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fishers island redux....

rick stoehrer

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there are a few of us going over to wales in a month or so to take 5 star training with tom from mikco at nigel dennis's kayak center. one of the elements to paddling along the welsh coast where we will be going are the tremendous tidal races....huge amounts of water moving very fast around and over rocky bits that aren't good for boats and even worse for boates should something go "awry"!

with this in mind, we snuck away again for a weekend down off of fishers island and around stonington to play in the fast water and bumpy bits that the flood and ebb had to offer on this weekends springs.

saturday we launched and paddled the 6 miles or so out to race rock light and encountered more of what we were expecting after last months trip - fast, fast water and big, jumbly waves coming from myriad direction....and oddly, it was just as much fun! we found that if we went out to the south of race rock light and then surfed in from the north from the outside in the mayhem, we could catch some pretty nice rides! it was a blast to play in this water and use the eddy lines accordingly.

one of us showed up with a strip built razor billed auk as opposed to his explorer - he was les than enthused with the boats performance in the conditions we encountered and it is a testimony to his considerable abilities that he wasn't rescue bait the entire day! the man has a brace...oh, yes he does.

we played along in the race there for awhile....padlle out, maintain postion and directional control...wait for your wave....PADDLE, PADDLE, PADDLE...catch a wave and surf for a bit...it passes out from under you or dies away or you're knocked off from another bit of water and you maintain....repeat. short bursts of high output followed by maintenance to work the swells and the waves up against the current.

we camped out at an rv park on saturday and woke sunday to meet up with the southern contingent again (cheri perry was along and yes, ain't she pretty impressive in that lovely little boat?) and after a bite to eat and exchanging some embarrassing stories about jed, we were off to the launch. this time our destination was napatree point and then sugar reef and chatham rocks.

we initially paddled over to the lighthouse over by napatree and it was a repeat of the previous days events, paddle like hell, surf, maintain and repeat with a break into an eddy if you wanted to take the express ride back to the front of the line or got played out and tired.

once we set out to sugar reef though, this all changed...there was no eddy. none...eddy had left. bye-bye. it was now essentially enter into the race, and you had to surf back up against it and really the current didn't care if you got tired and that there was no eddy. it was exhilirating and fun and we had enough folks to make it safe should anyway ditch....chatham rocks were much of the same.

the weekend really set our minds at ease over playing in tidal races....we don't really encounter them here off the coast of mass to this degree and since we've never really seen any water moving like this, maybe all of our tendencies is to work it into a bit of a bogey man; and then to think about the speeds and volumes in wales? help, mommy!

but this was good, we got a feel for it and understand whats going on and while whatever we encounter overseas is doubtless going to be on a bigger scale, it's just a matter of degree as opposed to something with which we've no familiarity. the weekend set our minds to ease a bit (maybe, perhaps) with something that we've been looking forward to for a long time.

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..errrr...ok, lets try that without being so quick on the send key....

the launch for fishers island we used was esker point, groton long point rd. in groton and then on sunday to play out at catumb rocks and sugar reef we used stonington borourh....it's in stonington of course but directions....yeah, you'd have to go to the connyakkers and to get them.

with all the moving water ken, i think you'd love it! it really is a hoot!

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