Half way through my first rolling lesson my instructor goes “are you claustrophobic?”
I couldn’t help answering “no.” I look back at that question now with great interest. Was I? Am I? I never lost my cool while spelunking. I never felt cornered or trapped. I do not mind things like that. I wish I could have gone back to that simple “no” to a “no but…”
Let back it up an hour. No wait lets back it up further. I have paddled on and off for three years. Two seasons interrupted with two major abdominal surgeries. While laid up I read William Nealy’s book”, Ken Whiting’s book and paul Dutky’s “The Bombproof Roll & Beyond.” Little free time accompanied with a shy personality has limited my opportunities. I tried doing self taught session, in the privacy of a friends pool. That was defeating. I tried going to pool session but didn’t know anyone or even where to begin so I just spent an hour splashing around and hip snapping up against the wall. Eventually a good and kind friend I know came and stopped by and took a lot of time explaining what I needed to know. Confidence. However, by the time I felt like I knew what a hip snap really was, the pool sessions were over for the club.
Recently I got a little more instruction. I well known paddler got me rolling with a bunch of noodles tied together. That does not sound like much, but it was a huge step and a wonderful feeling. To turn upside, and not need to “bother” anyone for a bow rescue. Or know for certainity I would have to empty my boat. I felt the refeshing and exiliration of an adult being newly baptised. That free unassisted breath of free air even though assisted by foamy noodles was a truly great feeling.
Ok back to an hour ago. I met up with my instructor. A very well educated boater with who is articulate with his words and has a military backround. So here I am kind of hoping for a simple roll, something I should of mastered a long time ago. I showed him what I have learned. Not being in a boat for over a 8 months I am trying to just feel comfortable. A couple shakey hip snaps, and I felt ok, The intructor gave compliment after compliment. Which was reassuring from the stern military type character. He assured me that he could roll me up at any time, and I knew he was sincere. We then progressed from hip staps with him walking through the roll and guiding me through the mechanics of each step.
Then was the first plundge. I set up, punched down to the bottom of the pool. I just kept thinking, this is not going to end well. I am wasting his time. I am wasting my time I am never going to get a roll down. There are those who can and those who can’t and as I plundge over; I was certain I would end up freaking out, emptying my boat and being one of those who just can get it. As I was upside down he guided my paddle blades and when he shook my blade I was to hip snap. He sweeped my blade perpendicular to my boat then he shook the paddle blade. I tried kneeing a hole though the displaced hull of the boat with my right knee. A shake, and violent snap and I was up. All smiles…