Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The East coast is alive with paddlers.

Christopher Lockyer

Well it has been a busy spring for all the Kokatat team members.  I have been fortunate to paddle in the Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean and the Bay of Fundy in the month of May. My Kokatat expedition dry suit kept me warm and dry.  I have been using the new Maximus Prime pfd this season. I love the mobility it gives me while on the water and the protection it provides me. 

South Island Sea Kayak Association

I had the pleasure to work with SISKA on a number of paddling sessions while I was in Victoria.  It was great to have 30 plus enthusiastic paddlers out on the water during the sessions.  I got to see some great paddling area, Baynes Channel, Trial Island and Race Rock area.

Matt Nelson At Trial Island Lighthouse

Pacific Paddle Symposium

Right after working with SISKA I was off to the Pacific Paddle Symposium. This is a new paddle symposium on Vancouver Island.  It is the newest symposium for Paddle Canada.  Janette and her crew sold this event out in a little over 12 days.  The event took place at Pearson Collage. The area had so many options for an event like this.  Race Rock one of the most exposed tide races on the Vancouver Island was going to be used by plenty of the session during the event. We had plenty of fun during the event.  Friday was a coach update fun day, Saturday and Sunday were a mix of sessions on and off the water.  I got to paddle and teach with a fellow Kokatat Team member Mike Darbyshie. A talented coach and an up and comer for sure. I will be back on Vancouver Island in October and I can’t wait to see the pacific in Fall mode with a little more energy.  

Gary Doren giving the morning briefing

Fun and Games with Tim Dyer

Instructor development day - Mike Darbyshie.

MEC Paddlefest Toronto and Halifax

MEC has been running Paddlefest for many years. It started in Toronto and has spread across the country.  I was invited by Erik to take part in the Instructor development program that would run at Harbor Front on Friday.  We had a great turnout of 20 or so Paddle Canada instructors. The aim was to share some new idea about SUP, Kayaking and Canoeing.
I was only able to attend day of of Paddlefest but it turned out to be a great day. Plenty of eager students and people walking around looking at gear and boats. Paul Sriver was at the Toronto event waving the flag for Kokatat. The event was very well organized. MEC Paddlefest will be in Halifax on June 16th.  

Coastal Adventure Kayakers Meeting

After jumping on the plane at 8:00 pm in Toronto I got home repacked and headed down to Tangier Nova Scotia to take part in day two of the Coastal Adventures Kayakers meeting.  After hearing the stories from Day one I was kind of glad to have missed the driving rains and winds they experienced.  We spent the morning working on skills development and then heading out for a little rock hopping session in the afternoon. The swell was kicking up which provided a great deal of energy for us to play.
Photo by: Ryan Brake

Photo by: Ryan Brake

Monday, November 12, 2012

Essential Kayak Festival October 20-22, 2012

Essential Kayak Festival

I first met Nick Cunliffe on a cold December day in Wales back in later 2010.  Since that time we have become good friends.  He and I share a passion for paddling but more importantly we share a passion for top quality sea kayak coaching services.  When he started talking about the Essential Kayak festival over a hot chocolate at my house in Hilden Nova Scotia back in October 2012 I immediately said count me in. 

The event kicked off on Saturday morning with the Sun shining at Anglesey Outdoors just outside of Holyhead Wales.

The event brought together a group of energetic paddlers from all over the world. Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, Germany and all over the UK. I suspected I might be the one who traveled the furthest for the event, but that was not the case.  Rony came and amazing 24 hours from South America, Argentina, to paddle these Wales waters.  I think all total there were 126 participants and well over 20 coaching staff for the event. 

The participants were not disappointed.  I have been to many different symposiums over the years and I would have to say the coaching staff was a strong group with incredible credentials and skills.  It brought BCU coaches from all over Wales and beyond.  Team P&H being well represented by James Stevenson, Jim Krawiecki, Roger Chandler, Olly Sanders, Sid Sinfield and myself.

