...cold winter day at the
This is the rarest of weather on the pacific coast, an
east wind brings razor crisp horizons, and the clarity of the air makes
everything feel hyper-real.
Surveying the surf for a launch at sunrise, air temp 30 deg, west swell
6 ft @ 13 sec, wind offshore 20 knts. It's looks deceptively
small from the beach but the outside waves are over a half mile
offshore. Paddling out is scary, there are some very shallow sand
bars, and set waves with 10 ft faces that pack enough punch to damage
body and boat. Manzanita beach is always mean like this, one
kayak surfer described the landing experience as "raped and
pillaged". I work my way through cautiously, watching and
Once offshore though, the colors....oh the delicious colors of a cold
winter sky at dawn. Neah Kah Nie headland in the foreground, Cape
Falcon three miles distant.
Surge creates a minefield of exposed and covering rocks on the front of
I affectionately call this the 'foam of personal injury' because the
first time I encountered these large foam rafts I broke my ribs, bashed
my head, and hyperextended my knee coming back in through the
surf. I learned my lesson, when the waves are juicy (13sec+)
don't just get on the biggest set wave you can find and take off, pick
your way in, slowly and CAREFULLY.
In the swell shadow of Cape Falcon surfers wait meditatively for waves
in smuggler cove. I take off deep and get a few nice rides but
for the most part I'm out-gunned, my SC-1 doesn't have the hull speed
to chase down the fast moving swell before the waves get too steep and
Home at last, this was a nasty landing. I had to fight my way
ashore through a 30knt headwind with the sun in my eyes. Combined
with the spray being ripped off the waves and blasted back at me and an
outgoing tide pulling on me, my progress through the surf zone was
slow, exposing me to the danger of set waves, and being quickly pulled
offshore. Everything is roaring and blinding. The surf has
dropped a little and on a calm day this would be playtime, but the
combination of factors pushes this moderate surf right to the edge of
my comfort zone. This is why it's important to be very
conservative when you're contemplating any voyage on the open ocean.
I'm happy to see my cat, Alex, when I arrive back at the house.
Later that night, sitting on the edge of the pool, I teach people
to teach each other. If
I'm lucky one day these guys might be my companions on a coastal paddle.
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