Landing In Surf
Sooner or later, every sea kayaker runs into the following situation. You’ve had a great day out on the water–a paddling excursion to remember for you and everyone in your group–but now it’s time to get yourself and your boat on shore. Depending on the conditions, this is where things could get a little dicey. Attempting to land into strong surf–or surf that breaks against steep rock–is something to be avoided if possible.
But there will be times that avoidance won’t be an option. It’s getting dark, or weather’s moving in, or you’re just plain tired and ready to call it a day.
What to do? Well, first off, don’t get into a hurry, and don’t panic. Lay back and assess the situation. Scanning the coastline, is there a sheltered stretch of shore without breakers? Is there a channel that provides access to the shoreline? Judging the strength of the waves from the low vantage point of a kayak cockpit can be difficult, and sometimes you’ll just have to make an educated guess as to the best course of action.
If there’s a member of your group who’s more experienced, or a particularly strong paddler, let them lead the way. Study closely what they do and how they do it. If he or she is successful, it will give you some idea of the path of least resistance.
But this might not be an option. You might be paddling alone–or you might be the most experienced member of the group. In that case, proceed with caution, and venture forward.
First, make sure all the gear on your kayak is well secured. Then position yourself just beyond the point where the waves are breaking. One strategy is to ride up the back side of the wave just behind its crest, then pull back into the trough. Then you’ll have to back paddle up the face of the next wave before it too begins to break–carefully, because you don’t want to get hijacked by a wave and sent shoreward before you’re ready.
Finally, you’ll come to the point where you’ll have to commit to the landing. Instead of backing off, let the wave of your choice propel you forward (surfing, in essence, even if you’re not out for fun here). As the crest of the wave sweeps you forward, you’ll soon find your boat turned side-on toward the beach. Be on the lookout for rocks or other obstructions below the surface. Then turn your kayak quickly into the face of the next oncoming breaker, using a high brace to stabilize yourself, and ride it further in toward shore.
When you find yourself in shallow water, get out of the boat quickly and drag it–and yourself–out of the water. If any of your group is nearby and needs assistance, help them as well. Then congratulate yourself and your paddling mates for making it to shore safely and completing another successful kayaking adventure.
Can’t Afford A New Boat? Consider A Used One!
If you’re on a tight budget, or if you’re new to the sport of kayaking and you don’t want to invest a ton of money on a new boat, consider the option of buying a used one. Many used kayaks have only been on the water a few times, and there are some great deals out there, especially if you shop out of season. If you’re buying from an online auction, always factor in the shipping charges and the seller’s feedback rating.
If you do go the online auction route, it’s hard to beat the selection and quality reputation of eBay. Everyone’s heard of eBay, of course, and this online auction pioneer has a great website, literally thousands of auctions running night and day, a secure system for handling online payments, and a way to check on a buyer’s and seller’s track record with the company.