A cautionary tale

Go on then, tell us your stories...
kingiFiddler
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Sat Feb 10, 2018 11:27 am

Hainesy wrote:
Fri Feb 09, 2018 11:56 am
Another option that I’ve seen done, but haven’t done myself , is to turn around completely so you’re facing the breaking surf and to work your way onto shore backwards. If you get a large swell or wave you just paddle hard into it as you would when you launch and when’s it’s broken paddle backwards until you reach the shore :whew:
Thanks for that idea. If there's time to turn around before being stranded side-on to the next wave I'll give that a shot next time.

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yakman
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Sat Feb 10, 2018 2:17 pm

MikeAqua wrote:
Wed Feb 07, 2018 10:06 am
An effective and simple technique to learn/practice is the 'bongo slide' https://www.kayakpaddling.net/
A "Low Brace" is what you are after (technical name for your 'Bongo Slide' I suspect?), will save you a turtle 99.9% of the time if done correctly. Check out 'SeaKayakingTV' channel on YouTube for some great tutorials :-)
"Oh it's on...it's on like donkey kong"

TBreezy
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Sat Feb 10, 2018 4:40 pm

Marc N wrote:
Sat Feb 10, 2018 10:20 am
After having my arse handed to me in six inches of water in small surf, I'll be adopting the idea of, hanging on to the back, to keep the 'yak straight when coming in through surf.

Better wet, than having to untangle all the leads and gear and so on, if the 'yak goes bum up.
It's amazing how such small surf can destroy you haha. It's so much less daunting paddling out than back in.

I always put small things away inside the hull and make sure everything else is packed away and tethered before coming back in over the surf. It only takes a minute and if something does happen, it's all still there. While the prospect of having to collect all my stuff in knee deep water (or worse) and drag it all back up the beach looking like a wet cat might be a good time for some, I'll tag out of that one if possible!

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MikeAqua
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Mon Feb 12, 2018 11:58 am

yakman wrote:
Sat Feb 10, 2018 2:17 pm
MikeAqua wrote:
Wed Feb 07, 2018 10:06 am
An effective and simple technique to learn/practice is the 'bongo slide' https://www.kayakpaddling.net/
A "Low Brace" is what you are after (technical name for your 'Bongo Slide' I suspect?), will save you a turtle 99.9% of the time if done correctly. Check out 'SeaKayakingTV' channel on YouTube for some great tutorials :-)
Now that I think about it more I'm pretty sure the bongo slide is the act of side-surfing without capsize. Not sure what the actual stroke is called. But it's different from a low brace.

With a low brace the convex face of the blade engages the arm is close to the wave is bent 90 degrees at the elbow, and the opposite hand opposite is tucked in close to your waist.

The bongo slide as I have been taught it (wave ski paddling) is used when low brace will not hold you in an acceptable angle, to avoid capsize. The concave side of the paddle is engaging the water and you grip the paddle almost like a stake you are trying to force into the ground and hang on. It's not elegant but it is easy and effective.
"No good story begins with a salad"
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Rob8888
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Kayak Model: Ultra 4.7

Wed Feb 21, 2018 12:09 am

Hi all
Smeg did a top job describing the incident. It's worth noting how we'd gone out on a low swell that was forcast to be dropping, and a 2-2.5m swell appeared suddenly from no where, straight into Makara beach from around the top of the South Island. It caught the locals out too, and as Smeg said, a guy living right on Raumati Beach next day said it was the biggest swell he'd seen living there in 10 years, and "totally unforecast" (he's a surfer) - "tell me about it!" was my response. 3 hours after our experience there was still no app or website registering the swell - apparently it never happened!

For those of you that know Makara, we'd estimate that there was white water and breaking waves 100m offshore. The whole northern side of the inshore bay, with the reef and stream entrance, was a seething cauldron to be avoided.

Anyway, a few observations worth adding. When we set off paddling in we were instantly lifted up so high (my sounder had been showing a sphincter clenching 3 metre lift in 15m of water a bit further out) that I remember looking straight down at my bow (I've got a 4.7 Ultra), and then spray started flying off it as got up to speed and that spray was going over my head. The white spray reflected my powerful headtorch and was blinding, and I still can't believe my bow didn't submarine given the angle and speed. It was my first trip in the 4.7 and I hadn't adjusted properly, or got used to, the rudder properly, but I was amazed at how stable it was once we were up to full surfing speed - so much so that I went from shitting myself to thinking this is highly exciting and could just work! I remember turning to Greg's kayak and exclaiming how exhilirating the ride was when i saw how we were merging together about to collide. I felt so stable and in control that I lent over to push his boat away - big mistake as it took my concentration and balance. Instantly things went black, wet and very noisy. I should've just let them collide and carry on.

