Rock Gardning Like Ginger Rogers

I always liked the quote that Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire ever did, but backwards in heels! That's what seemed to be the difference rock gardening with Jack Brisley today. We did most of what he did, but then he'd go and do it backwards just to show it could be done! I'm unaware if he was wearing heels.

Lenora had asked me to go out and do some RGing, so I picked a day with a high tide and asked Jack if he could join us, he being our local expert. He was hoping to put in some time before the GGSKS, so was happy to go. We paddled out the harbor accompanied by Ken on his surf ski, till he pealed off to head up the coast. We beelined for the rocks where some long period 2 footers made you keep on your toes. I soon realized I didn't need to worry too much about Lenora, she was eager to try anything that came up.

We used up every inch of water on our way down the coast, timing our way through obstacles while the water from earlier waves made them navigable. I found myself groveling in the rocks more than once! We took a short break to chat with Kathy and Henry who were returning from a paddle to Reef Point, then continued tackling all the holes we could find.

We'd been taking our sweet time and I didn't want to lose all of the high tide before we hit Chute Rock, so we moseyed on over there next. With the high tide, the chute was quite full of water a lot of the time. Jack saw a wave coming in and charged in for the first ride. Inside, he was greeted by a rush of water and I was amazed to see him spin around in the chute and come back out the way he went in! I thought for sure the chute was too narrow for that kind of move!

The tide and swell was almost perfect for playing at the Chute and we all took turns riding it both ways. It was non-stop action with Brace Alley the on deck spot for the next boat. As the tide went down a bit, it was harder to make the reverse trip and we often got stuck on the lip waiting for one more small wave to tip the balance, or a larger one to reject us in reverse out the chute. At one point, Jack was hogging the chute when I got my bow stuck on a rock and went over. When I rolled up, all I could see was Jack going over the edge at a very high angle. I rushed in to follow him, but didn't go in a big enough wave. I got jostled around inside the chute by a couple small waves and ended up sideways and upside down with my bow and stern high and dry! I had to bail and a big wave came and sucked my boat off the chute. L&J came around to check on me and the easiest way to get out seemed to be to let the current suck me out just like the boat. So I did my imitation of a human torpedo and shot out to swim to my boat. A quick Tee and we were back to work.

Jack started to get more ambitious and we thought we try to work another crease to see if we could do a wash over. It would only work on the ebb of a large wave. He'd missed a couple attempts and we were sitting chatting about it without watching when a big ol' wave came and sent Jack broaching like crazy all the way to shore! It seemed we'd missed the chance on this crease with the tide a bit too low, but it's still there for the right conditions in the future.

We'd lost a lot of the tide and decided to head home. Lenora and I took our turns riding the swell up the side of BAR and then we headed close to shore in a wave prone area. Lenora had handled everything that had come her way until she got sideways against a rock with a green wave breaking on her. I think it was a bit too shallow and rocky to roll up, so she had to bail and Jack helped get her back in. We continued on to another reef often visited by waves and as I came out to top a nice sized one, I saw Lenora get surfed straight into the rocky shore! A bit more carnage and she got back in and we continued on. I managed to get myself high and dry and teed up for a wave that sent me hurtling into a narrow rocky gorge. I thought for sure I was going to have to climb out, but the next big wave served to suck me out and leave me in enough water to maneuver and get out of Dodge.

I think those exploits had Lenora and I ready to call it a day! It was a slow paddle home. We'd been on the water three hours and I was as tired as a paddle to Catalina! Getting out of the boat at the CG beach, I was surprised to see I was bleeding a bit from a scratch on my thigh, probably from my swim. Like Lenora, I had a mean cut on one finger despite wearing full gloves as well as a bruised thumbnail. All proud reminders of a fantastic day on the water. Having Jack to follow is great as he shows you what can be done on the water. As I play in the rocks alone mostly, it was great to have someone there just in case, as even on a smallish day like this one, you could find yourself in trouble. I had been worried about how Lenora would handle Jack's aggressive play, but I soon learned I had nothing to worry about. She was game for anything and handled all conditions. Playing in the rocks and waves is where I like to spend my kayaking time and this was the best RG day ever. I can only hope for more!

Mark Sanders