BCU 4 star leader sea kayak training in Jersey

sea kayak in a blow hole jersey

Ensure the others in the group can rescue you before you head into tricky places

I’ve just had a great bunch of sea kayakers kayaking in Jersey as part of their BCU 4 star leader sea kayak training.

The calm conditions on Monday allowed us time to work on a few skills followed by towing in the tide race at Belle Hougue. and on the water navigation exercises.

Practice your navigation skills

A simple method to get used to kayak based navigation is to always carry a map/chart on board so you get used to assessing your position. Even if you know an area well, reading a map/chart afloat is a skill and is best learned before you head out on a trip along unfamiliar coastline.

Sea kayaking in Jersey caves

sea kayak in a jersey cave

A whistle is a good way to communicate in caves and noisy places

Tuesday was a caving day at Greve de Lecq. This gave us lots of opportunity to look at leading skills and the issues that can arise if you start leading groups into more tricky spots.

Once in a cave (or any spot with a lot of crashing waves) voice communication is very difficult. Sort out some basic whistle signals so the group know when to enter -or not enter- the cave or gully. We carried out a few tests using voice and whistles. The whistles worked best -especially a referees pea whistle-. Just ensure the group know what each blast means.

Future water

Think future water. Observe swells before you charge in and plan ahead. That calm spot may be the only moment of the day when it’s calm so take your time and “look before you leap”! Around Jersey e have 12m tides so you also need to consider how the conditions and water depth are changing minute by minute.

4 star sea kayak cave landings

4 star involves landing in difficult spots

Watch this video to see how fast the tide rises in Jersey.

Protection

Consider how you are going to stop people ending up in in places you do not want them to be in. There are times when leading may involve putting yourself in places so you can quickly sort out problems.

Know the limits of your group

It may be fun for you paddling into some tricky places but if there is no-one in the group who can get you out of trouble stay out.

Derek Hairon