Sunday, June 25, 2006

Being Bad at the Bay Campus

Watching the weather and hoping for a clearing has become standard operating procedure this season. So, I watched the forecast and the message board all week hoping that Tim would not cancel the Outer West Passage paddle. It is one of my all time favorite paddles because it offers a bit of distance, a taste of open water, and some rocks. It is also the third in Tim's progression of paddles from easy(Narrow River) to hard(Castle Hill).
I was happy to hear on Friday that Tim was planning on running the paddle rain or shine. I was even happier on Saturday when I got confirmation that the trip was a definite. The only concession to the weather was a delay in start time. I gladly dodged rain drops to get my boat and gear loaded up Saturday evening.
The drive to the put-in was unpleasant. The conditions alternated between heavy drizzle and heavy rain. There were patches of blinding fog and patches of hydroplane inducing standing water.
It didn't matter. I was going to paddle as long as there was no thunder. Kayaking is not a dry sport, so I wasn't worried about getting wet. I'd packed my drytop, drysuit, and plenty of layers, so I wasn't worried about getting cold. The crappy weather would keep the boat traffic down. The wind was calm. I'd been locked in an office all week battling intractable mind games for little reward beyond a paycheck. I was paddling.
As I expected, the Bay campus parking lot was empty when I arrived. It was early and I only expected a few people--Tim, Paul B., Bob H., and maybe Carole--to show. Shortly after I pulled in, Rich pulled in. Then Sean from CT showed up. Before I knew it, twelve kayaks were lined up on the beach ready for a rainy, foggy paddle. A touch a cabin fever?
Tim considered modifying the paddle to adjust for the fog and the fact that there were a few new people on the trip. The crossing from Beavertail to Whale Rock can be treacherous in fog. The commercial fishermen don't stop for a little bad weather and then there is the high speed ferry... In the end, it was decided that we would try to do the whole trip. If the fog was heavy at Beavertail, we could head back along the coast and cross at a more sensible point.
There was some confusion at launch time. Rich was practicing his sculling and needed a rescue, which Peter H. performed in lackadaisical fashion. While that was happening, Mike K. made multiple trips to his car for gear. Eventually, everyone was in their kayak, on the water, and ready to start.
While we were waiting to get underway the fog had lifted, so Tim set a brisk pace down the Jamestown coast. He hoped to get to Beavertail before the fog settled back down. We were assisted down the coast by a favorable tide. Without much effort, the group easily made it to Beavertail in about an hour.
It was rainy, but the fog stayed away. We could easily make out Whale Rock from the channel marker off of Beaver Tail, so we made the crossing. This crossing, while still in the Bay, is pretty open. It is parallel to the mouth of the Bay and there is nothing in the way of ocean swells. Today the swells were tame and he crossing was uneventful.
From Whale Rock, we headed to lunch propelled by a tail wind and following seas.
The rain held off for lunch, but the fog returned to Jamestown. The high speed ferry also made an appearance. If we had been slower, the crossing would have been much more difficult. It may have been treacherous.
The paddle back to the Bay campus along the mainland was quick, but pleasant. We had following seas to push us along. There was also plenty of opportunity to play in the rocks.
Once back at the Bay campus several people were reluctant to call it a day. It was only 1:30. So, Carole started offering up different types of rolls for people to try. The first one was called the butterfly roll ( Rich tried it and got very close. I also tried it, several times, and didn't come quite as close as Rich. I did offer Becca a chance to practice her assisted rescue skills though.
The other was a maneuver where you pass the paddle over the hull of the kayak and set up on the other side. I managed this "stupid kayaker trick", but cannot see how this would be useful in a real situation. It is much easier to move the paddle under the deck to reset for a roll on the other side.
The tricks coaxed Tim back into his boat to see why people were tossing paddles around. Not to be left out of the rolling festivities, Tim did a few rolls. Paul and Peter rolled over also. Even Becca showed off a picture perfect roll.
Bob did a spectacular half roll at speed.
While demurring to dunk herself, Carole did prove that it takes no effort to get young men to roll over and do stupid kayaker tricks:)

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