Travels with Paddles

a sea kayaking journal

Axel Schoevers (Photo: A. de Krook) Name:
Axel Schoevers
Rijswijk, Zuid-Holland, Netherlands

Friday, October 17, 2014

Last days of Summer

Last week I was at Sea Kayaking Cornwall's annual Sea Kayak Symposium course week. Unfortunately I could not attend the symposium weekend itself. Monday onwards I ran the BCU 4* training over 4 days + 1 day for the Coastal Navigation & Tidal Planning module. Monday it was raining so a good day to get the CN&TP done. The forecast for the rest of the week was 'horrible'. Strong and gale force winds and more notably: long wave period swell out of a deep low from the west. Cornwall is famous for it's surf on many of it's beaches, but where to go with up to 2.9 meter significant wave height with 13-17 second wave periods for a 4*?
My group was very focused. At our 9 AM meetings they had already discussed among them the paddling possibilities with the forecast for the day. Strong south-easterly winds. North coast today. Rock hopping and skill training out of Portreath. A beautiful sunny summer-like day. The last day of Summer?
Wednesday we went to Carbis Bay. The long period swells to arrive around noon. Heading out to the east side of St. Ives bay, the surf gradually increased in height and frequency of waves. Extremely clean long running waves in sets, unknown in the Netherlands where I come from. I had my longest surf EVER. The only drawback with this kind of surf (and long runs) is that everybody is scattered all over the place and counting is quite impossible not being able to see over the top of the swell. Time to get out and for lunch on this (surely) last day of Summer.
Thursday the (strong) wind was southwest enough to use Falmouth Bay and check-out close-by Swanpool first. The long swell did not wrap around to Swanpool, so a great 4* environment to use for leadership and incidents. The first three scenario's I did not even have to stage. Reality was better than the best scenario I could plan. Leaving a (dumpy) surf beach uncontrolled inevitably creates mayhem with a backwashed paddler hitting the ready-to-launch kayaks side-on. The first rocky outcrop had a paddler out of the kayak onto the rocks. A throw-tow rescue. A third participant by now thought this was a 'free-for-all' incident hour and decided to capsize waiting to be rescued. Did I mention that in-view Falmouth coastguard wanted to be notified when we would start our rescue exercises? I did not even have time to prepare them... The sun only visible through a gray sky. Brown leaves floating in the sea. Autumn has arrived.
Grey skies of
Friday we went to Swanpool again. Now with a south-southwesterly force 5 Beaufort wind we could check the 'outer limits' of the Swanpool area and the remit boundaries of the 4* environment. Rain was fore-casted for the Friday afternoon, but we were off the water before that.
Do check out Sea Kayaking Cornwall for their activities and their annual sea kayaking Symposium in October. Cornwall has a spectacular coastline, also famous for it's surf. The water temperatures (in October) are still very warm, so wet activities are not uncomfortable. A good place to spend any time of a long Cornish Summer.


Anonymous said...

Nice description of last week:) Thanks a lot for a amazing and instructiv week at Cornwall :) Hope to paddle with u again! Best regards Alina.

Geoff Murray said...

Hi Axel,
Good to see you still having fun. Hope the back is ok now. Check this out for a long surf run :)