Back on the Water with Gordon Brown

Time to learn to roll your kayak and navigate the seas

Popular Scottish sea kayak coach Gordon Brown is back with the third installment of his series of instructional DVDs. “Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown Volume Three: Navigation, Rolling and Dealing with Emergencies” features more eye-popping scenery from the Scottish coast paired with the gentle wit and astute guidance of a veteran British Canoe Union coach. Over 2.5 hours long, Volume Three includes plenty of material for intermediate to advanced ocean paddlers to digest.

In the dealing with emergencies chapter, Brown calls on the British coast guard and venerable Royal National Lifeboat Institution to play out two rescue scenarios. Brown demonstrates how to make emergency calls with both VHF marine radios and a personal locator beacon (PLB). He also how to use signaling devices like strobes and flares to attract attention. Behind-the-scenes footage at coast guard HQ shows how professionals respond to a marine emergency. Moreover, views from the bridge of rescue vessels give sea kayakers insight into how to be more visible on the water. Best of all, Brown’s scenarios are realistic enough to grab the viewer’s attention by instilling a profound sense of “this could happen to you.”

Throughout, Brown calls on experts to explain the intricacies of emergency rescues, navigation and first aid. British navigation expert Franco Ferraro provides a comprehensive overview of paddling in tidal waters, which play off Brown’s practical tips for using map, chart and compass on the water. Similarly, Brown relies on sea kayaker and wilderness first aid instructor Rowland Woollven to share tips on assembling a first aid kit and handling medical emergencies.

Finally, the film wraps up with a rolling clinic in where Brown takes to the pool to instruct a group session on kayaking’s most valuable form of self-rescue. This portion of the video is at once candid and clever. Brown cuts against the grain of the typical rolling DVDs, which tend to show a series of technically perfect Greenland-style rolls, and instead follows the progression of his six students. The format allows viewers to see the common mistakes and learn Brown’s fixes. It’s squarely aimed at paddlers looking to develop a reliable roll for all conditions—not dozens of variations meant to impress friends.

Clearly, both Brown and producer Simon Willis are committed to producing both effective sea kayak instruction and cutting edge filming, editing and video production. Together, Brown and Willis have compiled a suite of entertaining videos that meets the needs of serious sea kayakers. Taken as a whole, the “Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown” leaves the viewer to wonder, “What’s next?”

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