Category Archives: Sea Kayaking

Bogue Inlet Blooper Reel

I did a day paddle at Emerald Isle this week. There was very little wind and swell was pretty small, but as usual, the play spot near the point of the island delivered. There was also some neat confused seas out towards the middle of inlet, just on the inside of the boat channel, where we played for a little bit, before heading over to Bear Island for lunch.

Most notable was probably my buried bow, where I pearled a lot on a steep, but small, wave and managed to recover. It is difficult to tell from the video, but I was leaning back pretty aggressively, which, along with the water not being a foot shallower, I credit for not loosing it there.

There were also a couple close calls, where I was a bit too close for comfort to my paddling partner.

Trip Stats

  • Total Distance: 13.83 Miles
  • Time on Water: 5.71 Hours
  • Average Speed: 2.42 MPH
  • Moving Average: 2.98 MPH
  • Max Speed: 11.88 MPH

Paddling Into the Wind

Yesterday, a buddy and I completed a relatively short 9 mile paddle from the public access on Emerald Isle to Bear Island and back.

When we checked Magic Seaweed for Bogue Pier, it was predicting 1 foot seas by around noon, after 2-3 foot seas the previous day/evening. However, this seemed at odds with the wind speed reported by both Windy and Magic Seaweed, as they were both calling for an onshore wind with gusts around 30 MPH for most of the day.

Upon arrival at the public beach access, we took a quick look at the surf before offloading our boats. It was definitely still over 1 foot, with several 3+ foot breaking waves.

However, the biggest issue was the wind. It was blowing hard enough that even on waves that were far away, a noticeable amount of spray was being pushed off each wave. It was also a very strong sustained wind.

After a few minutes of watching the surf, we decided to put in and got our gear together, then launched and began paddling in a southern direction towards the Bogue Inlet. With such a strong wind to our faces/side, communication was difficult and it took a fair bit of mental energy to push through it. There were times when the sustained wind gusts seemed to go on for several minutes before dying down.

We briefly toyed with the idea of doing some surfing, but decided that with the strong wind and relatively short interval between waves, it probably wasn’t a good idea.

Instead, we opted to push down to bear island, take a break, then head back. Our hope was that if the surf report was correct, the winds would start dying down by the time we started paddling back and worst case, the wind would at least be more towards our back and we could take some advantage of the following seas.

There was some minor shoaling around the point of Emerald Isle, as there usually is, but we picked a path close to the beach and skirted most of that, heading into the inlet. Rather than go directly across Bouge Inlet, we paddled into the inlet for about 1/3 of a mile, before turning back and heading towards Bear Island, setting a ferry angle to take into account the strong wind.

There was some minor shoaling this way, but much less than if we had gone straight across from Emerald Isle. However, I still ended up unintentionally surfing a bit as we worked through the colpitis seas.

Looking back at Emerald Isle during our break on Bear Island

On Bear Island, we got into the Baffi Bag(which it turns out I have no idea how you actually spell) and while the wind howled around us, enjoyed some warm tea and snacks. Occasionally, one of us peaked our head out the bag to make sure our boats were still clear of the rising tide and hadn’t blown away.

Due to the wind, we had a brief safety talk before leaving. If one of us went over during the crossing, it might not be possible to hear a scream, so we discussed radio channels and also reiterated the importance of keeping an eye on one another.

We got a nice push across the inlet, with some following seas and made it back around the point by going in between the breakers close to the beach, as we had on our way out.

With the wind to our back, the paddling was much easier and after two miles, my paddling partner said ‘this looks surfable’ and so we decided to do some playing. There ended up being a brief respite in the wind and some fun breaking waves, so we surfed for about 3 miles along the beach on our way back to the take out.

During a short break, we discussed paddling an additional 4 miles(round trip) down to the pier, so we could checkout some of the damage from the hurricane. A section was missing, which neither of us had seen, so we were keen to take a look and the surfing was fun, but we decided against it.

