Surfski at night

7 months 3 days ago #39160 by mrcharly
Surfski at night was created by mrcharly
Went out for a paddle last eve, set off in twilight. 8km in it was proper dark. 
I had a head torch 'to be seen'. 

Found it difficult. Wasn't rough, very calm really. But a gentle swell with quartering small chop was much harder to deal with in the dark. Simply couldn't make any use of waves, couldn't see enough to find the patterns and start putting effort in to catch a ride.

It was an interesting experience, but I'm glad I know the island shapes well, or navigation would have been difficult.

Anyone else tried paddling at night on the sea?

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7 months 3 days ago - 7 months 3 days ago #39162 by Atlas
Replied by Atlas on topic Surfski at night
I make a point of regularly paddling under the full moon. As it happens it was a full moon last night so I was out on the water an hour and a half before sunrise this morning. Sometimes I head out as the sun is setting and come back well after dark. Apart from being a beautiful way to start or finish the day; it is excellent for my skills and confidence. If I get caught out by the setting sun I'm not bothered because I have normalised paddling in the dark.To be honest I don't make a point of paddling under a new moon so there is always at least a little bit of light. If you can minimise light "pollution" your eyes adapt quite well. Very choppy water isn't as scary as it might seem because the whitecaps are very easy to see. The real challenge is adapting your mind.
I don't recommend doing this in a tippy ski or in unfamiliar waters. However when done sensibly there is a lot to be gained by paddling in the "dark".

Current boats
Epic V10L Ultra, Carbonology Sport Boost LV X, Fenn Bluefin, Nelo 510, Fenn XT double, Nelo 600, Expedition Kayaks Azure

Previous boats
Spirit PRS, Fenn Swordfish, Fenn XT, Fenn Swordfish S, Think Zen, Epic V10L Club, Epic V9 Ultra, Carbonology Sport Boost LV
Most with DK rudders
Last edit: 7 months 3 days ago by Atlas.

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7 months 3 days ago #39165 by Jordan
Replied by Jordan on topic Surfski at night
We have done it regularly during the winter months. Mostly on an estuary at high tide, but also off the beach if the wind isn't too strong. A clear night with a decent moon and the surrounding light pollution from the town is enough most of the time. We wear lights on our PFD's to alert others of our position more than to aid with sight. 

I love it, It feels like you are going much faster than the equivalent speed in the light. I also enjoy chasing small bumps in the dark. I find it improves your feel for the water. You have to feel the wave pick your back end up, feel for the acceleration. 

We did a session last week and ended up paddling back to shore in the dark on the last 3 minute effort. The runs were decent, averaging 15.8 kph over 4 and 3 minute efforts. The effort in the dark was no slower than my previous efforts in the light. But I actually felt way more relaxed. Go figure. 

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7 months 2 days ago #39167 by mrcharly
Replied by mrcharly on topic Surfski at night
No moon - no light really. Heavy drizzle most of the time (heavy enough to be like paddling in fog).

There aren't many lights around here. I could see the fishfarm vessel some of the time which gave me a vague location check. 

By the time I could feel a lift from the swell, it was a bit late to start accelerating - the swell was low and moving a lot faster than my cruise speed. 

Definitely need more practice though.

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7 months 2 days ago - 7 months 2 days ago #39169 by Watto
Replied by Watto on topic Surfski at night
Paddling in the dark sometimes only option available. Regardless of weather, flat water or river paddling is straightforward so long as you are able to navigate where you are in relation to bridges, spits, jetties etc. As above natural light moon and/or stars generally adequate, remembering too that any front light a no-no as kills night vision! Something on top of cap/rear of boat so you can be seen from all angles is super important and especially in the ocean if shit happens.  

Paddling at night in the dark, three little tales. Back in the day when I was little (lot) less safety conscious, training for the Avon Descent (135 km downriver race) I'd paddle off the beach at 8-9pm in Hillarys Western Australia in my Cole kayak around an island 3km out then north for 5 kms or so and back. Well on one-such paddle with lights on the horizon disappearing every thirty seconds or whatever in the long swells (calm water though) some sort of marine life gave my kayak a very solid nudge! Oh yeah I didn't just bump into something, something solidly bumped into me!! I was about 1.5 kms out at the time and had I not been able to eskimo roll, it would have been a long, lonely and difficult to navigate swim! Lesson, if you paddle at night and come out there's a big unknown in terms of getting to shore depending where you are. Make sure your head (and ability) is in the right place!

