Sunday, April 19, 2009

East Coast Canoe and Kayak Festival, Day 3

The East Coast Canoe and Kayak festival is a three day event of the weekend. There are many classroom events, water classes, and demonstrations that occur over the whole festival. Last night was the big demonstration event with several of the instructors showcasing their skills in front of an audience. This is always the big demonstration worth going to as it is all in one place at one time with no other events going on to interfere with the viewing pleasure. Last night I watched Nigel Foster doing ballet with his kayak, moving it effortless through the water with barely any strokes. I watched Alison Sigethy rolling her boat over and over again with precision and grace. I watched Karen Knight glide around in a canoe, making it spin in circles, doing things with a canoe I never thought possible until I watched her doing it. And finally I watched Dubside demonstrate several of the Greenland rolls, with bricks, and candles, and at one point, both a brick and a candle.

Today being the last day of the festival, many people are packing up and getting ready to leave. I have a long day ahead of me on the ocean and have opted to stay an extra night and drive back in the morning when I expect to be a little less tired. My first class is an advanced open water workshop. This will only be my second time out on the ocean and my first real chance in my sea kayak. I was a little leery of signing up for the advanced class as I wasn't sure if I had the skills to participate. The put in was some distance from where we dropped off out boats and that meant a long carry. I buddied up with someone and we carried both boats down to the beach making it in only one trip. While I sometimes hate carrying two boats at once as it is hard on the hand, it was nice to know I didn't have to walk back through the shifting sand to get another boat. The ocean was really nice this morning and we stood on the beach getting our bearings and discussing the lay of the ocean before heading out. There was a nice light house and a line of surf along a sand bar. The conditions of the area were going to give up several challenging sections which was great. I felt I did quite well, although it was pointed out I have to be more aggressive when cresting a wave. The paddle was nice and I realized I prefer to paddle while quartering a wave rather then beam side to the wave. I did do a little surfing of the swells and had fun in general. I am glad I took the class as I feel I took away a lot from the class, both in terms of how best to manage a group and how to deal with the changing nature of the ocean.

My next and last class for the day was long boat surfing. I had really enjoyed the short boat surfing the day before with Nigel Foster, so I was looking forward to trying it with the long boat. My short boat is about 6 feet long and very maneuverable. My sea kayak is about 18 feet long and while it is maneuverable on flat water, it isn't that maneuverable. I wasn't sure what to expect from the class and while I am glad I was bumped to the more advanced section of the class, I think a few basics in the surf might have been helpful. The goal of the class was to get broach to the wave then turn the boat back into or away from the wave. The waves seemed to be left turning waves. I had a hard time convincing my boat to turn in any other direction once I was on the wave. So my left and weaker side got a good work out. Once I was broach to the wave, I did try to turn back to face out to the ocean, but it seemed once I initiated the maneuver, the boat just wanted to turn forward again. At least I was able to get the boat to turn to present a smaller area to the beach. I did get bowled over by one wave about two times, I was bowled over, then bowled back up then bowled over again and I managed to roll back up only to get bowled back over again. I finally rolled back up and was out of the wave. The instructor sat there and watched me as this happened, and that was what we talked about on the drive back to the festival grounds. He praised me for having the where with all to keep trying to come back up. I just didn't want to exit the boat in the big surf. I did have to exit at least twice, once because the surf had rolled me into an unrollable position, and another when I didn't come back up and was almost hitting the ground in the shallows.

Overall I felt I got much more out of the festival on the last two days then the first day. I had a great time and can't wait to play out on the ocean even more. I need to get out more in order to build up my confidence in myself and to get a better feel for how my boat reacts to the water and surf in ocean conditions. I will also have to get out on the ocean sometime with a loaded kayak to see how the kayak behaves when it is full of gear and added weight.

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