First, since I don't often get a lot of coastal paddling in and I wanted to work on those skills, I hired Michael Shugg to do an afternoon session of coastal kayak skills with me. Mostly, I wanted to learn to play and tour in surf conditions. Michael is an American Canoe Association instructor from Orlando and he recently started the company Adventure Spirit Kayaking. We started out at a Port Canaveral boat launch, not far from a number of cruise ships, then headed out around the point to the beach at Cape Canaveral/Cocoa Beach.
|Palm trees and cruise ships at the launch - things you just don't see much of in Saskatchewan.|
|A pretty calm day out there but there was some swell, I swear it!|
|That's probably one of the waves I should have been surfing, rather than trying to catch on the camera.|
|Myself after handing the camera to Michael for a while. It looks too calm for a helmet, but it did come in handy a couple of times when I approached the beach helmet-side-down.|
|A successful surf into the beach.|
|Ready to head back out again for another try.|
|Low bracing as the wave spills away underneath me.|
Finally, I had troubles controlling my angle on the wave. Most of my paddling is forward (or backward) and I can easily control the direction with correction strokes. Surfing a wave, you use a stern rudder which although I know how to do it in general, it's not totally intuitive or natural for me yet. I have to think about it and by the time I think about it, it's too late and I'm starting to broach on the wave.
I surfed backwards (on purpose) once or twice and in some respects that was easier for me since I could see what waves were coming. Heading out through the waves was interesting - that's the first time I've been smacked in the chest by a (short) wall of water. It was easy though to reach past the wave, plant my paddle, and power through. That's relatively small stuff though - I can see how that would be a challenge in some bigger surf.
|On shore, ready to head out for another run.|
We finished up the afternoon with some rescue practice - more rolling on each side, then re-enter & roll, then cowboy re-entry (which went very well other than popping my day hatch cover loose and getting my crackers soggy), then bow rescue, then a t-rescue. After that, we paddled back to the launch, a trip I'm certain was much longer than it was on the way out. Paddling back through the port entrance, we passed two cruise ships on their way out to the ocean, including a Disney ship which was just as loud as the theme parks my family had just visited in the first 2/3 of our trip to Florida. At the same time that one of the cruise ships was passing us, we paddled past a moored gambling cruise ship (much smaller than the other 2 ships, but a large ship nonetheless). We were no more than 60' from each of these massive building-sized boats in our tiny watercraft.
All in all it was a great afternoon on the water. I was glad to have made a new paddling acquaintance in Michael, I learned a lot, and I have lots to practice on Lake Diefenbaker or Lac La Ronge when the water warms up a bit.
|Tons of fun.|