This is a copy of a post I made on paddling.net.
This is a not-too-short trip report. It is about paddling along the coast and then watching as my inexperienced friend decide to catch a wave or two.
We started at Mission Bay in San Diego. We paddled to Point Loma. We paddled well outside the breakers all of the way to the point although a few times we got close enough to notice a bigger-than-usual swell go under us as it steepened near shore. At the point, the waves broke in less predictable places and it seemed like a few broke much further from shore than others. I was staying out away from shore to be safe. I have a proper sea kayak, skirt, and have a consistent roll, but there was no reason to be too close to shore.
I look back and can’t see Steve so I turn my boat around and he’s close to shore waving me over. It looks like it is calm in that area and that the eaves are either breaking far outside or not really breaking at all in that area. Regardless, I need to go get him! He is excited because he caught a small wave. He apparently rode it for a short distance and then managed to turn the boat and avoid the break.
Steve was in a Necky Manitou 13 which has no forward bulkhead. He was also using a skirt made only for light touring. I thought that he was aware of that situation.
I had also mentioned once or twice that day how to deal with a breaker if he gets in the wrong place. He needs to approach a wave perpendicular to it to paddle through it head on. I only mentioned this stuff in case something odd happened.
Something odd happened.
I was backing in to shore because the break at the point seemed small and I wanted to feel some steeper waves under my boat. I had no intention of riding a wave and no intention of having a wave break on my boat. We were still out pretty far and just talking about how some people recommend backing into shore in some situations. I told him that it allows you to see the waves and to paddle into any breakers. I also mentioned again that I have no real surf experience. I often tell the people I’m with what my limitations are in the given situation. Then I let them do whatever the heck they want because they are adults and can make their own decisions.
Steve just starts paddling. He gets in front of a breaker that was a little ways down the shore and gets hit directly on the side. He disappears and I think “Crap, now I’ve got to rescue him. What the hell was he thinking!”
I paddle my ass off towards him and brace for the side impact of the following breaker. It’s no big deal and the surf was not really that big that day and I’m not all that bad of a paddler, thankfully. I turn towards shore to catch up to him and there he is sitting upright over the shoals/rocks with the front of the boat full of water asking me what to do next. Hell if I know. I tell him to paddle in or out but to not stay there because I can’t see the waves behind me. There was nothing coming in so he was safe.
He jumps out of the boat because it’s not going anywhere and drags it to where the water is ankle deep. We drain it and get him in the boat just as some guy in a uniform starts shouting at us from shore.
Can’t people tell when you can’t hear a word they are saying? He might as well been yelling at rock star on stage. I figure that he wants us to leave because of the lighthouse there and because it was Sept. 11th and uniformed types are probably being paranoid all over the country. Maybe he was trying to help. He didn’t look like it.
He gets in the boat and we paddle out. I have to yell at him a few times to keep him paddling when the break or foam goes under his boat but he catches on after getting pushed back once or twice. I’m glad the surf was actually very small that day for his sake.
We did have to pump some more water out of his boat after paddling back out. A guy in a sailboat asked if we needed help. Boaters, in general, are pretty friendly and helpful when they see someone having trouble.
Steve lost his glasses. I can’t imagine what he was thinking when he went for it. He says that he thought was paddling straight into the wave but he wasn’t even close. It must have been some sort of brain fart he had because I’ve been paddling for years and was equipped for the conditions and still avoided the surf. It was also a bit of a rogue wave because the spot where he too the hit was the only place that had a large break.
It was sort of fun except the part about not seeing his head above water for a moment. If anyone takes a novice paddling, do better than I did at telling them what to do and what to not do.
I also discovered that I can handle the surf with no problem at all as long as it’s just two or three footers. I didn’t get at all close to getting knocked over and got out through the breakers with almost no effort.
It was a long 8 miles back to Mission Bay.