A surf launch, sort of gone wrong!
On the morning of September 2nd, our paddling group set out for the Southside of Brooks Peninsula from North Cuttle Island. There was 5 of us, including me. The conditions in Checleset Bay were incredibly calm and we made quick work of it but also took our time to enjoy the serene surroundings. Upon arriving at Paradise beach, a camp belonging to other paddlers was noticed. None of us wanted neighbours. Our group huddled out on the water and the consensus was to instead camp on a nearby pocket beach, just Southeast of Surfers beach. Having previously camped on Paradise beach, I was excited about the idea of a new location.
Mistake #1 – Do not decide to land in proximity to a place called Surfers beach.
I was slightly ahead of our group. Considering that the decision was made, I saw no real reason why I shouldn’t just land. The crashing surf on the beach appeared reasonable. I braced and rode a wave going in, executing the maneuver perfectly and felt rather proud of myself for doing so. The crashing surf did seem a little bit more noteworthy once I stood on the beach and pulled my kayak up on the dry sand. But, I did it so I figured the others could too.
Mistake #2 – Failing to reassess and gain group consensus before proceeding.
The fact of the matter was, the other four paddlers did not feel it would be a good place to land and certainly not a good place to launch from. They beckoned for me to come back out on the water and regroup. So, with 4 others watching, feeling a bit rushed and disappointed with myself for making mistake #2 it was nonetheless my chance to show my stuff and get off the beach. I thought this would be relatively simple and given my success with the landing, perhaps I was a little bit overconfident.
Mistake #3 – Failing to take the time to assess conditions properly.
I placed my kayak on the waters edge, a little bit too far in and too close to the breaking water in attempt to position it so that I could get in and paddle away. Along came a big crashing wave on the steep beach pushing my kayak sideways and filling it with ocean water. So much for that!
Mistake #4 – Improper positioning of kayak.
I was sure all of this was great entertainment for my fellow paddlers and I knew this was going to require a bit more mental effort. So, I licked my wounds and got to work. Instead of using my bailer, I sat on top of my boat and used my water bottle to slowly empty my cockpit 750ml at a time. I used this opportunity to study the breaking water on the beach and develop a strategy in my mind.
Once I felt enough water was out of my cockpit, I repositioned the kayak a couple more times until I gained enough floatation to paddle out, not wasting any time to get ahead of the shallow crashing surf. We used the bailer to get the rest of the water out of my cockpit and proceeded back over to Paradise beach and called it a day. Having neighbours on a camping beach I decided wasn’t such a bad thing after all. Many thanks to both Steve Best and Dan Douglas for their support during this ordeal.
(Photo by Jen Douglas)