Fall 2008 Exchange
The Fall Exchange in Ucluelet was a hit.
The weekend was marked by some big weather, great food and a
good time by all. A special thanks to the hosts;
Majestic Ocean Kayaking and Rainforest Kayak for creating a
comfortable and well organized atmosphere. The article
below submitted by Sheila Porteous. Its a great perspective
of the exchange and the SKGABC from a newly certified
Assistant Overnight Guide.
My First Guides Exchange by
This October I completed all of the
requirements and to become an Assistant Overnight Guide
(AOG) with the SKGABC. Part of a guides training includes
attending a kayak “guide’s exchange” once every three years.
This October 3rd to 5th an exchange
was held on the wild west coast of BC, in Ucluelet. Wanting to take my training further, I signed up for the
weekend and convinced my favourite paddling partner to do so
as well. I wasn’t sure if I was ready for such an event but
the surf session offered at the exchange was a carrot that I
simply couldn’t resist.
Driving to the coast, I was so nervous that I thought of
backing out several times. If I hadn’t booked a luxurious
B&B for the weekend at Majestic Ocean Kayaking, I just might
have. Arriving in Ucluelet on the Friday night I drove past
the hall where the exchange was going to be held - several
times. I scoped out all the cars with kayaks on the roof and
was immediately intimidated. To delay the inevitable I went
to the B&B and checked in. I almost never left. It crossed
my mind that a king size bed, luxurious tub and waterfront
view may be all I needed for the weekend. Luckily my
curiosity got the best of me and I packed up and headed out
to absorb the first tidbits of kayak guide wisdom.
On the way to the hall I began to panic anew. My fears
revolved around the issue that I am short and wide and don’t
look like a guide. Plus, being an AOG I am still developing
my paddling skills; I was convinced that I would make a
complete fool of myself during the on the water sessions.
Even worse, I was wearing cotton shorts – the ultimate
kayaker taboo. My fears all began to run through my head
like some insane version of a Dr. Seuss book: short, wide,
not a guide. Cotton, forgotten, they’ll laugh inside...
Taking a deep breath, I remembered that the first evening
only involved a presentation. If the exchange was more than
I could handle, I would simply spend the rest of the weekend
lounging about with a good book.
Entering the hall, my worst fears were instantly realised.
They did, they did look like guides! I saw a sea of wool
toques and nylon clothing. There was an abundance of rugged
looking men that looked like they lived outdoors year-round.
On the other hand, I saw a lot of female guides and friendly
smiles, from both sexes. I was immediately approached and
welcomed. I was introduced to Chris Nagle the Executive
Director of SKGABC. He was kind and encouraging even though
I had been badgering him for the last few weeks about my AOG
paperwork. To ease my social anxiety I browsed through
clothing and gear samples, checked out the munchie trays,
and enjoyed a chart of the Broken Group that was labelled
with the original aboriginal names for the area. I felt like
I might survive after all.
Saturday morning began with more interesting
presentations then we headed out onto the water after a
spectacular lunch. We were divided into groups and assigned
our very own level 3 guides. The wind was blowing 23knots
from the Northeast that day; the rain alternated between
light and sideways to heavy and not so sideways.
Although I began to worry, I figured the time to push
my paddling ability was with a group of people who had
similar or much better skills sets. We set off and practiced
bracing, turning and edging and other ‘guidey’ things. The
guides hosting my small group were very supportive and
helped me correct a few bad habits while we all had a lot of
fun on the water.
After reviewing basic skills, my small group went to take
a peek at the open ocean and got to play where the swell
rushed through a channel. The guide in charged asked who
wanted to practice a self-rescue in the mess of seas. If I
didn’t watch where my paddle was I wouldn’t be practising,
so I quietly declined. Another level three guide was up for
the challenge and I thoroughly enjoyed watching him wrestle
with his boat in the pounding surf. On the way back to the
put-in we got to paddle directly into the headwind, in the
middle of the channel where the wind was the strongest. It
felt good to challenge myself while feeling safe and
Dinner was held back at the hall and what a spread it
was! A ten-foot long table was adorned with a delectable
array of food including seafood chowder, sushi, daikon salad
and much, much more. We sat together at tables and told
stories of paddling and guiding. I was beginning to feel
like I really fit in. I never felt judged, ridiculed or
belittled for anything I said or did that weekend. People
respected me for who I was, just the way I was. Maybe this
open attitude encompasses the true spirit of a kayak guide.
