As I have probably mentioned before, winter is NOT the worst time to go kayaking. In fact, the fall is the time with the smallest chance of strong wind and waves. Last year I scheduled several surf launch practices with BASK that were not well attended. The BASK calendar was low on events so I tried scheduling another surf launch, and this one generated a lot of interest. Counting the people who were kayak camping in the neighborhood and came over to join us we had eighteen kayaks in the water at once!
Several people came who had never been in the surf in a kayak before, so Don Fleming and I gave a little bit of instruction to novices before we started. The surf up near the parking lot looked a little rough so we suggested that the novices start farther west. But as the morning progressed the spot that looked a little calmer kept moving away from us. Perhaps this is the inverse of the "grass is greener" syndrome: The waves always look calmer somewhere else besides where you are now. Eventually we came to a place where the sand dropped very steeply into the water and things always looked worse west of that.
With eighteen kayaks in the water it is surprising that we didn't bang into each other more often. The only collision I know of was one involving myself. At one point as I started a surfing run the prow of a yellow boat slid out in front of me. I tried to turn left and the prow of the other kayak rose up over my head as I ducked down. It came down behind me, banged into the stern of my boat, then the kayaker fell off and the yellow boat rolled over. Like a scene from an Indiana Jones movie, the ordeal wasn't over and the empty kayak rolled over and over on the top of the wave, surfing sideways and slowly gaining on me. Finally the wave collapsed in shallower water and let go of the yellow boat. I turned back out to sea to check on the owner and chew him out. I found Marvin Fieldman getting back into his boat and chewing me out (in fun). He was camping in Tomales Bay with Ken Kelton and they had come over to say hi. He saw me setting up to surf the wave and tried to surf across it with me. Unfortunately I was trying to surf straight down it and this created our collision. I was looking at the wave over my left shoulder and never saw him coming. Marvin agrees that he was at fault for getting too close to me, but I agree that no harm was done.
When lunch time came around we looked back up the beach and were surprised at how far we were from our cars. Most of the kayakers plowed out to sea and paddled east back to the parking lot, then came back in through the surf for a landing. A few people got dumped out of their boats doing this, even one expert kayaker. One kayaker, Ken, worked his way up the beach in the middle of the surf zone. A few novices tried unsuccessfully to get through the surf and ended up dragging their boats back up the beach. All the picnic tables at the beach were taken so we had to sit on the backs of our cars while we ate our picnic lunches.
After lunch a few people remained behind to play in the surf a little longer. Don spent the entire day in my Frenzy kayak and declared that it was a lot of fun in the surf. He wants me to keep my eyes open for a used one so he can buy one for himself. Paul Macintire was here in his home made fabric boat. He stayed way out where the large waves came in and got a lot of short rides on the waves before they broke. Roger Lamb spent the day in his Coaster, a boat he hasn't been using much lately and was glad to have a chance to play in it. But as the afternoon wore on I saw Roger start to fall over in the surf a few times. He always rolled back up, but he was obviously tired and readily agreed to quit when the rest of us got out of the water.