Sunday, November 29, 2009

Nothing special happened today

Today on a casual hike we were discussing kayaking. In the course of the conversation I realized how lopsided my blog can be towards the adventure side of kayaking. 27 days on the water so far this year and only 9 made the blog. What’s that all about? Were some of those non-blogged days just plain old relaxing days where all I did was recharge my batteries?

There are really two paths to the answer. The first is a simple yes, some of these were just relaxing paddles. Paddles where just being outside or conversations with friends carried the day. But the second answer is that we seek the adventure. We push our experiences just a little each time we go out. Pushing a little is relaxing.

It’s been nine years and 5 kayaks from the day I started. Some of the rewards of kayaking, like just being on the water, still excite me. But others, like seeing new places, keep getting bigger. I still enjoy Narragansett Bay and seeing an occasional seal. But now I dream of British Columbia and Orcas rubbing their bellies on the beach! When I got my first boat a windy day on a pond was adventure. Now I dream of standing waves in Deception Pass. (There is a theme building here.)

See, I can’t help myself. I wanted to just talk about the relaxing days and out came the focus on future adventures. Really, the 90 minutes on a pond with E&H just practicing some strokes was great. I can talk about that without talking about the rolling can’t I? I guess not…

It’s funny how we grow with our hobbies. Remember when we didn’t need dry suits? Remember when an $89 paddle could be your primary paddle? Remember the days before my spare paddle became a $450 feather weight miracle of carbon science? Paddling can still be simple and relaxing. Can’t it?

Now a small confession. I wanted to include a picture from this year of a relaxing paddle where no big waves or surfing or rock gardening or camping or ice bergs occurred. I don’t have one. I guess I forgot to take a picture on that completely low key day. But really, has the six o’clock news ever open with “Nothing special happened today, it was just pleasant, calm, and relaxing”? I don’t think so.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Kings Beach Surprise

It was a great day for kayaking and the perfect launch spot. The water and air were both in the low fifties. Partly cloudy with a steady wind out of the north, 15 with gusts to 20. The swell was a meager 1 foot rolling against the wind. But it had plenty of energy to make it exciting around the rocks and reefs.

Rick T, Jon, Bob, Rick B, Cam and I were loading up the boats when a surprise seventh showed up. It was Tim. He thought he was a few minutes late. I thought he was 6 months too early!

The paddling was easy and very comfortable. We poked in and about plenty of rocks. The swell was powerful enough that there were places we chose not to go. (Although I’ll admit, water temperature was probably the only thing that kept us off some of the rocks.)

On the reefs the waves were large enough that we all stayed away. On the way out at least. As we rounded the corner along the cliff walk we were exposed to the wind. It didn’t have much fetch coming over first beach but it added a little chop to loosen up the boat a little in the water. There were plenty of spectators on the cliff walk but we really didn’t give them much of a show. Except maybe for Rick T doing his usual beautiful gentle rolls.

We stopped for lunch on one of the pocket beaches. We were protected from the wind and could sit in the sun. In fact, it was partly cloudy and we didn’t warm up as much as we would have liked. Lunch ended with a golf ball hunt. Cam found a couple of dozen balls on the beach. Rick managed to juggle three at a time.

After lunch there was some discussion about heading towards first beach for some surfing. This was Jon’s preference but he was out voted. The rock gardeners were hoping the waning tide would expose some more excitement.
We all left the beach with helmets on. This is usually a symptom of trouble not safety. Today would be no exception.

The waves around the rocks off Ruggles Beach were larger than anyone wanted to play in. Bob took his usual route in close. Cam stayed on the outside. I, true to form, took the middle. From inside Bob and I could see Tim and Jon going nearly vertical as they headed back out through the standing swell from their scouting point outside the rocks. How a one foot swell can turn into a four foot wall always amazes me.

By sheep point I had warmed up enough that I wanted to take my neoprene skull cap off from under my helmet. This took a minute or so and Tim stayed inside of Gull Rock to keep an eye on me as I bounced in the swell. When I got settled in I accelerated towards him and intended to thank him. Before I got to him he was emphatically pointing to my right. I looked over and saw Bob out of his boat. He had watched Bob get caught up in a huge wave.

I slipped out my tow rope and headed over to him. I could see where waves just like the one that had caught Bob were forming. I could also see that he was fine and hanging on to the bow of his boat. I circled around the breaking area and approached him to do the rescue.

I considered towing him but we had a comfortable amount of clear water between the first break and the shore break on the rocks. I started the rescue. Because Bob was holding on to his bow it took a little time to get things going. Meanwhile Tim had approached. I was lifting Bob’s boat to drain the water when I realized I had let go of the paddles. I said this to Tim and he proceeded to help get Bob in the boat and told me to get the paddle. What I don’t think he realized was I had lost both paddles. Bob’s and mine. I maintained contact with Bob’s boat trying to decide what to do. Meanwhile we were drifting closer to the rocks along shore where the waves were beginning to stand up for the second (and final) chance.

The paddles were less than a boat length behind me so I gave myself a good push and a couple of hand strokes to get to them. Mine slipped directly under the boat and took a little time to come within reach. Then I had to pull it out from under me which is always a little destabilizing. Fortunately, I had learned from white water kayaking to paddle with both paddles spooned together in my hands. I got the paddle back to Bob just as he was ready for it.

This is the second time I’ve lost the paddles during a rescue. It is clearly something I need to be more conscious about. I find it difficult to get a paddle under my deck lines. Maybe I need to loosen them up a little?

We all took this in stride and no-one seemed to loose their mojo. The rock gardening continued. By Gooseberry Island Bob and I sat waiting for the ideal time to slip between these rocks with waves curling all around them. As we sat transfixed on watching the building waves the wind pushed us right into the area we were trying to stay out of. We both passed through with ease.

Rick, Bob, and I were not ready to be done yet. We insisted on playing around the last rock in front of the put in before calling it a day. After Bob put himself on top of the rock we all decided it was time.

It was quite a nice day to be out on the water. Let’s hope there are a few more of these before the winter settles in.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Fort Wetherill Explorer

Words to follow but I think this picture really doesn't need any...

8/16/2009 Ft Wetherill to Narrow River, ~12.5 miles, Water 73, Air 80, Winds light <10

Saturday, August 08, 2009

BCU-2 Training

Tim took BCU-2 training with Greg Paquin this spring. It was a last minute thing and I could not attend. But last weekend, with Tim’s encouragement, I got a second chance. Tom M, Linda S, Eric, Heather, Tim and I participated. We were joined by Heather and Sally from CT and coached by Greg and Paula of Kayak Waveology.

I think we all had a great time. Greg and Paula make an effective coaching pair. Greg has lots of upper body strength. Even though his form is clean and I know he is not using lots of muscle, it’s a lot more convincing when Paula shows the same stroke with finesse. I’m also a huge fan of having multiple people explain things to me. I often find that different people will explain things different ways. In hind sight I know both were describing the same thing but sometimes one explanation will click better than another. Over the course of the day each of them managed to say things that helped my strokes work better.

We reviewed all the basic strokes
Forward stroke, Reverse Stroke, forward sweep and reverse sweep.
We worked on edging and used it with our strokes.
Bow rudder, beam draws, sculling draws, hanging draws, and running draws.
Low braces, high braces, sculling for support, and low brace turns.
I don’t think we actually talked about the stern rudder but we used it.
Paddle rescue, Bow Recue, T-rescue, scoop rescue, and ladder rescue.
We also discussed hyper and hypothermia, tides and waves, and kayak citizen etiquette.

I’m sure I’m forgetting something but it was a great review and great fun.

The ladder rescue was new to me. I could see a clear advantage to it in that it keeps the cockpit dry while the swimmer re-enters. I’ll need to try it in rougher water to be sure it’s effective in the slop. Like most things there is a u-tube demo of it.

I had taken the Ocean Play 1-2 course with Peter Casson at the Kayak Center in the past. We covered all the same stuff again in this class but it was far from a waste of time. I think there is real value is spending some time focusing on technique and not just paddling.


Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Muscongus Bay, Day 4

Day 4, back to sunny and warm. The coffee was brewing. There was a bald eagle on a nearby island while we were making breakfast.

We packed up our gear and loaded the boats. There was more room now. I managed to fit all the garbage in my front hatch.

There was no consensus to go exploring so we headed back to the launch at a leisurely pace. We surfed some gentle swells. We poked around Jim’s Island. (Which I mistook for Cow Island, good thing Bob was paying attention).

