Safely practicing remount in challenging conditions

7 months 6 days ago #31805 by MCImes
Hi All,
I was living inland for the past few years, and learned to paddle surfski on inland lakes and rivers. i have a G1 Stellar SR. The biggest waves I got to play on were 1-2 foot boat wakes, which i would chase and play on. They were steep and short interval which gave me a decent run for my money stability wise, but I only dumped a couple times in 2 years unintentionally.

Now, I recently moved to Ventura, CA right on the pacific and finally get regular 3-5' surf outside the bay. I am generally ok stability wise on clean runs and away from the break walls, but as i'm exiting the harbor the reflected waves make for a washing machine of confused waves. I have not capsized yet, but would like to do it on my terms and practice remounts in confused water like this in a controlled situation before fate thrusts it upon me.

How do you safely practice remounts in conditions in which I am not sure if I could remount? unlike boat wakes, the ocean waves never stop. I'd like to practice remounts in 2-3' confused waves and also clean waves (i.e. at the mouth of the harbor and out in the ocean a little ways), but want to do so with a backup plan if my remount fails. (I mean, I dont want to get stuck in a channel, out at sea, pulled excessively by the bay's current, or brought through the surf zone while swimming)

Whats the general wisdom for practicing remounting in conditions that are at the edge of your ability? I dont have a chase boat available and I normally paddle alone, but can occasionally meet up with more experienced paddlers in the area (I need to call you Kirk, im in the Ventura Keys neighborhood right off Harbor blvd, paddle most nights and weekends)


Current Boats: Old Fenn XT, Stellar SR g1
Past Boats: Epic V10 Gen0
"When you've done something right, they wont know you've done anything at all" - God from Futurama

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7 months 6 days ago #31806 by tve
I'm sure Kirk will have some suggestions... If you want to come up to Santa Barbara, the reflections off the harbor breakwater are also often quite messy. There is always someone paddling saturdays @9am from the harbor (Sea Landing, specifically), and typ also tue/thu ~5:30pm. Ventura breakwater reflections tend to be worse, though :-) (or is that 'better'?) I'm out of commission for another week due to injury, but I'd be happy to make an appointment afterwards.

If I were to practice alone, I'd get to the end of the breakwater that is downwind and/or down-current so in a pinch I could push past the breakwater swimming or whatnot and end up on one of the sand beaches that flank the harbor. The other thing would be to start relatively far away from the breakwater where the reflected waves peter out and slowly come closer.

Another option might be to time your paddling with one of the island packers boats so you can be a bit out from the harbor entrance, hop in the water right when the boat speeds by and then remount in the wake? Might go by too quick for a real remount, though.

Another option might be to coordinate with ckf folks ( ). They tend to head out every sunday morning 9am and rescued a SUP fisherman this last sunday :-). They sea kayak, not surfski, but I've spent a sunday morning with them back in Feb and will do so again. There's a rescue practice scheduled for aug 19th which I'm planning to attend as I'd like to know whether/how to help a kayaker from my surfski.

Welcome to the extended neighborhood!

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7 months 6 days ago #31808 by SpaceSputnik
I have been kinda asking myself the same question. I am just starting and beginning to go into a bit of a chop. I am working on my remounts but I am not yet certain I could remount in areas where I want to play. Generally I consider myself decently prepared, I use leg and paddle leashes, wear a pfd, a layered drysuit, a waterproof phone as well as a DSC VHF radio and stay close to shore, but I still would rather not swim to shore. If anything, I find it embarrassing and I don't want to lose my boat.

So my plan is for now to start increasing the difficulty but very very conservatively when on my own and to get my sea kayaker friends to spot me in bigger conditions when I am paddling with them.

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7 months 5 days ago #31810 by Wombat661
My first few times at Long Beach in the waves, I almost could not climb back on. It would have been a long slow swim back. I had the same issue. How do you practice rough condition while not taking risk. On a calm day, I would paddle parallel to the beach right where the waves are almost breaking. You can adjust how much of a challenge you want by how close you position the boat to the beach. Breaking wave on the side of the boat is a reasonable test for rough condition. Nice thing is anytime you want, calm water is just a few strokes away. If you can stay balanced, remount is not that difficult. I think the beach practice helped a lot.

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7 months 5 days ago #31815 by Fath2o
Welcome to Ventura MCImes, Hope you are enjoying our town.
I travel down to the beach/harbor almost daily. What kind of vehicle and ski do you have? I'll keep a lookout for you.
I haven't been paddling much for various reasons and out of shape. Have been very busy.
In regards to remounting, I recommend going to the North side of the harbor behind the breakwater in an area referred to as the sand trap.
it can get very unruly back there with strong winds and surf and less often be calm. Simply go and play in or just outside the surf zone tucked in behind the breakwater. If you have problems remounting you can drift toward the beach and stand up in shallow water. I strongly recommend removing your leash in the surf zone to avoid injury. Of course play in an area that won't endanger others. You will find the farther you move up the beach the bigger the waves get and they break out farther. Beach is pretty crowded now that it is summer time. Best to go early or close to sunset.
That section of beach is my playground. It is a popular surf spot at the end of Greenock lane. I often ride waves there on my ski. I am hoping to get out there later this week or weekend. Ph. four six nine-8505

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7 months 5 days ago - 7 months 5 days ago #31823 by MCImes
Thanks for the replies guys.

Tve, I'll have to make the trip up to SB some time soon to meet the gang up there. I just met the outrigger team that launches from ventura and will do some group paddling with them too.

kirk, thanks for the advice. I have been playing in the sand trap as well as the south side of the outer break wall. I have gone about 100 yards out into the real swell and ridden it down shy of the break several times now.
I cant tell if its just the swell meeting the harbor or if there is a strong current flowing counter clockwise out of the bay. It looks to me like there is a decent outflow based on the appearance of stationary waves on either side of the outer break wall. can you confirm if this is real current or just appearance?

I'll be out again on Thursday night and probably both days this weekend if you want to join me. I have a white Stellar SR with long strips of hi-viz green reflective tape, same tape on my paddle blades, and am always in a hi-viz green shirt. I also have a USCA solo racing canoe (J200 style) and tandem you may occasionally see me in (in the bay). I live close enough to carry my boat to the water, so you wont see it on my car often. wave me down if you ever see me paddling around! I'll call you after work too.

Thanks everyone. Keep thoughts coming if you have any more.

Current Boats: Old Fenn XT, Stellar SR g1
Past Boats: Epic V10 Gen0
"When you've done something right, they wont know you've done anything at all" - God from Futurama

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