One man's rush to jump on the kayaking bandwagon

Paddling around Ft. Monroe

I grew up in Hampton, VA. Even though it is surrounded by water on three sides, I can count the number of times I was on a boat on one hand. I've looked forward to paddling in my home town for a long time, but was reluctant to give it a shot until I had more experience. The water around Hampton has a reputation for being a little wild.
This was one of those infrequent one-way paddles. My father dropped my off at the Sunset Creek boat ramp. The plan was to meet me at the north end of Grandview Beach a few hours later. I left around 11:00am hoping that once I rounded Ft. Monroe, the tide would be headed out.
The paddle out the Hampton River and around Hampton University was a lot of fun. It was the first time in at least 20 years that I saw Hampton from the water. As I rounded the point at Ft. Monroe, it became quite rough and apparent that I had not timed the tide correctly. The wind and the current were both heading straight towards the sea wall that runs the length of Ft. Monroe. The resulting confused seas forced me about a quarter mile off shore.
About halfway from the point to Buckroe Beach, I nearly paddled into a large loggerhead turtle. It seemed to be about 4 feet across. Other than the usual dolphins and menhaden, I haven't seen much in the way of wildlife. This was quite a treat.
As I reached the Buckroe Beach pier, I decided to end my punishing struggle against the current. I timed the waves perfectly and rode a small wave onto the beach. As I was getting out, my foot became caught in my still attached paddle leash. In the few seconds it took me to get untangled, a wave came in and grabbed my kayak. It knocked me over as the dumping surf pulled it back away from the beach. I decided to settle for being drug across the rocky bottom than to try and swim after my kayak in the surf.
Luckily, my father had decided to visit the new restaurant at the pier and saw the whole thing. That saved me a call. Overall, it was not a very enjoyable paddle, but I can't wait to try it again.
tags: coastal

May 30, 2009