Future Note: Paddling against gale winds is hard on the arms

Sunday, 05 April 2009
Playing in the SurfI finally got out paddling this weekend after being away from my boat for way to long. We knew the weather was going to be good since the marine forecast was predicting 30 knots winds with gusts to 40. The only problem was that the winds were coming out of the NW which isn't great for Toronto. For us, the best winds are coming out of the south or southwest.

Jumping on the water, we paddled West along the north shore of the harbour trying stay in the shadow of the harbour wall. Even then, it was difficult to make much headway without a lot of effort. When we hit the Western Gap, we decided to try to cut straight across which was a big mistake. My little popsicle arms made zero headway against the monster winds at that point. It was a little weird to be out in such strong winds but because of the really small fetch (probably only 200 meters) the seas were fairly calm (probably only a half meter at that point). We retreated a bit and continued paddling along the long way around the Western Gap and around Ontario Place.

The plan was to get as far West as possible then run straight down with the wind around to the south side of the Toronto Islands and enjoy the huge seas that were building out there. The time finally came and we turned and had the surf of our lives. The swell at that point was about 3+ feet and at the perfect period for surfing so there was a lot of screaming by every in the group. Ok, just Andrew and me...

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When I was paddling along, I was having problems with my prescription sun glasses. I left my paddle strap off and I was worried that I they were going to blow off in the wind. I stuffed them in my dry suit arm pocket which was a relief. The problem was that on top of not actually being able to see anything (think out of focus movie), I had very little depth perception. I could see the waves coming up behind me and had a sense of where the one in front was but I didn't really know until I started surfing up the wave. It was a very strange feeling surfing pretty much blind. At lease everybody was well spread out.

One highlight for me was to test drive Andrew's new Rockpool Alaw Bach kayak. She is a real beauty and it was great to paddle. The sad part was that my arms were so completely exhausted that I could only do a basic test. I'm looking forward to testing it on another day. Quick note, I really liked the Rockpool feature of a foot plate rather than foot pegs. It was super comfortable and seems a much more natural then pegs. You can move your feet around anywhere along the plate and still keep in a good tight brace position.

Here is a link to the flickr photo gallery:

[flickr set=72157616294728871]

David Johnston

David Johnston

David Johnston has been introducing people to the sport of sea kayaking for the past 15 years. He is a senior instructor trainer with Paddle Canada and teaches for several paddling schools in Ontario, Canada. Full Bio.

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