The previous two Sundays have been hectic, so this week I decided I’d have a bit of a rest. The keeper of voles phoned me the other day (to much grumbling as I had already gone to bed) and asked if I wanted to come to a lunchtime sea boat pool session so I decided I’d give a paddle a miss today and just do that instead. Of course, I couldn’t miss climbing and it was the first week of the new block of OSKA pool sessions this evening. Oh well, a lie in until at least 10.30am!
After my day out on Hoy yesterday, I thought this was a well deserved rest but my plan was foiled when Hairyaker texted at about 9pm to say that he was going out for a surf this morning. 2 to 3 metres he said. Light winds said the forecast. Surf boat in the garage…. Oh bugger…
I hauled myself out of bed this morning, my hips and knees aching from yesterday, and was all packed and ready for the day ahead by the back of 8. I got to Skaill at about 9am to see that Hairyaker was already on the water. Well, I thought, I could ask a random stranger (who it later transpired wasn’t random at all) to do up my drysuit or I could learn to do it myself. I took the latter option and thus opened up a whole world of future solo paddling opportunities (muh huh huh huh…). The waves were breaking in the centre of the bay which only happens when the surf is big and in a certain direction. It was a bit of a fight to get the deck on and get out through the surf but I got there in the end. We started off in the middle of the bay and got in a few good runs but ended up going over to Skaill Bay Right.
There wasn’t much room on the right between where the wave was closing out and where nothing was happening so it was a fine line between catching the wave, missing the wave and being eaten for breakfast. I caught some good waves but on one particular beast I caught it, surfed it but then got taken out. I hung on to my paddle and ended up rolling back up without even meaning to, where upon I carried on surfing and got off the back of the wave! Why does no one have a video camera when you need one? After a few more runs, a real monster came through. I was about 5m from Hairyaker who was fine (he either caught it or came off the back), but I got eaten. After a bit of a hell raising ride, upside down, I sorted myself out and found myself in flat water. Suspiciously flat water. I turned round only to see another foaming monster approaching. ‘Oh no…..’ I thought. I decided to try and go over the top if it. It decided to throw me off nose over tail (again – no one had a camera!). I popped back up but my deck had popped and the boat was half flooded. I retreated to the beach.
At the beach, struggling with a swamped boat and getting pounded by the surf as I tried to sort myself out, I was assisted by a nice man who helped me empty the boat and with whom I had a nice chat. He knew how to empty a boat over a knee, he asked about what buoyancy it had, he knew who Hairyaker was and apparently had heard all about my boat from someone I know. Who was this person? Quite possibly an Orcadian surf kayak legend…
Back out I went and this time went over the waves in the middle of the bay, which were a bit kinder. The waves were big enough to drop down the face of, which, in at 3m boat must be pretty big. Out on the right Hairyaker had apparently surfed a 4m monster backwards (not intentionally). My last run was grand, until the point where I was hit by some following white water which insisted I was going back to the beach, at high speed. I clattered up the boulders with some cries of distress. That was enough fun for one morning!
Our pool session was fine, but I struggled again with my right side rolling. Hairyaker (who had evidently survived the rest of his morning at Skaill) suggested that my head was the issue and that it was stuck to my left shoulder which ever side I rolled on! In the end, a bit of visualising was employed and I came up OK. My re-entries were fine after a bit of practise and I managed a few good self-rescues.
By this point in the day, I was still hobbling around so was a bit stiff when I got to climbing. I started off on the evil yellow route, where I was trying to conquer one particular move. Finally I managed it, only to find that the next move was just as hard… As ever, my partner ran up and down the wall, as I hauled myself up like a hippo, but I think, overall, even I have improved since we started climbing in November.
I was meant to go to another pool session this evening but after climbing I decided to have a quick nap and woke up 2.5 hours later. I think my body might be trying to tell me something!