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Causeway Coast Kayak Association

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The CCKA was formed about 25 years by a group of kayakers on the North Coast. The group was based in the Portrush area and all it’s members were involved in the coaching scheme at different levels. Many had progressed through the bushmills Education Center and were involved with local schools and youth clubs throughout Co. Antrim. There was little possibility for taking their canoeing further when responsibility for others, so the formation of the CCKA seemed a natural way forward.

Overview
The year divides up naturally according to the seasons. Spring is when most of our activities take place with sea paddles and charity work. Summer is the time for holiday paddles and expedition work. Autumn is the surf season and night paddling time of the year with winter being the season of pool sessions, maintenance and music. The activities of the group range from holding ‘try canoeing’ sessions for the general public, to working with disabled groups and open canoe trips on flat and white water. We also do Kayak and Ski surfing, provide safety cover at triathlons, long distant swims and the Portrush Raft Race which is held each year in aid of the R.N.L.I.

At the Raft Race there could be over 1000 participants in the water with rafts. The mainstay of the safety cover is organized by our group. With the backup of 6 ribs, the 50 or so kayakers work amongst the rafts to help run the event as safely as possible. The work of the  CCKA. on the north coast has helped raise the profile of canoeing in general in the eyes of the public and also has helped win the respect of the fishing community and the rescue services. 

Each season, the group also runs a sea kayak race, a surf competition and hosts a sea kayak rally, which is part of he Portandhu Traditional boat Rally.

Each Boxing Day, we hold a surf-in to help work off the turkey and find out what Santa brought. The New work off the turkey and find out what Santa brought. The New Year is celebrated with a white water paddle down the river Roe. It takes a lot of commitment to be up early on the morning after the night before, but we usually have a good turn out. We are often joined by members of other clubs, for these annual outings.

Sea Trips.
Sea kayaking is our first love. It has opened up many opportunities to us to enjoy and explore our treasured coast. Our main group paddles takes place on Tuesday evenings throughout the year. The most active season is the spring term. We paddle the whole of the North Coast in 4 – 5 mile sections, taking time to explore every nook and cranny, beach and cove. With the use of our double sea kayaks (2 calypsos and 2 Aleuts), we can involve beginners and paddlers with special needs in our activities. Even though we paddle the same sections each year, it always seems different in changing weather, light and tides.

The group is ever changing and developing. For the first 15 years, most of the paddles was led and organized by myself but in the last few years, we now run a healthier programme with different senior instructors taking responsibility for group activities with the help of another group instructor.

Members. 
We are very fortunate to have a unique organization, which has so many trained and qualified members. This year’s membership (2003), we had approximately 150 members. Back in 1998/1999 there was around 70 members with 3 BCU Sea Coaches (Level 5), 6 Senior Instructors Sea (Level 3) and at least 10 Instructors (Level 2). The group had developed over the years with a much wider membership and coaching experience, which include families and paddlers of all levels of ability. We do not run formal teaching sessions as such but encourage paddlers to tag along and learn as they go. If safety is a concern for the trip leader, then they are asked to stay ashore and join in a later trip when the weather permits. In 1998, for the first time, we had pool sessions throughout the winter, which had been very popular and had been used for fitness as well as giving us a chance to develop snorkeling skills with our families. We still run the pool sessions throughout the winter, with rolling sessions; canoe Polo and fun night play sessions. See Event Schedule.

Other Maritime Activity.
We have branched into many other disciplines related to the sea, which have developed from our roots in kayaking. In 1999 we received a 25’ Drontheim (open clinker built fishing boat, crewed by 5) of the Ulster coast, which can be rowed or sailed. We have been involved in the restoration of this type of boat and have close links to other interested groups from Galway, Donegal (Aran Island, Inishbofin and Moville) and Islay in Scotland. We hope to see a similar revival of these traditional craft of the north Irish coast as happened with the hookers in Connemara.

We have also acquired two 4 -man Antrim coast racing gigs to include in our fleet and there are seven currachs in use by members. A (2 man) currachs from the Inishkeas, 3 naomhogs from Dingle (2 man), a 3 man currachs from the Aran Islands and a 4 -man naomhag form Dingle.

In June 1997, the currach Colmcille, a 38 foot, 12 man currach, journeyed from Derry to Iona to mark the 1400th anniversary of the death of St.Columba. Many of the crew of the Colmcille were gathered from the CCKA membership. This was our contribution to the events, which were organized to mark the occasion. It was a big undertaking but was worth the effort as it helped develop links from the west coast if Ireland to the islands of Scotland and I am sure is has changed all of us that were involved in the project. You can imagine being involved in our group not only opens up a number of opportunities but can also be very demanding on your time.

Other interests include members being involved in the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group with a couple being trained to cope with stranded cetaceans. I missed this workshop so will have to be content with collecting skulls and skeletons and enjoying paddling with the creatures when they seek me out as I potter around our beautiful coastline.

We have also been involved in conservation work relating to the sea. We have been engaged in coastal clean ups of remote beaches and caves. We have cleaned the foreshore of the estuary of the river Bann on a couple of occasions which is not a pleasant job and have also acted as a watchdog relating to pollution incidents along our stretch of coastline. The coastal zone is a fragile area and its conservation and preservation requires active management. We are fortunate to have amongst our membership some folk who are involved in the decisions that effect our area. “ If you can’t beat them, get them to join you! ”

Future.
The future of the group now lies in the hands of our younger members. It takes wisdom to realize that it is necessary for the old dogs to take a back seat and let new talent and ideas develop. I look forward to seeing the CCKA develop without relying on a few old hands to keep it moving but see it becoming the property of the wider membership.

We now have our own premises in the form of the Old Lifeboat Station in Portandhu (Portrush), which we are currently renovating from some financial assistance from CANI and Leader funding. This will enable us to develop our facilities, look after equipment and provide a good service to visiting paddlers. The facilities include boat storage and workshop space along with the clubroom. Teaching area and an exhibition area for artifacts relating to maritime heritage.

http://www.ccka.co.uk/

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