We stopped for a final lunch and explored Crow Island. On the last leg I could see a thunder head building. It was just to our north as we landed back at the marina. Sort of an omen that it was time to go.

I was sad to be leaving this beautiful bay. I really had a wonderful time. But you don’t want to over stay your welcome.


Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Foggy Thief, Day 3

On day three we woke up in a fog. There was no rush to get out in the boats. And good thing… Laurel set out to make pancakes for 6, one cake at a time on Bob’s MSR Dragon Fly stove. The dragonfly can be reduced to simmer or, in this case, low enough not to burn the pancakes. My MSR Whisperlite is much quieter but is basically one temperature. Great for boiling water, did fine with bacon and sausage, but sure to burn anything delicate. Anyhow, Laurel cooked pancakes for what seemed like hours. It was almost like eating Blue Shell Crabs. You can’t eat them fast enough to fill up on them. The pancakes had fruit added both inside and on top. They were absolutely delicious.

Still foggy. Now what? A tour boat of sorts wandered in from the fog. Apparently it was attached to a kid’s camp or something. The pulled a pot to see what was in it. Then they started fishing for a while. Rick jumped in his kayak to see what it was all about. What Rick was really looking for was lobster. He came back, grabbed some money and headed back out to the nearest lobster boat. For a while, we could hear them but not see them. One came close and Rick was off.

We could see the deck hand dropping fresh lobsters into his day hatch. And I swear we could see Rick’s smile beaming like a lighthouse through the fog.

We all paddled a little around the island in the fog. Rick and Becca did some rolling practice. Then Carole and I did a slow lap. Carole continued to loop around for exercise while Becca and I were a bit more mischievous. Laurel did some laps specifically to work on her forward stroke. Meanwhile, Rick and Bob began to cook the lobsters. We had one pot and could cook three at a time. By the time I pulled ashore they were all cooked and we sat down for the feast. They really were the best lobsters I have ever had. They were soft shelled and cooked in seawater. Salty and tasty. There was no reason for butter. Rick, quite skilled in the art of eating the carapace, ate everything. I’m not a big fan of the roe and didn’t lick the tomalley quite as clean. I’m not so sure that I looked up to see what the others were doing.

Still foggy. Rick and Bob disappeared in their boats. I assumed they were playing around the rocks and when they didn’t return in what I thought was a reasonable time the curiosity got to me. I jumped in my boat to go find them. As I went around the island I didn’t recognize where I was. On the south tip where Becca and I had surfed earlier there was now an entirely new rock. It was a couple of hundred feet long and revealed by the dropping tide. Bob and Rick were playing around a small rock a bit further out. The fog was such that the Island was barely visible from the rock. The waves were not big but they were running up the rock. Bob was of course stuck on the top and had to push himself to slide off. Ten minutes later he was stuck again. This time he was pinched in on four corners. It was a more difficult escape. After another 15 minutes we decided one more loop and we’d head back. Bob, you guessed it, was swept up onto the rock one more time.

We headed back around the east side of the island. At the same time the girls were coming around the west side by foot to try and find us. We didn’t cross paths. They were beginning to worry.

Back on the north side of the island there was some excitement. Blair and Theresa had found some giant spiders, probably wolf spiders. Then, out of the fog, Nancy and Ben appeared. They were a mother and son. I don’t think they should have crossed in the fog but they seemed OK with it.

Carole was beginning to think about dinner and I was thinking about burning the huge burl Becca had found. C started cooking, I started the fire. We ate Knackwurst and vegetables. Special for Bob was a side dish of worms. Gummy worms. We cleaned up, sat down around the fire with Nancy and Ben, and ceremoniously applied the burl to the hot fire. It was a slow burn that was still flaming the following morning!

Very little time in the boat, no sign of the sun, great food, another wonderful day!

Monday, August 03, 2009

Sunny Thief, Day 2

We departed Hog Island about 11:30 headed to Thief Island via Coombs Ledge. From the Hog Island vantage point, Indian, Thief, and Wreck Islands look more or less the same size. Today I wanted to be sure I choose the perfect heading and we would get directly to the proper Island. From Coombs ledge that was exactly 180. Couldn’t be easier.

