Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Westport Ripper

Tim made a second try at catching an outgoing tide. This time it was to be at the mouth of the Westport River. We met at 10 AM at some secret little put in that saved us about 1000 yards off our usual paddle. Tim, Paul, Jon, Rich, Eric, Cat and her Russian friend. It was a comfortable day. But there was a breeze from the north, a mid October date, and a plan to get wet. We all donned wet suits or dry suits (except for Eric in shorts and a dry top!)

We paddled out to the mouth and found a moving tide but no waves. We rounded the knubble to play around our favorite rocks but there was little swell. Jon saw some birds working and offered to catch me a fish. He had one hooked before I knew it. Unfortunately it was a small (but delicious looking) stripper.

So we headed to Horseneck hoping that the waves we could see on the beach might be surfable. We tried but they were marginal at best. Eric and I we lagging about 200 yards to the west and talking when suddenly we heard a loud bang. Looking over we could see Jon, Cat and Rich in close proximity. But really, there was no surf to speak of. As we lazily approached we heard Tim saying “We’re all going to beach over there where the break is smaller”. Then Cat was saying “It’s filling up with water”. She loosened her spray skirt, which seemed silly to me until I saw the CD sized hole in her boat.

It didn’t take us long to figure out that Jon had surfed into her. It was difficult not to start teasing Jon. This was his second spearing in less than 12 months. But I also knew he would feel like a heel. And then we realized that Cat’s thigh was right where the hole was. She had to have taken a pretty good hit.

Before I go on I need to mention that if you find yourself surfing towards someone the best thing to do is tip yourself over. You’ll lose most of your momentum instantly. These sea kayaks are long and heavy. Maneuvering them out of trouble is nearly impossible.

Once on the beach we could see the extent of damage to Cat’s boat. Besides for the hole there was an 18 inch split in one direction and a 4 inch mix of fractures in the other. The damage showed one of the negatives of the Trylon or Carbonite material. It is a very tough material. But once exceeded, unlike fiberglass, there is no weave to contain the damage.

Most of us ate lunch, Jon headed out to get ice, but Cat was determined to field repair her boat. She whipped out her Gorilla Tape and quick curing epoxy and deftly contained any further propagation of the cracks while sealing the hole from both sides. I have no doubt that the boat could have easily made the return trip. But there was also a welt forming on Cat’s thigh. The men decided that it was sure to be tender and bracing with the thighs in the boat might be painful. Cat was not quick to relent but that 1000 yards we saved by moving the put in meant that the cars were less than ½ mile away by land. Jon brought his car as close as he could to the beach and the rest of us helped carry the boat and gear to it.

With the excitement past we headed back out for the return trip. The wind had moved a bit to the east and with the lower tide there was some breaking going on over the sand bar. We played there for a few minutes but no organized waves were forming. I’ve been trying to develop a combat roll so I tried to roll but was unsuccessful. Eric quickly rescued me and we paddled on.

We started passing the mouth of the river against the beach side. But I was closest to the Knubble and could see some rip happening. I started heading in that direction without agreement from the group. This was bad form but Eric didn’t hesitate to join me. Sure enough the river was hopping. We all made a few passes. With each pass the excitement went down a bit but the anticipation that my luck would run out increased. Where I focused on the excitement of surfing and burying my bow in the waves, Tim practiced moving his boat at all different angles to the current. There was a lot of variation in the standing waves. Visually, sometimes it looked like it was flattening out but it never seemed to disappoint.

After about a half hour of that we headed back. At the put in Eric and I did a few rolls. Although not combat rolls I tried to make them as smooth as possible.

There was one other thing that happened this day. The Russian guy was also an ultra-marathoner. After lunch he headed out paddling solo from Horseneck beach, around Sakonnet Point, up to OSA in Bristol. Why do I mention this? Because at 5pm as we were sitting at Coastal Coffee Roasters in Tiverton by Stone Bridge we saw him paddle by!!!! Rich tried to flag him down but of course he didn’t see. We were happy to see he was safe and probably had enough time to make it to Bristol.

