Jenny Dodd, BSRV’s Program Manager, reports on another Kayaking adventure, this time launching 10 double sea kayaks on a sheltered and safe harbour in Port Phillip Bay, Sandringham.
With perfect weather, a mild sea breeze and the expertise of Rohan and his team from East Coast Kayaking, our group of participants with vision loss and volunteers were eager to get underway.
Before climbing aboard the Kayaks, Rohan provided a briefing on how to react to the wind and waves, how to paddle to the conditions and we learnt some new tips for water safety.
Although a number of us with no kayaking experience were a little tentative, we were reassured by BSRV’s wonderful volunteers, including the kayaking expertise of Felicity Wilkeson from Blind Sports Australia.
Thank you to Felicity for supplying great photos from the day.
A few months ago, as I was catching up on my emails from Blind Sports and Recreation Victoria (BSRV), an unexpected invitation to go kayaking popped into my inbox. The prospect of kayaking initially seemed a bit daunting and made me question my life choices. However, after pondering the idea for a good two or three seconds and engaging in some intense contemplation, I thought, “Yes, I’m going for it!”
Eager for the challenge
Fast forward to a beautiful but coolish sunny morning in November. A group of ten thrill seekers, all visually impaired, along with their support workers and volunteers met at Jetty Point in Sandringham, a stunning location in South-eastern Victoria, overlooking Port Phillip Bay. The enthusiasm amongst the group was palpable and could be felt throughout our picnic lunch; everyone was eager and ready for the challenge ahead.
A quick lesson
Before we paddled off to begin our sea adventure, the lead instructor Rohan gave us an intensive lesson covering everything we needed to know. And there was quite a bit. Posture alignment, foot positioning in the kayak, forward and reverse paddling, turning right, turning left … He even talked about clothing and fabrics to wear while kayaking. Nylon clothing is the best choice because it dries quickly, if you take an unexpected plunge. Not looking at anyone in particular, he added definitely no jeans or hoodies because they take an eternity to dry and your trip will be memorable, but not in a cosy kind of way.
Finally, the briefing was over, and it was time to get out of my jeans and hoodie and into my shorts and t-shirt that I’d packed in my bag. We were all fitted with a kayak specific PFD life vest which Rohan pointed out was the most important item for a paddler. He taught us how to use it effectively, if we happened to take that unexpected plunge. I was beginning to understand why we were advised to pack a plastic bag to put our wet clothes in.
And into the sea …
In our double kayaks, I teamed up with Tristan, a fantastic young volunteer for BSRV. It didn’t take long for us to sync up our paddling rhythm and feel a connection to the sea in a safe way. The weather conditions were ideal – calm seas and warm sunshine enveloped us. Venturing into slightly deeper waters, some of us encountered a gentle swell, which made the kayak dip and rise. Rohan and his two fellow instructors paddled amongst us, helping everyone to feel safe and providing ample encouragement to the entire group.
Back on the beach
Back on dry land, it was obvious that everyone got immense pleasure from the experience. Even though it was something new for many of us, the group sentiment was that we’re eager to embark on another kayaking adventure. Tristan has already taken the plunge and signed up for a kayaking course. Good onya Tristan!
Thank you to the Bayside City Council for supporting this event and the crew at East Coast Kayaking for considering this adventure for people with a disability so they may participate in kayaking.
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