I will be honest with you, up until today I had never really put much thought about how they determined that Mount Everest was 8,848 meters above sea level.
Wait; let me back up first lest you think I'm a simpleton. I always understood the concept of elevation but I had never thought about exactly how they figure it out considering that most times the sea is hundreds of miles of away. Also, with all that ocean sloshing around and going up and down, how do they know where to start measuring from?
Leave it up to gang at MinutePhysics to figure it out and explain it to us like the simpletons that we are.
Spoiler alert: Gravity has a big role to play in the whole thing.
Watch this video that was just recently posted on the Youtube.
This past weekend I was out paddling with by buddies Erik and Wilber here in Toronto on Lake Ontario. The three of us have been working with a group of intermediate paddlers introducing them to the wonders of late season paddling and the joys of rough water. It has been a lot of fun.
So, after several weekends of fairly calm conditions we decided to push the envelope a bit and take the group out in rougher water since the SW winds on the lake was finally bringing us really a nice 2.5-3 foot swell.
Out paddling in the rough water we had two people tip out into the water (not at the same time) and quickly got them back up and running again so there was lots of learning for everybody throughout the day. I know I walked away with some interesting insights and things that we should emphasise more so students are more prepared about rescues. Here they are in no particular order:
1) As instructors, we need to teach students that not to be a passive victim if you find yourself swimming.
For some reason we always teach swimmers take direction from the paddler in the kayak and not to take any action until she tells you to. That makes good sense from the perspective that it teaches the paddler how to take control and give directions in an emergency situation but the reality is that in real life conditions, if the swimmer is perfectly fine I believe they should take a more assertive role in helping the paddler help them. As rough water partners, both should know their roles and the steps to rectify the problem. It just speeds the whole thing up considerably.
2) We need to really, really, really drill home the idea of holding onto your gear and boat.
My students understand the concept but when they are floating in the waves everybody forgets about their paddle. The concept grabbing and keeping your stuff from floating away really needs to be drilled home, over and over again as you can’t swim faster than a boat blowing away. Never let go of your paddle or boat. Never.
3) Teach your students how to use their own paddle to swim faster.
If you need to move around in the water it’s way easier to use your paddle to help pull you through the water. This really rings true if you need to go any type of distance greater than 2-3 boat lengths. It’s also a lot easier then swimming with one hand and the paddle beside you so teach it to your students and they will thank you for it.
If you are not sure what I’m talking about here is a quick video I found demonstrating it.
What do you think instructors? Share your own tips or insights below.
I recently stumbled upon this interesting teaching tool: a foldable, pocket whiteboard.
It peaked my interest because there were several times over the past year when I was out teaching and wished I had a writing surface to get a complex concept across to my students. Beach sand and a stick can only go so far when explaining the wonders of a developing cold front.
The whiteboard is made up of 27 mini pieces that folds up to roughly 3”x5”x0.2”. It folds out to 15”x27” giving you lots of whitespace to work with. The kit comes with a dry erase market and a microfiber bag which doubles as an eraser.
More info: thinkgeek.com
One of the toughest challenges for canoe or kayak instructors is to teach with another partner. This could be with a stranger that you have just met at a symposium or a fellow staff member at your local paddling school or club.
On the surface it seems to be a simple matter, after all you are only talking half the time but the reality is that more teaching disasters take place as soon as you add in a the second instructor. Like a complex dance routine, you need work together in harmony to ensure that your students are learning effectively.
Here is a very small selection of some of the crazy stories or situations I witnessed over the years:
Here are a bunch of random tips and ideas to help make teaching with another instructor a whole lot more fun:
You have a teaching tip? Share it in the comments below.
You might have noticed that things have been a touch slow around here over the past little while. The reason is because I was away in Calgary, Albertafor the past two and a half weeks teaching several sea kayaking courses with my good friend, Tony Palmer from the local paddling shop, Undercurrents.
Over the 10 days I was teaching we ran a bunch of Paddle Canada courses including Level 1 Skills, Level 2 Skills, Intro to Kayaking Instructor and a Level 1 Instructor course.
I know that there are those of you who are thinking, “Alberta? Sea Kayaking? What?”
While it’s true that Alberta is known more for canoeing and whitewater kayaking there is some nice places to get out in the long boats including the many lakes all over the place and the long rivers that are perfect for the weekend of week-long trip. Also, the ocean is a quick 12h hop from Calgary to Vancouver if you are planning a paddling vacation.
A couple of quick highlights from my time out there include an overnight on the Bow River just south of Calgary. Along the 50km stretch that we paddled, the Bow is a meandering class 1 swift that runs along a valley carved out of the prairie grasslands. It was a totally fun experience.
We also got a chance (also part of the level 2 skills course) to get out on the Kananaskis River at Canoe Meadows and play in the moving water there. In the part that we paddled it wasn’t massive but a lot of whitewater kayakers did get kinda weirded out watching 16-foot sea kayaks take over the little eddies. Good times.
Check out the Google Streetview of the Canoe Meadows parking lot below. I’m not sure what they are doing but it looks like a game of tag by a group of adults all topless and in wetsuits. I can understand why the Google car kept driving by. I would have done the same.
