Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Four Amigos

The effects of a full moon on currents last for days, so we had a second opportunity to muck about in some serious currents. According to NOAA the mouth of the Westport River promised some scary fun. The river always runs fast, but today the river promised to race. The forecasted winds promised to conspire to stand up some waves.
Today was also the day for Carleen's fall pot-luck paddle. A level 2 and a level 3 paddle were planned.
H and five others joined KB on the level 2 trip. He took them up river to avoid the currents at the mouth. All of the participants raved about the paddle, KB's knowledge of the area, and the scenery. In addition, KB treated the participants to a preview of his Toastmaster's speech.
After JS showed TM and I a nice technique for eddy hopping, I along with TM, PB, BH, JS, JS, MK, and CMc headed towards the mouth for the level 3 paddle. When we left the dock, there was no plan, but I suspected that the group would split at the mouth. Some of us wanted to play and others were looking for a typical level 3 experience.
At the mouth of the river, CMc decided that the plan was to head east around Gooseberry Pt. and portage across East Beach Road which would put us back in the River. It was a good plan, if one was looking for a relaxing day paddle with a bit of ocean swells. JS, JS, MK, and CMc followed the plan and paddled out of the mouth.
The four amigos decided that it would be better to wait and see what peak flow would offer.We had a couple of hours before it completed the change and ramped itself up into full furry. To while away the hours, we played in the eddies that the changing current stirred up. When the eddies died down, we paddled around the knubble and played on the western edge of the mouth. There were a few rock clusters that offered interesting play. We also took a long, leisurely lunch on the beach to recoup any spent energy. The melee would require all of our paddling power.
With a half hour to go before max flow, we headed back onto the water. It was a short paddle back to the mouth of the river and, we hoped, some serious action.
When we rounded the corner, we came face to face with a real tidal race. There was a clearly defined eddy along the knubble on the south side of the mouth. Just beyond the eddy, towards the center of the channel, water was pushing out of the river in a lumpy, powerful flow. Just what the doctor ordered.
After a brief review of the scene, we jumped in to the fray. Paddling against the flow was hard work until you found a wave to surf. I'd spin the stick like a mad pinwheel and barely make headway. Then I'd catch a wave and ride it forward, against the current for several yards.
On many occasions the waves were so powerful and so close together that the Q-Boat's bow would get driven into the wave in front of it. There would be woosh sound and a slight feeling of slowing down, like when an elevator slows down before stopping, and the bow would completely submerge. the ride wouldn't end because there was a enough power in the water to drive the Q-Boat through the wave and the bow would emerge on the other side.
After each run, we'd slip into the eddy, paddle up to the beach behind the knubble and rest a bit in the calm water. I made the mistake of thinking that the water was calm because it was not moving very fast. Believing that I was in still water, I decided to take off my paddle jacket without heading into the beach. I took off my helmet, my (prescription) sun glasses, and my watch and placed them in a pile on the deck. Then I proceeded to pull off my top. After I got my head out of the top, and still had my hands firmly trapped inside of the top, I realized that I was rapidly being sucked out into the melee. Fortunately, there was a rock in my path that I could grab onto with my one free hand and yell for help. TM, PB, and BH moved quickly to stop my motion and give me the time to get disentangled from my top. They also scooped up the gear that slid off my deck while I clung to the rock. Sadly, the watch and sun glasses sank. Happily though I was safely out of my top and back in position to paddle in the melee again.
It only took about an hour to completely wear ourselves out. There was very little boat traffic to get in our way and the Harbor Master seemed content to let us be, so our fun was largely uninterrupted. Nobody tried rolling in the thick of it. Nobody needed to roll in the thick of it. We each took the opportunity to push the envelope knowing that the others would be right there if needed.
One of the great things about paddling with a group on a consistent basis is the comfort level that develops among the paddlers. I've paddled with TM, PB, and BH enough to know what there skill levels are, what there comfort levels are, and what they are likely to do in most situations. That knowledge makes me much more comfortable pushing my limits when they are around. It also makes paddling that much more fun.
