SISKA's  March 2017 Newsletter. Upcoming events, reports and articles
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March 2017 SISKA Newsletter


Dear <<First Name>>,

Thanks to those members who contributed photos and materials. After enjoying a SISKA event or paddle, please consider putting fingers to keyboards and cobbling together a short (100-150 words) summary article; for more information, contact one of us. If you would like to start a regular column, please let us know!

Michael Jackson (SISKA president) and Ben van Drimmelen (editor)

Table of Contents


Upcoming Events

March 2, 6:30 pm - 9:00 pm, 

March 8, 6:30 pm - 9:00 pm, 

March 11, 9:00 am - 3:00 pm,  (RELAXED)

March 22, 9:00 pm - 11:00 pm, 

March 26, 9:30 am - 3:00 pm,  (ENERGIZER)

March 30, 6:30 pm - 9:00 pm, 

April 4, 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm, 

April 9, 9:30 am - 3:00 pm,  (RELAXED)

April 22, 9:30 am - 3:00 pm,  (ENERGIZER)

April 26, 9:00 pm - 11:00 pm,  (AGM)

April 29, 9:30 am - 3:00 pm,  (RELAXED)

For more details, go to the SISKA website

What’s in a Name? Race Rocks

This is our local name series.Thanks to Vic Turkington for the monthly submissions.


A SISKA paddle last month took us past Race Rocks, named in 1842 by Hudson Bay Company officials for the 9 knot currents that channel  around the island. Over the years, more than 35 ships have perished on these rocks. On the more positive side, former light house keeper, Thomas Argyle, is said to have found many gold sovereigns among the wrecks.
The 80 foot granite stone lighthouse has attractive black and white banding and flashes a white light every 10 seconds (on your charts as Fl W 10s) which can be seen for 15 miles. The fog horn sounds 3 blasts at 1 minute intervals. The lighthouse was automated in 1997 and is now managed by Pearson College staff who also operate a wildlife research station. Race Rocks is an ecological reserve (so we can't land) and a wide variety of birds and wildlife call it home, including a large colony of noisy and sometimes aggressive sea lions which can often be heard for miles. Also, resident elephant seals are giving birth at this time of the year. 
Race Rocks (Photo - Marine Eco Tours)
 Stone cairns suggest that the First Nations used Race Rocks as a burial ground around 500 AD. While Race Rocks offers us a picturesque and challenging destination,  its strong currents and wind can produce dangerous rips and overfalls. Ghosts of sailors past may even lie in wait for the unwary kayaker!

Tips from Trips

- by Debbie Leach

surgical brush is a multi-tool to clean your nails, scrub veggies and fruit, coax sand out of your dry-suit zipper, sweep out your tent and wipe moisture off your fly. If you didn't get one at the last SISKA Christmas party, they are at Lee Valley.

A small and very useful multi-tool

Gordon Brown Intermediate/Advanced clinic

- by Willi Fast
On a cold and snowy Wednesday February 8 in Cadboro Bay, ten lucky participants and two observers were treated to an exceptional instructional clinic with world renowned sea kayaking coach Gordon Brown (hailing from Scotland!).

To ward off the threatening weather system looming just off the bay, Gordon began with a group warm-up that had us all huddled closely in a circle, laughing, singing and moving together (what language were we singing anyway?). Once on the water, we began with the day’s first challenge:  using only forward sweeps, count the number of strokes required to turn our kayaks 360 degrees.  Initial results ranged from “low teens” to “twenty something”.  To lower the stroke count, Gordon stepped us through a structured breakdown of the forward sweep, addressing all technical rudiments including paddle catch, power phase, foot pressure, body and head position and torso rotation.  As each new element was incrementally introduced and practiced, each of us noticed improvement. Forward sweep practice was interrupted with an inadvertent capsize by an over-zealous participant (to remain unnamed!).  Gordon calmly directed the rescue and re-entry, and the clinic continued.

The next skills addressed were turning strokes.  Gordon introduced the low brace turn and the bow rudder,  encouraging us to play with off-side and on-side edge turns.  How can it look so easy and efficient, yet continue to be challenging? The off-shore north wind was continuing to build, and Gordon used that as an opportunity to work on stroke combinations for maneuvering in wind.  We learned about kayak construction and wind-theory to assist with stroke choices for turning into and away from the wind. The final skill instruction focused on the forward stroke.  Again, Gordon lead us through a clearly structured progression of rudiments that gave each of us elements for improvement.

By now, snow was starting to accumulate on our kayak decks, and it was agreed by all that we would call it a day and head back to shore.  Afterwards, those participants with no worries about road conditions for return travel convened at a local coffee shop for story exchange, and presentation of thank-you appreciation gifts to Gordon. Unanimous consensus was that this was the best instruction ever received by SISKA members.  In the words of one participant: “The best-ever instruction, in the worst-ever conditions.” It’s not the snow we will remember.  Rather, we will carry with us the enthusiasm, humour and technical expertise that Gordon so willingly shared with us that day.  Oh – and ample motivation to keep practicing.  Thank you Gordon!
Thanks to Mike Jackson for SISKA facilitation, Jennie Sutton for clinic co-ordination, and attending SISKA members for perseverance!
Lunchtime on the south side of Coal Island


- by Elizabeth Purdon

After several weeks of cold and blustery and entirely atypical Victoria weather, 11 kayakers set off for a relaxed paddle from Amherst around Coal Island on February 12th. The day could not have been better, with blue skies and no winds. 

We paddled along the shore until crossing over to  Pym Island while dodging the departing BC ferry. (Ferry dodging had the potential to bring in elements of an Energizer paddle rather than a Relaxed, but all paddlers were level 2 or 3.)  After paddling around both Pym and Knapp Islands, we again crossed back over to Coal and found a perfect beach for lunch along the south side of Coal with spectacular views of Mount Baker.

After lunch we went for a paddle around the Little Group and Dock Island looking at lots of birds and seals.  On arrival back at Amherst there was a rolling practice at the beach, with some being more successful than others. Debrief, coffee and treats happened at The Roost Coffee shop.