At the end of my adventure filled day I went back to the B&B
and dreamt of playing in the surf the following day.
The morning dawned sunny and clear with a light breeze.
After a hearty breakfast, I set forth to gather at Long
Beach with the other guides. Dan and Bonny from Rainforest
Kayak Adventures instructed the surf session. We climbed up
the hill to read the surf and get some safety information.
We were taught a few basic surf drills, buddied up, and then
we jumped into our boats to practice our new skills. My
partner kindly let me go first. I lasted but a few minutes
before being dumped in the surf. Having only the first half
of my roll mastered, I needed to get back to shore and bail.
On my second launch disaster struck. Practising in the
soup zone, I was bowled over by one heck of a big wave and
ended up swimming once again. I remembered to keep my boat
between myself and the shore, but as I grabbed for my toggle
my arm got tangled in the bow lines of my boat and I had to
let go. As I lunged for the toggle once again a large wave
came up from behind me and rammed my thigh into my boat. The
pain was indescribable and for a moment I didn’t know what
to do. I paddle a Nimbus Telkwa HV and can tell you that it
is very heavy when it if full of water and its bow becomes a
deadly weapon in the surf. Then I remembered the hand signal
I had just been taught to summon help. I waved my arms
furiously and almost wept when I saw several people come
running out into the surf toward me.
First aid is a crucial part of being a good kayak guide,
and I was honoured to give some guides the opportunity to
practice their skills. I was helped off the beach and into
my paddling buddy’s car for an inaugural trip to the Tofino
hospital. Nothing was broken, but I wouldn’t be walking
without crutches for a while. I was given phenomenally
strong painkillers and loaded into the car for the long ride
home. A quadriceps contusion is an injury typically reserved
for football players, but apparently can be obtained by
kayakers that make mistakes in the surf zone. I wasn’t sure
what hurt more after the weekend: my thigh, my pride or
recognizing that I only got to play in the surf for a few
short minutes that day.
Regretfully, I didn’t get to say good-bye to all the new
people I met and the friends I made. This message is my
thank you to everyone for making the weekend welcoming and a
big hug to those people who saved me in the surf and dragged
me to the car. I eagerly wait for the announcement of the
next exchange and promise myself that I will not make such a
dramatic departure the next time! I encourage all new
guides, and anyone working toward being a guide, to give an
exchange a try. I did increase my kayaking skills that
weekend, but experiencing what it was like to be supported
by competent kayak guides was worth much more.
I hope to accumulate enough skills to support future
clients in the same positive and caring manner.
Ucluelet October 3-5, 2008
Hosted by Majestic Ocean Kayaking and Rainforest Kayak
Meeting Place: meeting place for
the exchange is at the UAC Hall in Ucluelet. 5:00 pm
on Friday night.
All indoor sessions and presentations will be held here.
It is on Peninsula Road right next to the Fire Hall.
Meeting Place (water sessions): Majestic Ocean Kayaking, 1167 Helen Road, Ucluelet,
Contact Majestic Ocean Kayaking, 800-889-7644.
Cost: $75 to register. You must be a member to attend.
Snacks on Friday night, lunch and supper on Saturday. You
will provide your own breakfasts, and bring a lunch to Long
Beach on Sunday.
Bring your own gear or you can rent kayaks from
Majestic-call for details.
* Majestic is offering reduced rates at their B&B.
* C&N Backpacker's Hostel, 250-726-7416.
* Surf Junction Campground, 250-726-7219.
* For other options check
Oct 3 Friday
VHF Marine Radio Operators Course -
$70 -- 9am-4pm contact Majestic
5:00pm -7:00 Registration, meet and greet...snacks.
7:00-9:00 Local Jen Pukonen's presentation: Nuu Chah Nulth
Root Gardens. Local First Nations traditionally cultivated
intertidal plants such as Cinquefoil and Chocolate Lily.
