Saturday, March 13, 2010

2010.04.173 - Gone With The Wind

Whoooeee, did we have fun! We knew we were running a bit of a risk with the weather by planning a paddle for today. As much as the last few weeks have felt like summer, the last week has not, and it even snowed Friday morning, although it didn't stick in town. And although Saturday was sandwiched between two fronts, we really wanted to paddle today as the currents were perfect for a jaunt out of Cadboro Bay and over to Chatham and Discovery Islands -- a slight ebb, almost slack. Last evening's check of the weather reports looked good, too -- the system that had brought the snow had moved on, leaving a clear and calm evening that looked like it might hold through the morning.
But the weather report this morning looked a little less promising. Winds were up higher than forecast, but there were no warnings up and the wind was expected to not be too bad. Also, it was due from the southwest, so we should be somewhat protected in the south-east facing Cadboro Bay.
Ha! Those would be what you call Famous Last Words!
The wind was blowing in from the south-east -- what the hell? No report was predicting south-east winds! Louise and I arrived at the beach to survey the scene. A crossing to Chatham seemed doubtful today. We were wondering what Paula would think of the conditions but just then she hit the beach pulling her kayak with a big grin. No, actually she was pulling her kayak with a pair of wheels, but she was wearing a big grin. Well, you know what I mean. She'd already checked out the waves and was raring to go have some fun.
Richard pulled up and said no, this wasn't for him. He doesn't like to paddle in conditions like this on purpose. He prefers to have them sneak up on him unexpectedly. He figured the winds were blowing 20 knots. But he did shoot this little clip of us as we launched:

But the rest of us were game to go. A sheltered bay like this is the perfect place to play in rough conditions and expand your comfort zone.
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We headed out the south side of Ten Mile Point. Our idea was to head out to the end of the Point to visually check just what the conditions were really like out there between us and Chatham. But progress was slow. The wind was straight in our faces. We gamely pressed on.

I can't tell if my companions are enjoying themselves or cursing. They may be doing both. I'll let you be the judge.
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We finally decided enough was enough, and we swung around a small island near Sheep Cove to head back. There were some great surfing waves here, then a brief and calm reprieve before the wind pushed us back out in to the bigger waves.
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We headed back to the beach, and a lot faster than we headed out! As we approached the beach, we knew we were having too much fun to quit yet, so we headed out again, this time along the Yacht Club side of the bay.
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We took a little break by paddling inside the small breakwater, then we turned and headed back to the beach.
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The wind had picked a bit and the waves were a little higher. (Checking the weather reports later, it looks we were getting 30 kmh winds from the south-east, right at our backs at this point, the height of the wind storm).
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Louise had moved off to the left and become a little separated from Paula and I. Still, everything seemed to be going well. But as Louise neared the beach, I looked over towards her and saw nothing but the white bottom of her kayak. Louise had Maytaged in the surf! I'll let her continue the story:
"Paddling back from Yacht Club, John was being sweep keeping behind Paula and I. It was hard to keep an eye on Paula and know where John was as well while battling the waves which to me seemed much higher than when we had ridden them back from the other side of the bay earlier. I kept paddling but noticed that I was quickly getting separated from Paula and John. It was just best to head back to shore rather than paddle across the waves to meet up with Paula and John. As I came closer to shore, using the skeg to keep as straight as possible, my speed accelerated and it was time to get the skeg up. I think that's when everything happened in a rapid sequence of events: pull cord to get skeg up, wave hits from behind, kayak starts to surf, come closer into shore, surf is now more powerful, kayak turns on side and dumps me out. It wasn't deep water at all -- I pulled my skirt pull tab, floated out of the kayak and didn't get wet below my waist. Everything stayed on the deck, only my gear bag unclipped and started to float away. My paddle leash got twisted around my ankle causing me to almost trip. The kayak on the other hand was upside down. By this time Paula and John arrived, and we turned the kayak over and dumped out a ton of water. No injuries, just one cold wet person and some soaked gear."
Okay, so her Maytag may have only been set on slow rinse rather than spin, but still she pulled through with flying colours. Paula and I quickly beached and made sure she and her boat were okay. Then we packed up and headed out for a much deserved, and much needed, warm drink.
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2010-03-13 Cadboro Bay
Trip length: 4.36 km
YTD: 23.80
More pictures are here.
The Google Earth kmz is here.

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