Following a request on UKRGB web site I managed to get a free place on a Level 3 Sea Coach Assessment Weekend, organised by Richard Uren of Paddlecrest Coaching at Penzance in Cornwall, acting as a guinea pig. It is a long time since I received formal coaching in a Kayak so I looked forward to this and I was not disappointed.
I had an overnight stop just outside Plymouth on Friday night and after an early start I found myself in a car park at Marazion with a lovely sunrise over St Micheals Mount in Mounts Bay.
I am keen to move outside my comfort zone which over the past few years has included the odd B&B and plenty of stops in the motorhome. This will hopefully help prepare me for a lightweight overnight expedition in the sea kayak up the West Coast of Scotland.
After cooking breakfast in the van I headed over to Penzance Canoe Club to meet up with the rest of the course.
Eurian was already there having blagged an extra days paddling with Simon Osborne. He had spent Friday trying to trash himself in the surf off Praa Sands (pronounced Pray Sands)
Penzance Canoe Club is located on the Cobb of Penzance Harbour in the most superb location with easy access to the water. Its facilities include a bar (not open) and showers (under construction) and is an ideal location for a course.
Five candidates were up for assessment (three eventually passed).The Saturday morning was spent in plastic GP boats (ugh!!!) practising skills, we emphasised support strokes and had a game of polo to round off. The afternoon was much the same but this time in our sea kayaks. It was good to practise the basics in a controlled environment in the sea kayak and the day did well for my confidence in transferring my skills over to the sea kayak. I even managed a few rolls despite the fact it was the first day of March.
Saturday night was an interesting stop over at the local YHA. I eventually slept in the van. Eurian who is well into the whole sea kayak experience slept in his basha in the garden. Needless to say I have ordered one together with the statutory Bivvi bag (thanks Kev)
Sunday was a wholly different matter. This was a trip up the coast to Newlyn and Mousehole.
First stop was Newlyn Harbour. On the South Pier is the Newlyn Tidal Observatory. This the place where sea level is taken from and is known as Ordnance Datum Newlyn or (ODN). The Datum was calculated from hourly readings of the sea level on an automatic tide gauge from 1 May 1915 to 30 April 1921. The observatory Bench Mark is 4.751M above the Datum.
During a tour of the harbour we were fortunate to paddle past the Penlee Lifeboat - The Ivan Ellen.
She is a Servern Class Lifeboat with a top speed over 25 knots, not bad considering she weighs 44 tonnes. The boat is completely self righting, has a crew of six and can carry upto 180 passengers in fine weather.
The Penlee Lifeboat is special; on 19 December 1981 the then Penlee Lifeboat The Soloman Browne went to the aid of a stricken coaster The Union Star which was drifting with engine failure in the foulest of weather. Hurricane force winds made the rescue extremely difficult. After rescuing four of the crew the lifeboat was smashed against the coaster and was lost with all hands. The Union Star was also lost, no one survived. A documentary of the event was shown on the BBC to mark the 25th anniversary of this tragic event. The bravery of the crew is awe inspiring and humbling.
photo courtesey of Penlee Lifeboat web site
The Ivan Ellen is an amazing sight and a tribute to its predecessors. Although I am full of admiration for the boat and its crew I sincerely hope I never have to make use of their service.
After leaving Newlyn we travelled up the coast to the old Lifeboat station which is now a Memorial to the crew of The Solomon Browne.
We then rockhopped to Mousehole for lunch and a loo stop.
A bit of open water paddling and navigation followed on the way back which gave me a chance to practise taking transits, a skill I have not used since the Dart 18 sailing era.
I enjoyed the course and was surprised how close Penzance now is, thanks to all the new dual carriageway although I doubt this comment will apply in the Summer.
Welcome To My World of Pedals and Paddles
An account of my Sea Kayaking and Mountain Biking exploits
- ► 2009 (14)