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Big Waves, Big Fun

Last night we had powerful winds here in Dibba, which made the sea extremely rough. Late in the night and this morning, the waves were around two meters- a rare wave height here. We spent the morning daydreaming of surfboards. Jen and Matt took advantage of the waves and took out the company body boards and went out at lunch. By afternoon, the surf had calmed down a bit - was between two and five feet. We decided it was a good afternoon to do some rough water kayak training. Griz, Meg, David,  and Nick came out to do some training, and Matt and Matty came out to have fun. I prepped Griz, Meg, David and Nick for their launch- describing what they would encounter paddling into such large waves, and how to paddle through them. Griz and I were side by side blasting through the waves. Each wave we encountered threatened to flip us over, and pushed us towards the shore. It really takes perseverance and power to muscle through big breaking waves. At one point we faced a monster wave, our only option was to dig in and shove ourselves into it. We blasted over the crest and caught huge air on the backside.

Paddling out was exciting and challenging. Everyone was laughing and smiling when we regrouped beyond the surf zone. Then it was time for some work. The team got some practice doing capsizes and rescues in the big seas- which really wasn't so bad thanks to the rolling swell. Nick let go of his kayak and got to experience the difficulty of swimming to a kayak that was floating away from him. It is definitely hard work, and nearly impossible to do in high winds. 
Nick! Your kayak is getting away!
Nick sprinting to get back to his kayak
We all took turns towing each other. I wanted them to feel what it was like to tow someone in large swell- the line jerks as the kayaks go over waves at different times- which is very unpleasant for the tower. We talked some about strategies for reducing risks while towing. I had hoped to do a few more advanced towing procedures but the waves were a bit high and the surf zone was too wide. Hopefully we'll have a few more days of choppy seas in the next month to do more training. 

Matt headed for ta wipeout
After their practical skills, it was time to practice landing. Landing in large surf is difficult and can be most dangerous part of sea kayaking. We discussed how the kayaks would react to the speed and angle of waves. It is very typical to experience your kayak turning sideways and then dumping you when surfing in. The more dangerous possibility is that your kayak will nose dive and go "end over end" launching you like a catapult toward land. After listening to these horrors, there were worried looks on a few faces. Just then Matt showed up in the short surfing kayak to show us how it was done, turning sideways and wiping out right at the end. He popped out of the foam smiling. Emboldened by Matt, they charged forward. Griz and Nick were the first to go- both of them got flipped by big crashing waves. Then it was time for me, and Meg and David in their tandem, to land. We all, of course, wiped out but had tons of fun charging down the face of the wave. 

Grizz catching an epic wave
 The thrill of catching a wave is worth the bumps and bruises from the wipeout. Our training session turned into a massive surfing session- we paddled out over and over to catch more waves. We all cheered when someone caught a massive wave and wiped out. We even drew a crowd- a bunch of locals and western expats were camping on the beach, and came to watch us surf. I even managed to catch a wave backwards in the little surf boat, and rode it backwards all the way to the sand.