Monday, September 29, 2008

4 Cast

Small fish dart away from my boots as I cross the flooded lawn to the river. I am early for a cancelled day and so with rod in hand I approach the granite wall of the canal. My footwear is starting to soak and my socks dampen to an uncomfortable cotton mush but the caffeine is coursing and I have time on my hands so casting is going to be how I spend the next bit of my life.

The tip of the rod flicks out, sending the little lure sailing in an arc out over the river to plunk into the water a short distance away. My mind marvels at the tug of the water on the fake, shiny, blue and silver fish as I begin reeling it back.

I watch the line slicing the water as it crosses over to my side. It vibrates as the lure dives and “swims”. Up and out of the depths of the torrent a silvery ghost snatches the lure and disappears again. The rod jerks around and the line makes the angry “z” as it flies back off the spool. Oh crap, I have caught something.

What if it is a bluefish? I tighten the drag and begin cranking the handle. The line stops for a second as the fish dives straight down but then vigorously stirs the water as the fish unwillingly approaches the surface. We make eye contact. Neither of us is happy on this rainy day.

Minutes later I have managed to free the foot long Striper from the hooks and send it back into the raging river. Adrenaline has joined the coffee. I pull out my phone and call the residence. “Sam bring your rod, the schoolies are up and biting”. We now have a pastime for a cancelled day.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Option to Fail

I strive for perfection and it irks me when I can’t reach it. I watch my friends and when I can’t be as good or better then I become disappointed with myself. It was a hard lesson to learn that I have limitations. I will never teach like Carl or Sam but I can improve a piece here and a piece there each class I instruct. I won’t ever have as much grace or talent on a wave as Mike or Rob but I can do a better job looking down the wave or balancing correctly for a good top turn. When I fail I am learning to accept the event and move forward correcting what went wrong if I can. Sometimes it takes practice but I think I can work the kinks out if I have the chance. Like my roll, it took time to work the technique out and now I don’t have to come out of my boat when something else fails…most of the time…it’s a process thing. How fun would it all be if it didn’t take effort?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Coastal Too

I whipped around to see what was up before I identified the sound as one of joy. My three students were still upright as we paddled the swells in towards shore. One of them was expressing the pleasure they all felt. I remember going through the same experience, the exhilaration and the awe of just what was possible in a kayak. This is the seed that grows into an addiction for rough water kayaking and surfing.

After lunch the swells and beach break got a little bigger, enough for a decent session of bracing practice so we went over the technique off shore as well as a rescue or 2 before heading along the break. Their faces registered a certain consternation but after the first pass they were all breathing heavily but smiling. Getting tossed about had only dampened their exteriors so we turned around and headed back through.

Monday, September 8, 2008


“What the heck, he said” is a phrase a guy I used to work for says. He says it when something isn’t the way it is supposed to be. It is the phrase that went through my mind Sunday evening when floating upside down in my surf boat. I couldn’t roll. I am not sure why, I went through all the correct motions but there I was, upside down and running out of O2. “What the heck, he said!” I reached forward, popped the skirt and eeled out of my boat. Hitting the surface was a bit of a relief after I spit out a mouthful of seawater. This was the 3rd time in my kayaking life that I have almost inhaled seawater.

“bit of a relief” is about right. There I was floating with my lap plate, paddle and kayak. Carl and Mike paddled over to see if I was ok…I was, sort of. One doesn’t die of embarrassment. I corralled my stuff back to the beach in one of the longer swims of my life. I jumped back in the boat and headed back out. If one was to get metaphysical about it, I sacrificed my ego to get better at surfing.