Day 3 of the CANI & Beaver Tooth Open Canoe skills training. The day started with a disappointing meeting at the get in on the Owenkillew River at Gortin. The river was very low and hopes for the day were going equally low. We regrouped in Newtownstewart and to our surprise the Mourne was running well, opening up the left side of the Fisheries rapid. The aim of the progressive award is to prepare paddlers to be independent paddlers in every sense of paddling at that level. For example, judgements, making decisions on those judgements, such decisions, while not group leadership ones do mean you are thinking for yourself and friends so you do need to be able to read weather, water, hazards and think ahead to what might be around the next corner. Overall this was a great days paddling. At the Fisheries rapid, which was going well, I got each paddler to ferry glide across the top of the very wide flat water before the excitement. As the flow was fast and the wind equally challenging, each person had to find their own level of comfort as to how close they would go to the drop, just in case they went somewhere they would much prefer someone else to go, if you know that feeling Lol.
When we regrouped, there was some differences of opinion as to where to enter the rapid. Some fancied the right side and to cross the stopper, which had a good 8ft tow back. Other fancied the left side where there was no stopper but would need some navigation down the rapid. Me, well as I was not going into that stopper to rescue anyone, the left side became everyone choice very quickly. I ran the first bit to put myself in the position of most usefulness, maintain good line of sight where I could communicate and help paddlers to avoid hazards. That process is know as CLAP. Only in my case it was PLCA, please forgive me for not being politically correct all you to the book guys Lol. Anyway, it was clear to me that the team had taken on board the learning for day 1 & 2 because everyone paddled down the rapid well, even though I did think at times some were going to do it backwards, you know who you are.......yeah? Enjoy the photos.
Yes we did stop for lunch even though there are still some out there that don't believe I ever stop for lunch. Those were in my young days. That beard tells a different story of age.
Sadly due to COVID-19 our next date 4-5 April 2020 are cancelled. I am sorry for this as I was looking forward to taking the group onto the Owenkillew and then some open water. It has been my pleasure to coach such a fun and engaging group of paddlers. Maybe some day you will want a wooden paddle and come on my workshops to make your own.