Saturday, July 9, 2016

A Good Morning on Webb Cove

Before we set-out, we took a Scorpio down from the rack and W, my morning student sat down in it to adjust the foot pegs. I could see almost right away, from the way he rocked the boat back and forth with his hips, but kept his upper body vertical, that he would do well. He had the basic concept of edging already figured-out… perhaps not the nuances, like which way to edge to point the boat in a particular direction, but we could work on that over the next few hours. This was his first time in a sea kayak, and before he even launched, he had a basic concept down that eludes far more experienced paddlers.

It was a good day for a lesson: strong gusty winds and fog that made the inner reaches of Webb Cove at high tide into a calm, sheltered classroom- with mud-warmed, shallow water significantly warmer than the water just a half-mile out. Not only that, but the fog has a way of slowing one down. W had some difficulties at first – everyone does, but slowing down, contour paddling along the curving granite shoreline, sorted them out. After a few hours of strokes and exercises to try them out, he was maneuvering his boat amazingly well. We finished with a rescue session, and to be honest, I was enjoying it so much myself that I hardly wanted to stop. And W’s enthusiasm was infectious; it helped carry me through the rest of the day.

After the first week of July, I’m feeling a bit beat-up, having taught or guided multiple trips almost every day for awhile now. Unless the sun comes out today, I will probably have the rest of the day off… a valuable chance to do a few home improvements on the travel trailer. I’m tired, but overall things have been good. I had one day that, at the end of it I said that if every day were like that I wouldn’t be doing this work, but then I had several days of decent enough weather (not too much wind) and easy-going people who I enjoyed being with and were able to paddle well enough to manage.

We’ve tried to avoid working in the office this year, opting to clean the bathhouse instead (we all have to do our part around here). And while it might seem to be dirty work (and it sometimes is) I prefer it to the headache of dealing with whatever comes at you in the office. In particular, I really hate renting kayaks. I could write a whole diatribe on it, but I’d rather keep my blood pressure down. At the heart of it is that very few people who want to rent kayaks are even remotely prepared. On some level it’s our job to try to screen them, but most people are indignant if you suggest that they might not fare well in 55-degree water if they can’t get back into their boats. Especially if it looks calm out. They might suspect that we just want to sell them on guided trips… but if the people seem difficult, that is far from the truth. We just don’t want them to have a bad day, and we worry about them until they return. Like the day that started-out calm a couple of weeks ago- the day two people (one a guide, the other a client) died not far from here, an accident that I’m choosing to avoid writing about, because it is still so similar to almost all kayaking mishaps that should have been avoided. I’m just not going there, at least today.

Instead, I’ve decided to tell you about W’s first hours in a kayak, how in four hours he went from no kayaking skills at all to experiencing a certain joy in maneuvering his boat, and the ability to rescue himself or others. He will get so much more out of kayaking and be safer than the larger percentage of paddlers out there. And that makes me happy.

In other news, it looks like the Swans Island Journey may be moved a few days later, perhaps to the next week, probably with one or two more openings for students. And the Downeast Journey has one or two openings as well. My daily schedule here at Old Quarry has been busy, but I've been able to accommodate anyone who wants a lesson. Contact Old Quarry Ocean Adventures at 207/367-8977.


Phil Anderson said...

One of the things I enjoy most about kayaking is learning new things, the kayak really is an extension of your body and it's a joy to feel that.

John Foster said...

Ah man, look at that sail boat out in front of you guys. Cool.