Day one for me was spent with a group of 7 paddles playing in the Menai Strait. This channel that separates Anglesey and the rest of Wales is a magical place.  The tide runs through here creating a tidal feature called the “swellies”.  We found some great areas to introduce people to white water (moving water).  There was plenty of water moving during the day.  The bridge pillars at Menai Bridge designed by Thomas Telford provided us with some great flows on the flood as well as on the ebb.  We even found a nice standing wave to play on.

Day two we set off from Porth Dafarch and were headed out to do an intermediate tide race session.  The day started with people working in and around the rocks.  We found a few nice gaps to play in as we worked out towards the Penrhyn Mawr tide race. This is one of the most well know races in all of Wales and is also well know by the paddling community as a place to play in sea kayaks.  As we approached the race it looked much bigger then it was predicted to be.  As we drop in it was obvious it proved to be a little to much for our group so we heading into a narrow slot in the rocks and landed the boats, hiked up the bank and went out to have a look at the race from the cliff edge. As the tidal flow dropped over lunch it made for a more manageable play spot and we headed out for a play. Even at the end of the tide it proved to be challenging for most of the participants, but we still had fun.  We finished the paddle by heading up to South Stack and did a little rock hoping.

Day three was spent with a smaller group working on boat handing skills for 4 star paddlers.  It was a nice low-key day to wrap up a wonderful weekend. 

Beyond the paddling part of the event people got to see two very different keynote presentations given during the event.  On Saturday night Justine Curgenven gave a presentation on the trip her and Berry Shaw did around Tierra Del Fuego. She also made mention of “This is the sea 5” which will be out soon.  Check the webpage for more details. 

On Sunday night Marcus Demuth gave a very different perspective as he talked about “The Kayak is my passport” quoting Paul Caffyn. The talk was about all the trips that he has done over the past 10 years and highlighted all the things that went wrong on these trips.  I am sure many of you are thinking why would he want to talk about all the mistakes?  Well it was a very entertaining presentation. He gave a different perspective on kayak expeditions that most people don’t get to hear.

Every night everyone headed down to the Paddler return the local pub which was about 100 meters from the Centre which made for a very social experience for everyone involved in the event.  Great food, friendly staff and plenty of drinks were served during the weekend and the following week for the Coastal Navigation, open water navigation, 4 and 5 star training as well as the 4 star assessment that concluded the week on the Saturday and Sunday.

A special thanks goes out to the organizers of the festival Nick Cunliffe, Matthew Giblin, Ali Othen, Ulrika Karsson and Katy Yates for all your hard work.  Hope to be back in 2013.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Gales on Lake Superior

The Gales on Lake Superior

Naturally Superior Adventures located at the mouth of the was the host for the 2012 Gale event put together by Ryan Ruston and his crew at Geneva kayak centre.

Gearing up for the Paddle from Indian Beach
The event brought participants from all around the Canadian and United States shores of Lake Superior and the inland sea did not disappoint.
Rock Hopping
The three day events allowed participants to explore the rocky shores of the lake in calm conditions and also in some interesting conditions. The forecast for all three days were winds greater then 20 knots.

I was joined by several guest coaches Shawna and Leon from Body Boat Blade as well as Nick Cunliffe level 5 BCU coach from Wales as well as a number of local Lake Superior coaches. 

Nick Cunliffe Getting front looped
Getting away with this one
It was a pleasure to paddle with all the enthusiastic paddles. Day one brought flurries for my group and I to start out session, I can honestly say that I have never been blinded by snow flurries why teaching a rock hopping session. Day two stated off at -5 and ice coated sea kayaks and gear. We had a great paddle brown Indian Beach back to the base.  The 25 know winds from the west created a very exciting sea state for the participant, we did a great down wind run, surfed at sandy cove and then played in the tide race at the river opening. It was an action packed day. It is the first time someone has told me that it was there best day paddling ever. Not just one but three of the participant came up to Nick and I and told us that directly. It put a smile on my face. Day three brought the largest conditions of the event. Most participant had a go in the surf  the retreated to the river as the condition out in front of the lodge reached 12 feet. Nick and Ryan had a go in the surf. The pictures speak for themselves
Flying kayak
I wanted to thank Ryan for the invitation me to the event. Looking forward to the 2013 event in the apostle islands.