Suddenly I was alone in the blackness, and could just make out the halo rim light of the big waves going past me hiding the foreshore, lit by the headlights of a local who'd come down to light up the beach for us with his spotlights and headlights.

I made a self assessment between getting pounded by big waves. My brand new glasses had gone (normally I wear contacts, but this was as quick fish after work so hadn't worried), head torch was gone. I was still unexpectedly holding my paddle?! I could just make the outline of my upside down kayak as it crested over waves ahead of me so it must be heading inshore. There was no wind and the water was warm so the situation was pretty safe, if not a bit unusual at 11pm on a weeknight. I tried calling to people ashore to let them know I was OK - they never heard anything over the crashing surf. So I set off trying to swim, but with booties and a good PFD it was a bit useless to be honest - I pretty much got washed in the last 50 metres of breaking surf not far behind my kayak, which a local helped me pull out of the water (rods lashed to the deck all survived fine).

Some thoughts:
1) the speed that we were travelling in the darkness made the loss of control so small and so instant that I only remember one hell of a ride and then next memory was wet darkness. I wonder if there was any maneouvre that could've helped given the combined mass, forces, speed and instant nature. The only real strategy in this size surf is to probably just keep your rudder in control, lean back and focus on crashing the beach
2) my kayak had a paddle leash of pretty thin spiral nylon and it blew apart at the crimp. It got me thinking a lot about whether this was good or bad. Potentially a strong leash (it would have to be super strong, with a strong anchor point, and I suspect most arent strong enough) could've let me stay in touch with the boat which could be a life saver in an offshore situation, or perhaps I could've managed to get to the stern and act as a sea anchor to help the kayak into shore bow first, but the down sides are getting tangled or smashed by a heavy laden kayak in the surf.
3) If this happened again on this coast what options are there instead of paddling in - as there are no palces to hide? Perhaps you'd consider paddling north into Porirua Harbour if the conditions were ok (heck we paddle to Boom Rock and back so that's 2/3rds the distance). Doable but not ideal, and the tide can be with you or seriously against. Landing into Fisherman's bay (south side of Ohariu Bay) could be an option in some sea conditions (a more southerly swell), but no support if it goes to custard, and when we looked at it the other day we weren't sure. So no conclusion there.
4) A mate suggested carrying a pair of body boarding fins on a dive belt on the kayak (say in the hatch so your companion can retrieve). In a similar situation you'd chuck the belt on ahead of heading in as insurance so if the worst did happen and you had to bail out (especially with an offshore wind) you've got the means to body surf / swim in to at least save yourself.
5) I've seen a few comments about reversing in. I think this could work on small to moderate waves, but I just don't think you could sustain it in this type of stuff - the distance and forces were too significant.
6) the locals at Makara are good sods. Spotted our head torches, saw the conditions and got out of bed to light up the bay and wait nearly an hour while we sized things up and then helped us out of the water.
7) We were caught out big time by unforecast swell. We weren't the only ones that night, and it was so benign otherwise. It's likely to happen again so reckon it would be worth getting a bunch of regular Makara kayak fishers out to Titahi Bay / Lyall Bay some time to practice surf landings.
8 ) Thanks to Greg for having the guts to post this - plenty of knockers want to tell people how useless they are. They miss the point :headbang: - this can happen to anyone on this coast (I've done 20 odd trips to polar regions driving tourists ashore in zodiacs onto surf beaches in some shitty dangerous situations, so I know a wee bit about sea conditions and still got totally down-trou'd). So hope this has some useful info and reminds people how precarious this coast can be.

Greg's run into the beach at full speed was impressive skill in a fully loaded boat. I'm jealous bc the first 50m I experienced was one hell of an exciting ride, but I missed the best part :swear:
Rob
Last edited by Rob8888 on Wed Feb 21, 2018 10:06 am, edited 2 times in total.

dedant
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Wed Feb 21, 2018 8:30 am

Great write up, thanks. I don't think , hell I know, I wouldn't cope with landing in those conditions. :( :(
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Glass is Class.. dedant

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MikeAqua
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Wed Feb 21, 2018 11:13 am

The thing with surfing a kayak is to be proactive. Paddle down the wave, before it breaks don't get sucked or fall down it.

Take pre-emptive action like bracing to retain control not recover it. A lot of this is instinct and comes with surfing practice (also fun).

But despite all the best efforts sometimes you just get nailed anyway.

