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Sea Kayak Rescue practice session Saturday 22nd June – Porth Dafarch

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Sea Kayak Rescue practice session Saturday 22nd June – Porth Dafarch

Rescue practice – words that possibly don’t inspire us all to sign up for the day, but such important skills. Having been put on the spot at the last Anglesey weekend and having failed to execute a practice rescue I realised I needed to do this session. Hence, at 9.30 am on Saturday morning, I met up with the group led by Martin, Nikki and Ian for a ‘day’ of rescue skills practice at Porth Dafarch. There were 6 of us for what was planned as day 1 of 2 days with the aim to build and progress skills by starting out working on techniques on sheltered water.

We began with an overview of the safety kit, with Martin sharing insights about the essential kit for sea kayak leaders and the personal safety kit for group members. A reminder that sea kayaking is expensive.

The plan for the day was then to spend a few hours in the water doing rescues and after a break practice towing techniques. I don’t like falling in water, or generally being in the water, a bit odd for a sea kayaker you may think or you may recognise that feeling. If that is you, then I would recommend a rescue session, it is never quite as bad as you imagine it might be.

We began with a demo rescue with Nikki gracefully sliding into the water without getting her hair wet! And then before you could blink it seemed she was back sitting in her boat having been rescued by Martin. In fact, she was so quick we wondered if there was a new technique being adopted. After repeating the rescue in slower motion it was our turn in groups of 3 to rescue and be rescued. No point getting anxious about going in the water. I volunteered to be the first casualty and was rescued by Roger. We took it in turns to practice in our group of 3 and to discuss what went well and what learning points to think about. Throughout the session the wind was pushing us towards the beach so repositioning ourselves and keeping out of the way of the swimmers, the kids on the giant SUP and the rocks featured heavily.

The next demo was of an assisted rescue – so off we went again, now this was interesting, we had people get stuck on the way back into their boats as buoyancy aids/PFDs got in the way, and people were dropped straight back into the water (sorry Roger) but we all got the hang of the technique thinking about using the outside arm when assisting in the rescue and angling the boat so the buoyancy aid/PFD can slide over the rim of the cockpit. And boy it is harder getting back into your boat when you are not doing a heel hook.

Conditions were picking up due to the wind so we took a break – as you know elevenses is the golden rule when out with LCC.

After the break (which may actually have been lunch) we looked at towing techniques. Starting with demos of how to clip onto the boat to be towed when doing a single tow, and then went to practice and check out how our towing setups worked. I have a deck-mounted tow. Adjustments were required to the set up I quickly learned, that it is much better to perfect this in a practice scenario.

The wind and swell meant that the conditions were making hearing instructions tricky so we landed on the beach to discuss contact tows and assisted tows. After much discussion about contact tow designs and the direction you need to face when assisting in a tow to monitor the casualty more practice ensued. Soon after this though conditions became out of remit, so Martin called time on what had been an excellent 4 hours or so rescue practice. Nigel headed off home back to Blackburn, and I sat on a bench due to a spot of seasickness. The rest of the group went for a short paddle turning right out of Porth Dafarch, returning fairly promptly due to the conditions which were somewhat lumpy.

So, time for a post-paddle treat, some went for ice cream and there was homemade cake (salted caramel shortbread – if anyone is wondering what they missed) With almost everyone staying at Anglesey Outdoors it was deemed only right that we reconvened in the Paddlers Return to plan Sundays Improvers paddle.

Thanks to Martin, Nikki and Ian for great instruction and to Roger C, Nigel, Eamon, Andy and Christine for a great day

Frankie A

Click below for more photos……

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