As I've written in previous newsletters, fog, tidal current and wind are three of the environmental factors which we consider when planning a sea kayaking trip. In a previous newsletter I've talked about advective fog. Fog is an occasional feature but wind of whatever speed and direction is a given. We see wind speeds this time of year around Deer Isle anywhere from 5 knots or less to 20 knots or more and we are usually paddling in the 5 to 15 knot range. Anything more and unless we're with an advanced group, we are off the water.
Our plan for the day will depend on the wind and starts before we leave land. Our route will also depend on the the group, for example how physically fit group members are and whether they've had prior experience of paddling in windy conditions. NOAAreports hourly prediction of windspeed and direction which we discuss before we leave and observe throughout the day - do the observed wind conditions agree with NOAA predictions?...can we train ourselves to know wind direction and speed by surface wind patterns on the water?...can we take advantage of the island geography to avoid the wind?...how do we keep the boats going in the direction we want to go when, for example, we're paddling with a beam wind which pushes the stern so that the kayaks 'weathercock' into the wind?
NOAA predictions of wind speed and direction are essential and useful but local geography impacts both. When winds pick up speed we can find quiet stretches on the lee side of islands which means that we can alternate hard slog in open water with relaxed paddling on the lee side. As mentioned, sea kayaks, being longer in the stern than in the bow tend to turn into the wind and strategies to prevent this include shifting your weight in the cockpit to one side ('edging' the boat), angling, or 'ferrying' the boat into the wind to reduce lateral exposure and even simply paddling harder or more often on the opposite side to the wind.
In the summer afternoons, heat rises off the land creating a partial vacuum which is then filled by air moving onshore across the colder water. Onshore winds in the afternoon and early evening compound surface winds in both speed and direction. This often means a hard paddle against a headwind at the end of the day. It is also the reason why inexperienced paddlers sometimes have trouble making it back to shore. Talking with locals who are familiar with local wind conditions is often helpful.
The upside of understanding the wind is that you can use it to make paddling easier and more fun. 'Surfing' in open water on a following wind, paddling into a headwind, successfully maintaining a course with a strong beam wind..these are all a lot of fun and will worth perfecting and adding to your repertoire of paddling skills.
I If you've paddled with us before and want to book a multi-day trip for at the first two weeks in September, you're eligible for a free night's stay w/ breakfast (a $95 value) before the trip. Wake up on the morning of your trip refreshed and ready to go with no traveling involved. Call us at 617-957-8802 to reserve this special deal.
Joys of Kayak Camping
A couple of years ago I wrote a guest blog on 'Kayak Camping' for the blog, 'The Naked Kayaker' (nothing to do with nakedness) and by request I thought to revisit this blogpost here. For those interested in the complete post, check out the link at the end of this excerpt...
The upside of embarking on an overnight kayak-camping trip can be huge. At the very least, it’s a fun time where you’ll get a good work-out for a couple of days, hone your camping skills, enjoy the outdoors, and get to know some like-minded people who enjoy paddling. At best, it can truly be a life-changing experience, particularly when you think about the interpersonal dynamics that can develop between paddling buddies - parent-son/daughter, spouses, partners, friends, siblings, etc.
On a multi-day trip, regardless of weather and sea conditions, you’ll probably experience a certain ‘discomfort level’, hopefully minor, that can be both physical and psychological. And when things work out, which is usually the case, getting over this barrier with friends/family might just be one of the coolest things you’ll ever do in the great outdoors. (complete blogpost)
Book of the Month: "The Complete Sea Kayaker's Handbook" by Shelley Johnson
First published in 2001 this 2nd edition of this popular book is packed with information which is particularly useful for the beginner to intermediate paddler planning to venture out onto the ocean on longer trips. It's the book I recommend to anyone who asks ' Is there one book which covers all the basics?' Well, this is it! Topics include how to select the best kayak for you, choice of gear, the basics of paddling technique, navigating from the cockpit of a kayak as well as chapters on trip planning and logistics and kayak camping. - it's all there, including a great section on Resources and References on specific topics. Highly recommended.