After the paddle we all headed to CMc's house for the pot luck dinner. We were joined by several people who didn't paddle today. It was a perfect way to end an excellent paddle.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Evil Buoy at Old Stone Bridge

TM has been talking about doing extreme paddling all season and he had finally spotted the perfect conditions. The currents whipping through Old Stone Bridge in Tiverton are pretty strong and today was a Spring tide. The max ebb current was forecasted to run about 3.5knts at around 11:15am. Because it is an ebb tide we'd get washed into the clear water heading towards Fogland. Because it's fall, the boat traffic would be lessened. Because it is forecasted to be sunny, the temperature would be pleasant.
After fretting for weeks about posting the paddle or making it invite only, we posted it. The more the merrier. The posting made it clear that this was strictly to play in the currents and that paddlers were going to need to spot each other.
Getting to the paddle was an adventure. Sometimes I drive on automatic pilot and this morning was one of those times. I operate the egg with full conscious attention, but navigate it with habit. So, when the time came to continue on Rt. 128 or take Rt. 95 south, I choose Rt. 95 south like I was launching from the western shores of Naragansett Bay. The deja vu set in quickly. Fortunately, I realized my mistake before I came to Rt. 495 and could quickly transfer back to Rt. 24 south without back tracking.
I pulled into the little beach parking lot off of Rt. 77 fearing I was going to be late. However, only TM and PB had arrived and they were having a leisurely conversation off to the far side of the parking lot. Slowly, others drifted into the lot. There was BH, RB, RR, and BD.
It was great to see BD. He is a great guy and we don't get to see him much. He is positive addition to any paddle.
We scoped out the building race by the buoys and decided to let it build a little more before getting on the water. We didn't want to wear ourselves out before the action really started. So, we decided to get coffee and take our time getting our stuff together.
I could have used more time. Because we were not paddling far from our cars, I decided not to worry about bringing my lunch, my spare paddle, my extra water, and a few other things. The one thing I did want to make sure I had was my tow belt. If someone got in trouble, it would come in handy. So I put it around my waist while I was getting the rest of my kit sorted out. When I got ready to clip the end of the belt to my PFD, I discovered that the carabiniere that I used to clip onto other kayaks was gone. I scoured the beach to no avail. Fortunately, PB had a spare. (PB is always saving someones bacon.)
Finally, I got on the water and got a chance to check out the race. The current was moving at a good clip, but there were no standing waves of stature. The wind was blowing in the direction of the current and effectively flattening things out. There was still a good half hour before max flow and nobody seemed particularly worried about the lack of big waves.
We all took opportunities to practice eddy turns, ferry glides, and paddling against the currents. It was exhilarating and exhausting. The best place to practice eddy turns was on the west side of the channel near the green buoy. The green buoy is evil and draws kayaks straight towards it. Practicing the eddy turn required that you either turn very sharply to pass outside the buoy or wide to pass inside the buoy. Paddling in the race required constant attention because swells bubbled out at random. The evil buoy was always laying in wait for a paddler to make a mistake.
Fortunately, it was easy to get a rest. To either side of the channel that remains of Stone Bridge creates eddies and a nice back current. We could duck out of the race, or wash out the back of it, and easily paddle back up the edges. It also meant that a paddler was always out of the melee and acting as a safety valve for the others.

The best conditions of the morning were provided by a mini-ocean liner. It steamed up the channel and left a lumpy mess in its wake. We were waiting like gnats along the edge of the channel as it passed through. Immediately after the ship was clear we darted into the soup. For five minutes it was a mass of confused waves and moving water. A few other power boats wakes added fuel to the cauldron.
Once the cauldron calmed, we believed the show was over. To cool down, we paddled around Gould Island and headed back to the beach. Just off the shore RR practiced his rolling and balance bracing. I did a few rolls. BD headed home. The others did various practicing. It was early and the weather was just too nice to quit early.
