Friday, January 29, 2010

Gusts, crosswinds, and lessons learned.

A gust is a short, abrupt, burst of high speed wind. Self-propelled boat enthusiasts tend to be rather respectful of gusts. First of all, when it begins to get a little gusty, conditions are likely deteriorating on the water. Wind speed is increasing, waves building, and double-bladed paddles are attempting to become effective airfoils...and the "lift" they are developing wants to pull you right out of the kayak! Well, OK, a bit of an exaggeration but sometimes it feels that way. The lightweight, survival bivy sack, carefully tucked into your bailout bag, is beginning to wonder if it will bring you a sufficient degree of comfort - as you seek shelter on an island that is not the island to which you need to return in order to locate your vehicle...and subsequently sleep in your own bed. As gusts increase in intensity, other thoughts run through your mind...such as, I wonder if my VHF radio really is waterproof or, gosh, maybe a dry suit would be worth all that money?!

Gusts that come in the form of a crosswind can be particularly "exciting". Now you have both wind and waves teaming up to roll you over. You know that the first half of your roll is excellent but you wish that you'd spent more serious time in the pool developing the "second half". Sure, high-adrenaline moments are kind of fun but too much of a good thing can ruin your day!

Turning into the wind and  facing those gusts "head on", however, can give you some control, some stability, and a little respite from serious and continuous "brace mode"!

We all know that life can be "gusty". Allowing those oft-unexpected events and situations to become a "cross-wind" may well be asking for trouble, or at the very least, inviting unnecessary "capsizing". Facing life's difficult and awkward events sideways serves to increase our vulnerability. When possible and when able, it seems best to face difficult challenges head on. It's a lot easier to maintain direction and balance and you can even take a break every now and again, just holding your position. And in those moments of respite, there's an opportunity to regain your strength, assess your position, and move forward with confidence and control.

There's always lessons learned in these narrow boats.


Image: Joan, on a favourite day trip, paddling from Fernwood launch site on Saltspring Island to Wallace Island and beyond. Often a brisk crosswind!


  1. And those cross-winds makes you wish you'd kept your deck "clear of gear"! Been there! John C

  2. In life during those cross-wind times do you always send Joan out "on point" while you stay back to see how she fares and take pictures for documentation or does that only happen on the water?

  3. Ahhh...hmm, "point" well taken. I never thought of it that way. Could we maybe not mention it to Joan? She's been such a good sport. And there is the matter of risking my own kayak! :-)