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A cautionary tale

Posted: Tue Feb 06, 2018 4:59 pm
by Smeg
For those of you who have read my posts know I love the fishing off Makara Beach, Wellington - and this evening was no exception - crystal clear water - it must have been 10 metres plus viz as I looked over the side of the yak and could see the Makeral and Kahawai schools through the water column down to the bottom. Another magnificent sunset over the tip of the South island and as the air and water temp was a barmy 16 and 18 degrees we stayed on until the change in tide at 9:45pm. Having already secured a good size snapper and Kahawai at the 50m mark I was pretty happy with my result. My mate, Rob, wasn't as lucky so we hung on until darkness enveloped us.

As it did the swell progressively grew.

We heading in around 10pm and as we approached the Makara beach we could see and hear big breakers crashing onto the beach. (see by means of Robs powerful, and also expensive, head torch) there were people on the beach with their car headlights on which would disappear out of view as the larger sets rolled through. That certainly got the sphincter retracting! As we fastened our gear down we contemplated our options, head north to Porirua Harbour, head south to a more secluded bay, or just go for it. We chose the later and made a couple of attempts on waves Kelly Slater would have enjoyed but it wasn't really for us! In the darkness and foreboding sound of the waves we tried to predict the sets and select the right time to go for it (as we reassured each other that this was not a life threatening scenario - no offshore breeze or current - we'd just get majorly wet!)

We finally made the call to go hell for leather, paddling furiously we both managed to catch the same wave 100 metres from shore. It was intense! to say the least as we sped down the same wave and after a few seconds it somehow became a great roller coaster ride and nothing to fear. However this was short lived - for Rob at least - our kayaks were side by side so Rob leaned over and attempted to push mine away - and that's when out of the corner of my eye I saw his yak flip throwing him into the drink, about 50 metres from shore. I continued at a cracking pace miraculously all the way in (I’ve never done that in relatively small surf let alone this!) the locals on the beach who had been awaiting for our return immediately jumped in and helped me drag my kayak up out of the white wash. I then immediately jumped out and started searching and calling out Robs name. It wasn't long before his orange 4.7 Ocean Kayak washed ashore followed by Rob a little later much to my relief - unharmed but missing his reading glasses, hat and head torch.

We thanked the locals and compared adrenaline filled notes of what we would have done next time in a similar intense.

Now the caution: This was not an unplanned trip and swellmap and windytv websites were researched as always before the excursion - both reported a .6m swell, but this must have been 1.5 to 2m. Friends of Robs up the coast said they had never had swell like this in ages and that it came out of the blue. Always be weary of Mother Nature and respect her.

Re: A cautionary tale

Posted: Tue Feb 06, 2018 5:15 pm
by Kermit
Good timely reminder Smeg thanks

Re: A cautionary tale

Posted: Tue Feb 06, 2018 5:29 pm
by kingiFiddler
Windy got it wrong a few days ago up here too. Was saying under a meter but way more than that. Combined with shifting sands the bar here was closing out the entire entrance. No way out between the sets in my kayak - just not fast enough. Even a few boats were turning back. This was mid outgoing tide and it's not often too hairy in a true sub-1m swell - there's almost always a channel that might get one freak wave every now and then but not every wave on every set. Chances of staying upright on the return leg on anything but a high tide would have been next to zero and even the high tide was looking dicey.

Even yesterday Windy still seemed to have it wrong. There were swells coming through that made me not want to wait and see what coming back through at low tide would be like. Actually felt a bit scared so made a point of paddling back in early while the tide was still high (fishing was shite anyway), ditching all the gear on the beach, and paddling back out to 'play' in the surf to get chucked out a few times and get over the fear factor. It worked...until the shark turned up.

No way I'd want to tackle a surf exit in the dark. At least you've got a good tale to tell the grandkids. I hope you both get back on the horse sooner rather than later.

Re: A cautionary tale

Posted: Tue Feb 06, 2018 9:30 pm
by 46John
Glad it turned out ok.

Re: A cautionary tale

Posted: Tue Feb 06, 2018 10:02 pm
by Hainesy
Unfortunately we have to be prepared for the worst.... glad that you both made it back in ok albeit it with a few missing bits

Re: A cautionary tale

Posted: Wed Feb 07, 2018 10:06 am
by MikeAqua
I had similar experience off Ruakaka

An effective and simple technique to learn/practice is the 'bongo slide'.

If you end up side on to the wave after it has broken, dig your paddle into the side closest to the wave, with the convex side of the paddle blade facing the wave, lean toward the wave and hang on. It won't be elegant or dry, but you usually stay upright. As the white-water dissipates you will find yourself naturally bringing the blade closer to the side of the kayak, to maintain balance.