The race sympathized with our plight and bubbled up once more. BH, RB, PB (no relation), and I headed back into the fray for round two. This time around the conditions were more consistent and the evil buoy was more active. It was swirling around and sucking kayaks into its orbit with malicious glee. Of course, the best conditions were positioned on the edge of the evil buoy's reach. BH was the first one to be chased by the evil buoy. Shortly after BH had escaped, I had to spin the stick at a furious pace to escape it. Then as I and PB were watching, the evil buoy slowly dragged BH into its maw. Fortunately, BH heard PB and I talking about him, looked behind him, and started paddling for his life before it was too late.
After getting our fill of fun, we headed back to beach for some lunch. As we were heading in, TM and RR decided to head out for a second chance. Sadly, the currents and waves had subsided. There was still some moving water for practicing eddy turns and ferry glides, but not enough for serious playing.
We stopped for a spot of coffee at Coastal Roasters before going back to our homes for the evening. I was definitely satiated. The conditions were not raucous, but they were enough to seriously challenge me. My muscles were tired, my confidence bolstered, and my mind well fed.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Zen and Smuttynose

I started the day in a funk. In fact, the week had ended with me in a funk. Too much going on at work, a lot of projects to complete at home, and a drastic reduction of sunlit hours put me off my game.
Fortunately, I had pre-packed the egg and installed my new kayak attachment--a 4" wide, 8.5' long piece of PVC pipe designed to keep the mighty stick out of the passenger compartment. All that we needed to do before heading north to meet the rest of the gang was make some PB&Js and put the Q-Boat on the egg. Still, these were daunting tasks simply because they existed.
H was happy that she didn't need to do the conga to sit in the egg. Her hand had not healed enough for paddling, so she was also looking forward to spending a pleasant day in Portsmouth. It helped her mood that the forecast was windy. For as much as she enjoyed the paddle last year, she didn't relish the thought of paddling back against a steady head wind.
The forecast had me excited and concerned. The wind meant that the water wouldn't be flat and make for a potentially boring paddle. It also meant that there was more potential for things to go wrong. Wind has a way of wearing a paddler out faster than expected, of spreading a group out on the water, and of flipping up rouge waves when least expected.
A good group showed up for the paddle: CMc, JS, CC, MK, BH, PH (no relation), RB, and Scott from JP. From the put-in the weather seemed perfect. There was plenty of sun and a light breeze. I should have been in a great mood. Instead, I was slightly annoyed at everything.
I considered staying on shore since my mood could detract from the group, but decided against staying. Long stretches of open water generally perk me up and they also provide plenty of opportunity to be alone if I didn't turn my mood around. I wasn't going to do anything stupid or risky. I was definitely physically up for the paddle.
We paddled out of Rye Harbor and into the North Atlantic Ocean. The sea state lived up to the weather predictions. We had a nice tail wind and fun, but manageable, following seas. It was possible to catch a ride every now and then. You could paddle close enough to another paddler to have a conversation, but it was difficult.
I was glad for the space. It allowed me to find my groove and unwind. The world didn't slip away or blend into the background or melt into one seamless essence. I didn't become one with my paddle and my kayak. I just let the rhythm of the stick in the water rise to the fore. I concentrated on how the stick slipped into the water and how it felt as it swept through its arced stroke. For the first time this season, I felt like I had found my stroke.
The movement of the kayak on the water and the sounds of the other paddlers added context and texture to the experience. Every now and then my balance would require focus. At regular intervals I would shift focus to ensuring the group was OK.
At every moment, I was fully aware of each of these thing: the stroke, the kayak, the weather, the group, the individuals in the group. However, I only focused on one thing at a time. The others floated at the periphery. They were shadows and whispers.
By the time we reached Star Island my mood had cleared. The world was good again. I was thrilled to be in a beautiful place on a sunny day with great companions.
We poked around the back of Star Island and headed straight for the landing at Smuttynose. Star Island looked busy and we were all famished. To JS's chagrin, we did take the opportunities for rock play that were presented. CC & RB even did some rolling practice.
