote:
Taran Tyla wrote: Our route was however overridden & we were told to paddle the North Coast.
and then you were failed on leadership.... Never be afraid to tell an assessor to go screw themselves. Sounds like you were taking the play safe option and were forced into an unsuitable location.

Bit concerning that the provider/assessor doesn't wish to be named.

Stick with it and get some more practice.

Mark
Whooa, easy tiger, the assessor chose the most suitable location for the remit for 5 star & I think his decision was spot on, I was just playing it safe & hoping not to work too hard. I wasnt leading when the incident happened & it was other leadership factors that were brought to my attention.

The assessor didn't say they didnt want to be named, thats just the impression I got? Chinese whispers & all that. They were right too as this debate is getting quite lively :S But as I'm an avid blogger I could hardly omit such an incident from my blog.
Fast Pat wrote:Taran

First off thanks for writing up your report in such an honest and open way. Secondly slow down!! Looking at your blogg it is clear that you did your 3* in March 2011, 4* training in August, 4* assessmnet in October 2001 - you don’t need to measure your progress on the sea by how many stars you have, don’t book another assessment, just get out and paddle and practice all the skills.

You should not need to go out to practice your navigation the week before an assessment or any other practice, when you are ready for assessment ALL the skills that make a good 5* paddler will be second nature to you - when you get to that point then book an assessment.

Pat
Pat, I'm going for the 5 star for the qualification as I mean to start my own business & as for the time factor, well, I'm pretty passionate & full on when I set my mind to something.
My navigation skills just needed honing as I don't bother with nav when I'm out with my mates. I will in future though ;D

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Re: St David's rescue

Post by Stuart Yendle » Mon Apr 23, 2012 2:55 pm

Taran Tyla wrote:Stuart Yendle wrote:
This was Strumble head on the Wednesday evening...


I think its worth pointing out that Stuarts footage was most likely taken on the evening flood & at a challenging location not to mention a different day, cheers Stu ;D
Yep evening flood, I think nearly at full flow and yes a bit further north of St Davids on the Wednesday.

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