Sunday 6:20 p.m. After-action report
Still not feeling well but the weather is beautiful and itâ€™s about 2:30, time to get the kayak dirty.
Scouts report the following:
Route to target: 18 paces from garage to gate of RV pad, 18 paces along RV pad to back lawn. 18 paces across lawn to intersect back cement path for closest approach to target, 18 paces down path to wooden decks, 16 steps down a series of short wooden decks to water edge of dock.
Height of water approaching high tide below top surface of deck: 20 inches. Depth of water just off deck approaching high tide: 4 feet, 2 inches.
Current upwards of 1/2 miles per hour, swells nonexistent, peak between waves apparently infinite, no shore break, no rip tides, no shark sightings in recorded history, wind upwards of 4 miles per hour from the west, bright sun.
Scouts have pre-positioned and concealed a pfd, paddle, and Mirage drive on the dock.
Mission a go despite internal and external conditions less than ideal.
Got the kayak on the wheeled cart with a minimal load of gear. Halfway down the RV pad the right wheel fell off. Repairs took 5 minutes: 1 to turn the kayak on its side to remove the cart, 1 to find a shady spot to check things out, 2 to determine the wheel just came loose and slide it back on the shaft until it snapped into place and tighten the nylon bolt; 1 to slide the cart back under the kayak and get rolling.
Easily across the grass, down the path, and bump down the levels of wooden decks to the dock. Turn the kayak on its side to remove the cart. Tie the bow line to a deck cleat as a precaution and compose a sit rep.
Water level is way below dock level: a challenging entry for a newbie kayaker. Even in the days I ran a canoe all over this would call for caution and preparation for capsizing. Apparently a 2.6 high tide is less than ideal. Crew (aka darn cat) expresses doubt and refuses to participate in the exercise.
Crew carefully notes that Captain also decides to leave his glasses, lunch, and hat on the dock. Captain, wearing pdf, then eases off the dock, and slowly transfers weight to what he hopes is the middle of the kayak. No way to use the paddle as a water or dock brace given the distance and angles. Captain notes approvingly the boat feels extremely responsive.
Fully on the kayak now and all is well. Captain then notices he is facing the stern. Responsiveness of boat difficult to calculate but seems somehow to be increasing. Crew somehow let the boat drift away from the dock; the bow rope is behind the Captain and effectively out of reach. [Note to self: next time put the paddle in or on the kayak.]
Captain tries to relax and enjoy the beautiful day while trying to convince himself that he can gracefully turn and slide his seat into the seat, without beginning the water re-entry drill portion of the program. Crew appears to be enjoying himself a bit too much, as the boat continues to drift with the tide toward a set of blackberry bushes arched over the water and equipped with a lifetime supply of very sharp thorns.
The Captain decides the risk of getting wet is far more acceptable than the certainty of being punctured. Primary stability challenged and overwhelmed; secondary stability challenged and overwhelmed. Not sure if clinging to the overturned kayak is tertiary stability.
Successful water re-entry drill. Seat in the seat. Hand paddle toward the dock until bowline comes to hand, then pull on the rope to the dock. The Captainâ€™s planning was worthwhile: glasses, hat, Mirage drive, and lunch waiting safe and dry on the dock. Crew does not understand the fine points of a shakedown cruise, and again refuses to board.
Everything loaded safely and stowed with some kind of tether or tie. Mirage drive installed easily and drive plug placed on dock. Captain decides to leave glasses on dock also. Bowline untied and voyage begins.
Rudder deployment handle in fairly awkward place but works fine. Mirage pedals â€“ so close that Captain hooks knees over ears to get one leg in position. That is not going to work. Captain hand operates pedals and boat goes forward; Captain waves hat in success to Crew.
Captain decides to put the drive in the keeper to bring the fins against the bottom of the boat, and to paddle. It is nice to be on the water at this intimate level again. Turtles and ducks are not so sure they want to share their neighborhood with the Captain and a mango-colored Hobie Adventure. Boat glides nicely with little effort.
Captain notices what unfortunately looks like deceased female mallard on a raft of dead tule reeds in his path, and drifts to a stop against the reeds. The hen pops up her head and give one quack, six fluff-ball ducklings pop up their little heads with many peeps; the kayak is maybe 2 Â½ feet away. Nice.
Momma and fluff-balls form a tight armada on the far edge of the tule raft and swim slowly away. Momma gives Captain a dirty look. From a distance Crew urges Captain to invite family home for dinner.
Captain paddles the kayak forcefully, pulling with his torso muscle core, over the matted tules and some water weeds. A few reeds and weeds hang up on the Mirage drive fins but the parts trailing back near the seat are easily pulled off and the rest comes off as the boat moves forward.
The rudder works almost too well in the 10 to 15 foot wide channel of open water. The Captain tries to set the rudder in a neutral / straight ahead position and steer with the paddle but canâ€™t help using the rudder from time to time â€“ itâ€™s fun!
With the tide going out the Captain begins thinking about returning to dock, and what to do when the boat gets there. A wide spot where the channel goes around an island gives an easy turn around.
Soon the dock is again in sight. The bow line is tied to the dock on what is now the upstream cleat. Distance from dock level to water is now well over 2 feet; the dock is almost at eye level. Mirage drive is tethered and then taken out and placed on dock, tether is released. Paddle is placed on dock. Captain eases over the side into about 18â€
StocktonDon - fishing, diving, sailing, and wondering what's just around the next point. (A pen name for quasi-fictional-hopefully-amusing stuff by dwest.)