Guide Training

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Report from Ken

N 46
° 16.87'
W 124
° 03.55'

March 11 -Ten guides total, all assembling at Cape Disappointment for the last phase of this year's initial Guide Training. Our hope was that we'd all get a chance to work through some scenarios, get some surf play in, and tie up any loose ends as far as getting ready for the season goes. We did all that, and a whole lot more. 


Steve in the action zone

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© 2005 Azimuth Expeditions. All rights reserved

We set up camp at Cape Disappointment State Park, just across the road and over the dunes from Waikiki Beach. Steve, Theresa and Marc all got in earlier in the day, with the rest straggling in during the after dark hours, and finally, after all the camps were set in order, we got some badly needed rest. Tired already, and we haven't done anything yet! 

March 12 - We set out from Waikiki at about 9:30, after a surf lesson from Kari. (As part of Guide Training, each guide has to present a 10-minute lesson on an assigned topic.) As it turned out, a surf lesson was what we all were going to get on this day, and not just the 10-minute variety either.

The plan was to paddle in the building surf at Waikiki for an hour or so, then paddle the short distance to Dead Man's Cove, where we'd do some rescues and some group management exercises. The tide was climbing all morning to a high at about 2:00pm, so we knew there was a good chance of some big surf. As it turned out, the combination of the tide level and the surf was not optimum for entering Dead Man's Cove when we'd planned, so we headed toward the jetty to allow the water level time to rise, in the hopes that it would be easier to enter the cove at a higher tide level.

The swells were large and irregular, with significant clapotis and chop coming off the high cliffs below the lighthouse. Although most of the group were fairly close together, two of the guides got a little closer to the jetty than they might have wished, and in no time, one was stuck on the boulders at the water's edge while the other was swimming next to his overturned kayak, caught in a rip that impeded his attempts to land safely. It seemed like a long time coming, but in the end both guides made it safely to the top of the jetty and were shuttled back to Waikiki, while the rest of the group returned by sea, wiser already for having watched the events of the morning unfold.

The afternoon was spent at Waikiki, catching what waves were available, and generally being pounded by the rest of them. By 3:30pm, everyone had called it a day and was headed back to the camp for supper.

March 13 - If the previous day was one that taxed the abilities and judgment of the individuals involved, this day seemed like a true vacation. We put in on the Baker Bay side of the peninsula and headed down the channel to Sand Island. Along the way, several of the guides were given the roles of leaders, responsible for route finding and helping the group negotiate the current that was going against us. Once we got on the southern side of Sand Island, everyone got the chance to demonstrate their rolls and rescues, working their way through a few different emergency scenarios until it was time for lunch.

A fine repast on the beach in the sun (could this really be March in Washington?), and then Steve wowed the group with his demonstration of guide gear. The first aid kit, the spare clothing, the thermos, the boat repair kit, the extra hatch cover, the… well, you get the idea. The guy is prepared; you have to give him that, and it gave the rest of us something to shoot for.

The surf at this spot was much smaller than what we'd been in the day before, but it still had enough punch to make it a perfect practice site. (This part of Sand Island is where we conduct our Coastal Skills Workshop, and the combination of currents, surf and route possibilities are ideal for anyone who's looking to get a start in coastal kayaking.) Once we'd had our fill of beachcombing and surfing, we headed back to the launch point and loaded up for the drive back home. Much was learned, not only by the newer guides, but also the ones who'd been around for a while, and every one of us is looking forward to 2005 and all the great kayaking that lies ahead.

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