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8 paddlers and surf? SNG from Conomo Point 10/8

Kevin B (RPS Coach)

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Hmm, it started well, seeing eight paddlers show up for a surf SNG. Carl, Walter, Jason, Jon, Ernie, Dana, Rob and myself all show up to find a very high Essex Bay. The paddle out is simple enough, with plenty of water to just cut across the bay to open ocean. The forecast, according to wetsands, had been 3-4ft, but I've been told that forecasting surf is more art than science, which turned out to be true on this day. As we hit the mouth of the Essex, we hit some chop that at least added some texture to the water. Once out in the bay, not much was happening given the high lunar tide. We saw at most 1 footers in the beginning; however, occassionally some nice sets of 1.5 to 2 footers would show themselves.

This sporadic appearance of surfable waves continued, with most us of having enough fun to stick it out and see if anything else would develop. Those teaser waves, combined with the few rescues that Jon was nice enough to allow me to perform, (Jon, who was surfing for the first time, did exceptionally well!) made the time pass quickly. It also turned out to be a good time to practice boat control, particularly using the waves to help turn the boat. I've always found that to be the most tiring aspect of surfing...surf in, turn around and paddle out, turn around and paddle in...what a pain. One solution has been to just paddle backwards on the way out, but that tends to get a bit annoying as well. The technique I stumbled upon yesterday was to lean forward or back depending on the direction of travel and throw in a quick sweep stroke or bow rudder in the process. It's amazing how quickly 18 feet of boat will turn.

After a bit more play in whatever we could find, a landing where Walter tried to trade our kayaks for a couple of horses and a no water relaunch, a couple of us noticed that some waves had begun to develop on a sand bar further out. Walter, Jason, Carl and I all managed to get some nice rides off that set before it too petered out. Watler's yippees could be heard across the bay ;) In hindsight, it was best that those waves disappeared when they did, for immediately after their disappearance, we headed back in towards Conomo. We found that the lunar low tide was indeed low, as much of the water had already drained out with low tide still 90 minutes away. The ride back turned into a bit of a slog, paddling against mild current after surfing for 3.5 hours. Combined with the glaring sun directly in front of us, the trip seemed longer than it actually was in reality. We finally ran out of water about 50 yds from the put in, but we still made it back to shore. So in the end, did we surf? Yes. Did we have fun? Yes. Were we freaking tired after the slog back? YES. Is surf forecasting an art? Most definitely, YES! The two times I've tried it have been met with mixed success. So many variables need to be considered, that it will only come with experience. One variable I will focus on controlling more will be minimizing the trip back. At Nahant, the damn tide went out and we were faced with a daunting walk back to the cars. At Essex, we had to slog it back to the put in. Like everything in this peculier sport, things need to be experienced before they can be completely understood; however, that's one of the things that drew me to the sport...the notion that EVERY time I paddle, I will learn something new. It's how I approach every day in my life and I wouldn't settle for anything less in a sport.

So, as I've had a tendancy to do with trip reports of late, I leave off with bit of advice for new paddlers: embrace what you don't know about the sport, understand that there will ALWAYS be something you don't know about it, and have the courage to try everything that kayaking has to offer. When you try things, you will fail, it's inevitable; however, with experience you will succeed--it's only a matter of time and perseverance. Letting fear of the unknown stop you from pushing your comfort levels is much worse than accidently flipping over in your boat. We can always get you back in your kayak...

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We had much the same experience on Saturday in Plumb Island Sound. Launched into the last of the flood current to play on it, then at slack managed to get around to Crane’s. Very large wind-driven swells, but they were dumping right on the sand. There was just NO surf.

Then playing in the ebb at the rocks where the Ipswich dumps out. Could see the current rushing right under you. Cool. Finally the zippers started forming on the bars, so we headed out and hung around in that and caught a few rides. A capsize each (and roll) for a few of us and yet another lost hat for me.

Fun enough, I guess.

Then the horrible, horrible, slog back in against the ebb. Miserable. Hate it, but no way around it.

When you would have expected to get surf, given the forecast, there was none . . .

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Surf prediction. It's not enough to know that waves are there but direction. Waves were coming from ESE this past weekend. You picked the place that was directly blocked by Cape Ann. Any thing more than a bump out there was wind driven.

The more you surf, the more you will follow the forecast, wind predictions, satellite pics, triangulate bouy readings to figure where the best surf will be. And, you can get pretty good at it if you become obsessive like some of us are.


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Date on the pix must have changed to 10/9 which at least appear to not show any more than the bumps we had at Cranes on Sunday. Was there good action there Sunday? Were you out in it?

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>Date on the pix must have changed to 10/9 which at least

>appear to not show any more than the bumps we had at Cranes

>on Sunday.

It was more on Sunday and Sat. according to web cam. Also I heard the Gerrish race resulted in the sea eating some boats. Those pics do show kayakers surfing in short boats. On man's bumps are another man's mountain I guess.

>Were you

>out in it?

Who, me? Not this timid woodland creature. OTOH, see my trip report for weekend.

Ed Lawson

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No,the bumps we had on Sunday at Crane's were really just that. We were hoping for a mountain or two but it didn't happen :-(

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Hey Kevin - Thanks for the kind words regarding my surfing "performance". I was actually pretty nervous prior to entering the bay; not knowing what to expect after watching large swells pound Castle Rock in Marblehead earlier that morning. It was a lot of fun and helped me gain more confidence in my bracing ability as well as general boat control in surf. Well.....except for those two dumps....BTW, I need to remember to only capsize in waist-deep water in the future, it makes assisted re-entries quite a breeze. Thanks again.


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