Challenging paddle on the estuary Sat 12th Feb 2022

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Challenging paddle on the estuary Sat 12th Feb 2022

Post by FionaTrahe »

It never gets boring paddling the estuary!
Sat Feb 12th was one of those days.
6 of us headed out, let’s call us
Asparagus, Mango, Broccoli, Cherry, Fig & Squash 😊

Here's Fig's report:
Forecast was for F4, gusting F6 from WSW, and about 8 degrees C and dry.
LW about 9:30am neaps.
On the water at 10:30am, headed towards bottom of the islands, to make a decision there on whether or not to head for Beeves.
A little bumpy N of Tubrid, but manageable for all.
Fig expected it to be livelier below the islands, but few white caps were to be seen, as wind with the flooding tide probably had a flattening effect.
So decided to head for Beeves. Aimed off more south, expecting to be pushed east, which we were and got there easily. A squall came in while we were having lunch, we waited it out and left once it eased off. But it was noticeably bumpier, with a steady F4 bringing rolling waves, occasionally breaking, on our left beam.
We were headed for the Abbey on Canon Isl, so aimed well west of that, but not enough, were still being pushed east. We were soon split in 2 groups of 3.
Broccoli, Asparagus and Squash were ahead and Fig, Mango and Cherry were further east and behind. Over shallows south of Lowe waves were bigger and breaking. Fig saw one coming with intent and figuring the only option was a rapid R turn to surf with it, rocketed along for a 100m ride to whoops and hollers from the rest. It was exhilarating alright, but they later discovered Fig wasn’t playing in the surf, rather just trying to stay upright! And did 😀.
Mango by now was struggling to hold a straight line, Cherry nudged the stern now and then to help keep M on course. But mistimed one nudge and Mango ended up swimming. The rescue was quickly done by 🍒, with Fig staying close by in case needed. During the rescue, Cherry dropped a paddle between the kayaks, but it came free and floated off. (Splits floated away too?) Recovered by Cherry after. All of this had pushed the fruity group SE of Lowe ( heading towards Shannon airport for a flight to somewhere warmer and calmer!) Conditions were still lively though not as challenging, but the fruity group now needed to battle back W against the wind. Fig towed Mango for a bit, but wasn’t making much headway, then Cherry took over the tow. Landed on E shore to take a breather and regroup.
In the meantime, the veggie group had landed on S shore of Lowe. During the rescue they had radioed but weren’t aware of the swimmer, and Fig had replied we’re ok, assuming they’d seen what was up.

Lessons learned so far: ( in Fig’s opinion)
We should have stayed together from Beeves as it was clear conditions had picked up.
Should have headed more directly upwind, towards S of Canon, as it would have been easier to hold course than beam-on. Even if we didn’t start that way, we should have adjusted to that course once we saw how we were being pushed off course.
Fruits should have clearly communicated to the veggies that they had a swimmer.
Fig or Cherry should probably have put the tow on immediately after rescue rather than waiting as conditions were still big.
Should we even have gone to Beeves? The forecast was for stronger winds than we had on the way out. We took the optimistic view.
Someone should have got a video of Fig surfing!

Anyway, we’re not home and dry yet.

Part 2. Homeward bound.

We looked at the map and decided anti-clockwise around Lowe, then hop across to Canon and down around the bottom of Horse would be the most sheltered route. We had a pleasant interlude while E of Lowe, then W into the wind again. Broccoli started towing Mango and once in the open between Lowe and Canon Squash joined the tow. Winds were F4/F5 steady from now on, so quite a slog.
Pulled into lee of Canon, Squash and Broccoli passed the tow to Fig and Asparagus. S and B got across to E shore of Horse, F, A and M struggled to make progress. Heading directly SW into wind, as any attempt to cross towards Horse resulted in being pushed north. B and S came back to help and Fig dropped off. Decision was made to go across top of Horse instead of down between the islands. All 5 (?) except Fig joined the tow once around Horse. Fig landed on Horse to see if possible to walk the shore south, pulling the kayak. Might be possible at high springs(?) but definitely not at this stage. Too slippy and rocky. The chain made its way slowly across to Shore Is, where Fig rejoined them.
Noted that it was already 3:20pm, so current slacking off. Shelter down the E of Shore, then a final push, winds ~F3 here as some shelter from mainland. Asparagus towed Mango just in case it picked up. Note, Mango was fit and paddling all the time, the tows were to help keep on course and make better headway against strong winds.
Back at Crovraghan about 3:45pm, hot tea and lots to discuss.

What more to learn? ( in Fig's opinion)
At top of Canon, we should have stayed in shelter while setting up the tow. A, C and M drifted 100m N, then had to paddle that back against the wind.
An option not considered, had the tow been too difficult, maybe M could have walked the W shore of either Canon or Horse, while someone towed the empty kayak ?

All in all, an eventful, but enjoyable day’s paddling, great support and teamwork and general agreement we should do “exercises” like this more often.
Thanks fruit and veggies. 😀😂

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Re: Challenging paddle on the estuary Sat 12th Feb 2022

Post by conor »

I always knew it and for clarity - henceforth, I'm to be referred to as The Cherry On Top 🍒 😊

My Observations.
I'd be happy to go with the same people on the same trip in the same conditions, with minor tweaks on the return leg of course. While events unfolded and we had to work hard to get back, at no point was there concern for anyone's safety. Everyone was well geared up and remained warm, I was always aware of get outs down wind if needed.

Because we were so familiar with the area though, we could be accused of being a little complacent. I have no issues with the various tows which needed a few changes along the way - you try and adjust as you have to.

Split between two groups of three, during the rescue itself I wrongly made assumptions. The paddler was out of the water quickly, there were no delays here. However, Group 1 came on the radio just after the paddler went in. I incorrectly assumed (#1) they had seen this, they had not. I further assumed (#2) they were subsequently aware we were performing a rescue. They were a little ahead and did not know what was happening until the paddler was back in the boat and we were on our way again (with tow).

I further assumed (#3) the 3rd paddler in my group would radio Group 1 with the details while I concentrated on the rescue. She was fighting with the surf and not comfortable taking her hand off the paddle. I did not know this at the time, I could (should) otherwise have made the call myself. It was perhaps no more than 5-10 minutes before we made Group 1 aware but it was still 5-10 minutes longer than was necessary.

Lessons Learned
- Never assume people are aware of what is happening, let everyone know as soon as is possible;
- Never assume someone else will make the call, make it yourself, don't delay! Better repeated than delayed or not at all:
- Always always make sure your paddles are properly secured during a rescue.

p.s. never worry about someone's pride if you think putting a tow in place might assist. It is certainly a lot smarter than choosing instead to nudge them from behind, even if they know you are doing this.

p.s.s. BUT then again if we had been perfect, we wouldn't have learned the valuable lessons we did :roll:

p.s.s.s. Some great surfing by Fig, we were impressed. She should have said nothing :lol:

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Re: Challenging paddle on the estuary Sat 12th Feb 2022

Post by FionaTrahe »

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