Monday, November 29, 2010

Paddling in the margins

There's nothing worse than when you are scheduled for a great weekend out on the water and you have to watch the weather forecast as the conditions keep bouncing back and forth over the margin of go/no go.  I was suppose to help teach an open coast class on Saturday and lead a Tomales Bay trip on Sunday.  There was a storm due to hit on Saturday but it was a small one and an open coast class can handle a little rough weather.  The trip on Sunday was for less experienced folks and definitely needed some better weather for paddling.  The forecast stayed right on the margin and on Friday the decision was made to cancel the open coast class.  It was absolutely the right call - it's impossible for students to learn when the conditions require all their attention just to paddle.

But on we didn't cancel the Sunday trip - the storm had moved through the the winds were dying down.  The forecast was for 10mph when I checked on Saturday night.  It seemed like we'd be OK.  On Sunday morning the forecasts has been revised to 15mph in the afternoon.  And in truth the winds ended up being a little stronger than that.  But luckily we had a good group of participants and I had three co-leaders who were most capable so we went for it.  We got out before the wind was too strong and fought our way up into the wind, stopping for an important lunch break to get energy levels back up for more fighting.  Then we were able to turn and run with the wind back home - it made for some fun surfing and interesting control issues.  So everything worked out - we had a beautiful day of paddling on the Bay, saw lots of birds and seals and even a few otters, and everyone made it back without nary a swim.  But the whole time we were right on that edge; the difference between a great day and an epic disaster being a fine line determined by which margin the weather falls into.

More pictures HERE.

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