The boys were being difficult this morning. Having a tiff. Something to do with building permits and residential parking. They will be fine but it meant one wouldnt paddle if the other was there. They were pissing in each other's direction for the sake of not having to grunt about it. We will all paddle together again soon. I decided it was too perfect a day and met me, myself and I at Cattle point. I was reminded how spectacular it can be on a calm day, any day in fact, by a women who arrived by bike. She was raving to her friends about the scenery "are you kidding me, this is spectacular, I thought we were going to the break water again, this is incredible, how did you know about this place".... i stopped my paddling preparations and listened in reminded yet again just how picturesque our favourite launch site is, jutted out into the ocean, the Olympic mountain range to the south, in the fore ground the chain inlets and further out to the south east Discovery and Chatham island, with Mount Baker in the background. There must have been 50 fishing boats out there, dozens of sail boats, and smaller crabbing craft buzzing about.
I'm on a new board, well a different board, I was able to trade a stable, predictable, sturdy work horse board, with no blaring weaknesses, and frankly no shining attributes, for a rocket ship with tight thresholds that skates on its edges; the starboard sprint 2015 14x23 glides on top of the water, and although it can be twitchy, and because of the straight rocker line you want to always be stepping back in even the slightest swell, it's a blast to ride, and catches bumps my other boards simply couldn't imagine getting on. It makes flat water paddling, with it's subtle rippling textures, cross currents, whirlpools, rolling lumps and defined boat wake into a shifting matrix like labyrinth for paddling.
I found a groove right away, my breathing in tune with my stroke, and the seems began to open up, the paths between ridges of curling and pulsing packets of swell. I found the soft spots, the mirrored glass surface, bubbling up from below, displacing colliding currents and providing a gentle soundless breakthrough to the other side. When I emerged at the Bains channel cut through on the north side of Chatham the current wasn't swirling and rushing through the s-turn and I was able to glide by without much trouble, in fact it was tame enough I didn't remember passing it until later, lost in the meditation of paddling, my body and mind synchronized, in unison, the sound of the paddle, my breath, and an ever so slight lapping of water at the front edge of the sprint machine, it's porpoise like nose displacing the water, a quite wake disturbing the tranquil mercury coloured ocean rippling and dancing beneath me.
Around the south side of Chatham I found a beautiful set of lumps rolling past and was able to get up to speed and catch a ride. The sprint owns this, it's ability to accelerate and maintain it long enough to get on to even the smallest of bumps sets it apart from anything I have previously paddled, if it's smaller then a foot, foot and a half swell, the Starboard Ace with it's up turned nose and bowed rocker line is simply unable to generate the initial hull speed required for such small roll, although when the swell picks up, if it stays in some sort of predictable consistency without much side chop, the shape feels second to none, you seem to take off, without even paddling on the Ace. Today though, the ocean played flat and shifting, meaning the consistency of the various subtle textures was much more defined and predictable, requiring top end speed and moderate agility over stability and wave pick up, different shapes for different conditions, it's all part of the joy of paddling.
I found another set of lumps descending down the long run way leading to the narrow gap between Chatham and Discovery, the current was bucketing as we tend to say, this doesn't capture the elegance and fluidity of it but it does convey the relative speed. You have to paddle at a solid clip to make progress, the board tends to sway a bit from side to side as you navigate the exchange, and it's only when you look beyond the boat that you see you're not making as much forward gain as you might have imagined. Once you're through the gap and can ease off a bit you rest up and paddle slowly but the pull of the drain behind you doesn't fully let go and you find yourself drifting back to whence you came. If you are lucky, or persistent, you get to do it all again.
Having sat for an undetermined amount of time watching the world go by, in amongst the stillness and peace of open space, a simplicity and calmness disturbed only by the occasional plane passing above and the burping ocean below, I took another time lapse, a nod of time spent creating empty space, before popping through the gap and making my way back home. The tides had turned over and the more intense churning was behind me but i did manage to find some lumps and bumps to assist me on my way, lifting and sweeping me from way point to way point. The enterprise straight and Bains channel see a fair bit of boat traffic and the conditions out in the middle can provide some challenge and entertainment but today was smooth gliding and it wasn't long before I was back at Cattle point, back to the real world and off to help The Grizzly build out his shed.
Another day, another paddle, often the same location, always a different track, there's something special about dancing on the ocean, the defiance in gliding across the top, the privilege of having access to this vast open space, it's hard to describe; not only the sights and sounds, but the feel of the water, the pulse of the ocean, with its fluid textures an endless playground.