Mike and I wanted to improve our rough water handling and rescue skills, and with Richard Uren of Paddlecrest Coaching on our doorstep (well, Penzance), we thought it would be a good idea to have a long weekend camping and paddling in Cornwall, and take in a day with Richard on the same weekend.
We spoke to Richard and described exactly what we wanted to get out of the day, and booked a day with him in July. Mind you, we joked, there probably won’t be much rough water around that time of year, but we may as well give it a go!
When it came to it, the weather was so bad, we decided not to camp at all, and just go down for that day only. Driving across Bodmin Moor, it felt like the boats were going to be lifted off the roof by the wind, let alone the driving horizontal rain. We thought that the day would probably be cancelled, but Richard’s response to our phone call was “well, you wanted rough water – that’s what you have got!!”
We met Richard and Phil at Penzance, and followed them to Mousehole, and beautiful little harbour to the west of Penzance, and put in there.
A concerned onlooker questioned us as to why we were going out in such conditions,(good question??!!), and that we had all the proper equipment. Richard assured him all was OK and the coastguard had been alerted.
The sea was coming in towards us, so the 6ft plus swell and wind was quite exhilarating at this point.
After bashing through that for a while, we came upon a little place called Lamora. Time to learn how to do storm landings, Richard advised us. Well, we could not even see a beach to land on! He took us in one at a time, giving us instruction as to how to land, which we managed safely.
After a cup of tea, we then had to get out through the waves, only to be told by Richard that we had to land again, this time without him, and using the skills we had learnt. He sat in his boat between the rocks and us, ensuring that no nasty accidents could happen. We both came in OK, but it was quite intimidating!
On our way out again, a local fisherman caught what must have been his biggest catch ever – a 17ft shiny red sea kayak with Mike in it – some assistance from Richard released Mike into the wild again – I am not sure if it was Mike or the fisherman who was the most pleased at that!!!
It then came to the rescue part of the day – the bit we were both dreading and looking forward to I think! We both rolled a few times, and then practised different rescue techniques on each other. Although the swell was about 8 – 10 ft at times, and quite windy, our actual position did not change much, and it did not feel quite so bad as we had thought swimming in those conditions. It certainly gave us the feeling of wanting to get back in our boats quickly though!
Well, all sea kayaking photos have to have the trade-mark splash on the lens now and then!
We were also practicing figure of 8 paddling in a variety of directions, and then paddling back in a big following sea (another area that Mike and I wanted to cover with Richard).
When we got back to Mousehole, we spent the rest of the day practicing other skills – much to Mikes dismay his trusty old wooden paddles finally gave up the ghost and snapped in two – lucky they chose to break there rather than out in the big stuff! Another good lesson we learnt – I always carry a set of splits, so Mike went to use them and found that they had corroded and could not be joined together – we now make sure that they are in working order each time!
Altogether, this was a thoroughly enjoyable day, and we learnt loads from Richard and Phil. It was great to have them to ourselves, and they were able to offer loads of helpful tips about how to improve our individual skills and put any bad habits right that we had picked up over time. The whole day was tailor-made to suit our requirements, and the weather provided the exact conditions we needed.
We would recommend that anyone wishing to learn more about sea kayaking skills should spend a day (or even half a day) with Richard – you can contact him here: Paddlecrest Coaching or by phone: 07792466135 / 01736 351082