In the end, it did seem like the wind died down some as predicted, but as we were loading our boats, it picked up again, making us glad we hadn’t gone down to the pier and back.

Trip Stats:


Distance: 9.14 Miles
Average Speed: 2.3 MPH
Moving Average: 3.2 MPH

Without Surfing:

Distance: 5.88 Miles
Average Speed: 2.5 MPH
Moving Average: 3.3 MPH

First Leg:

Distance: 3.8 Miles
Average Speed: 3 MPH
Moving Average: 3.1 MPH

Second Leg:

Distance: 2 Miles
Average Speed: 3.8 MPH
Moving Average: 4 MPH

Surf Leg:

Distance: 3.26 MPH
Average Speed: 2MPH
Moving Average: 3.1 MPH
Top Speed: 9.9 MPH

Last Ocean Surf Session of 2018

I was fortunate enough to get one more beach surf session in this year. On Saturday, a buddy and I paddled out Bogue Inlet to play.

We paddled around 13 miles and played mostly near the point of Emerald Isle, where there is often some fun confused seas.

At least in my case, I think it was less skill and more the conditions, but both of us noticed we were having a lot of luck straightening out our broaches than usual.

Here are several side surfs from this session.

I also caught a few nice rides. I think my favorite is the last one in the below clip, as my continuation stroke from brace, to forward stroke, to rudder felt really good.

While this will be my last ocean kayak of 2018, I am hoping to get to the Dam one more time before the end of the year, unless they crank the release back up tomorrow.

Why Burping is Important

If you have a drysuit, there is a better than average chance you burp it and if not, have probably have an opinion on why not to.

Burping a drysuit is when you force the air out of it, usually by squatting as you open the neck gasket a little bit. This lets a lot of the  air out of the suit.

Personally, I always burp my suit  because I find that being in the water with a drysuit full of air is uncomfortable/weird.

However, I discovered another good reason to do it periodically.

A few weeks ago, I squatted down to burp my suit and felt a rush of air come out the neck. This is because the neck gasket wasn’t fully sealing and air was finding a way out. I was able to get to fit a bit better, but it was clear that the gasket was wearing out and no longer working correctly, especially when I would roll and feel a tingle of water down the back of my neck.

Of course, regularly swimming is probably more important for testing, but in this case, I got a nice heads up that the gasket needed to be replaced before I even got on the water.

Replacing the Gasket

I ended up replacing the gasket on my own and so far, think it is working well. Kokatat has a video on how to replace it and the place I bought it from included a helpful printout that was much more detailed.

I opted to make my own “tool” rather than purchase the official Kokatat neck gasket tool for $60-80.

Finding a circle to make the clamp was a little tricky. I went to the local craft store and I think a floral craft ring might work well, but they didn’t have one in the right size. In the end, I found a spool of wire in the garage that had a heavy-duty cardboard top that was almost perfect.

The diameter was 9.5″, which seemed to be about right for my drysuit, although it is possible a 10″ circle might work better. For the outside clamp, which is basically a circle cut in half with the center missing, I found that a 1.5″ wide outer circle band worked well. I initially tried 2.5″, but that was too tight to fit around the rest of the gasket.

I think it more or less went well, although next time am going to go with a little less glue and be more careful putting it on. I ended up with a slight overhang on one end, a bit more glue then I would like squishing out from between the old and new gasket, and a few spots f glue on the inside of the gasket.

Otherwise, I am pleased with the results, although still need to do a proper float/roll test later in the week.

Holden Beach Circumnavigation

Recently, a friend and I completed a 18.4 Mile Circumnavigation around Holden Beach, a barrier island along the southern end of North Carolina. This was a bit of a spur of the moment trip, but we decided to jump on it, as the sea state was very calm(0-1′ swell) and there was almost no wind.

We headed towards the coast later afternoon on Thursday to spend the night in an AirBnB just outside of the Holden Beach/Shallote area. The AirBnB was rustic to say the least, as it was a permanent camper truck, behind a mobile home, in a trailer park.

