Today Mike, Ken and I met at the Irondequoit Bay inlet for some paddling in the surf. The air was fairly cold, in the low 50s, and the water was in the low 60s, and I was wearing my farmer john and my Hydroskin shirt, so I was pretty well prepared for it. Unfortunately when we got there what we found were huge crashing waves, and howling winds. The bay side wasn’t so bad, but with the wind howling I knew that once we got a little bit off shore the waves would kick up there too. We decided to “play” a bit in the channel.
When we paddled into the channel, what we found were huge crashing waves at the top end of the channel, and beyond them what looked like a solid wall of water about 5 feet high. Honestly, you didn’t get any sense that there were waves out there, just that the lake level was 5 feet higher than the water level in the channel. Mike and I decided to just do runs up and down the relatively calmer part of the channel, getting into waves that were probably only a foot or so high, but Ken was into it and we could see him flying around in that maelstrom. I was sure his boat was continuing towards shore without him a few times, but as it got closer you’d see it get under control and realize he was still in it.
I should mention that the “relatively calm” part of the channel was highly variable – every now and then a set of white caps would come roaring down about half way down the length of the channel, especially on some shallower water on the east side, but much of the time you could get about two thirds of the way up without any difficulty.
I ended up dumping three times in the 30 minutes I was out there. The first time came when Ken asked to dock up with me so he could attach his paddle leash, and by the time he was done we’d drifted sideways to the waves and wind, so almost as soon as I was clear of him I dumped. The second came as I was getting back in after that dump. I normally don’t count the secondary dumping while getting in because it happens so often.
The third time I had drifted a little too far upwind as I was waiting for a lull in the waves, and when I went to turn the wind caught me hard and threw me over. After that time I decided to call it a night before I started to get cold. I was well dressed for it and I hadn’t felt cold while in the water, but I figure it’s better to quit while you’re ahead.
I intend to do some more of this kind of wave work. I think it’s really good for me, and eventually I’ll probably come to enjoy it. However, I need to make two small adjustments – I need to put on my big rudder on the ski so I have a bit more control, and I need to remember to bring a towel and some dry clothes for after.