If you just go for a paddle than you can stop thinking about wanting to go for a paddle.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

2017: Post 15 – Young Grasshopper becomes the teacher

Shane started showing up at our St. Philips practices a few years ago.  He was in a big, blue aircraft-carrier-of-a-kayak.  What he lacked in paddling knowledge he made up for in his youthful enthusiasm.  He showed little fear in trying things and asked lots of questions.  He capsized often and we pulled him out of the sea many times.  I remember joking with him on several occasions, calling him 'Grasshopper' and telling him that when he could snatch the paddle from my hand he would become a  paddler... a take off from the old Kung Fu show from the 1970's... click here for the clip of the scene from the show.  

Shane recently obtained his Level 1 Sea Kayak Instructors certification and it was time for him to put it to use.  He did a little advertising and three people signed up for the Level 1 course.  I had the feeling he was a little apprehensive and so, although I am not a certified kayak instructor,  I offered to assist him if he called Paddle Canada to make sure it was okay for me to do so.  He had a conversation with the powers to be and confirmed there was no issue at all for me to be an Instructor's Assistant... and after all, another set of eyes greatly serves to increase the safety of everybody on the water.  So last week Shane put off his very first Level 1 course...

In the morning of the first day, Shane met with his students and covered the required theory portion of the Level 1 course, and then I met them after lunch on the pond.  

Instructor Shane went over some kayaking equipment and then we took to the water where he demonstrated and had the students practice the various kayak strokes, as well as paddling and rescue skills...

Near the end of the day it was time for the students to get wet and practice assisted and self rescues...

On the morning of the second day we all met and drove out to Conception Harbour for the salt water portion of the course. 

We readied the gear and kayaks at the put-in...

... and then Shane went over the plan and we talked about the differences in a topographical map and a nautical chart.

Then it was time to get on the water.  

Paddle strokes were practiced as we paddled our way to Middle Point and up to Ballyhack Point where we were treated to the sighting of an eagle.

When we arrived at Broad Cove Shane demonstrated and had the students practice more paddling skills.  From there we carried on across the bottom of Gastor's Bay where we discussed on water communication and signals.  Some more rescue practice and some more paddling and we eventually pulled up on a beach and had lunch.

During lunch we discussed a little bit about VHF radio's and GPS units and Shane explained about different paddles...

... and then went over kayak designs before getting back on the water.

Once we were on the water there wasn't really much more for Shane to teach as he had gone through the required curriculum of the Level 1 course.  So  we pretty much just let the students put into use what they had learned as we paddled back to the take-out, although there were reminders to not bend elbows and to push on foot pegs as we paddled along... 

Although my primary role was to serve as the Instructor's Assistant, I was also the official photographer... so I made it a point to get a picture of each student as we made our way back to the slipway...



I also made sure to take a picture of Instructor Shane and his very first group of students...

Congratulations to Shane for putting off his very first Level 1 Sea Kayaking course.  I thought he did an excellent job explaining things to his students and he seems to have a natural propensity for teaching.

Also, congratulations to Craig, Christine, and Peter for taking the Level 1 course.  From my perspective, I seen an improvement in all of you from the start to the end of the course, which I think serves as a compliment to Shane's excellent instruction and your willingness to learn to be better kayakers.  I sincerely hope you all continue to learn and enjoy the sport of recreational sea kayaking.  Stay safe out there while you are having fun on the water, and remember that 'we are all in this thing together'... 


  1. Excellent post Dean!
    Can't wait to do the next course👍

  2. Yes, great job Dean! You captured the experience quite well and outlined the course concisely and informatively. I trust you don't mind if I "knick" an e-copy of some of the photos for keepsakes. :)

    The course was a blast for me! I had only sea kayaked one day many years ago and had often yearned to get into the sport. I'm in now and see switching some of my life-time to this incredible activity. Learning and developing new skills, great outdoor fitness, the joys of nature and you meet new friends with a common interest... all while immersed in the salt air and the sheltered, shimmering waters of the majestic North Atlantic. It's awesome!!

    The course felt like an adventure training vacation and the instruction was top notch. I chatted to one returning tourist about his stay in NL and he had toured through the Conception Harbour area and was smitten with the ocean scenery. We spoke about sea kayaking and about the training and he's thinking about enrolling during his visit next summer.

    Within about twenty minutes of slipping into the crystal clear water we came up on that large eagle basking in the warm sun and he didn't budge as we rounded the point and paddled on. With whales, wildlife, ice bergs and gorgeous scenery to see, it's not at all hard to reckon how photographers and nature lovers get immediately hooked on this stuff.

    It sure won't break my heart to get out on the water and practice up for the level two course in the future either! Ha Ha

    Cheers to you both Shane and Dean and thanks so much for your depth of knowledge and for your dedication to the learning with each of us. You guys don't just instruct, you mentor too. It was a joy to learn from you.