As we passed Coombs we saw a small seal that was clearly not healthy. Carole, trained in marine mammal rescue techniques, tried to call for help. The little seal slowly made it to the water. It looked as if it had one injured flipper.

We were alone on Thief and choose the five “best” sites to set up our tents. I was determined to set up on a flat slice of granite but I completely circum-hiked the island and couldn’t find a flat enough spot. The site I did choose was one that Bob passed up. It was situated nicely but had a bit of a slope. (The first night I pulled myself back up hill numerous times. The second night I simply slid into the corner and slept like a baby!)

Somewhere along the line Blair and Theresa arrived. They were familiar with the island and chose the site on the south end. About 3pm we headed out to do some exploring. We paddled SE towards the Wreck Island Ledges. There was very little swell but we did have some seal visitations.

From here we meandered to Harbor Island. There was a little more wave action here and Bob managed to park his kayak up on a rock. One nice thing about the 10 foot tides is the rocks are fairly soft with sea weed when the water is low. From Harbor we could see the light house on Franklin. An Object. We had to go there! On the way back we surfed the swell a bit. C and I went outside of Wreck where there was a little bit of wave excitement. The other 4 headed the slightly more direct path back. It total, we did about 10.5 miles this day.

For dinner Rick set out the appetizers and prepared a pasta/pesto dish and veggies. It was about this time we noticed there were mice all around. They were cute and well rounded. Apparently the island needed a few more Eagles and a few less Ospreys. After dinner we got the fire going and sat back and talked about our day and more. It was a wonderfully relaxing day.


Sunday, August 02, 2009

Muscongus Bay, Hog Island, Day 1

We’ve explored Casco Bay and we’ve paddled Stonington. We decided to split the difference and check out Muscongus Bay. There are easily 100 square miles of bay to get lost in. And as you’ll soon hear, we tried!

Bob and I, Becca and her sister Laurel, and Carole and Rick all went up. Bob and I headed up first with intentions of getting the lay of the land regarding the launch point etc. As we drove up it was overcast and there was an occasional mist or drizzle, especially when we were near the water. While standing at the launch it was clearly a fog. But the visibility was about 1 mile.

We talked with the staff at Broad Cove Marine for a bit and paid for parking. Then we headed up the road a bit to pick up some bread for Bob. While in the store B&L showed up, presumably noticing our boats. We did our greetings and they searched for a ladies room. It was then that Bob noticed that Becca was missing one of her hatch covers. In hindsight they remembered seeing a sponge fly out back in Providence. Apparently the hatch cover had blown off hours ago. Meanwhile C&R showed up and we all started phoning around for an open kayak shop (on a Sunday evening) that might have a replacement cover. No luck of course but fortunately Bob carries a small piece of tarp and a bungee just for this purpose. We decided to go ahead with the temporary cover.

It took us our usual hour and a half to load the boats. At 4:30 we pushed off. Our destination was to be Thief Island. As we passed around Oar Island we could see just how foggy it was. Visibility was less than ½ mile. There were a few possible camp sites within a mile of the launch but a half hour paddle was not what we were looking for. We stayed along the shores of Oar and Hog Islands. At one point we could barely make out some people on the end of Crow. ¼ mile visibility. We had the island to our right but all we could see was fog. As we neared what might have been the end of Hog we thought we could just make out Louds Island, including trees. This was to be our first real crossing of about ½ mile. Then suddenly the island turned into a rock a mere 50 yards away! Visibility about 100 yards.

The Muscongus Bay chart at 1:40,000 scale is about 3 feet by 4 feet. I’ve marked the various camp sites on it but it’s folded into my “large” chart case which fits about 12 inches by 18 inches. I usually try and fold it so that the compass rose is visible somewhere. In this case there is a corner showing somewhere on the back side of the fold. I’m an engineer, I love maps, I’ve taken a seamanship class, I’m all over plotting courses and doing current corrections etc. But I don’t have an Eldridge tide and current book and I’m not sure it would show the fine detail I need even if I did. We are about to traverse the Hog Island bar. This is an area that’s not navigable for many boats. We’re in kayaks. We don’t need a route. We hop from one pretty island to the next based on what we see. How would I plot that route ahead of time? On the water? Am I to plot on the deck of my boat? On a wet rock? My chart would turn into a wet paper towel almost instantly.

