Lumpy Waters 2010 Saturday

23 10 2010

Another day of Alder Creek Kayak & Canoe’s Lumpy Waters Symposium!

Saturday broke beautiful and blue bird clear! My class for the day was Cape Lookout Tour. It was to be an all-day class and I was really looking forward to it. In 2009 I did only half day classes, which are good, but I wanted to experience a full day on a major landmark on the Oregon Coast.

My cabin-mates Stuart, Gary and Dave all got along well. Friday night everyone was crashed out early to re-energize by getting a good night’s sleep. At six a.m. I motivated to grab an early shower and get refreshed. Once done I headed to the “kitchen shed” where All Star Rafting’s staff put together a spread of breakfast goodies for the hungry paddlers. Everybody was in a terrific mood looking forward to an epic day on the water!

Classes gathered at 8:30 for a meet and greet and to set out the day’s plan. My instructors were John, Chris and Ron. Unfortunately they told us we couldn’t do a Cape Lookout tour because the swells were north->south, meaning very rough conditions on the north side of west-pointing Cape Lookout. Friday evening Neil Schulman told me a story of a time when he had a group launching on the north side of the cape and most wound up swimming. Later, Mark Whittaker told me he and Ginni Callahan had paddled down from the north one time to scout the put-in on the north side and described the conditions as “catastrophic.” Although there is a way to put in on the south side of Cape Lookout, it’s a complicated logistical problem with property rights/access issues.

The upshot was John proposed an alternative of rock gardening by Cape Kiwanda, then heading out beyond the cape to see what the north swell was like, then heading south to check out the haystack rock and maybe paddle to the mouth of the Nestucca River and up back towards Pacific City. That’d be a very long day but at that time we were up for it.

We launched and headed out into the swell coming into the beach at Pacific City. Weather report said it was a seven foot swell. Not all the waves incoming were that big.

Wind had dropped from Friday. Anyway we were given instruction on rock gardening in and around the rocks near Cape Kiwanda. It takes time to get used to the wave action but it’s manageable. You can surf down an incoming wave in between rocks.

We practiced along the rocks...

We did a bunch of laps. Then they asked us to try it backwards. Like surfing, rock gardening requires patience. You do OK if you pick the right surge to take in between the rocks. Everything isn’t as hard as it looks.

Then John said let’s go out into the ocean, beyond Cape Kiwanda. There’s a buoy off the cape, a good meeting spot. The swells were coming around the end of the cape and bending into the beach. The plan was to paddle beyond the cape, in between it and the haystack rock, and head north to check things out.

The swells entering the beach at Pacific City were all reduced swells – meaning despite their size, they didn’t have their full energy since they were wrapping around the cape. Also none of them were reflected. But once we rounded the cape we experienced their full energy, plus reflection off the cape. My kayak was going uphill on the incoming swells and downhill on the reflected waves.

North (left) side of Cape Kiwanda was much worse Saturday

Then there were “lumpy” waves, wind waves in between the swells. For me, even looking at the cape was unsettling. The swells were crashing against it. I had to look out to sea. I was not feeling sea sick, but I was feeling a sense of adrenaline making my body stiffen up. What was bothering me was that I knew I should be loose – my lower body should be able to be loose from the upper but I kept transmitting too much of the wave action from the boat to my upper body. Usually this feeling goes away in 10-15 minutes. Making things worse was I think my foot braces were a click too close, meaning too much body English /wave energy was being transmitted from the boat to my body, making it seem more unsteady. Out there, reaching under the deck to my feet to adjust the braces seemed unthinkable.

All smiles, besides pitch poling twice!

I was the only one feeling that way Saturday afternoon. Everyone else was comfortable. Either way, John decided to ask us to meet at the buoy, which was much further out to sea away from the reflected waves. One thing all the instructors told us was to keep moving if possible. They said think of it like a bicycle – it’s hard to stay upright if stopped, easy when moving. Same in a kayak.

Once we neared the buoy, I felt much better. Out there it was mostly incoming swells, less reflected. We headed down and planned to gather past the haystack on the south side. From where we started it looked to me like the swells were breaking way out on the seaward side of the stack. But John assured me it was just foam moving out to sea. That turned out to be the case, though it sure looked from afar like breaking waves!

So we spent some time messing around the rocks on the back side of the haystack. We all did some rescues back there. No problem. At least I can say I did my first deep ocean rescue! It seemed not much different than anyplace else I’d done it. Just the fact that the water was moving up and down 7 feet. It reminded me of rolling a kayak. It is all about nerves. If you calm yourself down, all the points are the same, just a different environment. If you do the same steps, so what if you are out in the ocean? You just remain calm and go through the steps. So I need to do a roll out there. It would be the same thing, just settle your brain down and do it. In fact they often say doing the roll calms your whole body down. Like getting wet – once you are wet it is all over and you are used to it.

Then it was decision time. Choices? Either head back to the beach for more rock gardening/surf session, or a long kayak to the Nestucca River mouth and another 7 miles up the river. We chose to head back to the beach area to practice.

Window shading!

Testing out the surf!

When done, I hung out on the beach watching the “Fear to fun in the Surf” class.  Here’s a video with lots of kayaks going back and forth, some succeeding, most not! And then…a paddler makes her way in and someone else doesn’t make it!