One of the major goals of the courses in Calgary was to increase the number of active sea kayak instructors in the Province. Before this, there were only 2-3 SK instructors as well as only one instructor trainer. I was very happy to add another 9 instructors and 1 more IT to the ranks.
So now, I’m back in Toronto and getting ready for more stuff coming up. I checked the schedule and I’m teaching a bunch of land navigation and weather clinics at the upcoming MEC Paddlefest next weekend as well as another sea kayak instructor course coming up the weekend after that so I’m back to work on refining my lesson plans based on what worked and what didn’t out in Calgary. After 10 years of teaching instructor courses, lesson plans are a constant evolution.
I love this photo from the 1930’s of two kids learning how to swim. Somebody tell me that wasn’t how everybody was taught back then.
Via Black and WTF
GCaptain had a great article yesterday called, Emergencies at Sea – Practicing What Can’t be Practiced. The takeaway message from the article is that it’s critically important not to forget the little details of any rescue and practice them as well. This also includes inspection of all emergency gear. A good example they provide is to actually pull the man overboard life ring from the wall and toss it overboard. Apparently the rings are difficult to get off the wall as they are designed not to get lost in the daily business of the ship and it takes more time then people think.
This got me thinking about rescue practice for canoes or kayaks. As paddlers we tend to focus on the primary element of the rescue which is getting yourself or your partner back in the boat. With time we get that dialled down but as you know there is a whole lot more little details that often get overlooked.
Here are a couple of thoughts and ideas to think about the next time you get out practising rescues:
Have you got ideas for lesson common things to keep in mind? Share them in the comments below.
Sometimes students taking an intermediate paddling class grumble that they wished they had learned the new skills during an beginner paddling class.
Of course you can’t learn everything in one day and some skills can’t be taught to absolute beginners and must be taught tomorrow.
Wayne Horodowich has written an interesting article over on paddling.net on these limitations and why an instructor needs to push some skills to an intermediate level class.
Another factor to consider about learning is, "you don't know what you don't know." If you don't even know the possibility exists you may never perform certain actions. That is why formal education is so important. As you learn more possibilities your base of knowledge expands. As the base gets bigger you can build more upon it. As a side note, if an instructor can build creative thinking skills and experimentation into their curriculum I believe students will discover more options on their own.
How does all off the above relate to a kayaking class? Obviously, as we learn our basic skills we are limited by what we have learned with respect to the points I was making above. At the end of your basic kayaking class your base of kayaking knowledge is what you have learned in your class unless you have had additional exposure to the sport. You are unaware of all you do not know about kayaking.
Read the full article here.
It’s been a very, very busy couple of weeks and I realized that I never got a chance to write about my must recent adventure teaching onLake Superiora couple of weeks ago.
For the second year in a row, I had the pleasure of being invited up to Naturally Superior Adventures to teach a Paddle Canada Level 2/BCU 3* course.
My good friend, Erik Ogaard was also teaching a Paddle Canada level 3 course that same week so I hitched a ride with him. The journey north from Toronto to Wawa is no small trip across town. The 12 hour adventure requires CD playlist ground rules and it was quickly established that we would only listen to greatest hits CD’s by artists from the 70’s and 80’s. With that in mind we made the trip rocking to Bruce, The Zeppelin, The U2’s and Mr. Bowie. Needless to say there was a solid amount of both air guitar and drumming to keep the cars passing us entertained.
The original plan was for Naturally Superior Adventures to offer the two courses during the same week. The level 2/3* was going to be taught by Bonnie Perry, myself and assisted by Ray Boucher and the level 3 by Erik but due to some last minute participant drop-outs, we decided to combine both levels and teach everything as a level 3/3* course.
Combining courses always has potential pitfalls. There is the potential for level 2 students to be overwhelmed by the level 3 material and level 3 students to be underwhelmed by the paddling conditions. Since we had four instructors we decided to work as a group and split up into smaller groups if necessary to deliver the material at the different group’s skill levels. With very careful planning, it was a working model that ended up being quite successful.
Anyways, I had an absolutely fantastic time teaching with my fellow partners in crime, Bonnie, Erik and Ray and I pretty much spent the whole time laughing at and with them. They are both awesome people to hang out and teach with.
For teaching environments you can’t ask for a much better location then at Naturally Superior Adventures. The base is located right at the mouth of the Michipicoten River where flows into Lake Superior. If you are looking for rough water you just paddle out on the lake. The whole time we were there it was blowing an average of three foot wind waves. If you the waves get too big (as they did on day 1 with 7 footers rolling in) then just paddle up the river and find some shelter. Finally if you are looking for surf then all you need to do is get out and paddle in the river mouth. When the current is flowing and the wind is blowing against it, the surf gets absolutely huge. By huge, I mean screaming girl huge.
For me, I pretty much gauge the success of any advanced course on how much gear I lose and the number of new scratches I get on my boat. It must have been successful asLake Superiorstole both my hat and sponge as well she gave me a hole in my boat as a parting gift. I can’t blame her; I was the idiot with the brilliant idea to go rock hopping in swells with a fully loaded boat.
Here are a bunch of photos from the week: