It is in conditions that test my skills and endurance that I gain a better understanding of my potential and abilities. I encourage others to do so too because I see it as the only thing that really improves a person's confidence, fast.
Lately I have been spending more and more time paddling in windy conditions because I feel that I greatly need to gain more skills in developed seas.
I used to dread a windy forecast; anything above 15 knots would make me reconsider my paddling plans. Now I look for winds that will oppose a tidal flow hoping for some waves that will mimic a tidal race. Bumpy is good.
Saturday's forecast was mild (up to 15 knots) but Sunday was shaping to have 25-35 knots wind against an ebbing tidal flow. I have paddled a few times there before and I knew that with onshore winds waves will form.
What I didn't know is that too much wind doesn't make for better fun.
I reefed my Code Zero Flat Earth sail to reduce it's surface knowing that a full square meter was going to be too much for me to handle.
Soon after I launched I was again glad to be paddling with a Greenland paddle remembering how much more wind effected my Euro paddles used to be in a stiff breeze.
My progress was a bit erratic and the strong wind kept on pushing my bow downwind. The British kayak I was paddling has proven a handful before I relocated the seat forward (to balance its trim for beam winds); this time her handling was really lousy. I wished I would have weighted the bow with ballast to release the stern a bit as I could barely turn my kayak around and paddle back out into the waves for another run.
I will take a weathercocking kayak over a "neutral" one any day. In a weathercocking one I can drop a bit of skeg; in a so called neutral, when the wind really blows, it suddenly becomes lee cocking, something I definitely DO NOT want.
My attempt at sailing was dismal: even with only half sail I could not get my kayak going and I quickly capsized. It was then that all the futzing with sculling training in clam conditions came handy as I managed to roll back up without having to wet exit in a rather tricky scenario. I packed the sail back on the deck and continued to just surf the messy waves.After a few hours of battling with the wind I called it a day.
Getting the kayak back from the shore across the sandblasting beach with me leaning at a great angle into the wind, was another story.