It’s been over a year in the making for me. First, watched the youtube videos…all for them, BTB, Bay fishing, sharks, kayak rigging, how-to this and how-to that. OK, I’m hooked, time to get a kayak…Jackson’s Kraken is the one for me. Now, get the kayak ready to go, anchor trolley, rod holders, electronics, live bait tank…on and on…more youtube...more TKF...more work on the kayak. Finally, the thread on TKF, new to BTB, no problem, learn from the best, over 100 kayakers all together…yes, I’M IN!
Then, the bad news, Friday, wave and wind report is bad, event is a no-go, canceled. Well by that time I had a place rented, the truck was loaded, and no matter what, the family and I are headed for the coast. Saturday morning we were driving along the beach looking at the waves. Wow, that looks bad, no wonder the TKF get-together was cancelled.
As we sat there next to the pier watching the waves, two guys show up with the Hobie Pro Anglers, getting ready to launch. Then another guy unloads his Ride 135. Well, I figure if they are going, then I’m going too. I did lighten up the kayak, all “extra” gear was removed, I didn’t want to lose anything, I’m thinking now! FYI, I’ve made some bad decisions in my life, but this one, well, it could have been epic. I watched the PAs disappear beyond the waves, time to go. I could barely contain my excitement, “This is going to be so much fun”! On a side note, it’s important to know that I love off-shore fishing; I’ve logged hundreds of hours and have caught all kinds of ocean species, all from a very large boat. This was going to be a new experience, oneness with the ocean, if you know what I mean, up close and personal.
About ten seconds into my trek I realized that this was going to be challenging. Within ten minutes, excitement turned to terror, it was getting very serious. Waves were beating me and my kayak relentlessly, sometimes the kayak would go over the waves, sometimes right through. Within fifteen minutes I began to lose the feeling in my hands and arms, I have never had a workout like this, not even close. I could not stop or turn around; at this point the only way to keep the kayak up right was to keep paddling forward, into the waves, further from shore (UGH). I kept the nose of the kayak aimed at the next wave, to make things worse, every once in a while, a wave would come quartering from my right, so I had to turn the kayak right, then back straight for the next wave. I knew this was becoming a life or death situation, and I also knew that once I was not committed, that’s when things were going to get worse. About thirty minutes in, I start thinking that I must be getting close to that rig, what is it, a mile, mile and half off shore? A quick glance to my left, and guess what I saw, the pier, yep, I’ve almost made it past the pier, what is that, about a quarter mile or so? I know that at any minute my body is going to stop working, and I’m going to be at the mercy of the waves and sea. I need a drink, but the drinks a below deck, there’s no way I can stop and get to it, I have to keep the kayak upright.
This goes on for two hours. I could not feel my hands, my arms were burning from the struggle to keep upright, but somehow I managed to keep going. By this time fear had turned to anger, I was really mad at the waves and the wind. I was yelling at the top of my lungs, words that I can’t repeat here. I could not take my hand off the paddle, or I would have added some colorful hand signals to my all out ranting. The Coast Guard helicopter flow low overhead twice, I wonder if they were concerned, or just thinking “yep, we’ll be rescuing him later”. After two hours, and maybe a mile, I managed to turn around and head back in.
On the way back in, the waves and wind are both hitting me from behind, trying to turn the kayak sideways. It’s hard to imagine, but I actually think it was harder to control the kayak coming back in than it was going out. It only took an hour to get back to the beach. When I reached the beach, I dragged my kayak out of the water, pulled off my PFD and threw it down and fell onto the sand. As I lay there, I contemplated what had just happened, the emotional rollercoaster, excitement, fear, anger, triumph and relief. When I finally looked up, I realized that beach goers were all around me. Playing in the sand and water, picking up seashells and throwing a Frisbee, they had no idea what I had just done. I could hear my brain yelling “I almost died!!”, but people just looked annoyed that they had to walk around a kayak and my lifeless body, as they continued to pick up shells.
I’ll never ever do that again. Please, the next time the waves are bad, remind me. I’ll just go fishing in the bay.