Lunch was a restful affair. I scarffed down my sandwiches, snapped a few photos, and discovered that Scott from JP was a fellow caffeine addict. He even knows the secret ingredient that makes Red Bull more potent than just plain caffeinated sugar water. Then many of us settled into the sun warmed grass for a spot of napping. I'm uncertain what the others did, but I'm told it was fun. I doubt that it was as rewarding as a nap.
Once we returned to the water, I appreciated the nap even more. The winds had picked up and were in our faces. We faced seven miles of paddling into a head wind with no place to hide.
The wind exaggerated the speed differences between the members of the group. The faster paddlers pulled ahead and the slower paddlers fell behind. We resorted to making frequent regrouping stops. This helped keep the group together. However, it also allowed us to see how slowly the Isles were shrinking and the mainland was growing.
In between regroups, I enjoyed the feel of my mighty stick as it sliced through wind and water. Since finding my stroke on the way out to the Isles, I was paddling with renewed efficiency and vigor. Paddling into a steady head wind was still tiring, but it was not a death march.
To help lighten the mood, MK and PH repeatedly checked in with JS to make sure we were on course. They were convinced that we needed to make a course correction so we would not pass wide of the mouth of the harbor. JS, equipped with a GPS, calmly listened to their recommendations and held his course. We were paddling on a bearing that would, in the absence of wind and current, would take us wide of the harbor. With wind and current added to the mix, our bearing was a good estimate. As we closed in on the harbor we did need to make a small correction, but JS put us inside the bulls-eye. (When in doubt, I trust the guy with a working GPS.)
I returned to the beach a changed man. Paddling long distances is rejuvenating.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Rocks, Currents, and Risky Weather

I needed a kayaking fix and intended to get it despite the poor forecast. Today was the only break in my schedule for what seemed like weeks. The forecast was for diminishing rain and increasing winds. The afternoon was forecasted to be particularly brutal with 30knt winds. I figured the icky weather would keep the power boaters at home, kayaking is a wet sport, and we'd be off the water before the wind really started to howl.
I pulled into the parking lot at Fort Wetherill to find two surprises. One was that the parking lot was full of divers - some taking up spaces just for their gear. The other, much more pleasant, surprise was that RB was waiting to paddle. I hadn't seen RB in ages (at least since before the wedding). He was his usual gruff and chipper self. Apparently work had been keeping him way too busy, so he took a "sick" day to paddle.
In short order the rest of the gang arrived: TM, CC, BH, PH, and RR. It looked like a good crew for some rough stuff.
The plan, or what I was passing off as a plan, was to head over toward Bretton Reef and look for rocks and surf. I was thinking that we could continue on towards King's beach for lunch and then head back. However, I'm pretty laissez faire when it comes to planning show & go trips. I just wanted to get out and have some fun without having too much responsibility.
For the fourth paddle in a row, I launched with a helmet firmly on my head. I didn't want to find fun and have to fish my helmet out of a hatch before I could play. Not everybody followed my logic. When we passed Castle Hill and found the rocks, there was a lot of hatches being fished through.
With helmets in place we all found our way into various nooks and crannies. After his stint at the rough water symposium, PH was looking very confident in his skills and his plastic hull. RR was also making some impressive looking maneuvers. BH was, as usual, in the thick of it all.
I was feeling a little cautious today. I wasn't avoiding trouble, but I was being picky about the trouble into which I was willing to venture. It may be the knowledge that I cannot afford major repairs to the Q-Boat. It may be an aversion to putting dings in my new stick. It may be that I haven't been feeling at the top of my game this season. It may also just be that I'm getting smarter.
As we approached Bretton Reef it looked like a thick fog, or a nasty rain, was heading our way. RB and TM both suggested heading back towards the put-in. It would be best to make the crossing from Castle Hill to Fort Wetherill while we had good visibility and before the winds really started howling.
Since their wasn't much surf at Bretton Reef, it was easy to get the group to turn around. I suspect that if there had been surf, certain surf addicts may have more difficult to redirect.
The paddle back to Castle Hill was mostly uneventful. We all took opportunities to play in the rocks some more. PH took some risks and had some nice rides. Then he decided to follow BH....
