Sunday, June 22, 2008

The First Flip

After missing a weekend of prime paddling weather, H and I were ready for a serious paddle. TM's paddle out of Ft. Wetherill looked primed to offer conditions that would meet both H and my ideas of serious. Launching from Ft. Wetherill gives you plenty of options for a trip, but they all involve the potential for playing in the rocks, open water, big swells... Today there was also the possibility of fog and thunder showers.
The crew also offered opportunities to meet a wide range of paddle needs. We had surf/rock heads like RS and TM to the more conservative H and S. In between the extremes we had CC, TM, RR, RB, BH, T, and myself. It was a group ready to face any possible conditions.
TM's original plan was to paddle down to Beavertail, cross the West Passage, and lunch at Narragansett Beach. This plan was ruled out due the morning fog and the predicted thunder showers. Instead, we decided to cross over to Newport and play along the Newport Coast and lunch near Kings Beach. This path gave us more cover in the event we needed to get off the water in a hurry and a better shot at finding interesting conditions.
Going out we found the water to be relatively flat. There was barely enough action along to coast to make playing the rocks risky.
At Brenton Point, there was a little more action. People managed to catch a few good rides. For Brenton Point, it was dead.
The paddling was fun if not exciting. There was enough action to keep you on your toes. The sun was shining. The company was good.

We lunched next to Kings Beach fishing landing. While part of the group was settling in for lunch, BH, TM, RS, and I explored the rocky point just beyond the fishing area. We paddled through a narrow channel and saw some very cute baby seagulls. When we reached the point, we found the excitement.
TM timed his run perfectly and used the waves to avoid being stranded on the rocks. RS's timing was a little off and she was confronted with an unfriendly wave. It was no match for her skill and she scooted through. BH decided discretion was the better part of valor and took the point wide. I lucked out and slipped through between waves.

After lunch, we decided to just head back to the put-in. We figured it would be a relaxing, uneventful paddle back to the cars...
Minutes after I was off the beach, I spotted H in an area with breaking waves. I was hoping she'd luck out and slip by without issue, but a wave popped up right next to her and crashed down on her. From where I was sitting, it looked like she tried to brace, but the wave was too big. She took her first combat spill.
I was a little worried that she would panic, but confident that she would be fine.
Sure enough, she popped right out and never lost her paddle.
RR moved in for a rescue, but got flipped by a wave. RS then swooped in and took control of the situation. She clipped into H's kayak and started towing her out of the breaking waves. She also made sure someone was looking out for RR.
As it turned out RR was fine. He rolled back up without a hitch.
As RS was towing H to flatter water, I paddle up and made sure H was OK. H had stuck her paddle in her cockpit and it was flopping around. To make sure it was secure I stowed it under my deck lines. Unsure what RS's plan was, I backed off since the situation seemed under control.
TM then swooped in to put H back into her kayak. He unclipped H's kayak from the tow and clipped his kayak into the tow. Then he started performing a T rescue. Since the water was still pretty bouncy, I rafted up to lend some extra support.

H climbed into her kayak and was ready to go. Aside from a few bruises, she was none the worse for the wear. She was quite pleased with how well the rescue had gone. She was a little shaken, but also felt more confident in her ability to survive a mishap.
The rest of the paddle was pretty tame. We found a little surf at Brenton Point. The crossing from Castle Hill to Fort Wetherill offered up some following seas.
We had one more moment of excitement in the cove at Fort Wetherill. RB tried to run a slot on one of the rock outcroppings at the mouth of the cove and got stuck. After some comical flailing, he washed right off.
As part of the post paddle play session, I squeezed myself into H's Capella 161. It is a sweet little kayak. It is fast and turns much easier than the Q-Boat. I may need to take it rock gardening some time....

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