tri prep

the tri that we’re running (as a relay team) is coming up in a few weeks, and k, the friend doing the swim leg, wanted to get in an ocean swim. she’d never done any open water swimming, and she didn’t want her first experience to be the actual race. so, early saturday morning, k and i headed out to corona dell mar, me with my kayak and k with her wet suit, to spend some time on the high seas.
i’m beginning to learn that surf launches aren’t all they’re cracked up to be if you don’t have a full skirt. i had a wave crash on the bow and dump about 10-15 gallons of water into the cockpit. the bilge pump made quick work of it, but still, not the best of launches.
we headed out to a buoy about a quarter mile out and k started swimming parallel to the coast. we started pretty close to a jetty, so the swells were pretty tame. as we progressed along the coast, the swell got noticeably larger. k spent some time getting used to spotting and swimming with the swells. after about a half mile of swimming, i stopped her as we were heading into some pretty heavy kelp beds. i wasn’t too sure she wanted to be swimming through them. we chatted for a few minutes before turning around to do some laps. k mentioned how strange it was to make a stroke, expecting there to be water and have your arm fall into thin air as you come over a swell. i’m sure it’s tough to get used to after training in a pool.
she was starting to get the hang of things, and decided to hit a series of buoys without stopping. she cruised along at a pretty smooth and quick pace and really seemed to be getting the hang of it. i pulled out the camera and took some quick video of her swimming and got a couple photos. her last lap was about a half mile circuit of buoys and then back to shore. total distance for the swim was about 1.5 miles with moderate effort. it was fun to kayak along, too. watching k cruising through the water got me wanting to give it a shot, too.
after k got to shore, i headed in. with a shore break, it’s tough to see the waves and their sizes. i moved over close to the jetty so that the surf would be as small as possible. i sat just outside the surf zone, trying to gauge the sets. i edged closer and closer, back paddling to keep my spot. i tried to time coming in right behind a wave, but the one i tried to follow in actually took me with it. it lifted the boat up, tipped it’s bow down into the water and flipped me. i ended up between the sand and the kayak and wasn’t able to move fast enough before the next wave hit.
the kayak filled up with water pretty quick and it was a struggle to pull it out of the surf. i kept getting hammered, since i was pulling the kayak up the shore and the waves would pound the boat onto my feet. i munched both of my big toes and my shins and knees took a beating. it was an ugly landing, but i learned some valuable lessons from it.
first, waves are surface water moving and they’ll take anything on the surface with it on their way in. second, it is wise to clip all your gear to yourself or the boat. and third, avoid a surf launch or landing if you can…and if you can’t, have a skirt on the boat.
the runs of the past few days have let me know that i didn’t injure anything that would keep me from running. the toes feel okay and the shins and knees just superficial injuries. whew!

aliso beach surf launch

well, sunday, wade and i were able to make some time and take the kayak out for a surf launch and paddle along the coast. we loaded up the boat and headed down to pacific coast highway, not quite sure of where we’d launch from. i’ve tried to get in contact with the county and state beaches, but they never return my calls. so, i’m not quite sure where it’s legal to launch from.
as we drove along pch up toward laguna beach, we decided to check aliso beach. the shoreline is close to the parking lot, so we though we’d unload the boat, park and make a rush for the surf before anyone could tell us we couldn’t. well, while unloading the kayak, the lifeguards drove past several times and never said a word. guess we were okay to launch from there.
the surf report had stated that there was a light swell, light wind and glassy conditions. that was at 8am. it was now 4pm. things change. hahah. the surf launch was pretty easy, since it was a shore break and timing the sets was pretty easy. we got away from the shore without any difficulty. as we began paddling away, though, it was apparent that it was less than glassy conditions. there was a stiff wind, 1-2 foot seas and a heavy northwest swell.
we decided to paddle north, against the swell and then ride it back in on the return. the seas were heavy enough that the bow would occasionally submerge and send a cascade of spray into the cockpit. i got a little bit wetter than when smsmh and i went paddling in back bay. after about 30 minutes of paddling, we were at least a mile off shore. wade jumped out of the kayak to swim around a little bit and nearly gave me a heart attack. no warning, just a heavy rocking and a huge splash. next thing i know, he’s 10 feet way from the stern. what a goofball!
he floated around a bit, got a ways away from the boat and i decided that it’d be easier to get back to shore if he was helping me paddle, so i went and picked him back up. we did some more hard paddling and got to what must have easily been two miles off shore and then just floated around a bit, taking pictures and shooting video.
the kayak handled really well, despite how heavy the swell and wind were. i was very pleased with it’s performance. after a while of just enjoying the solitude, we paddled back to shore. the surf landing was a little more hectic than the launch. we came in okay and didn’t hit the sand hard, but the surf turned us sideways as soon as we beached and we didn’t jump out quick enough to grab it kayak. a huge wave followed us in and shot the boat up the shore, breaking the dummy cords to our paddles. no real harm done, though, and a good lesson learned.