Tuesday, 2 April 2013

What an afternoon

Yesterday I came back from paddling with a nice feeling. Not that feeling nice is uncommon after a paddle but yesterday was special for the low expectations I had at the beginning of it.

I had a good long paddle on Saturday and I only had a couple of hours to be in the water yesterday, so long was not in the plans. Being a holiday I knew the surfers would be all around the beaches so surfing my long boat was also out. The swell was between 1 and 2 meters and being alone didn't encourage to go among the rocks.

I put in and started to paddle out from the beach. The swell was not big nor powerful so I went to some rock formations to practice a bit of timing surfing over them. It was a good warm up but I wanted more!!!

I paddled around the small head to see how the rock garden on the other side was. It was out of the question. Big rollers were washing the rocks and the gaps were not visible :-(

I kept paddling along the long beach, trying to find a spot with few surfers. The holiday and the warm water lured them all out and everywhere with decent breaks was overcrowded. I kept going.

I spotted a solo SUP trying to surf around a sand bank. I joined him for a little while until we discovered the few and very spaced sets of bigger waves. Those waves dumped on the sand bar and the one I took dragged me broaching, after a couple of rolls, all the way in. At the end it threw me on the beach when the last bit of force dumped on dry sand. I launched again and kept going.

While paddling I saw two big fish, approx. 1 meter long it seemed to me, swimming past me. I had never seen before from my kayak so big fish swimming by.

After rounding another headland I was at the beginning of a 2 km long beach. I thought 'I must find some spot for me here'. It was also around 4.30pm and the surfers were starting to go away. Soon I found a deep sand bar way out of the beach. It was perfect. No surfers, some 50 meters wide with the bigger sets spilling in the centre and pockets moving to both sides. It was fantastic! As the swell rolled straight onto the sand bar, the waves stood to what I estimate 2 or 3 meters faces. I was riding them probably 1 meter ahead of the white and my bow was not hitting the bottom of the wave. They got very steep, and of course, the faces didn't last long and broke. However I had 2 means of escape: the one I used more often was paddling faster, some 45 degrees of the wave direction, in that way I went out of the sand bar just as water exploded. The other, plan B, was used when I didn't manage enough speed to escape to the side. It was to brace and let the white water carry me some 50 meters until it reformed in a deeper 'pool' of the sandy floor before continuing on to the beach.

While riding those waves I saw a big shade floating nearby. It didn't appear to be moving and I approached slowly with the hope it was a turtle. I didn't want to startle it. I took my time and when I finally got close enough to see clearly I discovered it was a huge plastic barrel. It had been drifting around long enough to have grown a little colony of barnacles. I tried to push it to the beach but got interrupted by a wave, when I rolled up my 'turtle' had 'swam away', I didn't see it again. At least in other areas I recovered 2 fishing buoys, 2 plastic bags, a piece of foam and many pieces of plastic wrappers.

Plan B, the unexpected brace and wait, was used twice only. The second time, when the soap released me I discovered my spare paddle bag, which is carried on my back deck, was loose from one end. I though it dangerous to keep surfing with that loose end. It could hit me in the back or I could lose the spare paddle completely if the other anchor point failed.

It was about 5.30 already, I had been surfing for 1 hour and the sun was setting down on the land. I started to cover the 4 km to my car. I was feeling good and did the distance in an almost sprint. Almost 30 minutes later, with tongue hanging out, I was in front of the rocks I had played at the start. With the tide a bit lower the gaps to go over were more exposed but I was in tune with the swell of the day already. That over the rocks followed by a ride of a wave to the beach was the perfect end for a fantastic afternoon.

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