May
16

What NACK means to me

By

I want to spend a few moments sharing my reflections on what NACK means to me. Just what it is I get from it, why, and even how I know it.

I enjoy many types of paddles from the serene and meditational, to the technical aspects of rolling and boat control, to the raucous fun of ocean surf, and of course the challenging tests of foul weather. This past weekend I was able to to head out with fellow NACKers Troy & Alan on yet another foul weather adventure. My new Sterling Progression was in hand and I was determined to get it wet. We knew the weather was going to be a beast, and Troy devised an atypical float plan for it.

It was going to be a predominantly easterly wind due to the storm, so we parked a shuttle vehicle at Crab Meadow beach, and another at Stony Brook harbor, and we then set out from Stony Brook harbor, out Porpoise Channel into the Sound where we headed out from shore a bit to catch the wind and waves and travel the ~11 miles west back to Crab Meadow. The current flooding in through Porpoise Channel was intense and running against us, and we chose to walk the boats the last half of the way out of the channel as it was less work. Once out of the channel we got back in and set off.

As the day progressed the weather worsened as predicted. Winds picked up to a steady 25kt with gusts to 33kt, and driving rain along with it. Waves varied as they always do, but max recorded wave height on the nearest buoy was 4.9 feet. The wave period was listed as 5 seconds, but honestly I don’t believe that they were any longer than 2 seconds. It made for decent travel speed, but not always in the intended direction! Troy got to test the Dagger Stratos in rough and dynamic water for the first time. Alan’s Rockpool Alaw Bach got another notch in it’s belt, and my Sterling Progression was baptised in the water it was designed for. 

Now, this post is not just an excuse to relate trip details, but to explain what NACK is to me.

NACK provides the framework for us to know each other better as people and as paddlers. It allows us to learn our skills and weaknesses and to improve if we so choose. NACK drives us to excel and to enjoy. Can we do that without the organized group? Of course we can, but the group–THIS group: NACK–facilitates that. It makes it easy to find like minded folks to relax, and also push our limits, and a place to come back after and tell our tales. For these things I am grateful. For the opportunity to learn from you all and to teach you anything I may know–or think I know!

A trip like the one described above makes it easy to see the benefits. It ensured that we all knew each others limits, and how far beyond the comfort zone we each were interested and willing to go. It threw us each differently into adversity. And allowed us each to rise to the challenge and also rise to deal with each other’s adversity! For my part, I was out of shape due to coming off of a back injury and not getting any exercise for weeks. So I was weak, and also tired quickly. Managing my blood sugar as a type 1 diabetic is always hard, and long periods of exercise make it more complicated. My mates knew both my condition and my needs and as always kept a watchful eye on me. It is no small task to monitor a diabetic on the water, and knowing that they’d challenge me and care for me is n incredible thing to have. It is never easy to accept one’s limitations, but not doing so endangers others, so I take it seriously and they trust me to do so. So in the midst of all the rain and wind and waves, and reflecting waves, and diving and climbing blood sugar, I still am spending time watching and evaluating the conditions of my fellow paddlers and ensuring that I am in a condition where I can assist them if and when needed. 

As noted earlier, it is easy to have clarity of these things when trying to navigate the crashing 3+ foot waves that are trying to throw you at the paddler who is out of their boat in the surf zone, and the 25kt wind pushing everyone around. But it also allows me to have the clarity that the reason we are confident enough to test ourselves in those conditions are all the days spent with all of NACK floating, paddling, rolling, chatting, and eating. And again…for that I am grateful. So thanks to Troy and Alan for the trip, and thanks to all of you for being part of the family that makes it possible.

I’ve attached a few stills that the GoPro recorded from the day. As always, the camera doesn’t capture the real feel. You can’t see or feel the wind, the waves look half their height, and the dynamic motion of the water is hidden. But the discerning eye can still interpret it. You can note the height differences between paddlers even though the waves look somewhat flat. You can see the foam pile up over my head while side-surfing a breaking wave to get myself out of the way of the swimmer. You can see the lean into the wind after I dumped my boat on a sandbar to run back through the surf to ensure paddler and boat were safe and not drifting free. Bonus – now I don’t have to worry about getting my first scratches on the gelcoat!

Click on the photos to enlarge them.

Categories : Uncategorized

Comments

  1. Chris King says:

    Hal, you should know that you inspire the rest of us! We hope to be out rolling our kayaks at 80! And feel free to use the story for the newsletter. If you need any edits to it, let me know and I’ll take care of it.

  2. Hal M says:

    Chris, that was inspiring and good. Especially the part about not being able to accept our limitations. I’m reading the article while sitting on my back deck in the heat more or less ready for peer practice tomorrow. Just have to put the kayak on the roof and open some windows in the house. Could use some inspiration. I would like to publish the article in the NACK summer newsletter due out the end of June. Hal

  3. Bob H says:

    Chris,
    Great from the heart story and nice pics.

  4. Paul says:

    Glad you finally again got your new boat.
    Hope to get some surfing in this year.
    Went out this morning; spent more time finding equipment than paddling
    my cramping legs were a reminded I need to stretch first.

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