He was talk about about me and Bob, me in my Tiderace Pace 18, Bob in is Rockpool Taran. Both fall into the category of Fast Sea Kayak, though I guarantee you Bob was the faster of us. I'm still getting the hang of maximizing the Pace.
We were camping the weekend at Sandy Hook, organized by mutual friend MM. we were a diverse group over the weekend. MM and I arrived Friday night and set up camp, along with two women on the beginner side. RK and Bob showed up the next morning, but skipped out on Sunday.
Basically, on Saturday I paddled out with the boys to play in the tidal race around the tip of the hook, while MM stayed with the beginners. On Sunday, MM and the mister joined me to the same location, but earlier in the tidal cycle and not as long. We all wanted to get home in time to clean up and put away.
Along the way, we spotted a couple of ships - the Perry was at a US Navy resupply pier.
The USN Robert Perry, a resupply ship.
The Weeks BE Lindholm, a dredging ship.
The tidal conditions around Sandy Hook are quite interesting. Basically, on the ebb, water is moving southeast from the New York harbor, but laterally past the hook from Raritan and Sandy Hook bays. near the channel markers on the northeast corner of the hook, the convergence of currents forms a lumpy wave train falling back against the current as it ebbs to the east. The result is a washing machine that you can either plow through with the current, or power through against the current.
Before those conditions set up, we ventured around the hook and tried surfing in on what little swell we could find, but it was remarkably tame. The RK and the mister did some surfing in forwards, backwards, and bongo onto the beach and then sliding back out, until the tide dropped enough that the surf became dangerous. On the last run, Mister Cowgirl took several attempts at getting back out into surf, getting chewed up and spat back onto the beach before finally succeeding in breaking through.
When we returned to the tiderace, we took a few passes through it. Holy Hannah, did I bring a knife to a gunfight.
Normally, for rough water play I paddle my Gemini SP. Short, rockered, and double-chined, the Gemini revels in lumpy and confused seas. The Pace, while stable and capable, likes to go straight and fast. It's maneuverable, but really prefers organized water - waves from one direction, currents from one direction, and a driver who can keep on course between the two. That was not what was on offer here.
Instead, as I entered the end of the wave train, paddling against current, I found waves impaling themselves on the bow, crashing over both after quarters, swallowing and regurgitating the boat as I plowed forwards. I dug in and paddled harder, not just forward but keeping my hips loose and a brace handy. Eventually I got near the end and slid towards the eddy line, where I made a U-turn to come back around.
Coming back through, I found myself moving faster, this time with the current, but still crashing into confused water piling up against me from multiple directions. This wasn't a clean tiderace, with a train of wide waves falling back against the current. It was supremely messy, waves piling up at multiple angles to the flow. It was mad, it was brilliant.
yet, from outside the train, it wasn't terrifying. A wide boil near the buoys at the end, or on the opposite side of the wave train, it was clearly interesting water, but limited in its area of effect. Once in it, I felt surrounded by confused seas, but I had choices - to draw out at the sides, or let myself flush out.
We took several passes through the race, and after the last one, boy was I tuckered. By that time I was more exhausted than scared, more effort paddling against current than staying upright. We landed for lunch, chatting with a man and his dog who'd been admiring us from the beach. After that, we launched and paddled back, encountering the rest of our group and paddling casually back through Sandy Hook Bay.
Here's a video I put together.
Sunday was a short day, with a smaller group. RK opted to spend time on the beach with his non-paddling significant other; Bob had gone home the night before, and the beginners had packed up camp early as well. That left just MM and the mister and myself, and none of us wanted to be out late dealing with end--of-weekend traffic.After packing up camp and kitting boats, we only spent about three hours on the water.
They were totally worth the effort.
First of all, after paddling out of Sandy Hook Bay and to the north of the hook, we saw dolphins. Not just one or two, or five, but two distinct groups of at least eight each. Maybe more.
The motorized boats near us started maneuvering to better see them, and we saw their fins splash splash then disappear, then reappear somewhere else entirely and splash splash before dropping underwater again.
I saw two break off from the main pod and swim towards me. And, best of all, one blew his spout right next to me, while I was conveniently in the middle of turning my camera back on.
Second, we found the tiderace at an earlier state in its cycle, still interesting but not quite as frothy. It was more surfable, and we took turns riding in towards shore, breaking off before getting near fishing lines and the beach.
We paddled on back around the hook, riding little waves. The Pace in particular was brilliant at picking up these little rollers, and I was coasting most of the way with just a bit of sprinting. I was able to better practice staying on a wave, speeding up and slowing down to match the wave's speed.