WR18 on Lake Superior

Posted by Steve in Ottawa on Jul 30, 2004

Thanks for the timely thread. I'm on vacation on Lake Superior and thought it would be a great chance to paddle my WR18 in waves. My first day in waves they were a little smaller than the photo Lee refers us to. I was nervous but the boat handled everything well. The beach was sheltered so I wasn't launching or landing in surf, but the waves got to a reasonable size once I got out a hundred meters or so.

The second day in waves was much more interesting. I thought the biggest waves were about 3 feet (trough to peak - I would just lose sight of the horizon in the troughs) and they were breaking on the beach. I had a lot of trouble keeping the boat straight surfing in. I also rode a couple of rather scary waves that caused the bow to plow fairly deeply under the water. I was broached by a couple of waves but managed to stay upright. Paddling out into the waves I took a lot of spray in the face. The waves were just at the size where I would go over the tops of about a third of them dry, the boat would pierce another third and get wet back to about the hatch, and we would plow into the other third and get very wet. Not chest into the waves wet, but there was very heavy spray off the front hatch (which is flush, but the spray came off the small gap between the hatch and hull) and maybe the coaming. I practiced a number of launchings and landings, and found that the only way I could launch was to position the boat, jump in when the waves were smallest, and then paddle out through the breaking waves with my spray skirt undone. I found that taking the time to put on my sprayskirt let the waves "broach" me on the beach. So most of my paddling was done with an inch or so of water in the cockpit, because that's what I'd take in on the way out. I have a guzzler foot pump in my workshop that I had questioned the need for, but no longer. It's going in the boat when I get home.

The water was very shallow in the bay I was in, so that may have contributed to the waves being very close together, I'm not sure. I'm 180 pounds and my boat weighs about 42 pounds. All in all, it was a pile of fun, even if my heart stopped once or twice.

Having never paddled a sea kayak in waves, I have no idea how this boat compares to anything else. In general, it was a wetter ride than I expected, and I was disturbed (actually terrified) by the bow plowing into the waves when surfing. I've endoed a whitewater canoe many times, but that was while I was stationary and the river moved past me. Surfing into a shallow beach at high speed thinking about an endo was not fun. I'm also curious as to the best way to correct an impending broach. I found a sweep to be fairly ineffective and a stern pry (reverse sweep?) better, but I wondered if slowing the boat down was a bad idea?

I would really appreciate all your comments and suggestions. I'll be back on the lake this weekend as I continue to try to figure out what I'm doing.

In Response to: Re: WR18 behavior in wave by LeeG on Jul 29, 2004