How long before I can paddle well in the Ocean in a surf ski ?

5 months 6 days ago #34607 by Pbr646464
  I am new to the forum and was wondering how long before I can paddle well in the ocean in a surf ski. I recently bought a used Epic V10 Sport and think the boat is great. I can paddle in a lake with a small chop one foot or so and can pretty much remount the boat but at some point really want to feel comfortable in the Ocean with 3 or 4 foot seas. 

 I have white water kayak and sea kayak quite a bit and have an X Par Missile that I have only used on small chop in the lake. Taking a 19 inch wide boat and feeling comfortable or safe in 3 or 4 foot seas is something I want to do. I would be comfortable in my Solstice Sea Kayak but wondering how long in terms of time spent or years it might take a motivated person willing to put the time in to it. I realize it is not easy but was looking for encouragement.  I live in Maine and used to a Dry Suit and being safe. Any ideas much appreciated.

Thank you
Peter

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5 months 6 days ago #34609 by MCImes
Hey Peter,
Welcome to the forums and the world's greatest sport, surfski!

If you're competent in the X Par you can probably catch on the the V10S pretty fast. The key is just building up the wave progressively and pushing yourself into sliiiightly larger conditions than you feel 100% comfortable in. a feeling of like 90% confidence pushes your skill forward without excessive risk (to me at least, everyone has their own limit for pushing themselves) 

Since you're in cooler water and summer is here a drysuit will become uncomfortable pretty fast. to gain initial comfort in the boat, maybe you could take it to a lake or river and chase boat wakes around without the suit. Boat wakes are quite good stability practice because they are such short interval and steep. If you can manage a large boat wake on the ski, you're probably ready to head to the ocean on a small/medium day. 

A 3/2 or 4/3 wetsuit would probably be more comfortable for summer paddling if its in your budget at all. 

For comparison,I paddled ski on flat water lakes and rivers for 1.5 years before moving to the coast and going into the ocean. I would have paddled on the ocean day 1 if i lived near it at the time. I think the key to gaining skill, having fun, and not killing yourself is understanding the conditions and your limitations well enough to make an informed risk assessment. the cold Maine water is already a higher risk factor, so you should consider proper immersion gear (sounds like you're aware and prepared here), wind direction (on shore is always best) tide direction (incoming is probably better than outgoing safety wise), signaling devices (VHF radio, phone, lights, whistles, mirror etc), and paddling with a group.

Another thing that will help a lot is if you can get on the water, even for a short paddle, like 3+ times a week. Stability and confidence go up quickly when you're in the boat a lot. If you're only a weekend paddler, things go much slower as you're trying to develop unconscious muscle memory and repetition is key for that. 

Practice remounting every paddle until you can do it easily and even then do it regularly. Practice it in waves. At first, maybe go to a lake, wait for a big boat wake to pass and try remounting when the waves are hitting you. This way you can practice remounting in waves but if you fail the set will pass and you can get back on.

Assuming you take proper precautions and are motivated I think you could safely be paddling in 3 footers later this summer. Just choose your conditions appropriately and always have a bailout plan. Find a group as well. NECKRA has a good presence all over new england. Wesley and some of his friends paddle regularly out of RI, and there's a good SS crowd that does the Blackburn and others. Plenty of people to learn from if you're motivated. 

Anyways, keep at it, you'll have a blast! 

Currently - Swordfish S in Southern California's ocean waters
Past Boats: Epic V10 g0, Stellar SR g1, Fenn XT g1
"When you've done something right, they wont know you've done anything at all"
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5 months 6 days ago #34611 by Pbr646464

 
I am going to put the time in to get where I need to be and hope for the best. I purchased some of the floats below and I am not selling them but I just bought some awhile back.

[font=Google Sans, sans-serif][color=rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.870588235294118)]  [/color][/font][font=Google Sans, sans-serif]" Airhead PVC Stand-up Paddle Training Wheels Set " and I used to put them in the rear bulkheads of the X Par Missile and took them out if it got really rough on a lake and I just needed to get home. I taped both ends of the floats together so they wouldn't drag in the water and raise them a few inches above the waterline so if you was going over they would catch you. The only drag was the straps under the boat which was minimal. I would only used them in a safe area where I could self rescue without them in case they deflated, They work like a Huki Gull Wing and they are also great to let some try out a real tippy boat. For me I will put them on the surf ski behind the seat and use them as a training aid but only where I can get to safety without them. I will keep raising them up out of the water until I don't need them which you can do by adjusting the straps. They are not listed for use on a surf ski but they seem to work. 

[/font]I really appreciate your reply

Thank you


Peter

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5 months 6 days ago #34612 by tve
My personal experience is that it's probably going to take you around 100 ocean outings to feel like you're really in control and can decide what you want to do in big waves as opposed to doing what it takes not to fall in. I started in Jan 2018 with no Kayak experience (in a boat more stable than a V10S) and got to the point of being able to choose my line in 6'+ waves in a boat that is less stable than a V10S sometime this spring. (Not saying I'm "mastering" this thing, not by a long shot :-) :-) ) I have been going out at least 3x/week, hence the "100 outings" number.
I did go out in 3-4 foot waves very soon after getting my first boat, I had no issue remounting and always felt quite safe, but I just spent some time swimming and lots of time watching the waves go by under me without having either the strength or the skill to really ride them. They were just teasing me :-).
Hope this helps!
NB: I did get good instruction early on, I can't over-emphasize how important that was.
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