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Wind waves at Alki Point

I'm pleasantly exhausted. A group of paddlers were getting together today to go on a simple post-holiday paddle. However, the conditions ended up predicting significant winds so the plan changed to playing in wind waves off Alki Point.

John S. and I were going to carpool to meet the group but when we touched base in the morning, when the winds weren't particularly strong yet, we decided to go out a little later than the rest of the group hoping the winds would be stronger. Check out this graph and guess what time we managed to get on the water:


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Yee haw! What fun! We got out there just as the peak wind was starting. It maxed out around 33 knots with gusts of 46 (about 38mph with gusts of 49mph). We would paddle out to the point where we got hit with the full force of the wind, paddle like on a tread mill for a little bit as we would get pushed away from shore a bit, then turn and surf back into Elliot bay before heading in to Alki again to reach the calmer water. Then repeat!

We did several rounds of surfing like this, which can be very exhausting, mostly during that treadmill part when pushing against swells with the wind and waves pounding at you. The winds were so strong I almost felt like my paddle was going to be pulled out of my hands a couple times. Near the end I decided I should practice a re-entry and roll – where you wet exit out of your kayak and then get back into your kayak and roll back up. We went out into the middle of the swells and John stuck nearby in case I needed help getting back in.

There was no problem getting out, other than the fact that the wind was blowing so hard in nearly blew me back upright! I got out and held onto all of my gear and went to get a big breath of air when my head popped out of the water and practically water boarded myself! I was wearing a balaclava (full hoody and face covering to keep my head warm), which was also covering my nose and mouth. As I tried to take a big breath of air in I got a full mouth of soggy balaclava! My eyes probably popped out of my head as I tried to figure out why I wasn’t really getting any air and then I quickly grabbed for the balaclava and yanked it below my nose and mouth to breath.

Of course I had to let go of something when I did that, but fortunately I had chosen the paddle which was between me and my kayak, which was downwind of me, so I was able to grab the paddle again pretty quickly. The rest was pretty easy. Since I was on the upwind side I just held onto the kayak, took a breath of air and did the typical re-entry and roll with the wind doing most of the work. I realized after that it was my “off side” so I guess I can say I no longer worry about which side I’ll roll up on. I did have a ton of water in my kayak but I quasi-surfed back into calmer water where we dumped it out. John showed me a great way to hold onto my paddle while putting the spray skirt back on – put the paddle out like an outrigger and just lean forward onto the paddle to keep it in place while using both hands to reattach the spray skirt! This provides a much better sense of stability while bouncing on waves without having to hold onto the paddle.

We did one more surf run after dumping the water out and then went in to join the others at the pizza joint. All in all a great time playing on the water in lots of wind!

A couple other lessons learned for next time: I see why John was considering wearing his helmet – there was a ton of debris in the water. The dead raccoon floating in the water probably wouldn’t have hurt my head, but the logs and wood with nails in it might have had I unexpectedly gone over! Also, since we were near shore I decided not to bring a spare paddle. However, once I felt the wind nearly pulling the paddle out of my hand I realized this is the exact situation when you need to have a spare paddle on board, regardless of how close you are to shore!

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Hello Jeanette

Hello, this is Cody and Alex and we really enjoyed kayaking with you and Richard! We hope that you enjoy the last two nights on the broken group. We really enjoyed our last night and our first night back in civilization. Cheers.

Re: Hello Jeanette

Hi Cody! Great to meet you two as well! And glad to hear you made it home safe, we were worried about the wind the day you paddled out! We thoroughly enjoyed every day of our trip and just starting to blog about the trip, will have additional posts in the next couple days. :)

Do let us know if you post your photos anywhere, would love to see what you captured with that fantastic camera that survived your trip.