Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Its the process, not the result

Heading to Pasir Panjang Terminal

I helped "lead" an overnight kayak expedition from West Coast Park to Pulau Hantu over the weekend. The teacher of the group was Yong Hui, who wanted his students to execute the expedition plan. Being new, there were cock ups and delays which meant we only got into the water at 4pm.
Long story short, we never made it to the island and were still paddling past sunset. Most of the students had to be put onto the powerboats and driven to the island. We only arrived at 8.30pm.

The next day we encountered a freaking storm 45min after setting off while we were crossing Sinki Fairway. With almost no visibility and ridiculously strong drift, we tied ourselves to the South Cardinal mark around Cyrene reef where we waited for about 3hrs.

The teachers

Losing sight of land

We never made it to the destination on both days, but it was one hell of an experience. I also took home a few lessons from this trip. It was nice and refreshin that the focus for this trip was the journey, rather than the destination.

1. Always study the plan beforehand
I was in Kota Tinggi when the route was released and only managed to see it the night before the expedition. I could not lead effectively because I was unsure of the route and was not familiar with the conditions.

2. Always have lights and a compass handy
My light was tucked away in my aft hatch, I could not access it when it got dark. I also didnt bring my compass. Being able to keep a bearing would have helped if we needed to continue paddling in the low viz during the thunderstorm.

3. Too many indian chiefs causes confusion
Having more than 1 person yelling instructions when there is chaos just makes things worse. Just let the 1st instructor who gives instructions take control. Having an arguement admist the chaos is not a good idea.
4. I still cant stand working with chihuahuas
People who try to have street cred, try too hard, have the sun shining out their ass or move around with some self inflicted sense of urgency like a chihuahua really bug me. The annoyance of this chihuahua effect doubles, when on the water.

Rest of the photos here

New Methods

Did 2 orientation sessions at Jurong Lake after coming back from Kota Tinggi with Charles.
As usual, his methods are a little different from what Im used to.

Here's what I mean:

Reckless or calculated risk? These sort of things are very subjective.

Kayak Orientation in Kota Tinggi

The usual antics

I went up to Kota Tinggi with a company called Asia Outdoor to run kayak orientation programmes in the Johor River last week.
While the company met industry standards, I feel that these standards could be improved upon. Each batch consisted of 60 students, there were 2 certified instructors including myself. A third person was an old bird w/o coaching certification but has conducted many orientation programmes there and has local knowledge. The 3 of us made up the core team and we had group instructors, guys who followed the kids around for all activities to back us up.
Problem was that some of the group instructors were not very proficient. I would have preferred more certified instructors present. Conducting briefings the group instructors is always necessary, but there is little a briefing can do if the group instructor's skills are lacking or if they lack the experience to identify dangers.
The company did have 2 boats following the group, which was kinda overkill for a 2-3km "expedition".

Big boat

It was tiring trying to control 30 kayaks and the $120/day rate was not really that attractive considering that work starts at 8am and ends at 5pm and I have only 10min for lunch.

We used 3 man kayaks

On the bright side, I did night paddling down the firefly tour route and managed to see many fireflies. It was really beautiful.

As usual, photos can be found here