"Variety is the spice of life", as well as paddling. I spent Saturday with seven other members of The NSWSKC taking in the sights of Sydney Harbour. We put in at Vaucluse Bay and cruised around Clark and Shark Islands before heading over for a close up view of Fort Denison.
Harbour Explorer and our previous Inner Harbour Explorer trips as well.
The great thing about paddling with a club is it brings together a diverse range of people who all bring something unique to the group whilst contributing in their own way and learning from each others real world experience. The training and accreditation process used by a club with formal training and operating procedures ensures a consistant, qualified and tested approach to training and any advice given is from those qualified to give it. The problem with unqualified and internet expertise type advice is its usually bullshit. Its like doing modifications to your kayak in your garage - it all seems fine until you actually test it in real conditions only to find your great idea has become a serious liability.
I recently came accross a fellow helping his mates learn to roll. He suggested that the offside leg be disengaged from the coaming and straightened, as that will make the roll easier. The novice followed his advice and rolled up easier. There were smiles all round. Whats wrong with this? Well I know from being cleaned up and rolled unexpectedly that the most important thing is to lock those thighs in as hard as you can and to keep them locked in otherwise you'll be sucked from your boat and put into a far more perilous situation. I know its easier to roll by disengaging a leg but its bad advice, unless of course you just want to roll in the harbour to impress new kayakers. This is an example of unqualified advice being bad and possibly even negligent.
It takes a long time and a dedicated approach to work up through the ranks of a club such as the NSWSKC. It generally takes active members five years just to get to Sea Leader stage - and even then we're still not qualified to instruct, and only give general advice. Of course all these qualifications mean little if you find yourself facing treacherous conditions. Unlike other pursuits like business, politics and so on where spin, big talk and flashy gear can get you up the ladder sea kayakers have a higher authority to sort us all out - the sea.
Of course club paddling will never be for everyone, which is one of the main benefits!