Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Multi-day in the P&H Airies

I needed to get out for an overnight.  The physical distance between myself and Djuna, with each of us questioning our game-plan for the next year (and more), had left us both feeling the heaviness of missing each other's love and support.  I wanted to clear my head, and access the perspective which often comes with being surrounded by space and beauty, as well as travel on the water;  lighten up a little, I suppose.

I decided to load up my P&H Airies with the gear I'd need for a couple of days, and head to Patos Island.

I wanted to use the Airies because I foresee myself and others using the boat to get to surfing destinations which may be days away from a launch spot.  Once there, we unload the boat, set up base-camp, then enjoy the attributes of a surfable "play boat",  instead of a larger expedition-style sea kayak.  I was curious to experience paddling the boat loaded for a few days to see how it behaved and moved through the water.

Loading everything I needed wasn't a problem, and there was room for a couple more cubic feet of food and clothing as would be needed on a longer adventure.  I paddled out and set up for a 5-mile crossing with the current, but against the wind and chop.  Of course, the boat behaved differently being so laden, and the conditions would have been slow for any boat due to the steep, pitching seas.  That said, I made decent time and paddled the 7 miles in about 1 hour, 45 minutes.  Average of 4 knots, and that included a small play at an overfalls created by West Bank.

All the stuff for a couple of days...

West Bank is one of my favorite features in the area--it's a submerged reef which is a cool navigational exercise to find because it isn't visible from the surface.  At the intersection of two "lines of position" (in this case, a line connecting pt. Doughty and Little Patos crosses another line between Skipjack Is. and
Little Sucia) lies the shallowest part of the reef, which is like an underwater Sucia Is. in shape.  Kelp vibrates and flows with the current, sea birds abound, and harbor seals capitalize on the abundance of food which the reef attracts.

After a brief play, I continued my slight ferry angle to Patos, setting up camp at the most quiet site available.  I was famished, so after a good meal and delicious beer, I went for a walk to take in the sunset and test out a new camera I recently purchased.

It's a Canon Powershot D-20,  with HD Video, and 12.1 megapixels.  Of course, it's waterproof (to 33ft!) enough to take on shallow dives, shockproof, and there is virtually no lag time between pressing the shutter button and capturing the image--a huge asset for capturing action.  I had heard good things from other boaters about its predecessor, and am loving this high-quality next-generation.

I happened to find a sweet little nook on the north side of the island and, after getting comfortable, witnessed one of the most spectacular cloud-morphs while the setting sun painted the whole scene a vibrant, glowing red.  There came from the cloud an "otherworldy" shape which looked to me like a cross between a small mushroom cloud, and some sort of sentient being.  It's shape shifted and changed by the second, adding to my entertainment.

You never know what you'll see when you're on the water...

Focusing on the bizarre and beautiful...
I loved the wave-forms on the leading edge...

The more time we spend out in nature, really living closer to it, the more likely we are to witness these rare and beautiful moments.  It might be a striking sunset, it could be that one moment when an eagle swoops down out of a tree to snatch a mink swimming for shore (and the mink's narrow escape from death) or any other number of short-lived yet unforgettable events which become highlighted memories inspiring gratitude for where we are.

The next morning I rose early as I had a class to teach.  I decided to employ the ebb-superhighway for the paddle back, which utilizes the strong currents which exist along a bathymetric line north of these three islands.  Though this route increases the distance travelled, the stronger currents reduce the paddling time significantly, and it's an enjoyable strategy.  Via this route I travelled the almost 8.5 miles in 1.5 hours paddling at a motivated pace but not racing.  That's averaging almost 5.8 knots.

Overall, my conclusions about using the Airies for a basecamp-style short expedition is that it is entirely do-able.  Though not the fastest boat while loaded (due to rocker and short length), one would be thankful to paddle it back out to the rock gardens and point breaks often found in out-of-the-way places, play for a day, to return to a camp shared with like-minded friends.  This point has been proven by Sean Morely, using a Delphin 155, on a 4-day expedition around the Lost Coast last summer.  Read about it here:  Lost Coast 2011

Sean Morley surfing the Delphin 155 while transiting the Lost Coast, CA


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