Posts Tagged ‘Kayak’

The night before the temperature dropped and I woke up to a very cold morning.  Ice had formed in the garden and over the car windscreen.  I was glad that we had done the capsize drills in the previous assessment session! I also made a flask of hot coffee to take along and packed a pair of neoprene fishing gloves that I use for SCUBA diving. As I left, the sun came out, but it still felt very cold.

I arrived a bit late, but soon changed and collected my helmet and PFD from the stores and got on the bus.

We arrived at Resolven Lock and unloaded the trailer. We then had to “portage” the kayaks over the road to put in on the North side.

We then had a brief on signals for communicating which were very similar to those used by infantry soldiers. We were also told to stay away from overhanging trees.

The first section of canal was very narrow and we tried to pass it quickly in case a barge came and we would have to back up.

Several sections were thick with weeds and decaying leaves and plant matter.  These took a bit of effort to find a route through and stank if disturbed too much.

It took about half an hour to reach our turnaround point at Glynneath.

Back at our starting point, we took the boats out and carried them back to the trailer. Then if was back in the bus and home via McDonald’s.

I was sorry that the course ended.  The staff were great and I learned a lot. Hopefully there will be an opportunity to do the 2 Star course in the near future.


This was assessment week.  First we did some last minute practice before taking tge tests. One of my fellow students had opted to take the test in an open canoe, one in a “sit on top”, while the rest of us used kayaks. The canoe test requires the skills to be performed by a pair working in tandem.  I offered to help out during the last minute practice, and another student helped out during the exam.

We demonstrated individual skills like forwards and backwards paddling, draw and sweep strokes.  We did a figure of eight course where we used sweeps and stern rudder to turn without losing momentum then paddle backwards to a fixed point on the bank. We then had an oral theory test before capsize drills.

We all passed the theory and skills test. But was also had to do a journey to complete the qualification. Although I have done some full day journeys before, I opted to join the course for a Half day trip on the Neath Canal the following week.

Back on the reservoir,  this time in kayaks. We practised all the elements required for the test next weekend. This was done by doing a circuit course:
1. Paddle forward the width of the reservoir
2. Draw stroke to the right about 10 meters
3. Paddle backwards the width of the reservoir
4. Draw stroke left 10 meters to the point of origin.

I ended up drifting in circles during the backwards paddle. After some coaching from the instructors, I discovered the faults were:  not holding the paddle in the centre,  uneven stroke depths and uneven power.  I was also told I was edging (or leaning the kayak ) to one side.  After this I began to improve. It’s a good job we only have to do 5 meters for the test!

Just before taking a break, one of our part capsized. He recovered his boat and swam to the shore.  While emptying his boat, he discovered a small frog had stowed away in the cockpit.

After the break we continued to practice and were introduced to the “bow rudder”. This is not required for our test but it was interesting to see how you can rotate the boat quickly like swing around a lamp post. More practice will be required to perfect tis though!

Another fun and diverting day! Looking forward to the next session and the test.

The second session cocentrated on two seat open canoes. We lookes at the parts of canoe : Thwart,  gunwailes, seat,  boyancy bags,  Hull.

I took up position in the stern and we practiced sweep stroke, draw stroke, forward and backward paddle and stern rudder. 

Following some balance games, we changed places. I was surprised at how stable the boat was with both of us moving about. I took up position in the bow. The buoyancy bag in the now left no room for my legs, so I was actually pleased to perform the capsize drill. We both climbed out onto the bank and recovered the canoe.

Still really enjoying this. Next session it’s back to kayaks.

Today was the first session of the paddlesport 1 star course. I have been really busy and it came round really quickly. After arriving and taking care of the course admin, I was issued some kit. The centre was well equipped and I was pleasantly surprised to be offered a wetsuit in place of the layers of tracksuit I had planned to wear. The kit issue also included a flotation aid, helmet and a cagool. I brought my own wetsuit boots – a relic from tge days I dived in a semi-dry diving suit.

We began by discussing the variety of boats available: sit on kayak, river kayaks, traditional canoe and playboats. I teamed up with another chap from the course and we took off in a two man canoe. This was a first for me, but we soon got the hang of going forwards. Soon we were practicing turning the canoe on the spot using sweep strokes and going backwards. Stopping the boat is acheived by reversing the forward paddle until the boat stops. We were told that this Myst be done in 4 strokes or less.

After a while we swapped to kayaks and practiced the same techniques, progressing to sideways movement using draw strokes. These are scooping motions made with the paddle. Too far towards the bow or stern will cause the kayak to spin.

At first, I found keeping the kayak in a straight line difficult, but some good advice helped:

Use body rotation to transfer power from the core of the body
Push against the footrest on the same side as the paddle
Grip the cockpit of the kayak with knees to keep upright
Lean forward to keep the stern of the boat from submerging

We played a few games and had a couple of races, finishing with a capsize drill. This consists of rolling the kayak over so it’s capsized and pushing out against the back of the boat while rolling forward. We didn’t have spreydecks, which would also need to be undone.

The weather was fine warm sunshine but with a cold wind that made it’s presence known immediately after I had swam to the bank and climbed out.

It was a nice couple of hours in the fresh air and I look forward to the next session, which we gave been told will very more intense!


Today I booked a provisional place on the 1 STAR Paddling Sport Award course. It seemed like good value at less then £50 for four sessions.

I did some introductory kayak sessions at school and recall the raft races where you make a “raft” by forming the canoes up and then two nominated people get up to change places, while the instructor removes a kayak like in musical chairs. Another memory is the capsize drill where you roll the kayak over and bang the sides 3 times before pushing out and swimming free.

Since then I have paddled kayaks at various places around the UK – from Scottish lochs to placid lakes to grade 2 rapids on a river trip through Symonds Yat. It will be nice to learn the skills properly and hopefully get something new out of the experience. At any rate, it should be a good experience with some new people. Looking forward to it!