BH caught a sweet ride through some nasty looking rocks. It looked liked like he even meant to do it. PH decided to follow him. I think it was a wise Carl Ladd who said it was not a good idea to blindly follow a paddlers path through the rocks. This warning should be double heeded when it comes to following BH.
PH caught a wave and started out in excellent form. Then the back of his kayak got lifted a bit too high and he breached a bit too far. He gave his roll several good tries, but eventually popped out of the cockpit.
CC told me to do a toggle rescue, but I had no clue what she was talking about. Instead, I hooked my tow line up to PH's kayak and towed the kayak, with PH, off the rocks. While I held them off the rocks, BH put PH (no relation) back into his kayak. The only real issue was getting the tow line moved from PH's bow onto BH's bow. It's best to have the rescuer's kayak under tow during a rescue. I'm not sure what the issue was because holding a rescue on a tow line in surf is hard work.
After we got everything sorted out, we continued on our way. CC explained a toggle rescue to me and it sounded like a much better option than the tow rescue. In a toggle rescue the first kayaker into the rescue has the victim wrap their legs around the rescue kayak while still holding onto their kayak. The rescuer would then paddle the victim and their kayak out of danger. It sounds faster than deploying a tow line, would allow the rescuer to have better view of the victim, and would get the victim out of the water a bit.
After the work of towing, I was famished and decided that we would eat at the Castle Hill Coast Guard station. I was willing to gamble that the fog was not going to materialize. The wind was going to pick up and dissipate any fog.
Like a fool, I decided that the high docks at the Coast Guard station would make a perfect place to practice getting out my kayak onto the docks at the Barking Crab. I nearly face planted on the dock a few times, nearly back flopped into the water several times, and nearly flipped myself under the kayak several times before managing to wiggle myself onto the dock.
Naturally, it started to mist and get grayer as we sat down for lunch under the trees. However, just over the hill the sky was clearing and the winds were building. Before we finished eating and preparing to leave, the sky was a clear, sunny blue.
Instead of learning from my fumbling effort to get out of the Q-Boat using the dock, I decided I could enter the cockpit from the high dock. I somehow managed to slither into the cockpit without falling face first into the oily water or losing the kayak. It wasn't pretty though.
From the Castle Hill Coast Guard station, we crossed over to Jamestown. Instead of heading straight back into Fort Wetherill, we decided to check out the dumplings. The current was supposed to be at max, nobody was really ready to call it a day, and the winds would blow us towards Fort Wetherill from the dumplings. We also figured that since the currents were not forecasted to be strong and the wind was blowing the same direction as the tides, there would be nothing happening at the dumplings.
We were wrong. The dumplings had plenty of action. The current was creating a lot of small waves and clearly defined eddies. Without really thinking about what we were doing, all of us headed into the melee. Some of us, I'm sure, were careful to keep an eye out for our fellow paddlers. There were plenty of times, however, when one of us was too far away from any support to be easily rescued. It would have been safer if we had communicated a plan before heading into the rough water. That way we could each have had an opportunity to push the envelope or try some skills outside of the comfort zone.
After we had our fill, we headed back into Fort Wetherill. It was a good paddle and gave me a much needed opportunity to burn off some of the cruft that builds up when I don't get on the water. It also provided me a number of new things to ponder. Kayaking is as much a mental thing as it is a physical thing.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Adventures in Picnicing

The RIC/KA labor day picnic is always an adventure. Last year, H did her first, and possibly last, surf landing. Previous years have also had their share of excitement. This year promised to follow suit.
The forecast was for strong winds in the afternoon and building seas, so H decided it would be prudent to take the Narrow River route to Narragansett Town Beach for the picnic. I decided that I was definitely doing the Bay Campus to Narragansett paddle. Winds and big seas sounded like a perfect way to end a long weekend.
H deposited the Q-Boat, the mighty stick, and myself at Bay Campus to await the rest of the paddlers. I was sure that at least TM and Bubbles would show. A little wind wouldn't scare them into paddling along the river...
