Ever since the Crew was founded, its members have shared a fondness for kayaking. With new members always joining, a spring refresher on kayaking safety and skills is always a good tune-up for the summer season. Additionally, we're planning an extended high adventure trip up to Desolation Sound Provincial Park in British Columbia, so it was important to practice our rescue techniques.
And what a beautiful day it was on Wildcat Lake at the Olympic Lutherhaven property! The clouds disappeared, the sun shone brightly, and the air temps soared. The water temps didn't cooperate, so everyone was very willing to master the quickest ways to get back in their boat once they exited. With so many new folks out for their first or second time in a kayak, we didn't instruct or practice rolling, choosing to concentrate on assisted rescues (strengthening our belief in the value of the Buddy System) and unassisted methods like Climbing the Ladder, Cowboy, and the use of the paddle float. Learning to handle and steer your boat with only your body and paddle blades is an important skill, so we didn't deploy rudders or skegs on those boats outfitted with them. High bracing and low bracing, "cheeking" or keeping your boat on an edge while sweeping took practice, too. Everything is done to build confidence and understanding that you wear a kayak as a natural extension of your body.
Finally, we ended the day with a round of Kayak Jousting. Boxing gloves are attached to the end of 6-foot poles. Two kayaks are lined up 20 or so yards from each other's bow, and the contestants paddle quickly at each other. At the right moment, they lower the paddle, raise the lance and hold one end under the armpit, and aim the boxing glove for the opponents trunk. Once the paddle is down, steerage is gained solely by shifting your weight. The object, of course, is to stay up in your kayak and not fall over (or be pushed over) into the water. Everyone usually tips over when they try to avoid the rapidly approaching boxing glove by leaning without maintaining their weight over the keel. Tricky but fun!