I was slightly trepidatious when Aidan announced that we were to attend a canoeing course at SYC. The day arrived and we packed up our canoe with all our equipment (in the Whiteley household this usually means everything apart from the kitchen sink!). When we arrived we met Tony Kearsey who by default had decided to attend the course too. Rob (the trainer) arrived and was very friendly and obviously loved everything about canoes and being on the water. Rob checked our canoe - all the equipment passed his inspection.

Rob then led us all afloat - Aidan and I in our Canadian canoe and Tony in a sea kayak. Rob then got us to do some paddling so that he could check our techniques. My usual strategy is to do either an impersonation of the opening sequence in Hawaii Five-O (i.e. quite fast) or slowly as in a cast member of Last of the Mohicans!  Rob explained that my technique could be improved by changing my grip and changing my paddle placement through the water - within seconds we were gliding through the water almost effortlessly. We were then shown different strokes and how to steer around the buoys. I found that I was able to do a lot of steering from my seat at the front - something that I'd never attempted before.
The afternoon was spent learning how to tow and rescue other canoeists. Also, how to do ferry-gliding (not hang-gliding off the Torpoint Ferry) but how to use tide and wind to get to a destination. Finally, Rob announced that we would be doing some optional self-rescues - i.e. capsize practice. Tony started with a complete roll-over in his sea kayak - managing to get the right way up again like a real pro. Then it came to our turn - "Just jump out". said Rob … … it wasn't as bad as I was expecting. Aidan got himself back in and then hauled me back in too. Rob kept his enthusiasm all day. I thoroughly enjoyed the day and learnt a lot of new canoe skills. I would recommend this course for all canoeists or those wanting to start canoeing.

The next SYC Kayak/Canoe Basic Skills and Safety Course is on Saturday 22nd July (£40 members; £55 non-members) – click here for booking information.

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