UCDCC Safety and Rescue Weekend in Wicklow

In mid-February there was a UCDCC Safety and Rescue Weekend. The title kind of explains it all really – a UCD Canoe Club weekend where the emphasis was on safety and rescue. About a dozen elder lemons of the club, with qualifications up the wazoo, and approximately 16 of the up-and-coming lemons decamped to Wicklow for an intense two-day session of rope-work, scenarios, lectures, and the finest vats of Spaghetti Bolognese ever created.

The morning of the first day was given over to technical skills and kicked off at 10 AM. That is to say, 10 AM at the river in Clara Lara, not ~10 AM at the Texaco deli counter on your way to the Boathouse shure we’ll be grand, nobody will be there yet. Oh no, Benny runs a tight kayak.

Eoin, Sara, and Meabh, all ready for action…

After the briefing, there was a tutorial on defensive swimming, mercifully given by the people who had drysuits, accompanied with lots of rope throwing.

After lunch, there was an obstacle course exercise, requiring teams to negotiate various tasks that mimicked rope scenarios – practical applications of the theoretical rope work…

Then it was the turn of the boy scout element to shine – ‘Knots and Anchors’ – this segued neatly into ‘Progression of Extraction’ whereby people nearly uprooted half the trees in the wood trying to haul John Nally around in his kayak.

‘Hi I’m John Nally…’

For the record, it should be noted that Benny’s van is no match for a well-organised z-drag. The weekend also exposed a design flaw in this throwbag – if you attach onto the wrong part of this bag (easy to do), you tear it apart…

The outdoors part of the first day continued with a lecture on the various river-running styles (and you thought there were just two: ‘style’ and ‘no style’) and a student-led Annamoe river trip from Trooperstown, with the instructors taking a back seat, using the laissez-faire river-running style (Benny is half French, you see).

Pia and Cormac wait for something to go wrong, in a carefully-controlled environment…

Clarkey calls the shots…

That evening back at the hostel there was a series of lectures with various people outlining key features of gear, leadership styles, decision making, theory of pins and extractions, first aid, theory of live bait rescue, v lower, and tensioned diagonals. This was perhaps the only night in canoe club history when people went to the pub for just the one, and actually came home after just the one.

The second day dawned clear and bright and freezing cold, and with frost on the ground, and very early. A full day on the river, with everyone divided into four independent groups. The routine was that, from a staggered start, each group would work its way down the river encountering the instructors in various staged (unannounced) pins, entrapments, swims, and with an assortment of injuries. The group’s task in each case was to assess the situation, organise themselves, and take the appropriate action.

Benny, right, observes as Caoimhe and Eoin set up an extraction on his boat…

…this rescue, from the most unlikely pinning position of all time, coordinated by Sara…

All this made for a long day on the water, and a very long weekend overall. Everyone, I think it’s fair to say, learned loads. I know I did, and relearned plenty that I thought I knew, but in reality had forgotten.

Click to embiggen and you can see that there’s a group of kayakers sheltering under this kismit in the middle of the field.

In the pool below Jackson’s, this group carried out a complete extraction of a boat from the river using a z-drag.

The plan is to put together a video of the weekend, as a learning aid ahead of the next such weekend course. I’ll get working on that mañana.

One Response to “UCDCC Safety and Rescue Weekend in Wicklow”

  1. […] ash wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptThe outdoors part of the first day continued with a lecture on the various river-running styles (and you thought there were just two: ‘style’ and ‘no style’) and a student-led Annamoe river trip from Trooperstown, with the instructors … […]

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