Friday, August 10, 2007

Kayakways Workshops at the Small Boat Shop, 7/22/07 & 8/12/07

As I mentioned in the last post, I'm really looking forward to meeting Cheri & Turner on Sunday & participating in one of their Greenland skills workshops in a different role. Even if that means being up & ready to move boats at 8:30 A.M. in South Norwalk, CT. Oy, and I volunteered to help out with the Sebago Open Paddle tomorrow, too. No sleeping in this weekend - but it will be fun. By gum.

Here are some pictures from the July workshop at the Small Boat Shop.

I am not a big believer in omens and signs, but when you have a perfectly beautiful sky the day of a workshop, and then it one-ups itself by throwing in some nice rainbow clouds...well, it just puts you in a good mood.

as does a lovely spectrum of (mostly) handcrafted kayaks on a dock!

This is Dock Traffic Control - O., you're cleared for takeoff, next paddler please hold for the signal to taxi into position

Entering the holding pattern. The folks at the Small Boat Shop decided that the rolling section should be held at Peach Island, the closest of the Norwalk Islands. The local public launch at Calf Pasture Beach would have been ideal, except that it's closed to commercial activities. Peach Island is less than a half-mile away; some of Cheri & Turner's replicas are a little difficult to handle, so we towed the squirrelier ones - that also gave cargo space, we loaded up the boats with tuiliqs, extra paddles, and a couple of cases of water - it was hot, and those tuiliqs would've gotten pretty warm.

There's that picture of Turner I liked again. Something about all those shiny motorboats and the ancient-looking kayaks...and the hat. Love the hat!

Wagons HO! Peach Island, here we come -

with one quick for TQ stop to play good Samaritan & help out a little kid in a swamped rec boat. That's my guy! :D

Turner had started with the strokes section introductory talk-through, and the paddle to the island was a nice warm up. Now time to get to work. We start out of the boats, to allow the students to just get a sense for how the paddles move through the water & create lift. We start by just playing - stirring, pulling, paddle on one shoulder -

Then we turn it into a stroke. It's really surprising how hard it is to stand in one place & paddle well! I feel like I'm running into these exercises where it's not about moving a boat, just feeling how the paddle moves through the water, more and more often - I don't remember this approach back when I started, but I do like it - seems maybe people have preconceived notions of what they think is happening when they put a paddle in the water & move it & the boat moves in response & when you take the moving boat out of the equation, that lets them really feel how the paddle is actually moving in the water. Sometime I may do something like assign myself a certain amount of time - not too long, just five or ten minutes - and just mess around with how many ways I can move the paddle through the water - different directions, different speeds - without budging my boat at all. Or a non-moving race - who can slice-paddle the fastest without moving? OK, I'm thinking more Euro-ish here but that could be funny!

Anyhow, we worked on strokes for a while & I didn't take any more pictures during the stroke part 'cause I was focusing on my stroke. Cheri gave me a really good but rather demanding paddle - it wanted to be used at a certain angle, and it would find it if your catch was properly canted & then you just let it follow the path it "wanted" to - and if you didn't let it find it, it was no good. Reminded me of a really good horse I got to ride once on a very small trail ride - we went up a creek a ways at one point before we went in I was told "That's a good horse you're on, he knows what to do, if you trust him, stay off his mouth & let him pick his way everything will be fine" & that ws true. It was April, I think, I heeded those words & nobody went swimming that day. This paddle was a little like that, only I don't think I as well letting the paddle find the right course through the water as I did with the horse. There were moments, though.

After that, time for rolling - beginning with one of Cheri's rolling demos.

Straightjacket - in a glass boat. Oooh.

And here's Turner working with TQ - this is right at the beginning, and Cheri & Turner start people out with the end of the roll - getting from the water to the back deck. I had to watch for a little while - it's entirely my fault he ended up taking this & so I really wanted to see that he was enjoying it before I went out & started rolling myself - 'cause once I get going in one of those boats of theirs I become completely self-centered - not in a mean way, just that all I'm paying attention to is me & the boat & the paddle & the roll I'm trying to do!

I couldn't quite hear what was being said here but I suspect it was something to do with getting TQ to twist his shoulders a little more, so that they would be parallel to the surface of the water...

there, that's better!

And seeing things moving along nicely, I went off & starting working on my own rolls. No more pictures - and no more paying attention to what Cheri & Turner were doing with the other students. Yep, even the poor boyfriend was on his own (but in hands I trust)!

Although it would have been SO tempting to stay & watch them work with him. He's got a solid C to C roll, and the first time I gave him a Greenland paddle to try rolling with (long before we started dating, actually), he tried to do just that, several times & then came out of his boat. A GP just doesn't work well that way, it's the sideways motion of the blade through the water that generates the lift. I think TQ had had better luck with a GP in subsequent tries, but the standard Greenland roll is a very different motion than his normal roll, so it would've been really interesting to watch, just to see what steps they took him through to get out of a very thoroughly ingrained set of motions & into the Greenland roll motion - but no, I'd paid for the time & wanted to get every minute of rolling in that I could.

In fact I run into that little dilemma every time I take a session with them - on the one hand, I want every minute I can get in those boats & getting pointers from my favorite instructors - but on the other hand, boy, I know I'd learn a ton about TEACHING Greenland style if I could just resist that urge to do as many rolls in the allotted time as I'm physically capable of pulling off. Thinking that last time - and also, as a Level 2 Trainee who's doing some serious looking around for observation opportunities - it finally hit me - I wasn't planning on taking this 2nd workshop (I'm not on a limitless budget) but this could be the perfect opportunity to forego working on rolling in favor of staying rightside up & actually watching Cheri & Turner teach!

So I asked them, and they agreed to make room for me as a mentor - a sort of instructor-trainee participant - at a reduced rate - and with the added stipulation that I be there an hour before the rest of the students to help get ready.

I think this is going to be really interesting. I hope there's a good range of skill levels, because it would be great to see how they shift gears from a beginner. I have to figure out where my waterproof notebook wound up after the last Lake Sebago weekend, I want to take notes.

Don't know if it'll count towards my BCU observation requirements - but I hope to learn a lot. Glad I have a chance to try this new approach!

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