My clubs weekend paddling camping trip was cancelled for weather and conditions. Lee, Chris, and I decided those same conditions though not conducive to a big crossing (the trip was to cross the Pamlico Sound over to the outer banks), would be kind of fun to play in. Friday we hit Bogue inlet and Emerald Isle and worked on combat rolls and other rough water skills.
This was particularly helpful for our Saturday plan, we'd decided to paddle the 4th annual Onslow Bay Challenge, a 10 mile ocean-side SUP and kayak race on Topsail Island out of Surf City, sponsored by Carolina PaddleBoard Co and to benefit the North Carolina Chapter of Surfers Healing.
The race's website posting was a bit ominous, even sounding a little like a WaterTribe event.
We have a Forecast Update for the Onslow Bay Challenge: FORECAST UPDATE: according to NOAASAT SW winds 20 kt with gusts up to 25 kt. Seas 5 to 7 ft If the forecast holds true, the race will be EPIC! However the high seas will limit our ability to provide on water support. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO YOU? If you're not comfortable in big conditions, self-supported, please DO NOT do the event. Everyone is welcome to come, hang out, surf at the finish line, beach it, etc. However, because conditions look like they could be best suited for advanced paddlers, please sit it out if you don't consider yourself an advanced paddler. Once you take off from the beach, you're on your own until the finish! (Unless we wake up and there's nothing in the water, which could happen.) -No buoys -No safety boats -No backup plan Basically, please use your judgement and keep yourself and others safe. You know if you're capable of handling these conditions.
Chris said it best describing the conditions in a trip report on my Clubs Forum "Small craft advisory. The NOAA link is currently reporting 5' seas, and it definitely seemed every bit of it. There seems to be quite a difference in conditions when they report 3 - 5' seas, and when they report 5' seas."
We had monster conditions, the biggest I'd been in to date. At the race meeting, the race manager said "it's going to be every man for himself", The field of participants became much reduced.
Why is it that a photo never quite captures what your seeing from the cockpit?
The small group of participants, 3 seakayaks, 4 surf skiis, and ~15 SUPS
Here I am launching, my mantra "paddle hard, paddle hard, paddle hard"
One of the surf-skis landing at race end
Whew, I managaed landing upright, and with a combat roll, even ending up backwards at the beach
Carolina Kayak Club paddle shirt.
This is the year I've been working hard on my rough water and surf skills. And to do that I've picked my paddling partners well. Both Chris and Lee have a bit more experience than I. Chris is an excellent kayak surfer, and Lee has studied hard this past year on kayak incident management while we've both been working the surf together. They were both kind enough to celebrate my accomplishment this day as I made it through the surf without incident, while both of them got surfed backwards trying to bust through, ending up taking a swim and starting again, and with Lee even breaking a paddle.
This event's experience was a huge skill and confidence boost for me, and all part of the plan.