10/15 Westport, air 65-70. Water 63, Winds NE <10

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Deerfield, take two

It was almost two months ago that I took the RICKA white water class. I got the email from Erik saying they were heading out to the Deerfield again. I was genuinely interested, but as usual, I was unwilling to commit until the last minute. I was thinking about other plans for the long weekend. As it turns out in this case I had to travel to CT and back to be with a friend on Friday night. When I returned home about 11:30 my level of commitment was “I’ll decide when I wake up!”

When I woke up I checked my email for any updates about when and where we would meet. Then I checked the WW web page and saw a Friday night post that said the gathering would be at 10AM. Great, I had plenty of time. I strapped on the racks and the boat and loaded the truck. The ride out Route 2 was beautiful. The leaves were near their peak. Right in that period between where the swamp maples have lost all their leaves and the terrestrial trees have turned.

As I neared the Zoar Gap picnic area I started following a red truck with a RICKA sticker on it. I knew I wouldn’t be too late! In fact we were the first to arrive. I did not know the three in the truck but I threw my boat in with their’s while they rode up and dropped them at the put in. Meanwhile, the rest of the crew arrived at the meeting spot. We consolidated a few more boats and headed up. But my new friends in the red truck had not returned yet so we were on the lookout for them. Fortunately, they arrived just as we were getting ready to leave. We didn’t have to flag them down as we passed.

We arrived at the put in and began to ready the boats. Someone decided that it would be a good idea to seal launch from 30 feet up the hill, through the trees, down to the water. He ricocheted off some trees and didn’t quite make the water but he did not hurt himself. 9 points for luck, 0 points for good judgment.
On the water we quickly found ourselves in some decent sized standing waves. They were a little larger than I was ready for this early in the day. I hadn’t found my rhythm in the boat yet. There were a large number of boaters lined up in the eddy ready to play. I took my turn in the waves but played it fairly cautiously. As I realized I was not yet comfortable I decided to surf on some of the smaller waves a little further down stream. It seemed like a great idea but as someone dropped off the taller standing waves they backed down onto me. This caused him to go over. He attempted a few rolls and I let myself drift down with him hoping he might grab my bow. When he finally did roll up I apologized for being in his way. He seemed to take it OK.

Before I knew it I was over too. I’m not sure exactly why but it was early. No big deal. I attempted a roll but no luck (really no skill).
We continued to play and surf. I practiced some ferry crossings and peel offs. I remembered Mike’s words about how smile shaped waves were good. Frowns were bad. So when I approached a grimace I wasn’t sure what to expect. Sure enough it was sucking me up pretty good. I tried to peel off it but the eddy line sucked on the back of my boat and over I went. Elaine confirmed that she found it a bit of keeper also so I didn’t feel too bad. Again no roll. I repeated this same error at another rock. I was beginning to get frustrated with the upside down part but was otherwise having fun.

We stopped for lunch and I took the opportunity to warm up in the sun. My wet suit / dry top combination was warm when dry and cool when wet and out of the sun. Just about perfect.

After lunch I went over in the same spot I had gone over 2 months ago. And just like I did two months ago I rolled up there! I felt relieved. More surfing and playing and I found myself over again. A young woman in an open boat helped rescue me this time. Then I saw a nice mound of water and thought it would be great to go through that. Why did I not realize it was a big rock? Over again… This time I became separated from my paddle. I was getting embarrassed as now I needed a rescue AND someone to retrieve my paddle. I decided I’d stay in the boat the rest of the afternoon.

At the gap we set up on the hillside to watch Erik, Brendon, and Eric run the river right side. All three easily stayed upright.

We packed up our stuff and gathered for dinner at Applebee’s. It was a nice way to wind down and we were all starved.

On the ride home I got to thinking about why I spent so much time upside down. I was a bit more aggressive about where I was putting myself but I think it was more that I was just too casual. Where last time I was highly alert and cautious this time I’d turn for things mid stream and plow right to the front of the wave. I was having fun so I was not concerned about being upside down. That is, until the number of upside down opportunities added up!

10/11 Air upper 60s, water comfortable!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Sometimes too many words...

It was a warm weekend in October with 20 miles of paddling. Tail winds both ways. Little more needs to be said.




Our Little Jewel

From Whence we came...

Who Dunit?


Slow Speed

3x the gas mileage

October 4,5 Casco Bay Maine, Winslow Park to Jewel Island