I went paddling today on the Susquehanna River in the Lake Clarke area (above Safe Harbor Dam) in my new Boreal Design Epsilon P300. I knew it would be a bit windy, so I deliberately went to the river instead of a calmer and more sheltered area so I could play in some waves and get some practice handling the Epsilon in rougher conditions than a stiff breeze and sheltered lake could provide.
When I launched around 11:00 am, there were some choppy waves, but nothing particularly dramatic. The wind was blowing down-river and that’s the direction I headed. The chop was minor but was picking up a bit, as I expected. I turned up Fishing Creek for a bit of introductory calm. That’s where I snapped the picture accompanying this post which, as the title indicates, is not representative of the rest of my time on the water.
Once I left the shelter of Fishing Creek and continued down-river, things got a bit more lively and the waves, coming from behind me at an angle, were big enough to break over my foredeck. I don’t want to say it was a struggle to maintain my course, but I had to work at it. I deliberately didn’t put my rudder down… for the practice.
By the time I hit a small outcropping of land and scooted in behind it to a mirror-calm sort of mini-bay, some of the waves were close to two-feet high, partly because the wind had picked up and partly because the further down-river I went, the longer the fetch was, so the waves had considerably more time to build.
I had some lunch in the calm area and then headed back out to paddle back up-river to my launch point. This time, I had waves breaking toward me and a sometimes-wicked headwind to content with. The waves were more fun than anything as they didn’t have much of an effect on my keeping my heading. The headwind was a bit of a hindrance, but as I’ve told my daughter, when you’re paddling into a headwind, you don’t have to paddle hard, you just have to keep paddling… because as soon as you stop paddling, the wind’s going to start pushing you backward and you’ll have to spend twice as much energy to start moving forward again.
So I spent roughly one and a half hours on some appropriately challenging water (for my current skill level) and got a great workout and some practice handling my 17.5-foot boat in conditions other than what’s shown in the picture.
Tomorrow, I’m going to take it easy.