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What were you doing while we played in the Hole?

Six not-so-INSANE paddlers Jed Luby, Mike Sabin, the leaders; and a tribe of Paul Sylvester, Rick Crangle, Sir Christopher Godfrey and myself, put in from Bar Neck road. Our departure was at 9:00 a.m. We maneuvered to keep out of the busy ferry traffic, heading to Juniper Point for a last discussion and to confirm all were ready for the crossing to West Chop, Martha’s Vineyard. The conditions were a 2+ knot current to push us along and a northeast wind of 20 k to keep the excitement up. The sky was clear and blue, the water somewhat warm, as I can attest to-- more on that later. The boat traffic was for the most part ferries working between Woods Hole and the Islands. We gave them a wide berth and headed out on a compass course of 180 magnetic. After about ten minutes, two of us were 400 yards apart from the main body. After a slow regroup so as not to lose ground, it was determined that all our compasses were reading 180; it was the squirrely currents of the sound. Jed solved the problem by saying keep the compass course of 180 as long as you stay 20 feet from me. I took that to be follow me.

We headed across Grant Ledge and headed for the east end of Middle Ground shoal. With a current coming down the sound and the wind pushing against the current, we were in a 3 to 4 foot fairly steep rolling chop. The going was easy and fast with the current pushing us along. The Middle Ground was not to be messed with as it got lots of very shallow spots and rocks that break. We played a bit and headed for a sandy beach at West Chop for a rest and to make the next plan. We decided to be at the Hole at 1:00 p.m. for the max ebb flow. We planned to go back across the Middle Ground and have lunch at Nonamesset Island. On the way over I was paddling a new hand-built Greenland paddle, and on a brace it broke and I failed to make a broken paddle roll. A quick rescue by Paul and Chris and I was back in the boat in about 20 seconds. Practice does pay off.

The paddle back across the Sound was much slower due to now fighting the current, but having the wind push was a help. The sea seemed slightly less challenging on the return trip. We found a nice sheltered bay, I think it was Sheep Pen Harbor, out of the wind and put ashore on a sandy beach. A general discussion of experts in wood proclaimed my paddle was too thin in the blade section. Back to the drawing board now with more experience. The Greenland paddle was not as effective in the surf as a Euro paddle, at least in the hands of a beginner. We then headed into the Hole for a current check and a search for wave trains. After a crossing to between Red Ledge and Devils Foot Island, we played in the flow between Devils Foot and Penzance Pt.

The main group, all but me, headed across the Woods Hole Passage and into the shoals around Hadley Rock. I could not see them when I finished playing in the current and headed in the general direction. Working against a 3 knot current and riding up and down the same wave train was tiring and I decided I was too tired to play any more. I headed back and practiced a couple of rolls and waited for the voyagers to return.

Once we were all gathered together, the decision was made to head back to the put-in. We made several attempts to buck the current and plow through the cut between Penzance Pt. and Devils Island. The hardy bunch did make it around Devils Island, I dragged my boat ten feet across the bar and met them at Ram Island. A slow paddle to the put-in looking at Knorr and Albatross IV (the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute research vessels) gave you the feeling that Woods Hole is a special place for many reasons, all to do with the sea..

A PPPO at a local joint and a recap of the day ended a excellent kayaking day in New England.

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