For all the pictures from the event please visit this Facebook Gales pictures

Thanks to my sponsors. My kokatat expedition dry suit kept me warm and my Lendal Paddles keep me paddling the whole weekend.  

Monday, June 18, 2012

Can we fix it? I sure hope so.

Can we fix it?  I sure hope so.
As we venture out to play in our sea kayaks some of use likes to work close to the rocks. This dynamic environment provided ample opportunities for us to work on blending strokes, timing and sometimes advanced rescues.  You can practice yours skills for hours in flat water but as we know the concept of “variable practice” takes us into a more realistic environment to put skills into practice.  
(Check out this video of Matt Nelson and Sean Morley Team P&H team members.  Looks like fun doesn’t it?

I have run many Paddle Canada and BCU programs were we talk about having the ability to fix minor repairs while on the sea. Small holes in boats, lost hatch covers and other situations that we might run into while out paddle. We don’t often talk about the next level of boat damage. What about a full breach of a compartment. In the past couple of years this has become a reality on several of my training programs. Can you fix it? I sure hope so.  

The Incidents
Boat separation 
The first most recent incident we were surfing a simple pour over and the participant was split second to early. He hit the rock with the bow of his boat and was flushed out the other side. I watched the incident and thought nothing of it.  It looked like he has just skimmed over the rock without too much trouble. I soon realized that was not the case. As he waved his paddle to indicate something had happened I paddled over to investigate. Upon arrival I noticed that the deck and the hull had separated at the seam and the hull was 90 degrees to the rest of the boat.  We got the broken boat to the shore and investigated the damage.  The hull has a large hole about 6 inches around right on the keel line and the boat at separated from the tip of the bow to the front hatch cover.

The second situation a participant on the program was not looking out to sea for the larger sets and was caught inside the break zone.  He was pounded against a rocky cliff and then pushed back out to open water by the swell.  He was able to stay upright and paddle to a cove that was close by.  By the time we arrived at the cove the boat had filled with water and the boat was awash. On further inspection of the boat we realized that the bow, cock pit and stern hatches had been damaged. The structural integrity of the boat was also questionable.

The Repair
So what do we do now?
These were not minor repairs that could be fixed with some tape or a fiber glass repair kit.    First thing we needed to do was to try and repair the holes in the boat. Duct tape wasn’t going to fit the bill; it does not work in a salt water environment unless you clean the area with fresh water and dry it off completely. We used a product called Resisto waterproof membrane .  This product is designed for many applications but it does a great job fixing large holes in boats.  It is tarlike sheet that you peel off the backing and place over the area that is damaged, once the holes are fixed it is then time to deal with the structural integrity of the boat. We always carry two large float bags designed for white water paddling but they do a great job providing buoyancy to the boat and also add some structural integrity to the kayak.  To fill up the rest of the space in the hatch blow up you paddle float or use your dry bags and put as much air in them as you can. The aim is to fill the hatch or hatches with as much air as you can so the boat will not sink.  If additional help is required to keep the boat together use the deck lines to lash the boat together as see in the picture below.  One other useful thing to have in your boat is very thin cutting board. This can be used as a patch and then the resisto tape can be used to seal it.
In both cases the paddler could paddle the repaired boat back to the put in without too much trouble.  

Think before you leave the beach, can you fix your boat is you damage it?  Do you have your air bags in your boat and blown up. Use them to take up space in your boat, they will provide a little more strength to you boat and also provide floatation if it is you who made contact with the rocks. 

