Reality check..or a lesson in humility

Ok as some of you know I have had the tempest 170 for about three weeks now. I believe I bought it July 31st. the day I bought it Greyhawk and I went out to the Boggies on the other side of the bay where Florida Bay Outfitters is in Key Largo. It’s a leisurely paddle through the mangroves, and back…so all in all probably 9 miles. got back none the worse for wear and certainly wasn’t wiped out other than pleasantly tired.

I have been going out every day after work for an hour/two hours or so. So I succeeded in rolling (on one side) and have consciously been working on a torso rotation for paddling…so where am i going with this self congratulatory spiel?

Well. (sigh)

This morning I get up and head to the beach. The ocean looks pretty calm, it’s high tide, and I figure great. I still can’t find that free parking greyak keeps talking about but never mind.

Now Ft Lauderdale beach does not have a smooth rolling wave set today. the waves break right at the shore so I start counting waves and where it lookes as if I am getting the least ones I plop the boat half in and out of the surf and tried to push my way in like a damned turtle with only one leg while the surf is trying to turn my boat parallel to the beach and of course I miss the small waves and get blasted by two waves in a row over the top of everything. so out goes the boat, turn it over, dump the water and most of the sand, and refuse to look at anybody who may be watching.

Try again…this time success with the boat only 1/3 full of water. so trying to keep the boat into the waves (ha!) and pumping out water because I have not had a chance to get the spray skirt on, I realize that wave sets are really close together and we have pretty deep swells and I see I am over a sandbar. so I get the boat out past the buoy as the lifeguard there told me to and the swells get deeper (maybe 3 ft?) but a little slower. I get the spray skirt on and get my paddle going and do ok going outward. I got the bow covered with water a lot and it looked exactly like the discovery channel with the big fishing boats dipping and crashing into the sea! Then I tried to turn to shore. There was a reasonably strong current from North to South and coupled with the wave lengths, I had to struggle every inch of the way to just keep upright and the bow pointing in the direction I needed to go. I had to brace three or 40 times and finally got it down where you lean a little into the wave and you can ride it pretty well. Then I remembered the skeg…well it kept me going straight but I still had issues with waves coming at me from the side. I headed to shore after just a little bit and surfed into the beach. the same comedies occurred getting out of the boat and running after the paddle and then back to the boat that was trying to float away…what a mess.

So what did I learn from all this? I don’t know squat! I did brace and I did edge into the waves, but by god it was tiring! torso rotation? Ha! how about just trying to stay upright?

And to top it all off. I started getting seasick! (that had to be the wort part)

I think the expression used today was confused seas. I think the one confused was me.

I rolled the boat a couple of times while out there just to say I did it. I am home now, exhausted, sucking down water and thinking hey at least you got back and I am thinking that I need to salute flatpick and all you other real sea kayakers because I finally got a taste of what my boat was designed for, and while it did everything and more that I could ask, I certainly got a very cold dose of reality of what is required to be truly safe and comfortable out there and just how far I need to go to get a skill set that will match this boat.

Paul…sorry for the tirade…

sounds like fun

Sounds like a great learning experience. Next time try to repeat the same process with some more experienced surf paddlers.

Dumping surf near shore is the hardest condition for me to handle and I know many more experienced kayakers who simply avoid it.

I try to have the skirt on all the way at the beach and then push myself out when a way comes in that will float the boat a little. It is really a hard thing to do with a long v bottomed seakayak and it is easier with a short flat bottoms surf or whitewater kayak.

I a group you can help the first boat out by dragging it by hand with the surfer loaded. Once he is outside the breakers he can help by providing you a tow out if you have a long enough tow line.

On the way in you’re on you own as far as I know so learn to side surf and brace really well. Once you hit the beach pop out of the boat and drag it up the shore quickly.

The more you do this the faster you’ll improve, but please try to do it in a group with more at least one experienced surf paddler for every begginng surf paddler.

Accelerated learning days

– Last Updated: Aug-20-05 5:04 PM EST –

Gotta love 'em! Those days you feel like you described above turn out to be the best ones in the long run.

The beach break here, even on small days, can be a real pain. West coasters may have MUCH bigger stuff, but timing actually means something out there with the long period. We also have zero soup zone and can't really float out between waves. Not much you can do in real short confused stuff but get skirt on first and turtle a couple more feet - and hope you don't get twisted or go over right at the transition.

