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.

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