Our Luxurious AirBnB

The next morning, we woke early and headed to Holden Beach to eat breakfast at the Main Street Grill, before heading across the new bridge. We stopped briefly to take a look at the ocean, before returning to the wildlife access boat ramp immediately under the bridge.

Working Against the Tide

Our Put-In Under the Holden Beach Bridge

The put-in was only about a mile from Lockwoods Folly Inlet and when we launched at 8:30, tide was going out and close to mid-cycle, as high tide was around 7AM. Instead of taking the easy ride out Lockwoods Folly Inlet, we opted to paddle South down the Inter Coastal Waterway towards Shallotte Inlet.

This put us working against the tides initially, but we hypothesized that about halfway down the island, we would get a bit of a push as we neared the other inlet. If we had gone out Lockwoods Folly Inlet, it would have been a very fast ride, but given it was only a mile or so, it would also have been short lived.

It took about 5 miles or so, but we eventually felt the current go slack a bit and noticed the downstream V was less pronounced on the markers/pilings. At this point, we picked up some speed and went from a slow 2.5-3MPH up to 5-6MPH.

We reached Shallotte Inlet in about 7 miles and since the sea state was so calm, cautiously paddled out the inlet, before taking a short break ocean side.

Ocean Glass

Taking a Break at Shallotte Inlet

Since there was almost no wind and swell, the ocean was much like glass and we made quick work of the ocean side paddle. We stopped once by the Holden Beach Pier, then paddled down a bit further and stopped ocean side by the bridge.

Killing Some Time

High-tide wasn’t until 2PM and we didn’t want to head back through the Lockwoods Folly Inlet until the tide has changed, but it was a short paddle and we had about an hour to kill.

While by the pier, we had spoken with a local who told us there was a coffee shop a little further down and gave us a few landmarks to look for, so we could locate it from the ocean.

Unfortunately, since it was off-season, the coffee shop was closed and there weren’t any other open restaurants on the island side.

So, after a short walk around town, we headed back to our boats and decided to push on.

A Little Surf Play

Holden beach is pretty steep and with the low tide, small swell/wind, we didn’t have any opportunities to surf as we made our way around the island. The swell wasn’t breaking until it was right on the beach and I didn’t feel like riding it in that close.

However, as we were about to launch, I spotted a bit of an off-shore break close to the inlet and got a few nice rides as we made our way back towards the inlet.

Lockwoods Folly Inlet at Low-Tide

We were still a bit ahead of schedule and so when we hit Lockwoods Folly Inlet, it was at low tide. At low tide, there were several very pronounced sandbars and a few nice breaks off-shore, but we decided to head back to the car instead of playing.

We managed to make it through the shallows, but really were pushing it. It would have been better to wait about 1 hour after the posted high-tide or go a bit wider and through the channel, as it was very shallow.

As we rounded the corner back into the inter-coastal waterway, we had to fight the current a bit, but as soon as we made it round, started to get a push again.

As we ended the trip, we both caught a nice swell ride from a passing boat and got our highest speed of the day, 9.5 miles.

Overall, it was an excellent quick trip and marks another off our list of barrier island circumnavigations!

Trip Stats

A Map of our Path Around Holden Beach(Click for Full Size)

Total Distance: 18.4 Miles
Average Speed: 2.6 MPH
Moving Average: 3.6 MPH
Top Speed: 9.5 MPH

Bald Head Island Circumnavigation

Last weekend, two paddlers and I circumnavigated Bald Head Island. We camped Friday night at the Carolina Beach State Park, so that we could get an early start on Saturday morning and paddled South down the Cape Fear river towards Southport, then headed around the Southern Face of Bald Head Island and paddled ocean side back to the Carolina Beach State Park.

Cape Fear River to Fort Caswell

We stopped on this unnamed island briefly after about 6.5 miles of paddling.

After getting up at 4:30 AM, we were able to break camp and were on the water a few minutes before 6 on Saturday morning. This allowed us to take advantage of the ebb tide, along with a boost from the Cape Fear River, as we made our way South.

