Upon waking up, I packed up all of the gear, which took more time than expected – I am still getting use to where everything goes. For breakfast I had a quick bowl of granola, dried milk and water. It was obvious that this day’s weather was going to be quite different than yesterday’s. Katie and I headed out into the wind at 9:00 am. The waves were quite a bit larger as well. I started with strong paddle strokes back into the Elk River. I found out later that the wind was blowing from the north between 8 and 10 knots with gusts up to 20, with almost every wave featuring white caps. As I continued down the Elk River, I passed the shelter provided by Elk Neck to the north, and after Turkey Point, the full force of the wind and waves hit me. I found it very challenging to stay upright and avoid capsizing. The kayak being so narrow (for speed) and heavily laden added to the instability I was experiencing. I found myself having to use bracing strokes almost every time. Near Pond Creek, I let go of the paddle for an instant to zip up my life preserver and found myself suddenly upside down in the kayak, under water.
Instinctively, I reached for my grab handle on my spray skirt and yanked up, releasing the skirt, and allowing me to come up for air. Fortunately, I was following the shore 50ft out, so I found myself standing in chest deep water, with a heavy kayak full of water. I walked to the beach and pulled Katie out and found my hat 50 ft. away. I decided to repack everything to reduce the amount of weight on top of the kayak. I finally got all of the water out and the kayak repacked and then proceeded to take it out to the water to get back in. The waves immediately dumped more water into the cockpit, even before I had the chance to get in. I was stuck!!!
I decided to try something else. Tying the kayak to a buoy did not work any better. Then I thought of putting Katie facing the beach, with some driftwood under her so that I could release us from the beach.
Lessons learned: It’s good to learn your limitations before you venture too far from safety. Suppose you had several days of smooth sailing and were out in the middle of the Bay when the inclement weather arrived? There would be no shore to pull up on or shallows you could stand up in. Nothing but deep water. Stay near the land, just in case even if it may make for a longer journey.
A God thing: You did not drown when you were upside down. Thank God for that.
I’m following you with interest. I want to see you come into Mayport in November. God bless you.