At the recent Sea Kayak Expedition Gathering we ran some Incident Management training sessions.
Here are a couple of videos showing some of the work we did with the RNLI.
Here are a couple of videos showing some of the work we did with the RNLI.
Towlines are one of the most important pieces of kit when leading and coaching on the sea. I use a waist mounted line which gives me the flexibility to pass it on to other group members and keep me ‘out of the system’. As I frequently paddle different kayaks it is a system I can take from boat to boat too.
There are an increasing number of waist mounted sea kayak towlines available now, and the one I use is the Peak UK 15m line. One reason I like it is because of the large size of the bag and the opening, which makes re-packing in rough conditions so much easier. However, as with every line I’ve tried, there are a number of adaptions I make to an off-the-shelf line to make it even better for me.
The new line comes like this straight out of the packaging-Opening the bag reveals a stainless steel clip, and a float-Pulling the line out further reveals an extra clip which is used to capture a bight of line to secure a daisy chained section. The idea of this is so the length of the tow can be changed to make it shorter than the full 15m of line held in the bag.There’s also a short length of bungee on the rope where it’s tied into the bag, to provide some shock absorption. The bag itself also has a number of plastic D-rings on it, both inside the bag-…and outside-
So now to turn an already well designed towline into an even better piece of kit! One of the first things I do is strip the line down, removing the daisy chain clip, the float and attaching the main clip to the line by stitching and whipping the line-One reason for this is to make the line as ‘clean’ as possible (ie no knots or snagging hazards). I find that having a large float near the clip, and a bulky knot can prevent the line running under decklines efficiently and gets in the way when setting up some rafted tows and releasing the tow.
The next step is to saw a cut through each of the plastic D-rings-This means that I now have attachment points to house the clip when not in use. However, when I need quick access to the clip, a sharp tug pulls it through the split D-ring without having to fiddle around and unclip it.I also have a similar split ring on the front shoulder strap of my buoyancy aid. If I’ve used the towline and think I might need it again quickly, I’ll often coil it into my hand then stuff it down the front of my buoyancy aid with the clip attached to this split D-ring. Again, a sharp tug releases the clip and the line can be quickly deployed.
With the daisy chaining removed, I need to have a way to set up a short tow quickly. To do this, I slide a metal D-ring onto the belt.This captive ring can be used to set up a tow half the length of the tow rope. To do this, I pass the clip through the decklines of the boat to be towed and clip it onto the metal D-ring.And that’s it – I now have a clean line that’s easy to manage, quick to deploy, adjustable and ready to go! Make sure you start out with a great towline that’s well made and designed and it doesn’t take long to make the adaptions needed to give even more flexibility in use.
In March 2011 Bruce Jolliffe will be travelling by sea kayak up the west coast of Scotland from Largs to Stornoway. In doing so, Bruce will be raising funds for a range of good causes. In particular, Bruce is raising funds for organisations involved in cancer care and the RNLI.
I met Bruce at his 5 Star Sea Kayak training in September this year.
You can find out more about Bruce’s plans and how to donate, by going to his webite West Coast Kayak Challenge.
Join me in wishing Bruce the very best of luck with this project.
Forward paddling a kayak efficiently requires good technique. Sea kayakers can learn a great deal from racing kayakers who have developed forward paddling technique to a fine art.
There is a great deal of misunderstanding about forward paddling technique. Many people are confused about which foot to press with, and don’t understand the relationship between foot pressure and body rotation. Many people advocate ‘trunk rotation’ but generate this by moving only from the waist.
For sea kayakers, forward paddling is perhaps our most important stroke. It is certainly the technique we use most often. So spend a little time developing this techique into a real skill that will serve you well whenever you are paddling.
For efficient forward paddling we need to be positively connected to our kayaks through our buttocks and feet. However, if our knees, hips and backrests are too tightly connected our ability to rotate our body is limited. My sea kayak is set up with enough room for my knees to move up and down and for my hips to rotate while I’m paddling. I have also removed the backrest from my sea kayak.
This comes from our feet. After the blade is inserted into the water, we press hard with the same side foot. This straightens our leg which rotates our hips and torso to generate power. Our arm muscles are the last to be recruited into the movement.
Have a look at this video of Tim Brabants demonstrating the technique which has won him Olympic Gold.
Spend some time analysing Tim’s technique and see how you can incorporate aspects of it into your own paddling. You’ll be amazed at how even a small improvement in your paddling technique will be of benefit in terms of your endurance and paddling speed.