We were, however, facing a reasonably strong South-South West wind as we paddled, which had been blowing for several days, so we had a strong wind and swell in our face the entire first leg of the paddle. We stopped on a small unnamed island briefly after about 6 miles, then paddled and did a beach landing on the Fort Caswell, just inside the inlet.

Despite the wind and swell in our face, we made good time on this leg of the trip, averaging about 4.9 MPH moving average, over a distance of about 13.5 miles, with a max speed of 7.2 MPH.

Cape Fear River Crossing to Bald Head Island

A shot of Bald Head Island from Fort Caswell Beach.

After a short stop, we set a ferry angle to counteract the wind and swell and headed over to Bald Head Island, landing just inside of the inlet, so we could scope things out.

We paddled at a much more leisurely pace here, averaging about 3.3 MPH over the 1.5 mile crossing.

Paddling the South Face of Bald Head Island

This picture doesn’t do it justice, but shows the shoaling happening at the corner of Bald Head Island.

Going into the paddle, we knew the Southern face of Bald Head island would likely be the most difficult part of the paddle, as Magic Seaweed had Holden Beach, the closest Southern facing beach they track, at around 3.5 foot swell, building to over 4 feet later in the afternoon, and our path would put the strong wind and swell on our side as we made the crossing.

In addition, this beach can be very steep and with the large swell and wind, doing a beach launch would likely end up being difficult. So, once we started paddling, we knew we may be committed to paddling the entire 4+ miles without a beach landing until we made it around the cape.

Another wild card was Frying Pan Shoals, which is on the far side of Bald Head Island, and often gets pretty crazy. We were expecting some clapotis seas and rough water when we made it to the Eastern point of Bald Head Island. Due to the conditions leading up to this, we realized we might not be able to get out to scout or even stop to discuss a plan for breaking through the shoaling.

We stopped for a few minutes just inside the inlet and found a small, but reasonably clear path through the shoaling that typically occurs at the corner of an inlet, before doing our beach launch. I made it around the corner without incident, although my buddy, who was about 20 feet to my left and closer to shore, got caught by three large waves. The first back surfed him and the second side surfed him, but he was able to stay in his boat and keep paddling.

The swell was very large here, but mostly breaking closer to shore, so we were able to paddle the rest of the stretch without incident, although it required a lot of mental energy and our heads stayed looking to our right, so we could keep an eye on the 4’+ swell.

As we got closer to Frying Pan Shoals, we saw a very clean opening and pushed through around the Shoals of Cape Fear easily, finding ourselves in what was almost a lake, which was in stark contrast to the conditions we had faced only a few minutes ago. We did a beach landing here, so we could take a break.

Despite being very conservative here, I had my fastest speed of the trip, clocking 8 MPH. We averaged around 4.4 MPH over the 4.3 Mile leg.

Bald Head Island to Kure Beach

Just below Kure Beach Pier

Due to the winds that had been blowing in generally the same South-South West direction for several days, we had a very nice following sea for the remainder of our paddle. The swell was about as close to parallel to the beach as you are going to get and for the first time, the wind was at our back, so the second half of our paddle was much easier.

The paddle from Bald Head Island to Kure Beach, where we stopped for a short break at the pier, was 11.5 miles and we had a moving average of 4.6 MPH, with a top speed of 7.2 MPH.

Kure Beach to Freeman Park

After a short break, we launched and headed North to Freeman park, where we stopped briefly before heading into the inlet. Freeman park is a private beach, which allows people to purchase permits and drive their vehicles to camp and swim.

As we were approaching, I noticed a group of swimmers had lost their inner tube and given up on chasing it, as it was moving out to sea. I scooped it up on my way to shore and carried it in as I did my beach landing. This proved slightly difficult, as I had to paddle one handed, back paddling, so as not to surf in. Right before landing, I threw it towards the beach and side surfed in, with my boat catching the inner tube again as I surfed and keeping it from going back out.

