If you are going for the BCU 4 assessment these notes may give you an indication of what you may need to prioritise in order to pass.
Remember the latest relevant remit for this course. When I took it, it was:
– Leading 4 participants.
– Sea state 4: 1,25 – 2,5 m. waves (moderate sea state).
– Wind, Beaufort 4: Moderate breeze 16 kn, 8 m/s.
– In an area where tide is not moving faster than 2 kn, according to available resources (tidal atlas).
– Landing spots no longer than 1 mile away from where you are. So 2 miles open crossing or 2 miles of steep terrain is possible.
– Surf landings 1 meter.
You must be able to fix common boat problems such as:
– Lost hatch (bungee and tarp)
– Skeg stuck up or down (strap, nut tool)
– Hole in boat (gaffa tape, denso tape, cling wrap, soft wax)
Confidence above remit should be achieved before assessment, so that you have the capacity to lead within remit.
Learn the relevant rule of thumbs for briefing and leading your group, CLAP (communication, line of sight, avoidance of danger, positioning), SAFER (stop, assess, formulate a plan, execute plan, review), SHEETS (Safety, human, equipment, environment, time, signals).
Delegate tasks to participants so you can maintain an overview of the situation. If convenient/fastest, perform detailed task (rescue etc.) yourself, otherwise delegate. Show initiative and decisiveness when a serious rescue occurs at assessment. Do not be afraid to bring out the whip on the participants if someone is simulating an injury during the assessment. If you require external help, use VHF to simulate a coast guard call. Pan-Pan for serious but not life threatening situations (shoulder out of socket) and mayday for life threatening situations (unconscious or serious injuries).
Leadership is also about giving the participants a great experience. Do not be afraid of pushing them close to the remit, remember they are 3 star paddlers and they hired you for a fun afternoon! Give them some fun, get them inside caves, surf, rockhopping etc. Use CLAP to show you can handle the risk and take care of the participants.
You may be put in a situation in which you will have to say: “Stop, this is above remit”. Keep remit in mind all the time.
Prioritise yourself, group and then swimmer/casuality. Show you understand that safety for yourself and the group must first be organised before a rescue is to be performed.
Brief the group, skeg up and helmets on. Go in first, stand on beach and bring them in one at a time. Use hand signals to help them paddle faster or slower, right or left. Reverse this process when going out ( you are the last one going out).
Need to know your lat and long and OS map coordinates. Chart symbols, tide tables and weather resources.
In conclusion, be prepared to argue your logic of your A and B plan at assessment. My impression is that if you have a well thought out logic for a plan, piece of equipment or procedure the assessor will simply say: “Show me”. If it works, it works. Furthermore technical paddling skills is important but in the larger picture it is a smaller piece. Planning, Leadership, navigation and tidal awerness is perhaps equally as important.
Finally, assessment is your chance to shine and show you know what is required. Communicate this to the assessor by explaining and speaking whenever you can and by actions whenever you can. Fortunately the assessor is not a mind reader!