NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE FORECAST FOR NOVEMBER 10, 2012: Mostly sunny, with a high near 76. Windy, with a south-southwest wind 17 to 21 mph, with gusts as high as 31 mph. Perfect for generating the wind and waves that I need for videotaping my kayak paddling maneuvers! Once submitted to my trainer, that video will bring me a step closer to obtaining my ACA certification as a Level 3 Coastal Kayaking Instructor. Plagued by bluebird days with gentle breezes only slightly ruffling the surface of Red Rock Lake, I have been waiting for weeks for the needed conditions: 10 to 15 knot (11-17 MPH) wind and 1-2' waves. In advance of its arrival tonight, an approaching cold front is now squeezing warm southern air northward across Iowa and will be kicking up conditions into the range I need for performance. I alerted my support team - Diane Lowry, Brian Lange, Rich McKnight, Kevin Beatty, and Andy Stapleton - and they will meet me at high noon at Cordova Park, whose north shore location will be receiving the full brunt of the southerly wind. I look forward to the challenge as this might be my last chance before freeze-up.
A wild wind was buffeting the bluff when I arrived at Cordova Park shortly before noon. In the distance, sparkling arcs of thousands of wind-blown waves creased the surface of the big lake, moving in my direction.
Driving down to the water at the edge of the boat ramp, I watched 1-2' waves breaking onto the shore as I listened to the updated weather report, now calling for south winds of 23 MPH, gusting to 31 (and exceeding the original forecast). Meeting my crew, we set up the videotaping venue and readied our kayaks. By the time we launched, it was just after 1PM and the windspeed had bumped up another notch to 24 MPH, gusting to 32. Level 3-Plus conditions!
Brian and Rich launched their kayaks just ahead of me and took up positions at the endpoints of a course I would run while performing a sequence of required maneuvers. Diane, Kevin and Andy stayed on shore to run a pair of tripod-mounted video cameras. Brian had a third video camera strapped to the deck of his kayak for an on-water perspective. Here are two clips from Brian's deck camera recorded as he and Rich paddled out to my video venue:
I paddled through choppy waves to join them and we began videotaping my moves. Here are two clips from the shore cameras showing forward strokes, high brace turn, sweep strokes, bow rudder,...
and sculling brace:
From my perspective, the wind and waves made even simple moves difficult, requiring determined effort to complete normally effortless tasks like turning and paddling forward. Everything was reduced to slow-motion... except when paddling with the waves, when the pace sped to fast forward! The agitated water was an unpredictable and undependable surface for bracing and sculling, seeming to melt away beneath my paddle and offering only a fraction of its customary flatwater support. It is both educational and sobering to realize the fragility of your maneuvering skills when attempted "in conditions".
All photos by Diane Michaud Lowry; see more at her "Images of Nature" blog
Although I am pleased with the videos resulting from my experience, I still need to document my ability to "roll in conditions", so am not yet finished with videotaping... but I know I have a wonderful team of supportive friends who will help me again when rough waters return to Red Rock Lake.