This portion of the trip was about 5.4 miles and we averaged 4.3 MPH, with a top speed of 6.5 MPH.

Freeman Park to Snow’s Cut

We were able to pass through Carolina Beach inlet without incident and little swell. However, as soon as we turned the corner, we were back to having the wind in our face, which slowed us down a great deal. We had timed it so that we were mid cycle and had some boost from the tide, but the wind made slow going.

We averaged about 3.8 MPH over the 4.7 miles back to the campground, with a max speed of 6.7 MPH. We passed through Snow’s cut and got a bit of a reprieve from the wind, due to how steep the walls are here, but still had it in our face.

Overall Statistics

  • Total Distance: 41.2 Miles
  • Top Speed: 8 MPH
  • Paddling Time: 9:15
  • Total Time: 12:48
  • Moving Average: 4.45 MPH
  • Average: 3.25 MPH

Favorite Part of Trip

The entire trip was quite enjoyable and we got to see parts of North Carolina that few people have ever seen, let alone spent time on.

In terms of paddling, I think my favorite part was coming around the Cape and passing cleanly through frying pan shoals. We had expended a great deal of mental energy leading up to this and had to stay extremely vigilante, as if one of us came out of our boats here, it could have been very serious. Due to the conditions, we weren’t able to scout the area and communication was limited, so it was a bit of a wild card. However, in the end, we saw a clean opening and powered through and basically ended up in a lake after 4 miles of white knuckling it through some very heavy swell. In the future, I probably wouldn’t do it again when magic seaweed has it at 3’+, but it worked out well and was an awesome experience!

Spaghetti Strings: Visualizing the Surf Day

When kayak surfing, I am always amazed by the amount of energy and distance you end up putting in over a relatively short distance.

This week, I went to Bogue Inlet and tried out a new GPS App on my phone. The app is geared towards running, but I was able to export the GPS data and then import it into a program for analyzing/viewing. Magic Seaweed had the conditions at about 1 ft swell and there was little wind, so surfing wasn’t great, but as always it was a really fun day. We played in the confused sea for a while, as well as a bit off shore in a small break we found.

Overall, we ended up with a 14 mile day, with an average speed of 3.3 MPH and a top speed of 10.1 MPH.

The below picture shows a map, with distances of our trip. We essentially traveled 6 miles round trip to our putin, although you can’t see all of that path in the below picture.

Then, once we started surfing, we paddled about 8 miles in a .6 by .6 mile area:

While the APP I’m using isn’t great, it is free and seems to work well enough without being terrible on the battery, so I look forward to using it on some more of my trips.

Confused Seas at Emerald Isle(My Favorite Playspot)

A friend and I spent this Saturday kayaking at Emerald Isle. We paddled around 15 miles, working against the tide for about 6 of them, so it felt more like 20+. We started by paddling about 3 miles off shore to check out two big buoys, before doing a beach landing on Emerald Isle and cooling off in the surf. Then, we paddled back to Bogue Inlet to do some surfing.

One of my favorite places to play at Emerald Isle is just off the point of Emerald Isle by Bogue Inlet. There is a sand bar here, where there is almost always some nice shoaling, especially at low tide. As a result, you can usually count on an area of confused seas, as well as sometimes some nicely lined up waves, to play in.

Even on days where there is really light swell and no wind, there is usually some places to play. This area is also relatively forgiving, as on two or three sides, it will usually end up calming down pretty quickly.

These are a couple videos from playing at the beach last Saturday:

Wrightsville Beach and Masonboro Island Circumnavigation

This weekend, I, along with three other paddlers, did a circumnavigation around Wrightsville Beach and Masonboro island. Our original plan had been to start at Trails End Boat Launch, then circumnavigate Masonboro, camping one night on Masonboro Island and then doing Wrightsville Beach the next day, returning to Trails End Park.

