Friday, June 3, 2016

The Day The Kayaks Took Over The Surf Break

Taking your sea kayak surfing is to ocean kayaking what sport climbing is to rock climbing. It's a kind of low commitment, just have fun kind of activity. Just like sport climbing, surfing can still be a bit scary, but, unless you are out in monster conditions, mostly if something goes wrong you can bail out and swim into the beach, just like you can bail off a sport climbing. The weather is also less important. If it all goes to crap, you can just go home. There is no feeling that you are stuck on a big mountain or a wide ocean in a horrible storm. 

Someone is looking just a wee bit unhappy as a storm rolls in

With the colder and cloudy weather lately and a friendly 1 to 2 metre swell we have been taking the sea kayaks surfing instead of doing long paddles. On Wednesday, we took the kayaks out to Moruya Heads where there are a number of spots you can ride. The big kids play right in the middle of the river entrance where a sandbar picks up a nice regular wave. You can also play inshore on the south side of the breakwater where there is a long swash zone, or, if conditions are right, some good waves can be had off Shelly Beach. 

It was pretty fun for the first hour and I caught lots of waves, the second hour the swell was diminishing and there were longer gaps between good rides. No-one capsized, which is always nice, although I was wet through from breaking waves. Doug, who had a more conservative approach, and was wearing a wet suit, stayed remarkably dry. 

 Doug in the swash zone at Moruya Heads

Friday we went up to Mossy Point which almost always has a good easy wave on some sandbars off Tomakin Beach. It was a grey kind of day and feeling distinctly chilly so we were surprised to find six other kayakers there including a friend from Tuross. Turns out some young folk were training for their sea skills certification and had come out to do some practice in the surf, so it turned out to be the day the kayaks took over the surf break. 

Kayakers take over the surf zone

There's not that much you can say about surfing if you don't get ejected from your boat in a pitch pole down a wave and horribly trashed, so I'll just say it was fun. Some rides were long, some short, some kayakers definitely took a swim, but not Doug or I, we were all wet, some of us were colder than others, and, finally the time for wearing a wetsuit to surf in is probably here. Doug and I had a wee paddle around the rocks off Mossy Point in between sessions as I was getting pretty chilled, having a habit of getting way more thrashed in waves than Doug does. 

The only problem with surfing a sea kayak is that it will inevitably broach on the wave and then you'll feel like you've been through the spin cycle of your washer as you bounce sideways into shore with a wall of water crashing over your head. It's kind of like "fun, fun, fun, oh no I'm broaching, lean, brace, no fun at all." 

Getting warmed up paddling around Mossy Point

When I first starting surfing I would fight broaching as long as I could leaning the kayak and using a solid stern rudder. Then two kayakers, much better than me, told me to just let the boat broach when it was ready. I've been doing that lately and I'm pretty sure the "fun, fun, fun" transition into "no fun at all" is getting quicker and quicker. Next time I go out I think I'll revert to the fight the broach until the fight is lost tactic again, which, given we are currently being pounded by an east coast low, may not be for a few days at least.

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