Surfing Vancouver Island  

Surfers Rescued by Kayakers again, by Peter  


I'm a long time surf kayaker at J Spot and have had the opportunity more than once or twice to rescue new board surfers from the grips of the current heading to Japan.

The rescue yesterday was predictable. The tide was high and the wind was blowing offshore at about 50- 65km/hr It definitely was not an ideal day to surf , and especially just learning to surf. But, as we all know, when you got the fever, it's impossible to resist. So... we are trying to catch a few windtorn waves when I look back and notice this fellow well past the break paddling and not making much headway and after a little should we or shouldn't we decide to paddle out and ask if he might need a little assistance. Understandably, he said no and that he was quite fine and new what he was doing. Not wanting to insult a surfer, I asked him if he was from around here and he said he was a local and he would be just fine, and again I politely commented on how strong the river current was and that if he should need help, to wave us out and paddled back to the break for a few more waves. We decided to keep an eye on him anyways and after about an hour noticed that he was still out there and with another surfer. Hmmmm.

Well, I decided to let the current and wind push me out to them and as I got closer, they started to wave. When I got there I asked them if they were waving because they were having fun and wanted to get just a little more exercise? They were pretty beat, so I explained to these local fellows that they were paddling directly into the current and given the strength of the offshore wind, they would actually have to paddle away from where they wanted to go and headed them into shore more to the north. It was apparent that they had little energy left, so I offered to tow them in and was soon joined by another kayaker in the effort. We chatted a little on the way back and sooned learned that the fellow I was towing actually worked for search and rescue and that he felt a bit strange at being the one rescued. Well, lifes like that sometimes.

My main reason for telling this story is not to make fun of these new wave enthusiasts, but to make a point. A few years back I was kayaksurfing with my then girlfriend on some nice waves. Nobody was there but us. Beautiful day, nice waves and after a few hours, three surfers joined us. Almost immediately one of these fellows came over and told us very unpolitely that this break was for surfers only and that we had better get the @##@# out of here at which point she raised her paddle at him and I thought I'd have to break the two of them up. Well, I explained to her that maybe it was harder for surfers to catch the wave so we decided to give way to them. Upon leaving that day we also got told that kayakers don't belong here and again, not to come back there. We were starting to get the idea that surfers hated kayakers. Well for sure there are Bozo's out there that just simply lack wave etiquette and possibly, we catch the wave a little sooner than a surfer putting ourselves right on front possibly making it harder for a surfer to catch the wave.

For the most part, the best wave at J Spot for a surfer is too fast for the average kayaker to enjoy. There are a few spots that are good for both of us at J and I for one know that I'll do my best to stay out of the best board spots as they are too fast for my boat anyways, and I will also do what I can to inform my kayak buddies of the same. On the other hand, I also really loveboard surfing and have been in the learning curve for some time. Upon arriving there the other morning I was surveying the waves when a surfer came up to me asked if I was going to ride a board or boat that day. It looked perfect for practicing my boarding skills so I told him that I was going to end up doing both. He replied that it was going to be a great day and made me feel welcome. It was a good start to a great day and he greatly improved my feelings toward surfers which I also hope to be one someday. I am also a hanglider pilot of 31 years, waterskiier, snowskiier and barefooter of 45 years, add to that windsurfing, kitesurfing and now, boardsurfing behind a skiboat, not the adrenaline of a natural wave, but... still surfing inland, we even surf here in the okanagan in Jan in minus15degrees C and a 90km/hr wind on Okanagan Lake. Yes, it is possible to surf on Okanagan Lake and I have the pix to prove it.

The real deal here is, We of all shapes and sizes, love to feel and use the unbelievable energy of the wave and "no one" owns that power. I sincerely hope that those rescued surfers yesterday don't one day learn to hate us like "some" seem to. I know not all surfers out there are so singleminded. I love to watch you guys carve it up. I want to be there too. On a board, in my boat, behind my sail. ON THE WAVE.

Just a reminder to all of us who love the waves. Spread the good word and teach those of us who don't yet know the rules with a kind heart. Save yourself from bad Karma. You never know who'll be there for you when you need them.

Peter

p.s Maybe a sign saying "Beginners Beware" of Dangerous currents. I know that it is posted, but it seems that newbies are so blinded by there excitement, they can't see the small print.

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