Sure enough TM crested the hill shortly after H and the egg disappeared over it. We were joined by Bubbles, CMC, and CC. CC had spent the previous three days at the Rough Water Symposium, so we spent a while listening to her tales. It sounded like a great event and we were all a little jealous that we had missed it.
We launched into calm seas and a light wind. However, once we gained a bit of exposure the head wind made itself felt. It made for slow going as we paddled along the bluffs towards Bonnet Shores. We frequently had to check our progress so the group did not drift too far apart.
When we reached Bonnet Shores, we decided to duck into the harbor and get some cover from the wind. The shore on the far side of the harbor was high enough to cut the wind significantly. Once inside the cover of the bluffs, we dashed across the harbor. The rocks were calling and we were not going to resist.
We turned the corner out of the harbor and were back into the wind. We were also in prime rock playing territory. The winds had kicked the swells into good shape. There was plenty of water pushing into the rocks and we all took opportunities to play.
Once we passed the nice rocks, the group drifted apart a little. TM was taking a tight inside line to stay out of the wind. Bubbles and CC were following TM a few kayak lengths back. CMC was hanging much farther off shores. I split the distance between the two pods.
When we turned the corner into Narragansett Town Beach we were shocked to find almost no surf. There were a few paltry waves and a few dedicated surfers were hunting for runs. I decided that it wasn't worth the trouble and ducked into the mouth of the Narrow River to find a nice flat landing spot.
Despite the wind and lack of surf, there was a lot of people present. Both the sea kayaking and the flat water groups were well represented.
TM, however, was getting a bit nervous. The conditions were already big and the winds were going to continue building. The tide was also going to turn and start running against the wind. If we spent too long on the beach conditions were likely to get dangerous.
After riding the current into the narrow river and eating a lovely pair of PBJs, it was time to head back to Bay Campus. The winds were picking up and the tides were turning. CC decided that she was going to paddle back up the river with H. CC could get a ride to her car at Bay Campus with H who had to pick me up at Bay Campus anyway.
TM, eager to make a safe return, launched to fetch CMC and Bubbles. They were out trying to catch some sides on the wavelets. I was having difficulty getting the Q-Boat launched. The current running into Narrow River and the little waves kept pushing the bow back into the beach.
Once I managed to get on the water, TM had made the rounds and was waiting patiently. I asked him what the game plan and where CMC and Bubbles were. He said that the plan was to head back straight away and that the other two had decided to stay behind.
So, we left. Once around the corner, we were in some pretty rough conditions. The wind was whipping up big swells. The swells pounded into the rocks and mixed together to make a bouncy soup. We did not waste any time playing around. We moved a further off shore and rode the following seas.
The Q-Boat tends to wander in flat water. In following sea, it definitely wanders. TM was still adjusting to his new Explorer HV, so he was also wandering a bit. To avoid colliding, we kept a good amount of distance between the kayaks. It was a nice, if at times harrowing, ride.
While TM and I were enjoying our ride back to Bay Campus, Bubbles and CMC were having less fun. Apparently there had been some miscommunication between TM and CMC. She had returned to the surf to get Bubbles so we could return as a foursome. When TM and I bolted, they decided to attempt to catch us. As they turned the corner to begin the run back to Bay Campus, CMC got tossed and had to come out of her kayak. Bubbles did an excellent job getting her to safety and back into her kayak. They then proceeded to Bay Campus without further incident.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Rocky Road in Sakonnet

The forecast was not promising if you wanted a calm paddle. 20-25 knt winds can whip the waters off of Sakonnet Pt. into a mad house of lumps.
I was a little bummed about not going to the rough water symposium, so the rough conditions did the trick for me. H, on the other hand, decided that she had work to get done. She was planning on doing the post paddle socializing, so it was great. I love paddling with her, but sometimes a boy needs to play in the rocks without worrying.
We ran into to TM and Cam getting coffee at Coastal Roasters. After a brief pow-wow, we drove down to Sakonnet Point. At one point in the drive, TM started weaving. H and I were worried that he may have OD'ed on Americanos, but he quickly straightened out. We arrived at the put in without further incident.