However, one of the local paddlers was kind enough to let us stay at his house, so we opted to do them as two day trips and enjoy the comfort of some air conditioning and restaurant cooked food.

Wrightsville Beach Circumnavigation

On Saturday, we put in at the public boat ramp under the draw bridge that crosses the Intercoastal Waterway to carry you onto Wrightsville beach. From there, we paddled about 3.5 Miles North to go out Mason Inlet.

Tides were with us, so we made good time and there was only mild chop going out the inlet. We then traveled south about 5 miles ocean side along Wrightsville Beach, making one beach landing, before paddling around the jetty and through Masonboro Inlet.

There were some confused seas coming around the jetty, which were fun, and after we made it around the jetty and out of the boat lane, we practiced a few rescues, before doing another beach landing. Even though we were protected from swell at this point, the area where we stopped was right on the corner heading out to sea and got a lot of boat swell, which created some fun confused seas.

On the way back to the put-in, we stopped at Dockside Restaurant, which is a local bar/restaurant that has a dock for boaters to pull up to, for some burgers and shrimp.

There was a chance of thunderstorms during the day and we got rained on a bit, which was nice given the heat. It was also overcast, so we didn’t get a ton of sun. Despite the chance of rain, the beach was still very crowded and we had to take extra care doing our beach landing, so as to avoid hitting swimmers.

Our total distance was 13 miles for the first day.

Masonboro Island Circumnavigation

At our break before heading
out Masonboro Inlet
On Sunday morning, we put in at Trails End Park Boat Ramp to start our circumnavigation of Masonboro Island. We were on the water by about 9:30 and headed South towards Carolina Beach Inlet. The tide was not in our favor, so we ended up fighting about a 1 mile current for most of the first stretch. After about 7 miles of paddling, we took a short break on a sandbar before heading out Carolina Beach Inlet.

Carolina Beach Inlet is close to the Cape Fear River and so, the water is a mix of river/ocean water hear, creating a neat dark brown color. There was a little confused seas going out the inlet, but it was relatively calm.

Two of our members had opted to use a Tandem Kayak for this trip and decided to try surfing/playing a bit in an area of shoaling by the inlet. They ended up wiping out and swimming, but were able to stand and recover their boat. One paddler lost his paddle, but we were able to retrieve it. While waiting for them to recover, I played a bit in the surf.

We then paddled about 8 miles North, making a beach landing right before the jetty going into Masonboro Inlet. Seas were relatively calm and weather was a lot warmer on Sunday, as there was little wind and cloud cover, unlike the previous day. However, about the time we stopped for our last landing, the weather changed and we got sprinkled on a bit, making the last hour or two of paddling a lot cooler.

After a short snack break, we got back in our boats and headed around the Jetty going into Masonboro Inlet. We had timed it so the tide was working in our favor here, having switched around 12:30 to start flowing into the inlet. As a result, we got a nice push on the way back to Trails End Park.

Our total distance for this trip was 19 miles.

A 20 Foot Boat on a 15 Foot Car.

Back to the Beach

Due to some scheduling issues, it has been awhile since I have been able to make it out to the beach to do some ocean kayaking. However, this weekend, I spent an afternoon playing at Emerald Isle with a friend. Magic Seaweed had the surf conditions at about 1-2 feet, building towards the end of the day. The surfing wasn’t great, but it was, as it usually is, a great day. We played a little in the surf, then headed over to Bear Island, did a beach landing, and headed back across Bogue inlet. On the way back to Emerald Isle, we practiced a T-Rescue in some rough water and then did a bit more playing at the beach.

It ended up being a relatively short day 15 mile day, of which about 7 miles was playing in the surf.

Below are two videos from the day…I’m still learning with the gopro, so the angle of these is not ideal. I think there is too much sky in the video, so need to angle the camera down a bit more.

Roll Practice

I did several rolls in the (light) surf, as this is good practice. I missed one the first time, but made it on my second attempt:

Even though the surfing wasn’t great, we got plenty of rough water practice. This is a video of us crusing through a little shoaling.