As part of my freelance work, I occasionally instruct groups using sit on tops in sheltered coastal waters and I was asked to attend a training day at Anstey’s Cove in Torquay to review the session content and to look at specific rescue practice for this type of craft.
The training was given by Owen Burson of Isle of Wight Sea Kayaking and proved to be a really thought provoking day. We meet at Anstey’s Cove car park at 9:30 and were greeted by a bacon butty and a brew thoughtfully prepared by James which was a really good way to start the day.
We spent a little time discussing the risk assessments and operating procedure and suggesting improvements or additions and then it was ime to get on the water. By now the the wind had picked up and paddling on the sea in moderate water conditions was great fun for us instructors (although it must be stressed that taking novices out in these conditions isn’t a good idea). We paddled around the bay enjoying the roller coaster ride before it was time to get wet and practice rescues and towing.
I thoroughly enjoyed the day and came away with lots of new ideas and skills that will make my coaching more efficient. The main learning points for me were:
a) The instructor’s sit on top should be fitted with thigh straps to make rescues easier;
b) By tying the boats together with a sling and then attaching the towline makes life a whole lot easier. If you are towing (sit on tops) then 2 boats is the working maximum above this and you are working extremely hard indeed.
c) Remember to release the towline as you approach the shore to avoid possible entanglement issues (common sense but easily forgotten). If you need to then you can always nudge the boats in.