Yesterday, I went to Yalding in Kent to attend a one star open canoe training day. Organised and administered by Kent Canoes.
The backdrop to booking myself on the basic one star canoe course is that I'm off to Sweden canoeing for a week. I thought it prudent to get the fundamentals like strokes, capsize drill, etc before going!
The day started off quite grey and drizzly, but on arrival at Yalding the weather started to improve. The course was loaded to eight people. I'm unsure if the loading of the course was done in any particular way but the students really fell into two distinct age groups young and old and everyone mixed very well.
Our instructor Stuart was a really experienced and knowledgeable instructor with a great sense of humour ensuring that his teaching came over in a relaxed and informative way. This helped relax the students for the rest of the day.
Having being given the on land essential knowledge we partnered up and launched our canoes. The day was spent paddling, stopping and being taught the lessons on how to perform different strokes to achieve certain manoeuvres. We pulled out on the bank and stopped for lunch at the sluice lock on the River Medway a lovely spot, although the picture may not reflect it at the tie up.
In the afternoon we did some single paddling and then people changed position in the canoes. On the return leg we came down the canoe sluice some better than others.... We practised skills that had been taught in the morning along with new paddling techniques.
The final act of the day was the capsize drills. Which I have to say went very well from all the crews. Thank heavens that the sun came out to warm us up.
Everyone who attended the one star day course passed. One of the most enjoyable days out that I have had for a long time. This was mainly down to Stuart with his relaxed style of instruction and friendly approach to us all.
For me the one day course has given me exactly what I hoped it would. It has provided me with the basic skills to enable me to operate another form of transport confidentially and safely.
With the years beginning to take its toll on the old knees and legs the carrying of large packs is getting less attractive to me. The ability to get into the countryside and enjoy the outdoor life for more than a day is something that I want to continue to do. The use of a canoe to haul all the gear is very appealing to me, one that may well be the way ahead.
I would not hesitate to use Kent Canoes again for any additional or refresher training again.
Thanks for reading.