After Jen's presentation you will be inspired to look for
signs of these gardens while out paddling, and better
prepared to explain them to your guests!
October 4 Saturday
9:00 Toquaht Nation Speaker Anne Mack
10:30 Bob Hansen from Parks Canada presenting on the
"Predators, Prey and People" study in Pac Rim park
1:00-4:00 On water sessions: Choice of Sessions:
Strokes, Rolling, Open Water Paddling, Surf
Surf Day Prep Session -Bonny Glambeck & Dan Lewis
(mandatory for first-time surfers). Slip into your wetsuit
and splash around! We'll walk you through a progression to
review and finesse edging and bracing skills.
Other Level 3 guides will offer sessions Saturday afternoon,
tentatively a Class 3 paddle to George Fraser Island.
7:00-9:00 Kayaking Canada's Rainforests: slideshow by Bonny
October 5 Sunday
9:00-2:00 *Surf Session at Long Beach! Learn or review the
basics of launching and landing as well as side-surfing in
the soup zone. Guides with previous surf experience can get
out in the green room and rip it up (bring a playboat if you
have one!). Helmets and wetsuit or drysuit mandatory.
Victoria April 18, 19 and 20th
The 2008 Spring Exchange is going to be held in Victoria April 18, 19 and 20th.
This springs exchange is going to be hosted by the premier kayaking retailer Ocean River Sports, located at 1842 Store Street in Victoria.
Guides of all levels are encouraged to attend. Preregistration is not necessary. Please register at Ocean River Sports upon arrival.
This exchange will begin earlier than usual as the CPR C re cert will be beginning in the morning on Friday at 11 am and should be completed by 3pm. Registration will open at Ocean River's Adventure Centre at 10am, and the cost of the exchange is $75.00. Friday evening will be open and up to you what you do.
Slipstream Wilderness First Aid will be doing the re cert for us at a cost of $15.00 per person.
This re-cert is limited to all current holders of CPR C that need to be updated for this year.
Friday and Saturday night camping will be available at Brian Henry's vast estate complete with availability to a washroom and shower.
There are other alternatives in Victoria like The Backpackers Hostel.
Saturday morning will begin at 8am at the Sunset Room beside ORS with breakfast and then continuing onto a session regarding Parks “pack it in/pack it out” requirements.
The next on-land session will be a follow-up with David Lecovin on his presentation of Risk Management continued from the Skook exchange.
We will then move to McNeil Bay and Trial Island for the afternoon on water sessions. We have been able to entice some the “old” gurus of kayaking to lead sessions on currents, rough/moving water rescues, tide lines and just having a ton of fun on moving waters.
Ocean River, Delta Kayaks, and Current Designs are offering some boats for us to use at no charge. Way to go guys! Just remember that waivers have to be signed when you attend an Exchange. Ocean River will also be supplying a van and a trailer so that we will be able to move some boats to and fro.
Saturday night will hosted by Ocean River at the store with a BBQ and slide show on Hiada Gwaii. The format for Saturday night will be more social so that guides that hardly ever see each other off the water can talk and chat. Those of you that are raconteurs may want to get up and tell us of your more memorable good or bad trips.
Sunday morning will begin at 8am sharp with a scenario being put on by Slipstream First Aid till noon. That should get all our senses up and running prior to the season starting up.
Schedule of Events
Register at the
Adventure Centre Desk at Ocean River Sports
9:30am to 5:30 pm
11am-3pm CPR “C” Re
4:30 to 6:00pm On the
Gorge from ORS dock –
practice/coaching - any takers for leader?
9am – David Lecovin/Basic
Legal Issues That Will Affect Me.
1pm – 5pm On water
Playing in Currents
with Gary Doran/Enterprise Channel
based scenarios with Jack Rosen
Something with Liam
may be required please
Presentation (Pro-deals also!!!!)
745pm Haida Gwaii
Slide Show with Jordie Allen-Newman
Sunday April 20
8am-Noon on water
On water navigation
at Gyro Park Beach with Shawn Quinton
leaders step up please
BYO Lunch 12-1
1-3pm On Water
something with Liam
*any ideas –