Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Relative meteorology

Storm warning ended.
Winds west 20 to 25 knots easing to 10 to 20 this evening Then veering to northeast overnight. Rain tapering to showers this evening. Seas 7 metres subsiding to 5 to 7 this afternoon then To 3 to 5 overnight. Outlook. Moderate northeast winds.

It's been very windy the past few days here in western Washington. Lots of rain and gusts of 5o knots and more.

It's the wind that will be my number one concern over the course of the trip. The weather forecast above came from the Environment Canada site for the northwestern portion of Vancouver Island. It's today's forecast and it's good news. Really.

Winds easing to 10-20 knots? Seas of 10-15 feet? Most paddlers will put the boats back in the garage and think of something else to do when they hear forecasts like this one. It just sounds like work. I have a feeling that, although this might not describe the perfect paddling day for most kayakers in most situations, it will be as much as I can hope for on a lot of this upcoming expedition.

Any time you paddle for extended periods in conditions that are demanding and inclement, it is inevitable that your definition of a "good" paddling day will change. Where you once thought that some breezes and rain meant the end of a kayaking day, you will eventually sally forth into a 20-knot wind with ice pellets slicing horizontally from the horizon directly into your eyes. At the end of a long kayak trip, it is not unusual to paddle confidently in conditions that would have kept you on shore at the journey's beginning. A good day is one where you've gained some distance, regardless of the conditions. Some days are better than others.

I've started the regular morning paddle again. Time to get my head into shape, into the rhythm and the tempo of paddling in the dark. Time to train my thinking as well as my muscles. The morning paddles are as much a meditation for me as anything else. More on that later.