Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Stumbling Along

We learn to walk by stumbling. Bulgarian Proverb.

If you allow it, life can be a series of lessons where stumbles become steps along the road to some distant goal, not the end of the road. Yesterday, was one of the those days where a series of stumbles can provide a whole host learning experiences. 

Probably the first lesson learned is that I have to work out some way of getting the sail down quickly in strong winds. I have been able to manage when the wind is in the 15 knot range and even in gusts up to 20 knots, but when the wind is blowing stronger than that, unless I manage to raft up to another kayak, once the sail is up, it's up for good. Capsizing would work, but is clearly not a reasonable option.

 Easy paddling in the North Barnard Islands

I really must learn to steer the kayak better when sailing in following seas with a strong wind blowing. When we first got back into kayaking after a long hiatus, I broached frequently in a following sea. Gradually, I've got to the point where I can handle a following sea pretty well, but, yesterday, with the sail up, I was sailing in circles such was my inability to control the kayak. This was not only inefficient and energy consuming, but, at times, downright scary. 

Ashore in the North Barnard Islands

Because I felt as if my kayak was heeling right over in the wind and threatening to capsize I was using my paddle blade as an outrigger not a rudder. Doug, however, had his paddle oriented somewhere half way between an outrigger and a rudder and was relatively easily maintaining control. At the time, I knew I needed more rudder, but, when you are just holding on to an upright position, making changes which feel as if they will affect your stability (in the wrong direction) are tough to commit to. 

Getting out sailing on all the windy days that we can has certainly improved my ability to control the kayak as have the surfing sessions at Yorkeys Knob when we get a wave running. In the end, all this stuff has to be instinctive because you don't have the time to think things through when you are whipping along in a stiff wind. And, the only way to make things instinctive is to get out and do them over and over again.

Early morning in the North Barnard Islands

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