...cold winter day at the beach
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 waiting.

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 the headland.

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 explode.

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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