When coaching sea kayaking I frequently see a lot of confusion about exactly what trunk rotation is, and what is all that talk of ‘pedaling’ with the feet about? The term ‘trunk rotation’ implies that the torso rotates, but what is the relationship between trunk rotation and pedaling with the feet?
In fact, the term ‘trunk rotation’ is a little misleading. ‘Body rotation’ is a better description as the whole body rotates in relationship with the kayak, and the rotation is started from the feet. By pressing on one foot or the other, the leg straightens and the hip is driven into the back rest. This enables the torso to rotate easily because the hips are already leading the rotation.
Have a look at this video applying the concept of leading with the hips to the forward sweep.
When performing any technique which requires trunk (or body) rotation, instead of leading with the head, lead with your hips instead, and do this by pushing with one foot. This is a two part process. Pushing with one foot before planting the paddle is the wind up. Once the ‘wind up’ is complete by leading with the hips, the power transfer happens by planting the paddle and pushing with the other foot to unwind the hips and following with the torso.
Being able to transfer power efficiently is one of the fundamentals of paddlesport (along with posture, connectivity and feel). And efficient power transfer is all about driving the kayak with your feet during the unwind. However, this is only possible if the wind up has set the body up properly first. So lead with your hips – wind up by pointing your hips where you want to go by pressing with a foot first.
When sea kayaking or canoeing on large areas of open water, lakes or lochs, distances can be deceptive – and having some helpful indicators of your distance from an object can be really useful. For a quick estimate, you can look at the amount of detail you can see and relate it to these guidelines-
If you can see-
Learning how to do this accurately is covered in the BCU star award and personal skills courses. For more information about these contact Kim.
Before going out on the water, canoe and kayak coaches and group leaders often need to plan taking into consideration the weather forecast they have obtained. So it can be really useful to be able to judge what water conditions to expect based on a given wind forecast. The version of the Beaufort Scale below helps you do this. Simply find the wind speed expected from the forecast and look across to how this is likely to affect the water. This is particularly relevent for sea kayakers or those travelling on exposed open water.
FORCE EQUIVALENT SPEED DESCRIPTION SPECIFICATIONS FOR USE AT SEA
10 m above ground
0 0-1 0-1 Calm Sea like a mirror
1 1-3 1-3 Light air Ripples with the appearance of
scales are formed, but without
2 4-7 4-6 Light Breeze Small wavelets, still short,
but more pronounced. Crests
have a glassy appearance and
do not break.
3 8-12 7-10 Gentle Breeze Large wavelets. Crests begin
to break. Foam of glassy
appearance. Perhaps scattered
4 13-18 11-16 Moderate Breeze Small waves, becoming larger;
fairly frequent white horses.
5 19-24 17-21 Fresh Breeze Moderate waves, taking a more
pronounced long form; many
white horses are formed.
Chance of some spray.
6 25-31 22-27 Strong Breeze Large waves begin to form; the
white foam crests are more
Probably some spray.
7 32-38 28-33 Near Gale Sea heaps up and white foam
from breaking waves begins to
be blown in streaks along the
direction of the wind.
8 39-46 34-40 Gale Moderately high waves of greater
length; edges of crests begin to
breakinto spindrift. The foam is
blown in well-marked streaks
along the direction of the wind.
9 47-54 41-47 Severe Gale High waves. Dense streaks of
foam along the direction of the
wind. Crests of waves begin to
topple, tumble and roll over.
Spray may affect visibility.
10 55-63 48-55 Storm Very high waves with long over-
hanging crests. The resulting
foam, in great patches, is blown
in dense white streaks along the
direction of the wind. On the
whole the surface of the sea
takes on a white appearance.
The 'tumbling' of the sea becomes
heavy and shock-like. Visibility
11 64-72 56-63 Violent Storm Exceptionally high waves (small
and medium-size ships might be for
a time lost to view behind the
waves). The sea is completely
covered with long white patches
of foam lying along the direction
of the wind. Everywhere the edges
of the wave crests are blown into
froth. Visibility affected.
12 73-83 64-71 Hurricane The air is filled with foam and
spray. Sea completely white with
driving spray; visibility very
You can learn how to understand the connection between water conditions and wind speed on our courses. This is covered within the BCU star tests and personal skills courses – so contact Kim for more information.