I do have GPS. Mine includes topo maps of the area. Bob’s is old school and simply shows a track and GPS coordinates. My attitude about the GPS is it is for emergency use only. It’s the back up. If we’re counting on it and I drop it over board then what? (How many pairs of glasses have I lost over the side?)

We do know that if we paddle anywhere but south we’ll hit land. West is the appropriate fall back. We’re not in danger in this fog. It would just be inconvenient. I can picture setting up tents in the fog and waking up in the 16th fairway of some golf course!

It’s now about 5:30. The wind has picked up a little as we’ve entered the more open portion of the bay but it’s still no more than 10. We’re about ½ way and not making particularly good time. Laurel is a new paddler and although competent, she has yet to develop an efficient stroke. I mention that Hog is a possible camp site but I don’t strongly suggest we should stop and no one else seems to want to stop.

Now we’re sitting at the end of Hog Island. I’m looking at the chart estimating by eye that it’s about 15 degrees more than 180 true. I add 15 for magnetic (It’s really 17). 210 magnetic is our course. (It’s really 214.) Becca suggests we head out until we are just losing sight of Hog and see if we can see Louds. We try this and then we stop and discuss what to do next. The vote is pull out the GPS and keep going. Meanwhile we’re drifting and meanwhile we see our first boat in the fog. Somehow in all this we end up with an actual course of 250 magnetic. Almost 40 degrees off our desired heading. I assume this was the wind (beam) and flooding tide (same beam?) affecting our route.

We’re now at the northern tip of Louds Island. It took us 20 minutes to cover what should have taken about 8. We went a little further; it was getting to be about 6pm. We had at least an hour to go. We had another crossing closer to a mile and in an area that I expect might have boat traffic. And Laurel is slowing down. We decide to head back to Hog. The return crossing takes us the expected 8 minutes.

We were out of our boats on Hog about 6:20. No sooner had we landed and the fog lifted. We could see Thief Island in the distance. We talked about going but it was 2.25 miles away. We would be setting our tents up and cooking in the dark. We agreed to stay put. The visibility had gone from 100 yards to 5 miles in less than 20 minutes, it could go back to zero just as fast.

The island was soggy. I was happy as a clam in my knee high Chota’s but Becca was losing her Croc’s left and right in the mud. Fortunately there were wooden tent platforms to pitch on. We erected our tents. It rained "just a little". We cooked dinner and sat around and watched the LED lantern while telling stories. (No fires on this Audubon owned Island.)

And so went day one. We woke up to a beautiful sunny calm day, almost hot. We cooked a delicious breakfast and packed our boats for our “real” destination.

8/2 5.4 miles, Air 68, Water 60

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Boston Harbor Camping

Becca and I decided we were going kayak camping. We didn’t care where, we were flexible about when, and we were going regardless of who could join us. The two options were Casco Bay and Boston Harbor. The logistics of a “first time this year” camping trip were easier locally and I was without my drysuit which was in for repair. Carole and Bob were interested in joining in, C also preferring Boston. So Boston it would be. B and I intended to go out Friday night and grab the good spot, but a rainy forecast pushed us out to Saturday morning.

The adventure started long before the put in. Amazingly, I was just a mile or so behind B on Route 3 and caught up to her on the exit ramp to 228. I was following her when suddenly a cat came charging out from the side of the road right in front of her. There was nothing she could do. I careened off her bumper. We both pulled over, it didn’t look good. We approached the cat planning to pull it to the side of the road and try and find its owner and get some help. Just as we were bending over it popped to life and ran away!!! We were relived; it actually ran with a gait that looked as if it had no broken bones. I wasn’t sure what to make of that as a start. It was a full moon… it wasn’t a black cat.

It took us about an hour to load our boats. I was very pleased with my WXtex Pneumo Dry Bags, a Joe Sherlock recommendation. You can squeeze the air out and get them much smaller. The sleeping bag went in the cockpit in front of my feet. It’s a little odd to put the one thing I most want to stay dry in the wettest part of the boat. I think I need to experiment with that some more. Just as we were getting ready to launch C&B showed up. We decided to head out before them, continuing our quest to secure the prime real estate.

The paddle out to Lovells Island was uneventful. The currents in the Hull Gut were not a factor and the heavy boat is fun to cruise in. Once you build momentum each paddle stroke is easy as the boat speed is nearly constant.

