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Rescues, Thachers, Salvages, & Straitsmouth

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At about 12:30PM on 8/16, 6 paddlers launched in 2 foot surf from Pebble Beach. The winds were between 10 and 15 knots from the south-south-west, and there were 1-2 foot swells and wind waves. We practiced scoop rescues, self scoop rescues, rat swims, and eskimo rescues right off of the southwest side of Milk Island so that the wind would push us into the rocks if we didn't execute the rescues efficiently.

After most of us had been in the water and a 7th paddler had caught up with us, we decided we had "cooled off" enough and headed to Thachers Island for lunch. Following seas made for a quick trip with lots of practice of corrective sweep strokes. We also got to see irritated fishermen as the gulls were taking their bait right off of their hooks.

Unfortunately, the Mother of all Slime Ramps was occupied by a motor boat so we went off in search of another landing. Crangle's Corral was underwater, but the Jade Bowl looked manageable. An unintentional capsize on a boomer in between the two landing spots resulted in further proof of the rat swim/Eskimo rescue combination. The landing was also not the smoothest as one paddler (me) twisted her knee in deceptively deep seaweed while headed back out into the water to help with other boats. It was a good thing that we didn't walk to the island.

Three paddlers decided to lunch at the top of the North tower while the rest of us shared fresh cucumbers, pineapple, and maple creams at the bottom of the tower (courtesy of Liz). The paddlers at the top enjoyed good scenery as well as a nice view of the island and surrounding ocean. (See footnote on bikini-clad visitors at the top of the tower.)

Liz left the tower a little early to check on the boats. There was concern that David's and Adam's boats weren't much above the expected high tide. It turned out that Liz's boat was the first to try to make a getaway, so it was fortunate that someone checked. The rest of the earthbound paddlers yelled up to the various feet and tops of heads that could be seen sticking just past the edges of the balcony at the top of the tower. Three paddlers emerged from the tangle and radioed down to inquire if we were leaving.

Liz and Steve left to paddle back and the rest of us paddled on to the Salvages in quieting seas. From a kayak off of Thachers Island, the Dry Salvages look like a distant island that must be many miles away. As you get closer, you realize that the island is really just a large, guano-slathered rock. Upon arrival we saw that the high tide had covered most of the interesting rocks and gaps. The swells were breaking in the only remaining gap, and we each surfed a couple through. A few seals popped their heads up to watch. One was enormous and had a very long nose. We decided it must be a sea elephant, although I didn't know that we had them in this area.

After the brief stop at the Dry Salvages we paddled on to Straitsmouth Island to swim and hang out. Just after we finished stacking the boats on two small ledges, a large gull landed on the rock above us. It opened its beak for what I assumed was the usual, obnoxious call, but instead an entire fish, as long, and at least as heavy as the gull itself, slid out of the bird's mouth. The gull promptly took flight, probably out of sheer embarassment.

We swam, sunned, and told tall tales until the tide threatened to strand us. By 6PM we were on our way back to Pebble Beach. As we paddled, the sky grew slowly darker. At first we weren't concerned because the hazy sky obscured the depth of the clouds. Also, the clouds were to the North, and the wind was from the South. But as the real edge of the clouds passed directly in front of the sun, we could see that they were indeed coming toward us were stacked high. Fortunately, the take out wasn't far, and the wind wasn't very strong.

Just as we got to the beach, the wind shifted direction and got much stronger and cooler. As we finished loading up the cars, infrequent lightning was observed. In the end, this front passed over us with no rain, and very little electrical activity. See Jed's post http://www.nspn.org/htdocs/dcforum/DCForumID3/363.html for what happened at the same time in Maine.

Dee Hall

Impex Currituck, Blue over Ivory

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