News / Blog
Keep up to date with my news and what I’ve been up to!
Hello and welcome to my new, mobile friendly website!
I was never an ‘early adopter’ of technology and, as you will see from my 2017 News round-up, I have been busy doing what I do best: sea kayak coaching and leading, and other peripheral activities!
2017 News Round-Up
The year started with me re-fitting a pair of specialist Trimaran hulls for fellow Coach & Guide, Nige Robinson. This work tested my GRP skills to the maximum! However it looks like 2018 will be when we get the chance to try her on the water!
International Sea Kayak Guides Association, First Aid Course
This 6-day, water based, R.E.C. First Aid course, organised and hosted by Sea Kayak Cornwall kept all the participants on their toes! Paul Cahill the tutor had us very busy with an excellent blend of theory, practical sessions and night-based scenarios. One of the best First Aid courses I have attended!
British Canoeing 4* Canoe Training
Following the First Aid course, a quick dash to Bala lake in North Wales to complete my Open Canoe 4* training with Ray Goodwin. Ray & I go back a long way so it was good to catch up on things and have a good time on Bala Lake & the river Dee. Just got to find some time to undertake the assessment now!
2017 saw much of my time devoted to training up the lucky guys and gals who have secured places on one of the two, 3-week Greenland trips for Summer 2018. This included a paddling skills session in Dorset, Expedition skills in Devon, a week-long camping trip to Scotland and a BC 3* training and assessment back in Dorset again.
For the past 8 years I have been working as a guide for Wilderness Scotland (WS) for most of the summer season and 2017 was no exception. I spent some 8 weeks, or more possibly, guiding paddlers of all levels around some of my favourite paddling areas: The Summer Isles, Jacobean Coast, Gaelic Coast and more. Trip ‘comfort’ ranges from ‘Wild Camping’ through ‘Basic’ (simple rustic accommodation) to ‘Classic’ (Inns and B&B’s).
They cover all abilities from novice to experienced and I have met and coached many lovely people from all over the world on these trips.
This year I also led a walk for WS for an American journalist along the Rob Roy Way taking in along the way a visit to his grave. That upped the usual kayak trip comfort level somewhat as we stayed in some pretty nice hotels along the way!
Last trip of the year was a week of Open Canoeing in and around the Inverness area. A great bunch of clients, some interesting paddling and found evidence of a beaver!
In conjunction with Myles Farnbank, WS training co-ordinator, we conducted a number of ISKGA modules at the start and end of the season for WS staff and aspirant guides. The ISKGA scheme is an ideal, and comprehensive, program for any person wishing to get into this side of the business.
Sea Kayak Symposium Cornwall
One of many sea-kayaking symposia held in the UK and in my opinion one of the best!
During the weekend I lead the introduction to surf for sea kayakers, followed by a week of 4* training and ISKGA modules.
Following one of my WS trips, I was asked by one of the participants to guide his family (ages 10 to 20 plus mum and dad and including a 12 year old disabled daughter) for a week in and around the Arisaig area of Western Scotland. Although this was in April it was extremely cold, wet and windy! On 2 of the days we were not able to get on the water at all, but we had some entertaining times with beach walks, foraging, castle visits and pubs! Needless to say, the camping equipment didn’t move from our cottage base in Acharacle!
This year I had limited time to run too many skills courses but I did manage to squeeze a few in:
Introduction to Surf for sea kayakers – Based in Pembroke, this covers safe & effective launching and landing skills through surf, as well as covering some of the theoretical aspects of beach bathymetry.
Rough Water Handling – pushing the boundaries from 3* conditions
Introduction to Tide Races – Based on Anglesey this gave us a great range of ‘flowing’ water to work with and access to Plas-y-Brenin swimming pool to practice rolling
Continuing Professional Development
In order to keep coaching and leading in kayaking and mountaineering, I am required to learn new, or update my existing, kayaking, climbing and peripheral skills.
The ISKGA First Aid and BC 4* course qualify for this, however I also attended the AMI conference in the Peak District and the VERTEX high ropes day in Manchester.
British Canoeing Navigation Courses
I ran a few of these this year. There are 2 different syllabi: Coastal and Open Water. The former is for 4* level and the latter 5*. Each is 1 day and often run together over a weekend.
‘Smash n Bash’ repair clinics
Again, lack of time limited how many I could provide this year! This is a 1-day workshop to learn how to repair kayaks and canoes. I usually run this in conjunction with the Coastal Nav course.