My beach landings so far have been barely controlled crashes - in even tiny surf. Sand is just too steep to glide up on very well and my kayak has an almost 18' waterline which adds to the fun. Sometimes I hop out just before impact and wade ashore (just don't get between the boat and the beach!). Nice to know it's not just me.

I avoid it mostly and go out through Port Everglades (maybe not recommended yet if the size of waves today had you challenged when on beam - sometimes it's easy, sometimes quite exhilarating - ask people tomorrow, I'm sure most have stories).

and SHE says:

  1. Hope you haven’t told Vera about the gory details, and it’d be best to NEVER let Vera read that if you EVER want to get her into a kayak again!

  2. She thinks SHE’S decided never to kayaking again. (But she was smiling, mostly, when she said it)

    Well, I thought it was interesting…!

    I especially indentify with the ‘don’t look around at anyone ion case they’re enjoying the show’ comment. Which is why I don’t believe in the notion of ‘foolproof’: fools are far too varied and clever…

    Dumping surf is about the worst launch/recovery situation we’ll see around here, I think, and congrats on doing it, even if not in a style you’d like to become accustomed to.

    And congrats, too, on

  3. Keeping cool under water, er, fire;

  4. Rolling after having gone through the rinse & spin cycle (ah-HA! -THAT’S why you began to feel a little queasy, it was the ROLLING…!);

  5. Increasing your experience, and the subsequent repetoire, even if accidentally implemented -as they say neccessity is the mother of doing it;

    Well, wetter but wiser is the lesser of two evils. Look at it this way: you’re better off having gone through this for the next time you


    -Frank in Miami

There’s nothing like getting thrashed around a bit by Mother Nature to teach a little respect. I bet you won’t go out willy-nilly, five miles from shore into unprotected ocean now… will you? Sadly, some people do just that and never return.

A few more times out in those waves and you’ll be ready for more! Give it another few weeks and I bet you’ll be looking to form an east coast chapter of the Tsunami Rangers.


Did you get that “professional kayaker” hat yet?

Unsolicited Advice

– Last Updated: Aug-20-05 6:52 PM EST –

Get back out and practice some more in waves tomorrow.
Before you do though. Practice getting in your kayak and getting the skirt on the rim and geting in the paddling position as fast as you can. If the beach is steep you can slide down into the water (if you have a plastic boat). Put your boat a little higher on the beach and if waves are breaking right on top of you, back off a bit wait for that wave to crash and then the resulting foam pile to float you. Keep your paddle in your right hand the blade parrael to the boat and your other hand on the ground and push out. You can hold your self perpendicular to the waves this way. The instant you feel the boat floating free. Take three or four hard powerful strokes and you'll be past the breaking wave. If not dig in and paddle fast until you are out of the whitewater. The spray skirt is meant to keep water out of your boat so use it. It's OK to practice the first couple of times going out through the waves without it, but the water coming into your boat will make you unstable, the skirt is there to keep those waves out. Once you get outside the impact zone practice paddling with the waves coming at you from the side and leaning into the waves and bracing on or in the wave. Go looking for bigger waves, the Surf in Ft. Lauderdale this time of year is probably not going to seem very challenging after a couple of days of practice.

Thanks for the comments guys. I have to say that while I was out there I was either too stupid or just too focused (there goes that word again)on trying to do it right. I wouldn’t say that I was too challenged greyak, but probably a bit. I will say that knowing that I could roll back up did wonders for my confidence level even though I was sideways to waves and to the swells and confused water.

I think it was one of the most important lessons I have ever had on a kayak. while I don’t think I was in any real danger, I was in a position where I could see what could happen if conditions worsened and was painfully aware that if they did, that I wouldn’t have been as ready as I would have liked.

All in all a very beneficial day and I agree that a few more like that and I will be a lot more comfortable.

(I am really upset about getting queasy though…that really surprised me)

I will be at Oleta River State Park tomorrow at 0900. Greyak? Frank? Rick? you coming?

get out of bed Chris…you’re too young to sleep in!

Planning on it.
Put the rack on the car today and dusted off my neglected gear. GP virus spreads most effectively through direct contact. :slight_smile:

will see you out there! Looking forward to seeing the fabled grey boat.