Episode two, same boat, launched from same beach well after dark realising shortly after launch that kayak leaking from downriver session, so hallway through paddle through the breakers and onto sandy beach to empty. Rather surprisingly for this then thirty year old, hey when waves are breaking in the dark you can't see that they're breaking, you can only see the back of them and hear the break. And when there are multiple breaks that does't help. Yes got smashed ashore but emptied and got back out ok and back with again half full boat BUT guess what? From the ocean at night exactly where you are along the coast is indistinct depending where you launch from. I launched from a bay, Mettams Pool, which has reef and small cliff either side. All I could see was a line of orange street lights in a line up high above the low cliffs along the coast. And there was a good swell. And of course I surfed in (as much as you can in a kayak - getting washed ashore kind of gracefully) at the wrong place directly onto fringing reef and of course smashing up boat and me  . Lesson is be careful navigating and getting back pretty exactly where you launched from. (And this was in clear skies no drizzle.)

Fast forward to 2020 and I was paddling closer to shore pitch black evening with swell but no wind or chop to speak of and I missed the water on a stroke, just not thinking, bit of a swell roll I hadn't anticipated, stupid error. Anyway as I toppled in it was like a dream, haha I'm dreaming that I'm paddling at night way out here and I'm falling in... HOLY SHIT I am!! Where we paddle in Perth paddle there are white pointer sightings (nothing new for pretty much all who paddle downwind) and on this little stretch of coastline a few fatal shark attacks. Lesson is to be mindful of where your head is going to be if you come out. As it transpires I was ok and actually paused before I remounted not without some pretty strong urges to leap Aquaman-like out of the water. (Pause was to consciously put away that boogey-man always waiting for you in the dark.)

Re Atlas and Jordan's comment and catching swells in the dark, confess to struggling when I've done this. Place I do ins-and-outs has refracted chop off a marina wall which I struggle with when dark as hard to see stuff coming 'out of the black' side on. Having said that probably as much a measure of my paddling ability not to be able to comfortably to deal with it. Find it very hard to to see  where swell going unless really clean. Just had a thought before I hit Submit - eyesight! I'm long sighted and wear glasses most of the time but not in the boat. I really think (occurred to me on the paddle above in fact which I just remembered) that eyesight counts for a lot in difficult conditions, night paddling and focus being one!
Last edit: 7 months 2 days ago by Watto.

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7 months 2 days ago #39170 by mrcharly
Replied by mrcharly on topic Surfski at night
My eyesight is poor at best of times - extremely poor at night.

The point about front lights is a good one. Even the low setting on my head torch was dazzling when reflected off my paddle and my arms. I think I'll invest in a navlight to go on the rear deck. 
It gets dark very early here in winter.

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7 months 16 hours ago #39175 by MCImes
Replied by MCImes on topic Surfski at night
I used to paddle at night a lot, now not so much just from life changes. Paddling at night is fun and very peaceful, but unless you have a very bright moon wave surfing is difficult if off shore or dangerous if riding beach break (on the ocean at least).
The town near me lights up the night sky enough that I will always know which way is home and the nav buoys help too.

Once it gets dark enough that I struggle to make out wave crests a couple waves out I transition from wave riding to general paddling. So much of effective wave riding is scanning and moving to the holes, but this cant be done in the dark so like was said you just go on feel, which can work to varying degrees based on  wave shape.

I've played near shore at night, but always bail off earlier than usual so I have buffer to the break zone. Never been caught inside at night and never want to be. It happens easily though. When you cant see the monster outlier building 100 yards back its easy to get cocky and ride the small ones in too deep.

Currently paddling a Kai Wa'a Vega Flex in Southern California's ocean waters
Past Boats: Epic V10g1, Stellar SRg1, Fenn XTg1, Swordfish S
"When you've done something right, they wont know you've done anything at all"

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6 months 4 weeks ago - 6 months 4 weeks ago #39177 by Watto
Replied by Watto on topic Surfski at night
MCImes, reminds me of a wild paddle couple of years ago just some clips from video below. Not that one would paddle in 30 knots at night nonetheless unpredictability in some conditions clear here. End of summer's day after 6pm certainly not dark. Heading pretty much due north here with strong SSW breeze paddling 500 or so metres out  parallel to shore, but on that day crazy multidirectional breaking waves. First pic the wave just hit me out of blue (green really) while on a run heading northish, which I managed to recover from. Second pic, reasonable size swell rolling away from me. Final screengrab not much after this with a wave rolling pretty much directly behind, though heading nor-nor-eastish. Even though blindsided here, as you say at night you just can't pick stuff happening around you.  




Apologies can't embed images for some reason, they appear on my screen but not in the post.
Last edit: 6 months 4 weeks ago by Watto. Reason: Unable to embed images for some reason, they appear on my screen but not in the post.

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