The rangers met us as we were scoping out the sites. They requested that we don’t use the “preferred” site because they were planning a campfire for the island visitors Sat night. In fact, with 4 tents, the site we chose instead was even better with plenty of flat sandy surface to spread out on.

Once the 4 of us had set up our tents we jumped back in our boats for some exploring. We headed out to The Graves because that’s what you do in Boston Harbor! The waves were small, <2’, but on the outside of the light house it was a bit squirrelly due to the clapotis. A lone duck chick seemed to follow B around like she was its mother. Peep,peep,peep,peep,peep.

On the way back we stopped on XXXX(*)Island. This island is loaded with beach glass which B is collecting. She found prized red glass. The rest of us could claim nothing better than blue. The nests that we had seen on this island back in March were all populated with cormorants. Other spots housed gulls. While we relaxed on this island the winds picked up to near 15. Fortunately it was mostly a tail wind all the way back to camp. (*Note: Legal action has been started to keep me from disclosing this secret island location. Apparently there is fear that the throngs of kayaking blog readers will overrun the island rendering sea glass extinct.)

As we approached the island I could see a flapping piece of black cloth flapping on the water. I was fairly certain from the distance that it was a tent in the water. Was it one of ours? As we got closer the suspicion of tent was confirmed but it wasn’t one of ours. When we landed I went and retrieved it. It wasn’t in deep water but I was dressed in a wet suit and neo boots. Back at the shore the ranger and the tent owner greeted me. Fortunately there were no sleeping bags in the tent. The nylon would dry quickly enough.

For dinner Bob prepared burritos without beans. Becca was incredulous! But they were delicious. After dinner we joined the other campers by the fire. The 2 rangers, 2 young doctors in residence (and brothers), and a father and his son. We had some easy conversation and enjoyed the warmth.

It was 5:55AM when I was woken by the roar of a jet plane. Air traffic from Logan is routed directly over the island when the wind is right. Fortunately, either light traffic or favorable winds afforded me a jet-free night’s sleep. It’s Boston Harbor. You have to expect these things.

Becca prepared a wonderful bacon, potato and egg breakfast. We cleaned up the dishes and headed back out towards Shag Rocks. This is a great place to do some rock gardening. There are numerous passages of various degrees of difficulty. From there we explored the Brewster Islands, ultimately landing on Great Brewster for lunch. It was warm and we just relaxed in the sun. (I’m still scratching the sun burn on the tops of my feet.)

We arrived back at camp mid afternoon. We packed up our tents and relaxed some more. We had little motivation to leave. We paddled back to the put in via the west side of Georges Island. Again, we passed through the gut at nearly slack water.

When the boats were loaded up Bob headed out to meet his sister in Maine. C, B and I headed to Nantasket beach to find dinner. Schooners restaurant was the choice. It was better than previous attempts at eating in this area but still nothing to write home about. I’m told Barefoot Bob’s Grill is the place to go. Next time.

It really was a wonderful weekend. It was as long an adventure as you can reasonably pack into one night’s camping. I think paddling after setting up the tents made a difference. Likewise, I think breaking camp late in the day had the same effect. And as always, camping with friends is just good fun.

6/6-6/7 12+10 miles, Air temperature 70, water temp 55, winds 10-15/light

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Westport to Goosewing

Some days I’m more into paddling than others. This Saturday was one of those ambivalent days. It was supposed to be nice in the morning and I really wanted to get out on the bike. But I had already rode two days in a row and I hadn’t seen my kayaking friends in a few weeks. I waited until the morning to decide and my choice was to load up the kayak.

The forecast was for air temperatures in the low 60’s. Water temperature (a bit more predictable) was about 45. I started out wearing my fleece “PJ’s”. I was over heating before I was even zipped up in my dry suit. So I switched to a thin polypro top and bottom. I jumped in at the ramp. I’d like to say that I was testing my clothing but really the die had been cast. I was simply getting all the air out of my suit to keep me as cool as possible.

Jon planned the paddle. Tom and Rich C were there when I arrived. Jim, Carole, and Bob rounded out the group. We headed out at just about slack tide. We joked about how when the matriarch plans this paddle we are always fighting the tide both ways!
We were treated to sunny skies and 1 foot seas as we rounded the Knubble. We did the usual rock gardening and were visited by some seals. I think at one point I saw three at once. It was interesting that the SW wind at about 12 knots was effecting my boat handling around the rocks in a way I didn’t remember experiencing before. But all in all I felt good in the boat.

