Sunday, December 8, 2013

Review - Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown Vol. 3

First, a disclosure. I am a fan. I don't know when I first discovered Gordon Browns book Sea Kayak - a manual for intermediate and advanced kayakers, but it quickly became my favorite sea kayaking book, and when people ask me to recommend something, this is the book I mention (shortly after mentioning my own!) I received the Volume 1 DVD as a gift, and was amazed watching Mr. Brown paddle, and was equally impressed with his ability to teach. At some point I would love to get to Scotland and spend a couple of days with him on the water. I purchased Volume 2 when available and asked my wife to get me Volume 3 this Christmas. Then I opened my big mouth.

In my 3rd annual Kayaking Christmas post I mentioned that I dream of being asked to review a future volume, later that day I got an email, that a copy was on its way to me. An early Christmas present, and much appreciated it was. All this occurred on a particularly rough day, so it was a very nice surprise indeed. So with all that said, I am a little partial to both the film maker, and the Kayaker in charge.

Another thing that should be telling for how much I like, and revere these products is that I as a minimalist I tend to pass things off to others in need when I am done with them. I have fewer DVD's than fingers, but I have all three of these and they aren't going anywhere. (Though I may make the AGAP team watch them!)

So. On with it.

The disc is broken up into 4 parts. Emergency Situations, First Aid Kits, Navigation, and Rolling. If you are new here then you don't know that I am a former NOLS Sea Kayak instructor, and a current WMI instructor. I teach kayaking privately, and other wilderness skills for various organizations. I spend a big portion of my life thinking about, and teaching a lot of the topics on this disc. Particularly the first three topics. So I loaded this disc into my computer with a great deal of interest.

The first section - Emergency Situations

The section is made in a partnership with Her Majesty's Coast Guard, giving a lot of access and a wonderful 'other side of the rescue' view - I don't care who you know, I doubt you could get GoPro's mounted inside the cockpit of a US Coast Gaurd Seahawk! The film presents two situations, one in daylight, and one in darkness. I have been trained to initiate rescues and to hand off my patient, but it was interesting to see from inside the helicopter or boat how difficult it is to see a kayak. They offer great insight in how the rescue crews work and how best to prepare to be rescued. 

While I am in the US I suspect the US Coast Guard works a little differently, but from the kayakers perspective I am sure it is very similar. An amazing amount of information is shown, and it will dramatically change the way I do things on the water, and the gear I carry. I have  had a fair amount of experience with helicopters - though not from a kayak - but despite that, there are still things I will change in my interaction with the noisy, windy machines, and the way that I am prepared to signal a rescuer. 

The first, a situation where a paddler falls in the water and loses their kayak. The second, a situation where paddlers take a break and lose their paddles without spares. While I suspect that these represent typical problems,  neither of the situations involved injured kayakers, which is something I pracite from time to time (and we see later in the film how hard that can be!) Both of these scenarios offer practical advice presented beautifully. 

The second section, Sea Kayak Navigation is a topic I am much more experienced with, as I teach navigation frequently on both land and sea. This is probably the most comprehensive 45 minutes on navigation I have ever seen on video. It covers a lot of ground, but does it effectively. Every time I caught myself saying “they should really be covering xyz” it was mentioned a moment or two later. it is a very nice progression from basics to semi-advanced, with great video illustrations of tides, tidal streams (what I would call a tidal current) and using transit lines. The last section of navigation is planning a route, and they did a fancy trick to calculate your bearing when paddling with a current to reach a desired point. I hadn’t seen it before and it made me want to take a BCU navigation class. 

First aid kits was again something I was interested in seeing as I teach wilderness first aid. I thought this was a good look at marine FA kits, but I liked that they were stressing that importance of training, and not just classroom training, but taking courses that get you outside working in the real environments. They did a couple of things I hadn’t seen before, one of which will have me adding string and a paper clip to my first aid kit, I will also be adding electrical tape to my kit. Ill leave it at that, check out the video for the reasons.

The final section was rolling, which is laid out slightly different than the others, with its own menu, and instructions to practice with friends and a video camera. I have to say I have been waiting for Mr. Brown to cover rolling since the first video, and I wasn’t disappointed. He works with six students in a pool and takes them through the steps to effective rolling, and manages to get two of them successfully rolling by the end of a 3 hour pool session. He has some techniques that I will definitely be borrowing the next time I teach rolling. 

There is a lot of information on this disc, with the first two sections running right around 45 minutes and first aid kits running 20 and rolling running 30+ minutes. 

This is an excellent video and well worth the time and cost, I simply can't recommend all of these products (book and DVD's) enough. Gordon is an amazing resource, and the entire process is shot beautifully. As I mentioned at the beginning, I am a fan, but in the past I have promised reviews of DVD's and I chose not too do them primarily because I wasn't too impressed. So if I didn't like this disc I wouldn't be writing. This is another sensational film that I am thrilled to be able to watch. Thanks for the early Christmas guys!

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