While waiting for CMc and JS, the coordinators, to arrive, we chatted with Cam about our ME trip, considered a reasonable strategy for a safe, fun paddle, and met a new paddler from MA. Bubbles made the group seven strong and added a level to the adventure we might encounter.
The plan was to head out of the harbor, head south, and tuck in behind the point. The land would provide some shelter from the gusting northish winds. It also put us in the heart of rock country!!

Paddling around the point was fun and the group did a good job keeping together. The winds were not that strong. The water was not that lumpy. It was just enough to warm up the balance and the hips.
Once we rounded the point the group splintered... TM and I headed off to one clump of rocks; Bubbles and CMc headed to another; JS headed off to fish... Fortunately, most of came to our sense quickly and regrouped. Six of us formed a lose, but firm, plan: we'd head east along the shore to see what trouble we could find and stick together.

As we pushed down the coast we found plenty of rocks. One particularly fun clump of rocks was right near a swimming beach and a few of us were reminded that kayaks are not welcome in swimming areas...
That was OK since we were looking for crevices that sane swimmers shun. The wind and generally clam seas kept things at a reasonable level for fun with moderate chances of doom.
For lunch we regrouped with our fishless seventh and found a nice patch of sand that required a surf landing. The six inch dumping waves required more skill than seemed possible to land with your dignity intact. Bubbles scored a 10 by catching the backside of a wavelet and letting it carry him past the dump zone.
After lunch we faced the daunting task of getting back through the breaklets. Six kayaks got off the beach with only moderate breaching. I, on the other hand, required several attempts to find the water. I could not get enough water under the stern to get the Q-Boat off the beach before the waves pushed the bow around and I was parked under the dumping waves parallel to the beach.
TM and Bubbles kept yelling for me to roll the Q-Boat over on its side to spin the bow back into the waves. On the water the Q-Boat rolls onto its side easily. On the sand the hard chines dig in and makes rolling it over nigh impossible. With an inordinate effort I rolled the Q-Boat on it side, spun the bow around, and set up for another attempt.
The first wave in lifted the bow off the sand and left the stern sitting... The second wave knocked the lifted bow around. I was breached again.
This time I got out, dragged the Q-Boat into the water, and flopped into the kayak. Fortunately I did not need to go far before I was beyond the miniature surf and I was able to stay up right as I slipped into the seat.

On the way home the group once again shrank back to six (at times five.) We found a excellent rock outcropping to test our mettle. I sat and studied one approach for a while before deciding I was not ready to risk sending the Q-Boat in for surgery. From the approach I was studying, a kayaker would have to paddle into an incoming surge, with an accompanying overfall from the right, to possible make it over the ledge on the far side. The rocks, which the overfall would certainly push a bow into, hid the swells from vision so it was a blind ride.
The other side of the approach was much nicer. TM kept eyeing it. He'd slip his bow in and then back out, study it some more, slip his bow in... Bubbles couldn't take it much longer and requested the right of first run. TM ceded and Bubbles made it look easy. TM then also slipped through.
The rest of the trip home was uneventful. Eventually the wanderers found their way back to the group. However, the new guy kept rushing ahead of the group. Maybe we smelled?
Back in the safety of the harbor we had a kayak and paddle swap. JS tried out the mighty stick and discovered that it really does make rolling easier. CMc took the Q-Boat for a spin and considered the possibility that I would not notice the difference between my white kayak and her white kayak.
I took Bubble's Pintail out for a spin to see how the ocean cockpit felt. Getting in was more difficult, but once in it was very comfortable. I liked the fact that my knees were not forced into any particular position. I was also very glad that my roll has been reliable lately because I did not relish the thought of trying to squeak out of the tiny hole in an emergency. I actually got the chance to test my roll in the Pintail. In a vain attempt to look cool, I tried to do a cross bow rudder using a Euro paddle. The blade slipped into the water at the perfectly wrong angle. The kayak spun like it a pinwheel. When I rolled up and landed everybody was impressed with the new way I found to initiate a practice roll.