There were some waves popping up around Brayton’s point. We chose not to play there which might have been a mistake as I think they may have been better on the lower tide. I did mention to Carole that although I was really comfortable in the air I didn’t really want to get wet. Instead we headed to goose wing beach more or less where Tunipur pond flows out (when it is flowing).

The waves were approaching 2 feet as they rolled over the sand. There was some talk of going further west where the waves bend around the next headland and are even smaller. But it was pretty tame and I thought everyone was quite capable of reaching the shore unscathed. I suggested a spot where there was a gentle rip going. The deeper water in the rip causes the waves to bend a little leaving the smallest waves in the center.

Tom went in first with Rich following. I was feeling a bit impatient about making a big deal about a beach landing and the wind was pushing me towards shore. Just as my turn was opening up the larger set was approaching, maybe 3 feet. I had drifted right where the wave was at its steepest. I thought about letting it pass but I was pretty shore it was going to catch me regardless. So I started to half heartedly build up some speed with the paddle. With little speed the wave caught me. I expected the boat to speed up and slide down the wave as it usually does. Instead the bow went down. In what could only have been 2 seconds I watched the nose drift down into visual fuzzyness and the layer of water make its way up to my spray skirt. It felt like I was 80% of the way to an “endo”. (Jon saw an awful lot of white hull in the air from behind.)

Fortunately I went over fairly gently. I was not conscious of hitting bottom but with an 18 foot hull I must have at least rubbed it. I set up for a roll but couldn’t get my body in position for my first sweep. I made a relatively patient second attempt with the same result. I popped the cord.

Now the wisdom of going in at the rip took on a new edge. I was in the break and didn’t expect any help. But I was making no progress towards shore. The little pull in of the breaking wave was canceled by the rip. Rich came in to try and help and got thrashed by my boat and a wave. His roll worked. Finally I could get a toe on the bottom and push the boat in.

I was in the water for a few minutes. It was not uncomfortable and when I got out of the water the sun warmed me back up quickly. Unfortunately when the sun went behind the clouds I was cold. I considered putting the “PJ’s” on. I had packed them in the boat.

After lunch when everyone headed out to surf a little I stayed on the beach. Partly to stay warm. I didn’t think another swim was a good idea. The other part was to get some surfing pictures. I never get pictures from the face on point of view. After a few pictures I headed out and caught a couple of waves.

We headed back to Brayton point and did some surfing there. Jon was testing out a P&H Scorpio on this paddle and found himself upside down in the surf. Possibly due to his poor fit in the boat (without custom foam) he ended up out of the boat.

From there we headed back to the ramp. We made a quick stop to climb on the Knubble. From the top of the rock we could see Martha’s Vineyard quite clearly. The effect is called a “superior mirage” where the light bends in the warm air over cold water making everything look higher on the horizon than they actually are.
Like all good paddles it was relaxing with a bit of excitement and some good stories to tell.

10 miles, air 60 , water 45, winds SW 10+

Thursday, January 01, 2009

The Paddles of 2009

The Paddles of 2009

2/8 Hull, around Peddocks Island
3/15 Middletown, third beach to first beach
3/21 Boston Harbor Outer Islands
3/28 Bay Campus to Whale Rock
4/18 Westport to Goosewing Beach
5/3 Bay Campus to Beavertail Light
5/25 Sakonnet Point
5/31 Dutch Island
6/6-6/7 Boston Harbor, Lovell/Graves/Green/Shag Rocks/Great Brewster
6/28 Bay Campus to Narrow River (and all the rocks in between)
7/11 Westport to Nowhere
8/2,3,4,5 Muscongus Bay, ME
8/8 BCU-2 Training, Tucker Pond
8/16 Ft Wetherill to Narrow River
8/23 RICKA Picnic/ FT Getty / Hurricane Bill
9/4,5,6 Casco Bay, ME
10/4 Westport to Little Compton
10/11 Bay Campus/Beavertail/Narrow River
10/31 Stone Bridge
11/7 Sakonnet Point
11/22 Kings Beach

27 days of kayaking