Here’s a 2009 video of Lumpy (conditions were more difficult) but there is one shot of me in the orange/black Pyranha burn heading out…

I even saw a woman pitch pole (rolling stern over bow) twice!

Later in the evening we had another happy hour and pizza! Then Karl Cohagen of Kokatat put on a fun trivia contest. Lots of schwag for prizes, all about kayak trivia! The unruly crowd was hard to control! One of the trivia questions concerned a pair of instructors from the Pacific NW…

During the trivia contest Karl did a shout out to all the instructors who came to Lumpy Waters!

Here’s Carl’s shout out for all the instructors!





Lumpy Waters Ocean / Surf Kayaking Symposium Day 1

20 10 2010

Alder Creek Kayak & Canoe put on the Lumpy Waters Symposium in 2009, and it was without doubt the highlight of the year. So when they offered it for 2010, I didn’t hesitate to sign up right away.

It is a three-day series of ocean and surf kayaking instruction, and it’s based out of Pacific City Oregon. The location is perfect. They picked Cape Kiwanda RV / Campground to stage the event. It’s walking distance from the beach and the Pelican Brew Pub. And it’s 30 minutes or less to fabulous paddling locations such as Three Arch Rocks National Wildlife Refuge and Cape Lookout. Behind Pacific City the Nestucca River meanders and is a good place for flat water instruction.

Everything is included – three days of lessons, all meals, lodging (either camping or a bed in a cabin) and this year even happy hour was hosted each night – by Kokatat Watersports Wear and Thule. Alder Creek spared nothing and reached out to bring in some of the best instructors in the country – even some world champion kayakers! I didn’t realize the level of instruction was so high until I arrived.

I spent plenty of time preparing for Lumpy Waters. Three days full of ocean / surf kayaking can wear you down. Plus the environment can put demands on anyone’s skills and confidence. So for the month ahead of Lumpy Waters, I was working with a group to find rough water for practice. We also went to as many pool practice sessions for rolling as we could handle. I spent time just preparing for endurance by “fast paddling” with my Werner Corryvrecken Carbon paddle, doing laps around Ross Island on the Willamette River.

Friday at Lumpy Waters – my class was short boat surfing. I arrived and the weather was sunny and gorgeous.

Sean Morley ripping it up!

Once registered and settled into my cabin, I enjoyed a turkey sandwich lunch and then met my class for the 1:00 afternoon session. This was when I found out one of my instructors was Sean Morley, who holds records and is a surf kayaking champion! Holy Geez. Our other instructors were Alder Creek waterman Shawn McClure, and Chris Bensch who’ve been to this beach many times

Sean Morley

We gathered on the north end of the beach at Pacific City to find some easy waves for practice/learning.

The group was using mostly dedicated surf kayaks, and there was one sit on top, and two whitewater kayaks including my medium Pyranha Burn.

It was a seven foot swell from the north which curled around Cape Kiwanda. It was windy. Windy enough for the occasional gust to cause beach sand to get in my eyes when out on the water. Before we went out Sean and Shawn explained that once we get into our routine, we should surf as a cohesive group. There’d be a line waiting for a wave and most of the time one at a time would ride in. Then, paddlers returning out to the line were to stay down beach away from those surfing. It worked out. We also picked a spot with consistent gentle waves suitable for learning.

Surfing involves lots of patience because not every wave is ideal to ride. You need to learn to pick out a good one and then get the timing right to ride it. Get the timing wrong and most of the time it will pass under you. It’s also important to have an active paddle in the water. That doesn’t necessarily mean paddle blades whirring like a hummingbird, just might mean a low brace or a stern rudder. Though in my case, it seemed nerves made me more like the bird! With enough experience and time on the waves I think I can learn to carve.

I rode a whole lot of waves in. The way swells work, every so often there’ll be a group of three or four huge ones with smaller ones in between. I was intimidated by those big ones but Sean was encouraging us to ride them in.

I rode some of the waves all the way in, and some others blew it and rolled over. Twice I was able to roll up. One time I got nervous and abandoned ship, and another I was just sucked out of the cockpit altogether – no chance to even decide. Result? Nothing. Nada. Who cares? Just empty the boat and go out again.

Later on I watched as the fear to fun class took their knocks in the surf!

The best was to roll up to have Sean Morley standing waist deep giving me the two thumbs up!

Later that day Thule sponsored a most generous happy hour, which was followed by a Mexican feast cooked up by a crew from All Star Rafting. There were 80 students plus instructors to feed.

Thule had a sweet party trailer! It had a roof top deck, a big stereo/TV on the side to show movies, and they put on a nice spread of shrimp, veggies, Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale, and various types of wine – bottomless! To say the least the guests were satisfied.

Stories of the day shared with friends!

And lots of stories were told of the day’s activities. I heard a long boat surf class out by the mouth of the Nestucca River had numerous capsizes and rescues. Sounded like the surf down there was a lot harder!

Following the meal, Rob Avery, instructor and sales rep for Valley Sea Kayaks, showed a presentation of an expedition to remote Aleutian Islands.

All in all a very full day! Some of us tried to stay up a little longer but everyone drifted off to their sleeping spots for the night. Saturday would no doubt test our mettle again!








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