Sunday, 2 June 2013

An Assistant's Life - part three - a typical day

I had delayed a little before writing about a typical day until I had accumulated enough days, and now I can tell you that there is no such thing. Yes, there are similarities between bits of individual days, but even what appears to be an identical trip on paper, will inevitably be very different in practice. This makes it all the more interesting, of course, and a useful motto would be 'expect the unexpected' - actually it is not all that useful - maybe just don't expect the day to go as planned.

Put in at Voudia Bay
So, we are on the beach checking that everyone is ready to launch and knows roughly what to do once they are on the water. Nearly everyone struggles with spraydecks on the first day, so I usually help with some as part of launching, and try to get some idea of their paddling experience:

'Have you kayaked before?'
'Once or twice'

This response from a Brit probably means that he has circumnavigated Ireland, or holds the current record for Devises to Westminster, but for everyone else it means twice.

Once on the water, it is a case of keeping the group together initially (especially if the wind is offshore) as they come to grips with handling their boats, and trying to spot individuals having problems - not feathering the paddle for the stroke on the left hand side is common. My favourite quote about Greenland paddles is 'they have their limitations, but these are only in the minds of paddlers who don't use them', but they are not that good for demonstrating the required wrist action. Mind you I am not that much help with a euro paddle either as I use left hand control.

If Dave is with the group rather than with Sue, leading the round island expedition, he will be in his ever patient coaching mode having picked out the weakest paddler.

By now, Rod has launched and we are off - so I revert to tail-end Charlie mode and counting people in and out of caves and through arches. On a typical day we are 10 or 12 or maybe 18 - well it was hard to turn down the young family who were waiting for the wind to drop. Eyes in the back of your head are a prerequisite and don't expect to get anywhere fast when there are lots of caves and lots of customers.

Mid morning snack
After about an hours paddling, it will be time for the morning stop at some idyllic beach or other with about a half-hour break and snacks. Always a good bet that the snacks bag will be found in my boat - I like to know where it is, and Rod likes it to be dry. Bananas, biscuits (cookies) and dried fruit.

To be continued:

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