Monday, April 2, 2012

SAR Marine Rescue Talk

Come meet and hear from the people who are responsible for all aspects of marine rescues in Atlantic Canada

Ask questions, learn and be informed on marine rescue.

The session is open to sea kayakers, sailors and anyone doing recreation on the ocean.

Date: May 1
Time: 6:30
Location: Trail Shop 6210 Quinpool Road, Halifax 

Representatives from
  • Coast Guard
  • Joint Rescues coordination center (JRCC)
  •  RCMP 
  • Navy 

We are very excited about this session. Hope to see you there.

Here is a link to the event on our Facebook.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Level 5 BCU process has begun

Committed2thecore’s 2012 sea kayaking schedule will have lots of great new ideas, many of them inspired by my BCU Level 5 training.

I recently spent an incredible week in Ireland with 11 other eager paddlers and two of the world’s best sea kayaking instructors, Oisin Hallisay and Mike McClure, as part of the intensive British Canoe Union Level 5 training program.

In most programs I have taken or delivered, the first meeting is all about who you are, what you want to get out of the program, and getting to know your fellow paddlers.  Well the instructors turned that idea on its ear.  They told us that there was a mini bus with a trailer loaded with boats, and we were to pack up our stuff because we were heading out to an island to spend the night.  That was just the start of some unexpected, and pleasant, surprises.

Our group was made up of 8 sea kayakers and 4 white water kayakers.  During the 7-day program we were exposed to many different classroom based sessions:  visualization exercise, learning styles, learning types, personality profiling, and how to work with all types of people in groups. Once the classroom-based sessions were done, we moved onto the water. Oisin brought in Howard Jeffs, Gordon Brown, Kevin Mansell, Andy Stamp and Nigel Robinson for two days of practical coaching.  I had the pleasure of two days of on water coaching with Nigel Robinson (a fellow P&H team member).
I am now planning the 2012 Committed2theCore sea kayaking programs.  Some of the innovations I plan to introduce as a result of the BCU training include:

  • Having a wide range of exercise for different types of learning in different conditions (flat water, current, waves and wind)
  • Taking the time to obverse the students at the start of a program to get a clear understanding of where they are, and what they need to work on. 
  • After an on water session, have 2 or 3 tips and tricks to pass along to the student. 

My BCU training will conclude in November 2012, when I return to the UK with 4 sea kayaking students.  I will develop a customized training plan for each of the six and work with them to attain their goals.  They will take part in an assessment, in which I will be observed by two other level 5 instructors to see if my training plan worked.  I will also be assessed on my ability to develop practical teaching situations. 

I hope to see many of you on the water in 2012.  If you want to brush up on your skills, and learn some new ones, register now for the Atlantic Paddle Symposium, May 11 to 14, at Liscombe Lodge on Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore.  (   If you are in Ireland and are looking for a great place to paddle and learn, check out the Tollymore Outdoor Centre (, the base for the BCU training.

Yours in Adventure,
Christopher Lockyer

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

It is not about chasing stars. It is all about how they line up.

As I arrive in Ireland I am reminded of my last visit to the emerald isle. Solo paddling on the North coast in 3 meter swell going by the giants causeway and not event noticing it as my grip on the paddle overwhelmed all other senses. White water paddling in snow flurries asking myself are the foot craps worth it? Last of all paddling with my good friend Oisin and getting hit n the face with a white water boat and arriving home in Canada with a black eye. Great memories for sure.

This time I am back for a different purpose. For the next 7 days I will be taking part in the BCU level 5 coach training program. It has been a long road to get this point but it has been a great journey. I am excited and nervous about the next 7 days. I have heard many things about level 5 training and I am heading into this experience with a clear mind.

As one of the only Canadian sea kayak coaches that I know of who has taken part in the level 5 training process I looking forward to bringing back new ideas, approaches to coaching paddle sport and a few tips and trick to my fellow coaches and students.

I will post more as we get into the guts of the program and if I am able I will take a few pictures as well.

Yours in adventure.