If there is a secondary shore break you want to be out of the slide before you reach it. Either wait until the wave reforms into a swell, or if this isn't happening break over the back of the white-water once it has dissipated enough. Rotating the concave face toward the wave will point the bow into the wave.

This is a nice resource for kayak strokes (doesn't include the bongo).

https://www.kayakpaddling.net/

Re: A cautionary tale

Posted: Wed Feb 07, 2018 11:11 am
by Kingaling
I've been in a similar situation before up at Te Arai Pt.

I've tried catching waves in my sea kayak before and you just get turned sideways and flipped over..

So this time I tried to avoid catching any waves, paddling between sets.. however with a wave bearing down on me and not wanting to lose any of the gear capsizing.. I decided on jumping out of the yak and grabbing hold of the rear end rigging. The wave came through and with me at the back it kept the thing straight and I Pushed/walked the yak to shore.

Got a bit wet but saved me from losing any gear.

I wonder if using the drift chute would be a viable option?

Re: A cautionary tale

Posted: Wed Feb 07, 2018 3:30 pm
by Schecter
Probably want to keep the drift chute tucked up and stored away if you are riding the waves to the beach.

On one trip I didn't disconnect the chute from the running rig and stow it away. When I turtled the chute tangled around my lower leg and nearly dragged me out to the water.

Re: A cautionary tale

Posted: Thu Feb 08, 2018 3:02 pm
by Kingaling
Yeah but actually deploying the chute I thought might give you some drag, making it impossible to catch a wave and get turtled. It would be a slow, but steady ride back to shore. You may get splashed a bit though..

Re: A cautionary tale

Posted: Thu Feb 08, 2018 4:26 pm
by dedant
Kingaling wrote:
Thu Feb 08, 2018 3:02 pm
Yeah but actually deploying the chute I thought might give you some drag, making it impossible to catch a wave and get turtled. It would be a slow, but steady ride back to shore. You may get splashed a bit though..
Drouge or chute is to negate or lessen the effect of the wind. ie, slow down the drift or point the bow into the wind in an emergency. Not breaking waves or surf. Perhaps a little bit of drag at the stern could be a good thing? I don't know, but the size of our normal fishing chutes would cause issues.
I love my current kayak for the ability to stow everything , rods included, in the hull. Even though I avoid breaking waves as much as possible, a nice clean deck is so much nicer to paddle with nothing but my round torso to catch the wind. :)

Re: A cautionary tale

Posted: Thu Feb 08, 2018 7:58 pm
by TBreezy
Kingaling wrote:
Wed Feb 07, 2018 11:11 am
So this time I tried to avoid catching any waves, paddling between sets.. however with a wave bearing down on me and not wanting to lose any of the gear capsizing.. I decided on jumping out of the yak and grabbing hold of the rear end rigging. The wave came through and with me at the back it kept the thing straight and I Pushed/walked the yak to shore.

Got a bit wet but saved me from losing any gear.
I've done this. I don't care about getting wet coming in - there's a towel and dry clothes waiting for me in the car.

I used to do a lot of surfing so feel pretty comfortable in the waves, but find it difficult to keep the kayak from turning side-on when riding a wave, so if getting a bit wet means avoiding the drama, I'm all for it. I try to be as aware as possible about this stuff when on the water but as we all know, it can be hard to gauge at times.

It's so good you both made it in ok! I would have been sh*&ing myself. :beer:

Re: A cautionary tale

Posted: Fri Feb 09, 2018 9:19 am
by UrbanAngler
TBreezy wrote:
Kingaling wrote:
Wed Feb 07, 2018 11:11 am
So this time I tried to avoid catching any waves, paddling between sets.. however with a wave bearing down on me and not wanting to lose any of the gear capsizing.. I decided on jumping out of the yak and grabbing hold of the rear end rigging. The wave came through and with me at the back it kept the thing straight and I Pushed/walked the yak to shore.

Got a bit wet but saved me from losing any gear.
I've done this. I don't care about getting wet coming in - there's a towel and dry clothes waiting for me in the car.

I used to do a lot of surfing so feel pretty comfortable in the waves, but find it difficult to keep the kayak from turning side-on when riding a wave, so if getting a bit wet means avoiding the drama, I'm all for it. I try to be as aware as possible about this stuff when on the water but as we all know, it can be hard to gauge at times.

It's so good you both made it in ok! I would have been sh*&ing myself. :beer:
This is interesting. Never thought of this before. Do you still need to swim to push your kayak or just let the wave bring you to the shore?




