Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Another Salty Paddle

Sunday after the race Camille, Sara, and I had planned to join the Carolina Beach Women’s Kayak Group (CBkayak) for a nice day paddle. It’s too long a trip to the coast (3 hrs) not to take advantage of every opportunity to get our kayaks in salt water. And this is a group we hope to have some joint adventures with in the future.

There were 12 of us who met at the Ft Fisher Basin around 10 that morning. Ft Fisher is near the mouth of the Cape Fear River, where the Cape Fear Inlet provides outlet into the Atlantic.

It was not the leisure paddle we had planned after the previous days race, winds were 20 mph with higher gusts, lots of white caps and wind driven wavelets. And Virginia had accidently miscalculated the tides so it was a bit of a revisit in conditions. But still a recreational paddle with no need to hurry today.

We paddled out the basin behind Zeke’s Island and the "wall" into a big bay, then entering a channel with rocks and eddies, that entered into one and then another bay. The "wall" is a mile long concrete and rock jetty between the bays and the ocean connecting the southern tip of Pleasure Island to Zeke’s Island and then to Smith Island. The wall keeps the north/south flow of the river from impacting this fragile estuary (The basin is part of the Zeke's Island Estuarine Reserve). At high tide, the water overflows the wall, at low tide, there are holes that a kayak could pass.

We did get caught with the low tide as we tried to enter one of the bays, but it was just a short drag in a couple inches of fast moving water (and we lost 3 from our group opting to head back) and then we paddled into the bay and over to a sandy beach.

Much to our surprise, it was then just a short hike over a few sand dunes and there was the ocean. We lunched and visited, and enjoyed a short rest listening and watching waves hitting the sandy shore.

Everyone was having fun; it was a beautiful warm and sunny day despite the windy conditions. Not a whiner in the group, just us girls who like to be on the water.

The paddle back was again a bit of a workout, tough current and wind. I’ll take care not to leave my sail home next time; this would have been a great opportunity to play with my Pacific Action Sail in the Explorer.

The ride back was a bit faster with almost tailwinds and following seas, though still quite challenging for those sans rudders or skegs. And once back near the basin, another treat, we were greated by 7 kite surfers doing their thing, racing about and catching air.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I really botched the tide calculation out there. When their normal, FF basin etc usually runs 2.5 hours behind Wilmington Beach, but with the moon and the winds it can vary even more out there, and did. I thought the tide would turn about 1.5 before it did. It can be a fairly tricky little area. You all were great sports.