Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Getting off the beach

Middle Cove is a dumping beach.

Launching through dumping waves can be tricky.  There isn't much written about the subject so, its learn by instruction or do it yourself and by mistakes.

John Lull in the excellent book "Sea Kayaking Safety & Rescue" indicates the best method is to have someone on shore give you a good push after the last wave in the set.  If no one is available the suggestion is to seal launch.  Not happening for me with  fibreglass boat.

I've worked out what I think will work well if executed correctly.

Going sideways

I positioned the kayak below the high water mark of the largest wave after the largest in the set passed.  My intention was to dig my fists into the sand to hold the boat in the smaller waves and get the skirt on before the larger waves arrived to carry me off the beach.

I jumped in the boat and gingerly put on my skirt due to my continuing sore shoulder.  Speed putting on the skirt is key but I was much too slow.  I got pasted by the next dumping wave and pushed sideways up the beach.  Like I said, learning by mistakes.

In the kisser

I managed to get the boat perpendicular to the waves but was carried off the beach by the retreating wave.  I didn't want that to happen.  I wanted to ride the largest wave out as it was flowing up the beach, not ride it out as it drained back to sea.

My reasoning was that the retreating wave contributes to the breaking of the wave coupled with the sudden rise of the beach.  Riding out on the incoming, surging wave would avoid having to paddle through the dumping wave.

Again, you can see, learning again by mistake.

Presented with the situation, I plunged my paddle into the dumping wave and paddled hard to avoid being pushed back onto the beach.

 Made it

It all worked out OK as I didn't get my face planted back on the beach.  But I learned something that I'll apply more accurately the next time, at least if my shoulder doesn't hurt so much tucking the skirt into the back combing.

Regardless of instruction or not, you still have to do it.  That's how to learn.

Thanks to Dean who shot these pictures and probably had a chuckle at my graceful launch.


  1. there was a reason I decided to be the last one off the beach... I could see potential photo opportunities with the waves....

  2. Next time I hope to do what looks like a launch by an experienced guy *lol*

    Tony :-)