It’s all very well practicing rolling and rescuing on a nice calm bit of flat water, but in real life that is not where you will need those skills. Seven paddlers took the proverbial plunge and decided to see how their skills would work on the open ocean by doing some open water practice out beyond the reef at Noarlunga.

We met up at 2pm on Saturday afternoon, the weather was nice and warm, and a 10-15 knot wind had the water stirred up just enough to make things interesting. After a quick briefing on the beach we got into our kayaks and moved onto the water to entertain the locals with a quick warm up and practice in the relatively calmer water inside the reef. Then we made our way through the reef into the open water to continue our exercise.

After a bit trepidation (who wants to get out of a perfectly good kayak a long way from shore in a choppy sea!) everyone was happily demonstrating their favourite techniques and equipment. Ann showed a new (to me at least) variation of the heel-hook re-entry that I am going to have to practice in calmer conditions. Rob showed us how a daisy-chained tow rope could be used as a rope stirrup to assist a paddler trying to get back into their kayak. Leigh kept everyone entertained by stowing his paddle and doing some hand rolling. Oh to be young, flexible and coordinated!

Eventually everyone had swallowed enough seawater, and we took a leisurely, scenic paddle around the reef and back to the beach to pack up and dry off.