Kayak Luv

Eighteen years or seven, take your pick. That’s how long I have had my soul mate, best friend, (now) husband in my life. People always ask how long we’ve been together, and we always look at each other first, trying to figure out which number they want: eighteen since first date/kiss  or seven since we finally made it *official* on paperwork. Like I said, take your pick.

We got out to the coast for three gorgeous late September days, testing our kayaks in new waters with newly acquired skills. In August we participated in Alder Creek’s Full Immersion Sea Kayak II class which took learning to a whole new level.

taking in Siletz Bay


Full Immersion II

Like Full Immersion I, the course consisted of 2.5 days of consecutive learning: a night in the pool, practicing skills (including an introduction to rolling) followed by two days on the water. The first full day we predominantly played with current and maneuvering skills in the Gorge near Hood River. We paddled up the Klickitat battling swift current and practicing ferrying skills, testing our lungs in the heavy wildfire smoke settling in the Hood River valley. The day also included a more in depth session regarding reading water, maneuvering, tides and practicing new strokes and tow line rescues. 

4:30 pm in Hood River. Yes, it was this dark (wildfire smoke)

heading towards the Klickitat, crossing the open Columbia

Sunday we drove to the coast to take these new skills into a true teaching environment- the Oregon coast off the Salmon River near Cascade Head. It was stunning- a clear, cold morning, blissfully free of the smoke haze from the day before. Everyone chose dry suits over wet suits for immersion gear. Today, today there was no doubt we were going into the water, voluntary or not.  The river was absolutely gorgeous: clear, azure water with crabs, mini jellyfish and Dungeness crab visible in the water. Seals poked their heads in and out, curious about our group. We timed our journey with the tides; here, the Salmon River is fully tidal- we put in with the outgoing tide, coordinating our journey to finish with the incoming tide. Kayaking is all about utilizing your resources and conserving energy.

We got our water wings under us, warming up, and practicing skills and maneuvers learned in Hood River. Afterwards we headed out into the surf. In truth, here, I was terrified. My last washing machine cycle experience in the Surf Zone class had hammered my confidence badly; although the waves this day weren’t insurmountable (and I was in a safe learning environment), the ocean seemed frothy and unforgiveable and brutal. The instructors, as always, were phenomenal. In the end all was well...I just needed to spend some time in what Andrew-from-Wisconsin dubbed the “soup zone”, moving in and out of rip tides and shore currents. I needed time to *feel* what was happening with the boat in these types of currents, to process and understand them instead of panicking when my boat got pitched to and fro. In the end, I ventured further out into the four and five foot swells, learning to hold position again an incoming breaker, and I even managed to surf a few times. I also did a lot of swimming. :)

where the Salmon River meets the ocean

Our condo rental was in Lincoln City on the shores of Siletz Bay. Andy and I fell in love with this place, especially for kayaking. 

little beach behind our condo

We trialed our new dry suits and what a world of difference those made in conditions. Netarts Bay is one of my favorite places on the coast, yet we ended up loving Siletz more for paddling. Netarts is deeper and one of the best places for crabbing on the coast; however, there are few places to land and when the afternoon wind finally picks up, you end up fighting the wind more than the current, which makes for some interesting chop. 

paddling chop & current in Netarts

Siletz is simply lovely. Of varying depths, in certain places, with the incoming tide, we were just coasting over shallow sand bars, seals and birds warily watching us from a safe distance. We made land on one of many small islands and tried our hand at crabbing and just enjoyed the sun and wind and water.  

loved weaving in and out of these giant driftwood trees in Siletz

beyond stoked that he caught a crab

driftwood forest maze

taking in Siletz at high tide

It was interesting to see how much Full Immersion II came into play, even in the sheltered bays. One of the biggest lessons taught was in regards to respecting the mouth of the bays and how they shift currents with the incoming and outgoing tides. Per another instructor, “Stay away from the mouth at the outgoing tide- they act like a nozzle and will shoot you out into the ocean.”

We thought maybe he was exaggerating. Nope.

Our first day at Siletz we had done some recon regarding the outgoing current at the mouth- it was humbling to see just how swiftly the water was flowing. And we knew just by looking at it there was no way to beat that through sheer paddling strength (a valuable lesson in recon and in having an exit strategy should you get caught). As it was, coming back in with the outgoing tide, Andy and I got to practice skills learned in the second immersion class, especially regarding point navigation and correcting trajectory when the current is pulling you in a different direction than you want to go.

We also learned that Pepper will eat starfish if given the chance. Go figure.

To eighteen years, my love. 


Mary said...

Yes, I learned that lesson about tides and bays in Alaska. In fact, there were some bays you just could not enter at flood, not even in a motorboat.

Manda said...

That's crazy sounding- we were just watching the mouth of a very small bay, and even some of the motorboats were struggling with the ebb. I can't imagine what it looks like in a place like you mentioned.

Kayaking has been fun. Humbling, but fun. :)