In the second week of December I spent three days paddling with some of Northern California's finest during an ACA L5 assessment. Some of us were present as an L4 update (myself included), while others were assessing at level 5. The course was largely unstructured by design to allow things to come together in a natural fashion. Without three full days of syllabus to follow we would be able to improvise and try things that may not normally happen on an assessment or formal course. Roger Schumann and Bryant Burkhardt put on a nice course, save for the insufficient L5 conditions, which were naturally out of their control.
Overall, it was a hugely worthwhile experience that I'm still looking back on and discussing with people. Of the eight of us, there were 6 delphins, 1 schirocco, 1 romany. I decided to paddle the Romany simply because I haven't paddled it in awhile and I missed it. Having spent a couple weeks in an Explorer recently I was really looking forward to paddling it again. It's a damn good boat for rock and surf and as strong a boat as I've ever paddled. The plan didn't call for much rock gardening, but even if we did spend three days bouncing off rocks, it would hold up just fine. I found it very interesting that there were six delphins - 75%... I certainly walked away wanting to paddle one more and considering upgrading my plastic boat.
We covered rescues new and old, towing scenarios, challenging exercises, throw rope experimentation, played in current, surfed, played in rocks and the list goes on. I definitely got outside my comfort zone at one point and got one of my best rides ever in a sea kayak - something I won't forget any time soon. It was a pretty valuable reminder to me how powerful it can make you feel when you do something you're afraid of and succeed.
|California Canoe & Kayak offered the course|
|one, two, three, four, five of the P&H Delphins|