Sunday, 29 January 2017

Canoe Leadership Training with Ken Hughes - Part 1

So having had quite a lazy year in advancing my skills I thought it was about time I addressed the issue. With the exception of an amazing expedition, a few exciting sea trips and a scattering of white water canoe journeys it has all been just a little benign with no further development by yours truly. Far too much time in warm waters on Stand Up Paddle Boards

I had of course undertaken the four star canoe training twice before, firstly with the most excellent Kim Bull four years ago where I learned many new skills on both Kielder Water and The Tyne. Then again a couple of years ago with the legendary Ray Goodwin in North Wales. But I felt I had let my skills lapse and needed further assistance.

I had heard of Ken Hughes and briefly met the guy on an update course a few years ago in Sunderland. Everything I had heard about his courses was always positive so after a little thought I booked myself onto four days of 4 Star Leadership training. On the back of this Ken also invited me to be lead by some candidates taking their assessment just prior the beginning of my training..

My concern was to how I would cope with six consecutive days on the water, I'm sure I would survive.

Day 1

I had been lead by others before who where taking an assessment but this was usually on the sea, I saw this opportunity to get to see how a canoe assessment pans out, to get to know this part of the Tees a little and of course to have some jolly good fun.

Meeting in Barnard Castle, the candidates quickly turned up and ushered those of us being lead to our cars where we made our way to Cotherstone.  After a most excellent introduction with lots of exchanging of information we where ready for our journey - these guys where just so organised.

It was very confidence inspiring being lead by the candidates, everyone involved was very relaxed making it a very pleasant day. 

We all practised our skills as we descended the river..

Personally I found it very rewarding just watching those with much greater skill than myself..

Before long we where heading back into Barnard Castle and some lovely welcome sunshine. What was so apparent was how relaxed and free flowing the whole day was. It was obvious that all of the candidates had done a brilliant job of bringing us down the river safely while still making it a fun and exciting experience.

Day 2

We where to meet at Ellerton Park, situated not far from Catterick. This was the candidates open water assessment day. Conditions where slightly on the benign side but I was aware that the candidates had spent a day here on the 'two days refresher' prior to their assessment days and conditions on that day where much more challenging.

The day again was quite relaxed and we journeyed around the lake being guided by those being assessed. The journey was broken up with much development and demonstration of skills. Some of the deep water paddle skills where very impressive and although I was just one of those being lead we took much away from these sessions. It was fun watching the construction of a diamond sailing rig and it was most effective as they sailed down the lake. 

The rescue skills at the end of the session was undertaken quickly and efficiently by those being assessed as we looked on, brrrr that water looked cold..

At the end of the sessions it was excellent to hear that all those who had completed the assessment had passed. Those of us being lead where so pleased for all those involved, so much work had obviously been undertaken by those being assessed. I personally do not like assessments but I would have loved to have been a part of this one..... maybe soon, we will see how the next four days training goes...

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Driffield Canal by Canoe

So just to get a little fresh air we headed to a favourite and chilled launch at Brigham. In the back of my mind I was also aware that this would be my last chance to paddle the Silverbirch before I again take on more Four Star Leadership training, I had to make the decision to take the boat or leave it at home..

Fiona and Ant paddled tandem in the Prospector 16

At the end of our little journey I had a little practice at a couple of rescues, the Silverbirch was quite easy to recover and empty.

 So shall I take it to 4 star training? Damn right I will :-) 

Friday, 20 January 2017

Commute Home from Work in the Silverbirch Broadland 16

So just how lucky am I? Working 50 metres from the river and living no more than 200 metres from the same waterway, albeit a fair few kilometres  apart, occasionally when the tide is right I can paddle home. It was nice to paddle this boat on a slightly longer journey today, I'm really starting to bond with this canoe...

Sunday, 15 January 2017

The Silverbirch Canoe

Fiona had brought in a couple of these nice looking boats and after a full morning of rigging and fitting out the Silverbirch Broadland 16 was ready for the water..

So on a fairly mild Sunday we took the boat up the river behind the nature reserve.

I had briefly paddled this model before and knew it was a very pleasant boat to control. It soon became very apparent that this was a completely different ride to the Prospector 16 that I'd spent much time in recently, in fact I even struggled a little to begin, it just seemed so slow and quick to turn off course...

But in no time I started to find myself building up quite a relationship with this boat, the secondary stability was huge which really allowed me to edge the boat quite a long way in confidence, something I had missed in a craft for quite some time. It also became clear that just small alterations in the trim of the boat had quite a desirable effect. I'm very much looking forward to paddling this canoe a lot more in the coming months..

Fiona on the other hand, still very much full of cold, was enjoying her short journey in 'Rhubarb and Custard..

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Ants New Boat

So the boy received a new boat for Christmas, he's growing so fast he had completely outgrown his little Axiom, a small sea boat seemed the obvious choice, I'm hoping we do get out on the salt a little more this year. So anyway our original play was to launch on the Humber but as we headed down into Hessle it was soon clear fog was going to scupper those plans, a simple trip on the River Hull was in order then..

Sunday, 1 January 2017

River Tweed - Leaderfoot to Kelso by Canoe

We had taken ourselves up to the Borders to spend New Year with our good friends the Turnbulls. Of course we couldn't go all that way without taking in at least one paddling trip. So on New Years Day and to clear those thick heads we made our way to Leaderfoot.

An excellent full day on the water with some exciting features to play on..

Only just getting back to Kelso as it was getting dark..

Big thanks to Neil for organising and again thank you for allowing me to use some of your brill photos.  A Little video of our journey..