Darkness makes it difficult to judge the distance and steepness of waves , which doesn't help matters either.

NB: I'm not trying to be critical in this or previous posts.
"No good story begins with a salad"
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UrbanAngler
Posts: 51
Joined: Tue Mar 21, 2017 11:27 pm
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Kayak Model: ProFish 440
Location: Auckland

Wed Feb 21, 2018 12:01 pm

very hairy situation there ... glad everything is all ok.

Makes me thinking to do some practice for surf landing as my usual go to beach are quite safe with almost no surf.

Any safe-ish beach in north shore or rodney where we can have a good practice for this?

Rob8888
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Jan 02, 2018 1:32 pm
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Kayak Model: Ultra 4.7

Wed Feb 21, 2018 12:02 pm

MikeAqua wrote:
Wed Feb 21, 2018 11:13 am
The thing with surfing a kayak is to be proactive. Paddle down the wave, before it breaks don't get sucked or fall down it.
Take pre-emptive action like bracing to retain control not recover it. A lot of this is instinct and comes with surfing practice (also fun).
But despite all the best efforts sometimes you just get nailed anyway.
Darkness makes it difficult to judge the distance and steepness of waves , which doesn't help matters either.
NB: I'm not trying to be critical in this or previous posts.
Not taken as critical, I'm into continuous improvement, which is why this has been shared. Certainly the info/experience I have at hand now would make a big difference, and some practice would add immensely. Yes, darkness made a big difference by robbing most of our spatial awareness, but also I think masked how bad the situation was from us a bit (sphincters really clenched up once headlights lit up the beach and showed all the spray off the wave tops). I'm looking forward to doing it again in a controlled situation, and daylight.
One hard case thing was my Nitecore HC60 torch went to the bottom about 30-40m offshore and everytime a wave went though it would roll over and light up the underside of waves in the darkness for about 1/2 an hour before it sucked a kumara. A real weird sight

TBreezy
Posts: 60
Joined: Tue Aug 29, 2017 9:11 pm

Wed Feb 21, 2018 11:36 pm

UrbanAngler wrote:
Wed Feb 21, 2018 12:01 pm
very hairy situation there ... glad everything is all ok.

Makes me thinking to do some practice for surf landing as my usual go to beach are quite safe with almost no surf.

Any safe-ish beach in north shore or rodney where we can have a good practice for this?
Orewa would be a good place to practice when there's a swell running. It's a pretty mellow break and it's patrolled. Further north into Rodney the surf gets a bit heavier.

Thanks for sharing your experience, guys. It's really valuable information and a good heads-up to remain aware. It's also cool to know that there are people looking out for each other and there to help if need be. Hope the next trip was (or is) a bit more chill!

Rob8888
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Thu Mar 08, 2018 9:37 pm

Well, came into Makara the other day and it looked an easy landing so hadn't even stowed rods etc. Suddenly got lifted by a good sized set very close to the beach and started going over - :swear: it wasn't going to be pretty (or cheap given 4 rods sticking up) - so implemented what I'd read about poking my paddle into the wave face and leaning over on it and hoping!

Hey presto, I got swept along about 10 metres, stayed upright and carried on to make perfect landing, right in front of a bunch of onlookers, while desperately trying to hide my surprise and relief so it looked like I'd done it 100x before. The makings of a new skill! Stoked

UrbanAngler
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Fri Mar 09, 2018 1:49 pm

Rob8888 wrote:
Thu Mar 08, 2018 9:37 pm
Well, came into Makara the other day and it looked an easy landing so hadn't even stowed rods etc. Suddenly got lifted by a good sized set very close to the beach and started going over - :swear: it wasn't going to be pretty (or cheap given 4 rods sticking up) - so implemented what I'd read about poking my paddle into the wave face and leaning over on it and hoping!

Hey presto, I got swept along about 10 metres, stayed upright and carried on to make perfect landing, right in front of a bunch of onlookers, while desperately trying to hide my surprise and relief so it looked like I'd done it 100x before. The makings of a new skill! Stoked
Good one! I have a perfect meme for you :rofl:

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kingiFiddler
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Fri Mar 09, 2018 9:19 pm

Just when I think I have bracing under control and can reliably stay upright, I swear the last thing I hear as I go under is the wave laughing at my (now shattered) confidence.

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Kevin Yang
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Fri Apr 13, 2018 2:27 pm

Thanks for sharing! glad everything went okay
Kevin Yang
Managing Director of Superior Renovations
https://superiorrenovations.co.nz
https://superiorpainters.co.nz

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