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Weird Seas/Lovely Day Odiorne to Rye Harbor Saturday July 19, 2014


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Weird Seas/Lovely Day Odiorne to Rye Harbor Saturday July 19, 2014

The day started with a small miracle. Everyone was on time and we actually launched ten minutes early! How often does that happen with a group of nine with a proper beach briefing (beef breaching) and all? And so Rob, Cathy, Gene, Connie, Dave, Jeff, Joyce, Mike and I set out for what had become in the days before we met up, a paddle with a lobster roll as a goal. While Cathy doesnt even eat lobster, she had been good enough make the suggestion that we have lunch at a little lobster shack at Rye Harbor. Everyone hopped on board this idea with alacrity. It'salways good to have a goal for a trip!

The other goal was to do some rock play. Here, the day's weird seas played a bit of a diabolical role. The NOAA forecast had called for three foot seas with five knot winds - a lovely combination of bump and mellowness. As it turned out, the sea was if not glassy, close to it, with slow swells (did someone say two feet at 11 seconds?). The sun never really came out, so our day was under grey skies on grey seas. After rounding the breakwater and turning right toward Rye, most of us took the opportunity to don helmets and play in one of the first groups of rocks we came upon. A few stayed out a bit, while the rest of us did some circling in and out of the rocky area. All went well, and a few of us were pushed through on nice little waves.

We continued on, believing there would be more of this to come as we meandered south. We came to the second grouping of rocks. Here, there was an outside passage, a middle passage, and an inner passage. I found the outer too sporty, the inner too weenie, but the middle just right. Of course Rob had his eye on the outer passage, which required more finessed timing than the other routes. After spending the requisite amount of time surveying the action of the swells, he committed with fast acceleration, and made it through. And a second time. Third time wasnt a charm. Rob had his first wipeout in the rocks (he had been envious of Cathy, who managed this feat at the Solstice Paddle), and I had my first opportunity to use some of those CAM on-water day learned skills to use a contact tow to pull him out. Never mind that it was a benign enough area that he could have made it to safety on his own. It was at the very least nice to know what to do, and to do it. Take this as another encouragement to those who havent done so to join future CAM training sessions. There really are skills and lessons learned!

Oh, another lesson learned on Saturday. The water was cold. Maybe feeling more so because the day wasnt particularly warm.

We continued on. And as we scouted out more configurations of rocks, noticed that the sea was just being weird. An area that looked completely passable minute after minute, and impassable as a wave set came through, suddenly changed up the rhythm of waves and calm. And in the midst of nothing, here would come a big swell that on hitting the outer edge of the rocks would generate a wave that pushed all the way through the zone. There appeared to be neither rhyme nor reason to the rhythm. If Andy hadnt bailed on us at the last minute to go get proper instruction with Tom Bergh instead, I think we could have counted on him to venture into these areas waves be damned!!

But caution (mostly) prevailed. We continued on. And considered stopping at Wallis Sands but were discourage by what looked like dumping surf at the beach. No one was up for a mass surf landing and so wecontinued on. The swells kept coming. Paddlers to my left kept disappearing and reappearing. Big swells broke over shoals farther out to sea.

We approached Rye Harbor, threaded our way through several areas of breaking waves, and pulled out at the boat ramp at the far end of the harbor. Half of us had the vaunted lobster rolls (and the efficiency - or lack thereof - of two teenage girls trying to make five lobster rolls...well, that is a story for another day), while others found another venue for non-fish sandwiches. A leisurely lunch at a picnic table, and then off we went for the trip back.

The weird unpredictable rhythm of the swells got weirder, and we approached and backed off from numerous areas. We were joined for part of the paddle back by a tenth paddler, a woman named Charlotte from Ontario who was in a little wooden Pygmy kayak. She appeared to be a proficient paddler, who has guided in the past.

The sky stayed grey. The water stayed cold. The waves stayed unpredictable. But there were a few areas where you could catch a swell/wave and ride it for a while. Fun!

And so we were ultimately back behind the breakwater and pulled onto a nice sandy beach for a stretch and a bit of brief boat swapping.

Somehow a mellow paddle had turned into a longish day, and we were all a bit tuckered out when we reached the boat launch. I enjoyed the day for the company, the familiar route, the strange conditions (love those swells!), and for the few times that we were able to venture intoand successfully out ofsome rocks.

Thanks to everyone for coming alongand a special thanks to Cathy for her Lobster Inspiration, which should become a required part of any Odiorne paddle in the summer months.


(I forgot to bring my camera, so if there are any photos of the day, I didn't take 'em!)

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I agree with Pru about the weirdness of the sea in this area. Yesterday was not especially unusual. After paddling mostly on the Massachusetts seacoast from the Cape to Gloucester I never much needed to be aware of tides, currents, rocks, ledges, shoals or reefs. The seacoast from York harbor Maine south to Hampton, NH is rife with all of the above and one needs to be more aware-I think paddling here makes you a better paddler. Yesterday was a relaxed wonderful paddle with great companions. Lunch by the Lobster shacks at Rye Marina was a real treat. Here is a link to a few pics:


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