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Re: A cautionary tale

Posted: Fri Feb 09, 2018 11:56 am
by Hainesy
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:

Re: A cautionary tale

Posted: Fri Feb 09, 2018 12:29 pm
by Smeg
Bloody good discussion guys - I'll be trying to get out without gear to trial a few of these techniques in the surf (with a buddy)

This is one of the better surf tutorial Vids I've seen https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qRdYMIU3Di8

Re: A cautionary tale

Posted: Fri Feb 09, 2018 5:22 pm
by AndrewRawlingson
Once upon a time, I surfed a fully loaded fishing kayak on to the beach at Matapouri. It wasn’t part of the plan. Change of conditions. It was mid-summer and the beach was packed with tourists. I expected to be going for an embarrassing swim. I got that turtle feeling. Next thing I knew, the wave dumped me neatly at the high tide mark. All luck, no skill!

Another time, a forum member joined me for a launch from Woolleys Bay which is relatively protected. On the way home, he got the directions muddled and was setting up for a landing at Sandy Bay, a renowned surf beach. As tempting as it was to let him go for it , my conscience got the better of me and I caught up with him and let him know the score.

Re: A cautionary tale

Posted: Fri Feb 09, 2018 6:55 pm
by dedant
Paddle Guy ( Jason Milne ) and Jim Sammons ( Kayak Fishing Tales) have useful You Tube videos on coming in through surf. There is also one I found with a guy on a Hobie Island pontoon and out board set up using a drift chute ( small one ) , however the "surf" on that one would not raise a sweat on most anyone here. :lol:

Re: A cautionary tale

Posted: Fri Feb 09, 2018 7:07 pm
by TBreezy
UrbanAngler wrote:
Fri Feb 09, 2018 9:19 am
TBreezy wrote:
Kingaling wrote:
Wed Feb 07, 2018 11:11 am
So this time I tried to avoid catching any waves, paddling between sets.. however with a wave bearing down on me and not wanting to lose any of the gear capsizing.. I decided on jumping out of the yak and grabbing hold of the rear end rigging. The wave came through and with me at the back it kept the thing straight and I Pushed/walked the yak to shore.

Got a bit wet but saved me from losing any gear.
I've done this. I don't care about getting wet coming in - there's a towel and dry clothes waiting for me in the car.

I used to do a lot of surfing so feel pretty comfortable in the waves, but find it difficult to keep the kayak from turning side-on when riding a wave, so if getting a bit wet means avoiding the drama, I'm all for it. I try to be as aware as possible about this stuff when on the water but as we all know, it can be hard to gauge at times.

It's so good you both made it in ok! I would have been sh*&ing myself. :beer:
This is interesting. Never thought of this before. Do you still need to swim to push your kayak or just let the wave bring you to the shore?




Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
A little of both. I try to get in as far as possible before jumping in though. Haven't done it in HUGE surf (of course) so it's not that far 'til you can touch the bottom. Way faster to just ride it in - my theory is it's kind of like a big surfboard if you sort of lean on the back with your forearms - your body creates drag to keep the kayak straight. I reckon I'll be out to have another play in the surf at some point this summer just to get more comfortable with it should I happen to be caught out. I'm down Whangamata ways relatively often and there's surf of all sizes along that beach.

Re: A cautionary tale

Posted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 10:20 am
by Marc N
Thank you all, for the tips and advice.

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.

Cheers :beer:

Re: A cautionary tale

Posted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 10:46 am
by Smeg
Better wet, than having to untangle all the leads and gear and so on, if the 'yak goes bum up
A good point to make - one shouldn't be on a Yak with the possibility of being entangled in line and/or rigging, anchor line should the inevitable happen - I do try to make a conscious effort to keep the deck clear and lines and gear, lures tucked away - It dosen't always happen but ...i try. And of course a short emergency blade is paramount to have attached to your pfd.

Re: A cautionary tale

Posted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 11:12 am
by kingiFiddler
I'm beginning to think the anchor points for things like paddle leashes need to be super strong or sacrificially weak.

Mine was leashed to a bungy cord that keeps the pod lid down tight. That central location is good because it's a fairly short leash that still allowed enough movement. No serious loads on it when falling into or dropping the paddle in, the open ocean. But getting tossed out in the surf the other day I tried to hang onto the paddle to stop the yak from racing away from me and it just ripped the bungy cord out of its toggle mount. Being mounted centrally rather than at either end, it had heaps of load on it.

Might either mount it on a long leash anchored to front or rear handle or swipe a leg rope off a surfboard, attach one end to the rear yak handle and keep the other end attached to the back of the seat for easy/quick access to put on my ankle when attempting surf exits. If I fall out, I can let the paddle go and it won't put much load on the paddle leash anchor, and dragging my weight will point the back of the yak in the right direction, without ripping my leg off.