Advisor, Inspector role
In addition to delivering courses and training, I also inspect Centres and providers for a number of Professional Bodies including British Canoeing (BC) and Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC).
I secured a new role this year with the British Activities Providers Association (BAPA) and will begin inspections for them in 2018.
These inspections are carried out, primarily, to ensure safety of the staff and customers. If the centre complies with the standards set by the relevant body, then they are awarded the ‘mark’ associated with that body.
I also audit a number of prestigious Universities and act as a technical advisor to several outdoor centres. Always happy to offer my services if you are looking for a safety audit or need a new Technical Advisor.
I am pleased to say, sales of my repair kits and expedition kit continue to grow year-on-year!
Unfortunately, I am unable to produce the Tuilik anymore at a realistic price. However I am working on a new version in a slightly different fabric – watch this page and Facebook for updates!
Thank you to all of you who have bought – keep it up, I am getting too old to continue lugging boats around!
Royal Yachting Association Diesel Engine Course
I ran a few of these last year for Yacht clubs around the country, the 6th for Twickenham Yacht Club! It is a very practical 1 or 2-day diesel engine servicing and repair course, which can also cover small outboard motors if required. I lug 2 marine diesel engines to the clubs for the members to get their hands dirty on, one of my favourite pastimes!
Kayak repairs and modifications and other ‘projects’
2017 saw the completion of the refit (and subsequent sale) of my treasured EXPLORER 2 sail boat.
A bit of a sad day for me after many, many hours of toil, but she went to very good home!
I currently have an old Anas Acuta in the workshop, to which I am adding bulkheads, hatches and some specialist recessed deck fittings that I have developed.
I also have a Reynard Cruiser decked open canoe, which is being fitted out for canoe sailing. As well as 4 outboard motors of various sizes which need servicing!
After reading through that 2017 News Round-Up I feel as if I deserve a year off! Not a chance!
In January I will, hopefully, be at the European Ropes Course Association (ERCA) conference in Swindon and then on to the BAPA AGM.
I had no warm water paddling in 2017, so am rectifying this with 2 weeks leading in Fuerteventura! At the time of writing the first week is fully booked but there are 2 spaces available for 25th February to 4th March. Email for details: email@example.com
This expedition is actually 2 separate 3-week trips between 20th June and 4th August and I am leading both, so over 6 weeks away for me!
There are, at the time of writing, 2 places still available on the last trip. These are ONLY open to paddlers who have some sea kayaking experience and are a minimum of BC 2* as there are no further opportunities for me to train anyone up to the standard required. Email for info: firstname.lastname@example.org
There is a final 3-day training and social weekend in March (23/24/25th), which hopefully all participants will be able to attend.
My relationship with WS continues through 2018, with a further 8 weeks of guiding for them in this year. For details of the trips I am leading visit: https://www.wildernessscotland.com/about-us/our-people/our-guides/howard-jeffs/ (They are listed at the bottom of the page after all my outstanding reviews!!) There are a couple of other potential trips in September not yet listed.
In between the above WS trips I am squeezing in some coaching at the Skye Symposium, (26th May – 1st June). For more details visit: http://www.seasymposium.org/blog/index.php?id=5a934l46 (though not much detail as yet tbc!)
I already have a booking for a Sea Kayak Surf course for HPCC in April with a few weekends ‘pencilled in’ for other groups for various courses.
I have also scheduled a 4* sea training, ISKGA training and 4* sea, assessment for 20th to 29th October. Flexibility on which parts you attend.
If you are interested in booking me for coaching in 2018 let me know asap!
Continuing Professional Development
So far, I have a kayak fishing and cooking weekend course booked in April, which I am really looking forward to. Hopefully lobster and crab in the camp pot!
South West Crete
After over 6 weeks in Greenland, I thought some more warm climate paddling would be in order!
On the cards is a 6-day paddling trip from 23rd to 30th September (tbc) around the SW coast of Crete, starting out from Chania.
Details being put together as I write so more info will be relayed out in the Spring but will be similar in format and price to the Fuerteventura trip in February but we’ll probably move base a few times.
To register early interest email: email@example.com
My new web site will have a forthcoming courses section and my availability listed, so drop in regularly to see what is going on.
That’s all for now, folks!
Watch out for updates here and on my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/hnjdesigncoaching/
Merry Xmas and a Healthy Happy New Year!
I've been busy scouting locations for some Winter paddling expeditions and have teamed up with a great guy called Jorge Echavarri to run guided trips on the East Coast of Fuerteventura, based at Corralejo. The coastline offers sand dunes, volcanic lava and stunning...read more