Wednesday, 7 November 2012

5* sea mock student. From 1 extreme ...........

Setting off for the skerries
We were recently off for a third attempt at Hubby dear sitting his 5* sea assessment. The previous 2 were called off due to our Scottish weather, the weather was wonderful, the conditions weren't! The weather had been flat, calm, sunny, normally perfect paddling conditions, just not 5* conditions. I was heading along as a mock student.
We arrived up in Skye earlyish evening. As we were passing through Broadford, we passed a very familiar sight - Young Trevor, up for a family holiday. After settling into our B&B, we headed down to the Hebridean Hotel (which was conveniently situated at the bottom of the B&B garden) for tea. Hubby dear was then having to head off for Skyak Adventures to start the assessment. I stayed put in the bar and waited for Kevin (fellow club member and mock student) to join me along with my German buddy Wolfgang, also a mock student.
Next morning, Hubby dear was off bright and early to complete more of the paperwork side of the assessment, whilst I had a leisurely start.
Kevin towing Kate and me
Kate and Bonnie
Mark and Rowland

The other group towing
The assessees (?) were Hubby dear, Chris(Cumbria) and Ole (Greenland) in one group with Bonnie (priest from Chicago) and Mark (Ioan Gruffudd - actor, lookalike). Kevin, Wolfgang, Kate (Chris's partner) and I were with Bonnie and Mark. Kate and I being kept separated from Hubby dear and Chris! Finding out that Bonnie was a priest made me think I would have to behave myself and not swear!
Rowland came down to sort the students out and give us all ailments which would eventually cause a problem or two (or in this case 8). They included an inhaler missing asthmatic, dislocated shoulders, blood pressure problems, epilepsy, generally not listening to any instructions and mine. I was to be 2 month pregnant!!! very funny Rowland-not!!
We piled into various cars and made our way down to Armadale in time for the heavens to open and dump on us (didn't think that would happen, what with having Bonnie with us). Split into our groups, our leaders had to quickly heat up a cold group. The 3 "girls" were in 1 group shelter with Bonnie dressing Kate and myself in umpteen layers of everything-don't think we were going to start a fashion trend! On the water, we paddled down to the skerries where the water was suitably 5* conditions. The leaders were taking turns leading their groups round the rocks before turning and heading back up the sound with the waves behind us. At this point, my boat was feeling a bit funny, I've been out in bumpy waters plenty of times, it just didn't feel right. It wasn't long before events started happening, so I put it to the back of my mind. Kate "dislocated" her shoulder when she fell in, so Bonnie had to rescue her with me being in a supported tow with her. This gave Kate and myself a fine chance to have a great chinwag as Kevin had to tow both of us through the waves to a small bay where an otter put in a welcome appearance.
My good buddy Wolfgang
Bonnie rescuing me
Rowland. Kevin happy to be towed and not towing
Mark was taking over the leading for the next section. It wasn't long before I fell in needing rescued and because of my "condition!" needed a supported tow with my good buddy Wolfgang, giving me another fine chinwag time whilst  Kevin improved his towing skills wonderfully. After a bit I made a miraculous recovery and on we went again. It wasn't too long before Wolfgang went off on a tangent with poor Bonnie yelling after him whilst he carried on doing his own thing which inevitably led to him capsizing and needing rescuing. Quite why I worried about behaving myself and not swearing in front of Bonnie is by now way beyond me! The other group had caught up with us by now when I fell in again, next to the rocks which seemed to get closer mighty quickly. This time as Bonnie was rescuing me, Wolfgang did a marvellous job of "getting in the way". It was getting cold and dull by now, but nearing the lighthouse Kevin had another wee episode, another rescue only to go over again, resulting in another supported tow, another quick natter opportunity for me whilst Wolfgang towed us. Unfortunately getting towed so much meant I was genuinely getting cold. A quick fast paddle to the pub (where else?) where we were getting out, heated me up a bit. This is where Kevin, Wolfgang, Bonnie and I, still in our paddling gear, had the best pint and a half of Red Cuillins, which went down a treat at great speed!
The best Red Cuillins around!

Rowland thinking of seal launching?
Next day, the assessors were swapping groups. We were going in at Kylerhea, where the water was quite fast and bumpy. I was looking forward to this bit where hopefully we'd get a bit of a play. I was absolutely gutted when what seemed like 2 mins after getting into my boat I was over and swimming. Bonnie got me back in, made our way back into the waves when the same happened again. Nobody heard me swear as I was still upside down!! Back in the eddie Gordon got me set up for a roll which I failed miserably in, I think my confidence had just taken a huge hammering, even the fish were giving me a shoulder to cry on - still upside down! I can't remember the last time I had failed a set up roll. Heading further down, Gordon was saying it was good practise for the leaders and wouldn't it be good if I did it in the middle of the bumpy stuff, with my skeg down, boat up and give it a hard shove! So after a while, Gordon seemed to have managed to split the group a bit, asked Bonnie to go over and do a self rescue. At that point whilst Bonnie was upside down, Gordon said Now, so over I went. Poor Bonnie, came back up from her self rescue to find chaos with me and my boat well separated! Whilst bobbing around in these large waves a porpoise swam past, does this mean I can claim to have swum with a porpoise?
Despite having had a terrible start to my second day, I still had a great time and learnt alot. Giving my unplanned swims in Kylerhea a bit of thought, I reckoned my boat was too light. Despite my love of chocolate, ice cream and beer (probably in that order!) I have lost a bit of weight over the last few months, that and the fact Hubby dear had all the safety kit, my boat was mega light. I literally bobbed around like a wee cork. I should have chucked a couple of water containers in the hatches. I did have another go at a roll and thankfully came back up. I guess I also learnt that you can never practise rescues/rolling enough!  Also, if your going for assessment, keep between your assessor and your students otherwise chaos is guaranteed to ensue!
Heading back, Hubby dear's group were already there turning their kayaks into S.U.P's.
Back at the Kylerhea jetty, both groups got the news we were all hoping they'd get - the candidates had all past. They all put such a lot into it and I wouldn't have blamed them for refusing to take out such a dodgy, decrepit bunch of paddlers! I was so chuffed for them all, especially Hubby dear because well, he's my hubby!
Glen Garry on our way home



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