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Sea Kayak Support Session Number 1 by Roger Colman

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Sea Kayak Support Session Number 1 by Roger Colman

On a wet and windy Thursday evening I attended, as a student (not as an assistant) the first of Ian Bell’s Sea Kayak Support Sessions. You may have noticed that these sessions were entitled Ian Bell and Roger Colman, but let me assure you all, in the words of a famous, fictional Spanish waiter, ‘I know nothing’ when it comes to navigation and trip planning.  I got a lift there, did not lift a finger to help Ian and then got a lift home again (thanks Derek) so a good night all-round.

The course was packed out, all places taken. It was a good thing that the Wallasey District Scout Centre was available to the club and I have little doubt that Ian also had the major role in organising the venue as well as delivering this Introduction to Coastal Navigation and Weather session.

I was surprised to see so many faces that I not only recognised but having been at the club for a while now, could even put a fair few names too.  Obviously, there is no guarantee that it was always going to be a matching pair, right name – right face, but for such a big club with so many faces I am slowly getting better at this. I was also surprised to realise how many I had paddled with at one time or another. (Why were they here – I thought they knew what they were doing!)

It was a good evening with plenty of questions, in addition to “when’s the tea break?”, and I learnt about available resources; tidal range and flow; stream atlas’ and diamonds; over falls and tide races. If I struggled with the maths, I could find a picture book thingy, oh yes, the tidal stream atlas, with fat (faster) and thin (slower) arrows to make life simpler. Ian said as a sea kayaker he liked to keep things simple. But he also said that the times of ‘High Water’ and ‘Low Water’ are not the same as when the water stops and turns around which is ‘Slack Water’.  So, if I have got this right, sat on the beach eating my sarnies, I see the sea come in at High Water and then go out again, but the sea may not have turned around yet, or it could have done so before hand – How is that simple? (Ian can you talk me through that again please?)

Not long after we got started Keith arrived with some lame excuse about ‘Parents Evening’ but he quickly got involved assisting Ian and towards the end of the session gave some examples of true-life stories of when things, regardless of planning, went wrong on the sea.

That night, safely back at home, it was a toss-up as to whether I would be having nightmares about disastrous sea trips or disastrous parents’ evenings – as a child and as a parent – I’ve had both!

Looking forward to the next one – Trip planning and preparation.

More information on Sea Kayaking – Free resources (Tides, Tidal Streams and charts)