Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Surf's Up

This year, my first in retirement, I've dedicated to really skill-ing up.  This might sound a bit strange. I've been paddling seriously for over 20 years, I've had lots of training (BCU 4*, ACA Level 3 coastal instructor), and I've  guided and taught kayaking for years.  I've had amazing adventures; trips to Maine, Newfoundland, Lake Michigan, the Geogia coast (inside and outside), not to mention all my WaterTribe Challenges.  In fact many would consider me a fairly skilled advanced paddler.   I consider myself an intermediate paddler.

Most of my regular paddling, week in and week out, has always been flat water.  I live 3 hours from the nearest beach and at most my coastal paddles were only occasional each year.  Yet my passion is really ocean paddling; I love salt water, lumpy bumpy water, and I love camping on the beach.

I've a long bucket list to start working on, and it's looking like much of my plans may need to be solo. I'm a safety girl, so I've given myself a year to completely skill up.  For me, this means really working on rough water and surf skills, and more navigation and incident management education.   This will not really be work, just lots more fun :)

This past weekend was about surf.  I met Tom Noffsinger at last falls Kiptopeake Sea Kayak Symposium.  I'd signed up for the symposiums advanced classes which included 2 of Tom's classes. Turns out, Tom is one of those instructors who I describe as extremely thoughtful, gentle, and graceful on the water.  As an instructor, Tom's personality really worked well with my not so quiet and gentle personality.  He didn't just teach us 'how to do something', he explained, demonstrated, THEN watched and assesses what' we were doing, then was able to communicate what he saw and what was needed in a way that was just a great fit for me.

Later that weekend, I asked about further instruction with him, and described my interests (confidence and comfort in 3-5ft surf).  This week I finally started working with him again.  He'll mentor me with 1/2 day class every couple of months, then send off with homework and things to work on.  This week along with my friend and paddling partner  Lee, we met Tom in Virginia Beach and had a wonderful session with him and his friend Drew (Tom's regular surfing partner).

That's my helmet sticking up back there as I surf a wave and start to bear off it, the wave in front makes it a bit hard to see me yet gives a good example of conditions, mostly 2 ft, an occasional 3 ft.  This spot was a bit different than much of the inlet play I'm used to.  Primarily a dumping shore break with a 2nd break right in front of a sandbar that's also very close to shore.  The rides were short and would require a bit more work on maneuvering, which is exactly what I'm wanting to work on.

One of Lee's great rides below.

Thanks Tom, can't wait for our next session.

This next weekend I'm off to the mountains for a weekend white water clinic with the Carolina Canoe Club.  After 30 years, I'm also going back to a bit of white water.  Seems to me all the best sea kayakers I know came from a white water background.  It's all part of the fun of skill-ing up :)

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Georgia Coast Saltwater Paddling Trail - Trip Report

My paddling partner during the Georgia trip has completed a very nice trip report.  It can be read on the blog "Two Blades".

Friday, April 05, 2013

Paddle with your Peeps - CKC Weekend

The Carolina Kayak Club had a trip this past Easter weekend down in the northeast corner of NC.  We camped at Pettigrew State Park in Tyrell and Washington Counties.  I joked it was the "historical boonies" of NC.  Tyrell County (which is actually where my husbands father was born and lived as a child), is the least populated county in NC and full of large farm fields.  This area has a lot of history.

One of many hollow Cedars

This area has a lot of history.  The park is named for a well known Confederate soldier and it  surrounds Somerset Place, a NC state historic plantation from the 1830's.  Part of the park surrounds Lake Phelps which is one of the oldest natural lakes in the eastern US (one of the NC bay lakes) and a former hunting and fishing ground for the Algonquian Native American peoples.  Dugout canoes up to 4,400 years old have been found here.   Some of the areas history can be read here.

I joined our small group (Ginger, Deb, and Craig) Thursday night.  On Saturday we paddled about 11 miles on the Alligator River from Gum Neck Landing where it is a half mile wide and upstream into a much narrower section to the Kilkenny Road Landing.  Much of this is part of the NC Coastal Paddle Trail and includes mile markers along the way.  This is low country, a freshwater marsh with some pocosin, pond pine, skinny cypress trees, and marshy grass.

I wasn't able to paddle with them on Sunday, needing to get home, but there were two other paddles on Sunday, a distance paddle circling South Lake off the Alligator River and Albemarle Sound, and the other a wildlife paddle on the Scuppernong River.

Great fun.