Sunday, October 11, 2009

It Blows Big

The morning started off chilly, but calm. By the time I reached Bay Campus the temperature had warmed and the winds remained still. It was looking like a perfect fall kayaking day. After much debate, I decided to wear just a long sleeve shirt. I stowed the paddle jacket in the rear hatch. I didn't want to overheat.
We headed out of Bay Campus towards the Dutch Island Lighthouse. From there we turned towards Beavertail. We were planning on playing on the rocks along the Jamestown shore before heading over to Narrow River to play in the surf. Then we were hoping to play in the rocks along Bonnet Shores on the way home. It was an ambitious plan.
As we passed the pavilion at Ft. Getty, we started to realize our plan may not come together. The forecasted 5 knot wind felt more like 15 knots. The wind was stronger near shore, so we tended to stay a little off the rocks.
As we approached Beavertail, the wind built. The sea state got bigger as well. By the time we got to the point, the wind felt like a sustained 20-25 knots.
Fortunately it was a headwind and not a beam wind. The Q-Boat slices through headwinds without a problem. Once the wind crosses her beam, she weather cocks like a bitch in heat.
Paddling into a steady, strong head wind is draining. I was draining my tank faster than usual due to a couple of things. I haven't been paddling as much this year, so my fitness level is lower than I'd like. I also made the unfortunate choice to leave my stick at home for the day. I was plowing into a brutal wind with a fat Lendal Kinetic Touring blade. I like the Lendal, but in the wind I love my stick.
I may have felt like I was running low on gas, but one of the other paddlers had reached the bottom of his tank. He was looking pale and open mouthed. We decided the best course of action was to put him under tow and tow him directly to Narragansett Beach. He was not given a choice, one of the paddlers hooked him up and started the tow.
We used an I tow to avoid wearing out any of the other paddlers. About half way through the crossing, we swapped towers. TM and I took the second shift. The wind made the long tow a particularly rough haul.
At the beach, the wind was roaring. I was wet from spray and sweating, so I quickly put on my paddle jacket. Once I was snugly in my paddle jacket, I settled in for a nice lunch. H had made me some yummy PB&J.
The return trip started off on sour note. I couldn't get the Q-Boat off the beach. The wind and chop were perfectly aligned to trap me on the beach. Every time I got the nose of the kayak in the water, a wave would push the bow around and I'd be breached on the beach. Eventually I got pushed off the edge of the beach into Narrow River. Once in the water I had to fight the wind and the currents to get turned around so I could paddle out to the open water. I was beat before I got started.
For the first quarter of the return trip the Q-Boat was getting pushed around something fierce. I couldn't seem to keep it under control. A swell would run by, loosen up the back end, and send the kayak off on a new course.
Eventually, I settled in and got things back under control. Once I was back in the groove, the return paddle was a fun ride. The tail wind and following seas made for a quick trip. There was even some opportunities for playing in the rocks.
Once we got back to the Bay Campus everyone piled out their kayaks and started changing. The water temp and the wind made the idea of doing rescue practice unpleasant.
We then headed off to our favorite java joint for some coffee and post paddle chatter. It was great to get out on the water - even if the conditions were less than ideal.

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