Monday, January 19, 2015

Rockin It Out At East Sooke

On Saturday Robyn and I met up with Dave Nichols, Gerhard Raven, Kevin and Cindy Searle for a day of play in the rocks around East Sooke Regional Park. Robyn and I have hiked the terrestrial trail before and I have played on the marine trail a couple of times but for Robyn, this was her first excursion to a favorite play zone for many kayakers.

Launching on the exposed side of Whiffen Spit at high tide with just a bit of a swell

Only 45 minutes from Victoria, we launched off Whiffen Spit at around 10:00am just after high tide and headed across Sooke Inlet towards Company Point with no real plan other than to explore some of the rock features and steep walled crevices as the tide started to recede. My last trip out here was with SKILS on a rock gardening course and I was eager to get back and push myself a bit more in some of the dynamic water around the features.

From L to R: Gerhardt, Dave, myself and Kevin

As I mentioned, this was Robyn's first trip here and I was interested in seeing how her recent training in the pool would help in this type of ocean environment. Our group of paddlers started exploring every nook and cranny as we made our way out towards Possession Point. I found that my own confidence had increased from my last visit here as I wasn't so hesitant to paddle through a feature and I really focused on using combinations of paddle strokes to navigate in, around and sometimes on or over features. When we arrived at the slot I followed Dave and Gerhardt through only to look back and see Robyn right behind me as well as Cindy!

Robyn exiting the slot ... see the smile on her face?? Priceless!

It looked liked the confidence that Robyn had developed during our pool sessions was still with her out here on the salt chuck which I was sure would happen. It was good for her to paddle in the tighter confinements like the slot as she soon found out that she would need to use her bow, draw and stern rudder strokes more efficiently. For her first trip here she did very well and I think her skill improvements surprised a couple of the other paddlers.

Dave and Gerhardt squeeze through
We continued our shoreline exploration into Iron Bay where we stopped for lunch. After a quick rest we headed back onto the water and I used this opportunity to swim out to my kayak and scramble back in. This is something that we have been doing in our pool sessions instead of launching from the pool deck. Part of our reasoning is mentally getting over the ‘I don't want to get wet’ mindset and it has proven to be effective for us.

Kevin, Cindy, myself, Dave and Gerhardt contemplate life at lunch .... it was great to be back on the water.

We paddled back to the slot and with the tide receding so was the water that was surging between the rocky walls. Those of you who have been there know about the pinnacle of rock that is exposed on the east end of the slot as the tide gets lower and it was now starting to break the surface. Feeling good about paddling today I decided to make one last run through at a pretty good pace but I soon found myself running out of navigating space and ended up pinning my bow and stern resulting in me taking a swim. At first I was a little concerned as I tried to pry myself back up but there simply wasn't any room to recover. Once I was out of my cockpit I realized that it wasn't so bad and in fact it was far better being away from my kayak in the event a big swell came in. Robyn said later that she heard me banging around in the slot and the next thing she saw was that I was in the water. No problem as Gerhardt was kind enough to head into the slot and tow me and my kayak out so that I could scramble back in on the outside. One thing to note, this was the first time that I was using neoprene pogies rock gardening and I soon found out when I was trying to right myself in the slot that my hand positioning on the paddle was limited. In fact it almost felt like I was wearing handcuffs and soon as I was able to get back into the kayak the pogies came off. Lesson learned .... keep your hands free in tight rock gardens.

For the HD version of the above video click the YouTube link

Just before heading back across the Sooke Inlet we stopped for a short rolling session. One by one we banged off a few rolls and even though it is the winter, the water really wasn't as cold as our brains were trying to convince us otherwise. In reality, the actual time spent in the water is very minimal when completing a roll. By the time you realize that it is a little cold you are already out of the water. So with just a tiny bit of encouragement Robyn nailed her first ocean roll in a long while. With a little bit more encouragement she then performed her first ever reentry roll in the ocean. It seems that the pool sessions have definitely paid off and Robyn is on the right track to completing her Conditional Paddle Canada Sea Kayak Skills Level 3 requirements. I was so happy for her and once again she continues to amaze me with her kayaking skills.
Next Up: We are heading to Ucluelet this coming weekend with 20 other paddlers for a little west coast kayaking. Surfs up!

2015 Paddle # 2 - East Sooke Rock Gardening
Distance: 5.78 nm (10.70 km)
YTD: 14.90 nm (‪27.59 km)

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