Finding harmony in chaos,
(Sorry in advance for the long read.)
I took a trip this weekend consisting of crossing Barnegate bay (2 1/2 miles) in New Jersey, then touring about 8 miles down the far shore of the bay with a return trip along the same shore, and a return crossing of the bay.
The morning crossing of the bay was calm with just the usual slow roll of the water. I did have to cross a 500ft pleasure craft boating channel. At the crossing I tried to Judge the timing for the crossing to avoid any boats, yet to a fast moving fishing skiff I was like a turtle crossing the road. Two boats in the distance quickly closed the gap as I was in the channel. I did my usual stop paddling and held my paddle up in the air and shine the blade in their direction. This really was not much of a problem as far as balance was concerned since the water was calm. Both boaters made corrections and turned their bow, making an appreciative hand wave as they passed. Besides this the morning crossing was a pleasure paddle and uneventful.
Hours passed and the late morning/afternoon wind gradually picked up from the south east. I had finished my tour of the far bay coast and made it to the point of a perpendicular return bay crossing. I stopped for a small eat and drink break and looked across the bay with binoculars towards my return destination point. The water I was ankle high waves at the shore yet I could feel the wind standing up The view across the bay was a different story, there was an occasional white cap here and there at about the channel area. There was also a bit more boating activity than in the morning with a few 2 to 3 story pleasure boats passing by. I was hard pressed at the time to determine if the white caps where only generated by the boat traffic, or the wind, or both. Anyway I had a 2 1/2 mile crossing. After a season of paddling my stroke was refined and effortless, so I felt in good condition for the crossing. I saddled up, and off I went.
The first half mile went from small 4in. waves to 6in. At about the mile mark the waves where about 1 1/2 ft high and becoming more chaotic in nature, and my paddling stroke was starting to become a bit more accommodating. At about the 1 1/2 mile mark the waves where more chaotic than patterned at about 2ft to 3ft, the bow was fairly regularly submerged. My stroke was revised to push off at the top of a wave, my hips and waist also now had a need for more use since primary and secondary stability from chaotic wave movement was physically noted.
At about the middle of the bay I passed a sail boat of about 80 ft or more in length with no sails up, just still in the water. A couple was on board and yelled to me “Are you crossing the bay ?”, I answered “Yes.”, and the man responded with “it’s very choppy!”. I was past them to respond and keep up a conversation. Yet a look over my bow showed nothing but chop like that of an un-ending skiing mogul field.
At about this point I made note of the approaching boating channel by the roar of a few large pleasure boats. I was in easy 3ft or larger breaking mogul type waves now with no pattern, totally chaotic. I knew I could expect worse conditions as I approached the boating channel. Now is also about the time I came to a feeling of harmony with my movements and the conditions. It was to say the least a joyous condition of mind. However the chaos of the water was also now like a dancer and picking up the beat and timing of the step. I was practically in the channel and the waves were steep, pointed, and now breaking and running across all parts of the kayak. The joy was broken with what I felt as personally loosing the harmony. I had to tell myself “Get it back, get the harmony back.” I would regain the harmony for a spell, then for a few blinks loose it again and needed a slight brace here and there to calm my hips,waist, thighs and knees.
I was now in the channel waiting at the curb to cross. I found what I thought was an opening and made a break for it, yet a dots of two large pleasure boats in the distance, quickly became larger as I was in the channel, This was now testing, since I raised my paddle for them to take notice, and all my balance was on my hips, waist, knees, thighs and feet on the foot pegs. Rolling was an option if I lost it, yet not a good consideration since I felt my visible signature would be oh, so compromised. Somehow the harmony was there with the paddle in the air over my head, and the pleasure boats took notice and went behind me. The wind was stronger now at this side of the bay and the waves appeared more chaotic, probably due to the pleasure boats passing. Oddly now I was in tune, the harmony was there. The mogul field of waves were all around me breaking and rolling over all parts of the kayak, and the harmony of the dance was all there.
The take out beach was getting closer now, I knew it must end ---- for now.
I come across these conditions only a few times a year due to my paddling schedule and the conditions I find. This limits my experience with it, yet I enjoy it. Getting the harmony of the dance with the waves is the pleasure. There are no distractions in my mind at these times, all other thoughts are vaulted away and gone.
Now for the question,
Do any of you relate to the harmony in chaos I speak about ?
Do you go into this sort of water with a song tune on your mind ?
Paddling a sea kayak 16 1/2 feet, 22 beam, soft chine. Greenland style paddle.
Chris in New Jersey.
Finding harmony in chaos,
Siegfried an’ Schtarker
sang harmoony wit de KAOS Choir....
(Sorry had ta say it! Coodn't hep me'self.)
Paddling whitewater is all about dancing with the water. Surf and conditions like you describe are as well.
When I’m on and the water is wild and everything is clicking there’s little that can compare.
When I’m off… uuuugggllyyyyyy!