So it was a pleasure for Sharon to spend Memorial Day weekend teaching a Level 4 Open Water Kayak Training for Geneva Kayak Center with Scott Fairty, one of our coaching mentors. Designed to help participants work on the skills they'll need for an American Canoe Association Level 4 coastal skills assessment or a British Canoe Union four-star sea leader assessment, this course simulates tidal features by using the Menominee River in Wisconsin and then chases exciting conditions on Lake Michigan and Lake Superior for wind, waves and surf.
|The large-volume Menominee River provides current and class I and II rapids--perfect for working on eddy turns, peel-outs, attainments and ferry glides.|
|Storm coming in. Load the boats and head for the water!|
Near shore, the waves were far smaller, allowing for some practice launching and maneuvering in conditions. We paddled out to Sand Island, beloved for its sea caves, where we had lunch in the refuge behind a park service building.
|Lunch the the lee of a park service building.|
We debriefed over pizza ("Serves five? We'll take two of those!"), discussing paddling strategy in wind and waves, risk management, rescue strategies and other facets of the day's experience. Overnight, the winds calmed and shifted to the southwest. The next day was perfect for rock gardening, paddling through arches and poking into sea caves.
|Bill paddles out between two rocks, just ahead of a surge.|
|Paddling along the sea caves.|
|Scott showers off below a waterfall.|
During the final debrief, we talked about what we had worked on and what people had learned. Everyone said they had learned new skills, some of which they had not realized they lacked and needed. Everyone knew they needed to work on the speed and efficiency of their towing and rescue skills. And everyone had fun, which, at the end of the day, is why we paddle in the first place.
*"Intermediate," of course, means different things to different people. Some cease to call themselves beginners after their first class. We would define an intermediate as someone with fairly solid boat control and a reliable roll in winds to 10 knots, rescue and self-rescue skills, knowledge of safety and environmental considerations, and the ability to be a competent member of a paddling group. The BCU three-star award defines intermediate paddler very comprehensively. But that's a post for another time.