Sunday, June 26, 2022

The Reefs, The Reefs Are Calling

The paddle for the weekend was planned to be a rough water outing in the reefs off of Stonington, so I was really hoping that the Aries was ready to go. She is built for playing in the races. Sadly, Dr. Carl still has some work to do to get her sea worthy.

The Capella is no slouch in the fun stuff, but tidal play is not her raison. Also, I just miss paddling the Aries.

When Tim asked what we were hoping to learn out on the reefs, I knew one of the things was going to be adjusting to a different kayak. That was in addition to learning a better feel for catching waves, learning to control the kayak while surfing, and linking rides together.

The predicted conditions were perfect for learning. The current was just fast enough with the right amount of wind to kick up some waves. However, it was not strong enough to make things dangerous. We could get up to the edge without worrying about going too far. Removing some of the worry males space for reflection and observation in the moment.

We started out at Wiccopisett. The race there was a well formed field of waves. It provided a great warm up spot. I spent some time remembering how to time the waves to the motions of the kayak. When the bow starts going up, get ready to paddle hard; as the bow starts coming down, paddle hard; as the stern lifts, surf. Once on the waves, I started playing with maneuvering. Unlike the Aries, the Capella wants to go straight which is a blessing and a curse. The Capella is less likely to breach, but it is also harder to turn and correct. I found that if I kept my speed up, I could maneuver with little sweep turns and a little edging. If I lost speed, or needed to do serious turning, I needed to resort to rudders, stern draws, and serious edging. For the most part I edged into the turns and used my foot to push the bow where I wanted it to go. The only time I edged opposite the turn and used my knee to pull the bow around was when I was turning into the waves to get from the front of the race to back of the race.

After first lunch on Wiccopisett, we made our way north along the reef line heading towards Watch Hill.

The next play spot had more action. The waves were bigger and less orderly. Tim suggested playing with how I was edging, I had some success with varying how I edged the kayak. Sometimes I would edge away from the turn and try to yank the bow around other times I would edge into the turn. The edging away from the turn and yanking seemed to work best when the stern was really stuck. It felt a little dodgy, but I never went over. I gave up trying to string rides together because the field was too messy and I was more focused on my edging.

Our final play spot was Sugar Reef. The wave here were more organized, but closer together. This meant that even if I caught a wave perfectly, there was a good chance the one behind it would grab my stern. I mostly worked on using forward strokes to maneuver and keep up speed. This help me trim the kayak so the stern was up and less likely to get caught. It also made it easier to move from one wave to the next. Reading the field was much easier because the waves set up relatively parallel. You basically used the one you were on to ride into the one in front of you. It was a fun time.

We had second lunch at Napatree point and reviewed the day.

Some of the group tried to surf the molars on the way home. I opted out. The wave was too small and too unpredictable for the energy.

The rest of the rest of the of the return paddle was a nice wind down.

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