Sunday, October 19, 2008

Coach Level III Assessment on the River Spey

While, it was not the only reason I came, this assessment was an intricate part of my trip to Scotland.  As the weekend approached, the tasks mounted.  In anticipation of the long drive, and for the simple fact that it needed done, Steve sent Biscuit and I on a mission.  The Green Van needed a set of new tires.  I really had to streamline my lecture, and there was lots of gear to sort out.  At some point Biscuit and I also decided that we would squeeze in some paddling while we were at it...(As if you didn't see that coming).

First things first...
To the city we went for some new tires.  Perth is the nearest town of any size.  We made the 40 minute drive, pulled into the standard 'big box' tire shop and asked for there best deal on some mid-range tires.  Aside from the price being more than we anticipated, there was another, more pressing issue.  They didn't have the tires in stock.  The guy at the shop implied that there was a cheaper place, and told us that we could try to look around, but he could have the tires by 3 or 4 o'clock.  The real problem with that was that we would miss out on our chance to go boating if we didn't find another option...and fast!                

Biscuit's boat need some love, and we knew the boys and the local kayak shop could recommend a good tire dealer, so we drove down the road to Brookbank Canoe and Kayak.
Sorting out who to call for tires was no problem.  Biscuit's boat on the other hand...
Well, it wasn't easy, but the boys at Brookbank are the real deal.  Cam was able to fabricate some seat hardware and had the boat 'ship shape' in no time.   He didn't even charge Biscuit for his time.  All the more reason to pick up some new goods.  Biscuit ended up with a sweet new bunny suit.  After some tea and a quick call to the other tire shop, we decided that we should go boating THEN finish our hunt for some new rubber.  


Our best option would be the Tay at Stanley.  It the closest run to Perth, and always has something to keep you entertained.  We would be able to get a quick session in, go drop off the van for the tires and still be home in time for me to pack my gear and drive the two hours up to my assessment.  This plan was enough to inspire a happy dance from Biscuit.  

  Just one of many nice waves at Stanley

Enjoying a snack while we wait for the van

Making friends where ever i go.

The next morning I was planning to meet Tom at the Spey.  I had never paddled the river, so I wanted to get down to where the assessment was to take place .  It was fairly late by the time
I found a tucked away spot to park for the night.  I would hold up in the van until morning, then
 go paddling with 
Tom early so he could make
 it back for a Slalom Race down in England.  Once parked for the night, I sat back and enjoyed a brew 
before falling asleep.  

I did my best to sleep through the incessant noise of rain pelting the roof of the van all night.  The rain continued on into the morning until we rounded the first bend in the river.  The sky opened up, and  Tom and I had pleasant weather for our trip the rest of the way.  We kept it brief and I made sure to make mental note of all the best spots to coach various skills.  

Once we were off the river, Tom and I parted ways and I went on a little sight seeing tour of the area.  There was all the classic Scotland scenes laid out before me.  I visited a Distillery, bought some postcards, saw a castle and took a pleasant drive through the countryside.  

One of many local Distilleries near Dufftown

Hay there

A bridge over the River Spey

The entrance to the garden at the castle

Castle Ballindolloch
It looks as though it's straight out of a fairy tale

Eventually I made my way over to the Drummuir.  It's a small village with a row of old stone houses along one side of the road and an open pasture on the other.  There I found the bunkhouse we would be based in during the assessment.  I was a bit early and the first to arrive.  Other candidates trickled in within an hour, and it became clear that I was in the right spot.     


We got right down to business Friday night.  Jim Gibson and Steve were quite the duo.  They had obviously worked together many times before.  They even looked the same!  We did introductions, went over the plan for the weekend and a few folks jumped right in with there mandatory 10 minute lectures.    

   Steve is the one with his hands on his hips.  Jim is on the left...I told you they looked the same.

There were eleven candidates total.  

On Saturday, we covered personal paddling skills in small rapids, flat water strokes, peer coaching sessions, and rescues.  It was nice to be able to bounce different ideas off each other and ease into things before we got real live students to deal with on Sunday.  After a nice hot meal of chili and lots of unnecessary planning and agonising over how to structure the next days sessions, we all turned in.  

Peer coaching

Sunday went fairly well.  10 guinea pigs showed up for the blustery day.  Poor folks were coached to within an inch of there lives.  With so many candidates, we split into two groups of 5 or 6 coaches and 5 students.  Each of us candidates took turns coaching the students.  We paddled 3 miles and it took us 4.5 hours!  In the end, much was learned by all.  I passed at "...way above the standard." 

Watching the other group 
 After the de-brief I high tailed it out of there to get back to Aberfeldy at a reasonable time.  Tomorrow I drive to Wales.


Jay said...

Congratulations Paul! You must be feeling great right about now. I look forward to reading about your experiences on the sea in Wales and Scotland.

Anonymous said...

Great job Paul!!

Karl said...

Been chewing my nails on your behalf re: the L3 assessment. I figured if your game was on, you would really impress. Sounds like you did.

Bob said...

Congratulations Paul! Nice work.

Saltman said...

Wanted to say nice work paul. You sound super busy over there. Hope that you are finding time for yourself in all these adventures.
Take care.

Phil said...

Hey Amigo
Sorry it's taken me a while to catch up with this - I've been paddling with Jen while she was in the UK.

Canadian Tourism said...

I think you'd get a kick out of this video showing what it can be like to go for a paddle on the coast just outside of Vancouver.