Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Gesundheit! Sea sneezes, wipes kayak's nose

Close encounter with a blowhole off the Mendocino coast (Photo courtesy Thomas Schuebel)

The thing about sea kayaking is that conditions change constantly, as instructor and guide Thomas Schuebel reminded us before we launched from Van Damme State Park in Mendocino County last weekend. Later, I foolishly paddled too close to a blowhole -- sort of a cross between a miniature sea cave and a geyser -- and learned a lesson. 

Stuck the nose of my kayak right into the crevice, and as the swell swelled, the bow was pinned inside the blowhole, and the stern began rising. Fortunately, Thomas (find him on facebook) teaches bracing as part of his kayak curriculum. A strong brace saved me from tipping over just a couple of seconds after this photo was snapped.

A paddling pal dubbed my manuever a "nose wedgie," and while my kayak had been freed, my reputation was sealed for the weekend. Always thought this pal was a genteel, refined woman. But then, I saw no hazard from the blowhole, either.

A future post will discuss some pointers on basic sea kayaking skills and safety measures. They're nothing to sneeze at. On this particular weekend, three divers lost their lives along the North Coast. Proving once again that the sea can be a harsh environment. But in our case, with good precautions, an excellent adventure.