Not sure I want to see the GP as I realize it is quite contagious.

Boy do I know about the
just trying to stay upright part…

Forgetting to ‘read the fine print’ (in kayaking) I took the Artic Tern out in the chop and minor swells of Lake Erie (something I’d done with the wide perception america equipped with a skirt, a hundred times)and immediately discovered why one has to ‘fit’ a built kayak to themselves…Between the wakes from the speedboats and the wind driven chop and swells…I had that look of a 75y.o. man on one of those high po rollercoasters for the ery first time… Staying upright and not making brown were paramount! (lol)

fwiw…It’s nice to know I’m not alone out there.

hopefully,we’ll both perfect our techniques…yes?

now try all of the above
but in 33 degree water and you have an idea of what michigan is like!

well I am not in Michigan.
If I was I am sure that I would have been adequately dressed for the water and as such, the conditions would have been the same in terms of learning how to handle the boat, etc. I don’t know how the beaches are on the Great Lakes but would think that the waves would be choppier and probably more violent?


Several Things Sound Familiar,
I am also a beginner to kayaking. Ive not been out as often as you have this season, about the best I can manage is usually two times a week and sometimes one or three.

I have a goal of becomming comfortable with paddling out in the ocean on a nice day and have been attempting to gain the various pieces of experience that are required. I have only been in the ocean two times so far. Both of my trips have been on very calm days.

Very calm here is waist high rollers and breakers. It took me three attempts the first time to get out through the surf still upright. The second time may have been a tad bit calmer or maybe I was just a little luckier and I got out on the first try. I really enjoyed surfing the boat back in and want to do that more.

One of the local paddle shops has a three day class in October which I am thinking about. It goes over the various things needed to go out from the beach.

BTW, I paddled past our inlet, on the inside, yesterday. We had what looked to be fifteen foot breaking waves comming through. I dunno bout ever getting comfortable with the likes of those.

happy paddling,


I am trying to get a transfer to NC. Where are you with 15 foot breaking waves?. Your profile says SE NC, but I didn’t think it was that bad. Or is it seasonal? storm brewing?


Waist To Shoulder High
is the normal along the beach. Pretty similar to what you find anywhere along the East Coast. Those waves were only in the Inlet.

The Army Corp Of Engineers has just finished dredging the channel and it hooks way North. That means the Channel lays broadside to the incomming swells for a part of its length. I was looking during a very stong incomming tide. I can only assume that the wave action was a result of the unusual run of the channel that was cut and the state of the tide. Normally the wave action in the inlet is proportional to wind but we had only a light wind that day.

Later on I heard from a friend who had gone offshore in a 22 foot outboard that the trip in was very a knuckle biter.


Good to finally meet in person. Hoping you humor us with a trip report.

Odd bunch, no? Cool that so many showed so you got to meet most of the local sea kayakers. Politically, I guess that group would be what some here refer to as “kayak snobs” as it’s mostly composites, lots of GP users, rollers, etc. Short fat SOTs and Rec boats probably not really welcome on group paddles (hence the perceived snobbishness) - but just due to difference of group speeds and interests. They used to tolerate me on my Tarpon 160.

You didn’t miss much after you left - except the swimming with your paddle races (three events - feet first, head first, and backstroke). That was hilarious. Even more than 4 of us on Peters kayak/submarine. We needed pictures - maybe even video - and no one had a camera.

Again, nice work on rolling. Now you can add full 360s and first GP rolls to your accomplishments! Thanks for the T170 demo too. Nice boat!

choppier is one word for it…
as i’m always reminded… ocean waves are round… lake waves are square.

out here on the Lakes you can get a 4’ wave with a 4 second period, and that’s a fairly typical height to period relationship, though like everywhere else, there’s a variety.

all I can say
is that I am really happy for the experience and am looking forward to going out again in similiar situations. I will take the advice of having someone experienced with me. I wasn’t that far from shore and think I probably could have made it swimming if necessary but that was one of the reasons why I rolled out there a couple of times…just to prove that i could and to know that even in those conditions, I had the skill set to at least get back up. Now the rest is just getting comfortable being broadsides to the waves and getting rid of that seasickness which really really surprised me.