A Family Adventure

Tyson, Emilie & Isaac

Kayak surf class

October 4, 2010
Emilie Phillips

Saturday we did a sea kayak surf class in Maine with John Carmody.

The prediction for waves from the tropical storm were for 6ft. That was enough to make some people cancel, and make me bring both of my boats. The only other student was someone we knew from the rough water symposium, so that was fun.

I was hoping to maybe switch off boats part way through the day so I could learn both of them better, but we put in a ways from the beach. I decided to take just the avocet since it is more surf friendly, doesn’t tend to pearl, and doesn’t broach quite as instantaneously on the big waves.

So there I was, all packed up. We had the beach briefing. And when John asked if there were any more questions, I mentioned the bit where I had been hoping to learn in both boats, but I felt like, given the conditions, I should probably just take the easier one. Well, John said that I should be able to learn in the Tahe just fine. So I did a last minute swaperoo and off I went in my preferred boat.

First we just did some warm up paddling, then we did a little paddling across the surf to make sure we had the tail end of the ride down pat.

Then we got down into exercises actually surfing. I forget what order I did different things. To keep the bow from diving, I just have to not look at it (kind of like water in a pot). If I just keep my head up and paying attention to my surroundings, the bow comes back up on its own.

For turning the kayak, he had me do a bunch of runs where I wasn’t using the paddle at all, just edging. I had never dared try it before, but I really could edge down wave without being flipped (except once). For the waves we were on, edging was pretty much enough to keep me going mostly straight.

Then there was using forward strokes and braking turns to manage my position on the wave. Somewhere around here my brain started filling up, so I did not get that down quite as pat as I would have liked.

Finally, we added the stern rudder back in (all of us students’ only turning mechanism at the beginning of the class). I maybe managed one run where I used the stern rudder properly. I think I need to reserve that for homework.

Before lunch, we were in a fairly protected area with 2 foot waves. After lunch, it was a little more free form with people just practicing what we had learned. However, the waves were a bit less cooperative. They were 3 to 4 ft, but they just stayed as swells until they dumped on the beach. I tired myself out trying to catch some of them. So then I settled for being grumpy that everyone else was catching waves while I layed back and rested.

The next thing for Tyson and I to do is to go find some more small surf and practice. Unfortunately, that might be 3 weeks out given the schedule.