Monday, June 30, 2014

Nick's Nightmare

"You've got a big boat - you gotta go for the big wave!"

I've been getting my new Jackson Kayak Karma RG out to play in the rock gardens of the Mendocino Coast.  A lot of my time is teaching and coaching so I get to work on dialing in my skills on small waves as I demonstrate techniques for paddling ocean rock gardens.  Small waves are fun and a great place to build skills and learn the nuances of a new boat but don't usually make for exciting stories and dramatic photos.
Styling it in the Karma RG
This weekend, we got a little play time in.  As I continued to work on style and finesse in the RG, Jeff kept urging me on - "You've got a big boat - you gotta go for a big wave!"  I found it at Nick's Nightmare.  Nick's is a dramatic pour-over.  In the ocean, a pour-over is a feature that involves a wave washing over a rock.  A simple way to think about it is riding a wave over a rock and then surfing or sliding down the other side.  SUPER FUN!!!
Jeff running Nick's Nightmare in his Jackson Zen 65.
Nick's Nightmare is a tricky spot with a lot of hydraulic activity on both sides .  The approach is straight at a rock with lots of swirling hydraulic currents in front of the rock.  Your instinct says that there is no way that you want to paddle straight at that.  Timing, positioning, and wave selection are critical.  Get it right and you get a spectacular ride.  But even with the best made plans, Nick's can be a nightmare.

Most nightmarish is the giant hydraulic at the bottom.  When you ride a sizable wave over Nick's, you feel on top of the world . . . that moment of bliss ends when you look down.  The water slides down deep into a gaping hole and reverses into a wall of whitewater.  Try as you might and no matter how big the boat - Nick's Nightmare swallows you up . . .  It does spit you out.  Sometimes you are lucky and the buoyancy of your boat rockets you out of the depths.
Sea kayak going subsurface at Nick's
Other times, the nightmare continues as Nick's sucks you back into the throngs of chaos and confusion and back over the other side.  I guess you could say you get double your money when you get to ride Nick's both ways on one wave.

We had some spectacular rides at Nick's this weekend including this one where I got double my money.
That moment of bliss on top of the wave . . .
Plunging in deep . . .
Subsurface in a 12' boat
Nick's spitting me out  . . .
Rolling up as I go back over the pour-over.
Jeff says, "Sometimes you get to watch the entertainment and sometimes you are the entertainment."  I know he was entertained . . . I hope you are too.


  1. Next level stuff! I wonder if it is possible to do this on the South African coastline. Won't the barnacles grate you into a raw steak if you screw up!?

    1. Hi Franz, Thanks for checking out my blog and commenting. Barnacles are DEFINITELY an issue in many areas. Practicing and learning timing on features without barnacles would be best. Cheers, Cate

  2. LOL I recognize that shot of Becky from last fall. That was impressive! Hope to see you guys soon for some more fun! - Nancy Soares