Posted by: rogerdane | 23 June 2011

06/06/11 PyB Intro to Sea Kayaking – Day 1

Day 1 of PyB’s Introduction to Sea Kayaking course began bright and early with an opportunity to meet my room-mate who’d already arrived and gone to bed before I got back to the room.  Gerwyn was (probably still is) a Welshman from Brecon and a member of the Brecon Mountain Rescue.

Obviously there’s no smoking in the rooms at PyB and very few areas to escape for a smoke but the balcony outside the bar is one of those areas and this is the sight that greeted me as I sat awaiting breakfast.  Yes, that is Snowdon in the distance.

The view from the PyB balcony.

The view from the PyB balcony.

This view was almost as good as the full English breakfast that awaited us in the dining room 😉

I’m not going to go on about it but the food was uniformly excellent for every meal during the week and we were so hungry that everything got eaten at every meal.  Worth a special mention are the cakes that were served every day with afternoon tea.  PyB cakes are legendary and on a tough day the thought of returning to the centre for a mug of coffee and a big, sticky bun was all the encouragement that was needed to keep going.

The other daily ritual at breakfast was the collecting of the packed lunches.  Strictly two rolls, one packet of biscuits, one cake and one piece of fruit were all you were allowed.  They were, again, excellent and nobody was complaining about not having enough to eat.

After breakfast we had a centre briefing on the various do’s and don’ts and then met our instructor Dave and his assistant Steve in the bar for an initial chat.  Along with Gerwyn and myself there were three others on the course.  Sandy, Rachel and Diana.  Sandy, Gerwyn and me had done some sea kayaking before but Rachel and Diana were novices.

We didn’t spend too much time talking and headed straight down to the stores to pick up our kit.  As I had brought my kit this involved me standing and watching while everybody else got sized for cags, spray decks etc.  Then it was a quick change and down to the boat sheds to select our weapons for the week ahead.  PyB use P&Hplastic boats and have an exclusive deal with the company.  We pulled out various boats including Capellas, Scorpios and Delphins in different sizes and proceeded out on the water to try our selections.  We spent rest of the morning on the river by the boat house while Dave went through the basic strokes teaching some and checking the others ability.  Then we spent some time swapping boats and trying to work out what we would paddle that afternoon.  I’ve paddled plastic Capellas before and so spent most of my time in the Scorpio and Delphin.  With apologies to both P & H and those of my friends who own these kayaks I have to say I’m not a fan.  Both the Scorpio and Capella seem very big and heavy to me.  The Delphin felt a bit more nimble so that’s what I picked.

A relaxing lunch on the grass outside the centre and then we were off again.  We paddled on the lake this time which gave us a chance to stretch our arms and really try the cruising capabilities of our boats.  It was at this point that I realised that the Delphin was not the boat I was going to paddle all week.  For a sea kayak the Delphin is really manoeuvrable and I can see that the design would be good for surfing or playing but I found it was a bugger to acheive any sort of speed paddling in a straight line!  Not good for touring 😦  It was a good afternoon and as you can see from the photos the weather was gorgeous but paddling the different boats had firmed up my resolve to use my boat for the rest of the course.

We finished the afternoon off with a couple of hours in PyB’s rolling pool practicing  capsizes, rescues and recoveries.  I’d never done a paddle float recovery before and had been a little dismissive of the idea of them but having tried it a few times I’m happy to say that I was wrong.  The support the paddle float gives you makes recovery easier and for those that can’t roll is almost certainly the best way of getting back into your boat on your own.  I shall purchase a paddle float forthwith.

Day 1 ended with a briefing over tea and cakes, a good dinner and then a relaxed couple of pints in the bar.  Day 2 would up the ante somewhat!

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