Friday, December 14, 2012

Big Fun in Small Surf

A few kayakers you may know ventured into some winter surf. I am still without drysuit (hurry, hurry with the replacement, Kokatat!) so I came out with my camera to shoot some photos.

The surf that day was quite mild (1-2 feet) and mushy, but folks still had a great time. What's interesting to me is how much variety, fun, and challenge there is in the small stuff. As you look at these photos, it's good to consider how high a two foot wave can look when it's cresting above you
and you're seated in your kayak. Why, it can block your view! Imagine, then, what seriously big surf must look like--its weight, muscle, force. When I read about the stuff, say, Freya Hoffmeister has paddled, I am deeply humbled by both the ocean and true courage.

Take a look.

 Here's the start to the day. This is often how we view the water, standing. It doesn't look dramatic, just a calm day at the beach.

 When you're launched and just past the breakers, you can see how even small swell appears to swallow the kayak.
 From shore, standing, you might not even notice the swell. Look at the photo. You don't see the swell clearly with the eye. But you can tell it's there once you realize that Chris and Lee are in their kayaks, not swimming.
 When the wave crests, it looks really big! This wave may have crested at just above 2 feet. But look
how it appears from the vantage of Dawn, the kayaker!
 And, even the small stuff is fun to surf, lots of energy and great rides.
 Sit on tops, like Frank's, are a lot of fun in the surf. If you don't like to paddle a decked kayak, and aren't interested in learning to roll, these kayaks are terrific options, and fun in the surf!
 This photo looks dramatic! Lee has just finished surfing and now it's time to brace!
 With a nice low brace, Lee and his kayak bounce through the soup. It's counterintuitive, but leaning in to the foam pile with a solid low brace keeps your kayak upright.
Here, Chris is finished surfing and ready to brace.
 Frank zooms down a nice one!
 I like this photo because it looks so COLD. I think that's a stand up paddle boarder behind Lee. Lots of the SUP crowd is out these days.
 More pretty ones.
 A 1.5-2 foot wave can be truly fun. Look at the ride Dawn's catching!
 This is a pic of Dawn doing a cool layback high brace she learned at Sea Kayak Virginia.
I mean to try these sometime.
So don't think you need massive surf to have a good time in the surf zone.  Most sea kayakers wouldn't know what to do with a wave that's three to four times the size of the one in the photo.

Small surf is fun.


  1. Those are great pictures, Virginia, with interesting commentary. Thanks for posting. Nice surf you have down there.

  2. Excellent article Virginia - looks fun too!

  3. Looks like a blast! I need to get down there one day.

  4. Okay, so you made me curious and almost brave enough to try it! It does look fun! Maybe one day...

  5. You should at least try it, it's fun! Do what I do - stay in the small stuff and brace on the mush....=> I'm sure one day I'll put on my big girl kayak pants and go further!

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