Bad luck

Posted by Ken Campbell September 16, 2012 0 Comment 974 views
Getting a loaded kayak in and out through heavy surf is one of the hardest jobs an expedition paddler has. It’s difficult to gain momentum, pushing a weighted boat through breaking waves, each one of them working against you, trying to return the boat to the sand, sometimes quite violently. Getting outside the surf zone, punching through masses of green and white water, requires skill, timing, strength and luck. Lots of luck.
Some days are luckier than others. We had our boats loaded and ready to go before 8:00 am yesterday morning. We couldn’t see Destruction Island because of the fog, but we knew it was out there, about six miles away to the northwest. Between us and the open water was the surf zone, and there lay the problem. Not only were the waves big and powerful, the surf zone itself was very wide. From the sand to the outer edge of the breaking surf had to have been at least a quarter-mile, a distance filled with exploding swells and punctuated by some truly heinous boomers. 
The bottom line: after valiant effort, over the course of about three hours of pummeling in the churning surf, we realized that a trip to Destruction Island just wasn’t in the cards. It was a disappointment, to be sure, but not entirely unforeseen. This is a harsh paddling environment; it’s easy to be lulled into complacency by flat days and moments of calm but that is not really what the Olympic coast is about. The caves and arches of Cape Flattery were not carved by tranquil waters and lapping wavelets. This is a place shaped by great violence, and that power was on full display yesterday morning.
And that’s how it goes. The island is still there. It will be there next time we try this. But we’re still here, and that’s more important.

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