Joined a new meetup group today for some paddling, because Jeff is out of town and the group I usually paddle with was fully booked.
We met bright and early at Spit Bridge. The original plan was to do a long full day paddle, with a beach BBQ in the middle, but the winds were strong, and expected to pick up as the day went by – gusts of up to 50km/h. So the new plan was to just do a 2 hour paddle to Balmoral and back.
Sounded easy enough, and so our 12 boats, a mix of singles and doubles took off. But it quickly became apparent that this was no leisurely stroking in the sun. At certain points I had to physically punch into the wind to move forward. Still, everyone got to the nude beach Obelisk Beach upright.
It was when we turned back that things started going awry. The organizer was towing a lady who was out on the water for her very first time – and in a single! – so he went ahead. The rest of the group was quickly spread out, everyone intent on trying to staying afloat. Then the first boat capsized, a double. I tried to steer towards them to help, but even as I did so, I could feel my boat wobble dangerously in the waves. I saw another double kayak sprint towards them, so I decided to concentrate on trying to save myself.
When I next turned around, the other kayakers that had kept even with me were now out of sight. Uhoh.
I caught up to the organizer who was looking increasingly anxious, so I took over the towing from him while he doubled back to round up everyone else.
Thankfully, as we struggled back towards shore, a couple rescue boats came zipping by, and in minutes, had on board the kayakers who had capsized and couldn’t get back into their vessels.
When we finally reached shore, the tally: 4 boats capsized – of which 3 needed tows back in; the 1 lady that needed help from the beginning; and the 1 guy who called it quits at Balmoral Beach and flagged a cab back to Spit instead.
But the sun was shining and nobody was freaked out. Which was really quite incredible! Everyone had the most positive of attitudes, even the first timer who couldn’t tell which way was up on her paddle. And so we spread out our picnic blankets in the sun and had a delightful BBQ.
All’s well that ends well. 🙂