Seablog: Surf lesson, ocean rowing style

Now then, if you’ve ever surfed anything other than the internet before (surfboard, kayak, sit-on-top, boat etc etc) then ocean rowing boats such as the lovely Dippers aren’t really any different. Especially Dippers as she loves it – not all of them do, apparently.

The principle is the same as with any surfing nendeavour – accelerate as the wave approaches so that you’re approching the same speed and then squeal excitedly as you ‘whoosh’** down the other side. Or you can sing, shout or recite poetry as you see fit. (**Please don’t be scared by all my technical jargon – you’ll pick it up as we go along)

Taking it back to the beginning… Dippers runs best slightly ‘off the wind’, that is with the wind coming at her from about 10-20 degrees. So my favourite wind direction is about 100° ESE because with 20 knots from that direction we can ‘hoof’ along in a beautiful line West. When running with a tail wind like this, the idea is you keep the boat pointing perpendicularly , or just off, to the waves. Side ways on tends to get very wet-avoid if possible.

Then, as a goodun’ approaches, you squeeze right up to the front of the slide, blades as far back as you can get them, plop them in the water, brace all the muscles you own (especially abs and back), then take the most almighty stroke that you can. And if it’s worked, you feel the back of the boat lift, the wind in your hair and a great surge as wave and boat fly Westward. It’s very exciting indeed.

My, sorry our, top surfing speed is an astonishing G-force inducing 12.1 knots, flying down the side of a 12 metre wave. I would be lying if I said I never had a heart-in-the-mouth moment on certain surf days. The few days recently have been fairly tame in terms of wave height, though one day the seastate got so confused that it was tricky to row safely. But on days when the wind is 25+knots and gusting more, with mighty big waves rolling up from the South, it can get a tad exciting at times. Exciting in this instance being, ‘Eek! Ship the oars and hold on’. Sometimes I do just that – either hold the oars right out of the water or quickly shimmy them back into their missile tubes and just hold onto the safety rails. That’s not been called for now for a few weeks, though the weather is set to be quite changeable in the next 7 days so who knows what will happen…

Even though surfing in the right direction lets you cover lovely big distances you can only dream of on still or headwind days, it is tiring, particularly on those when you spend the whole day getting dumped on by waves. This is more likely if the wind direction is less favourable. This may be the case next week.

Don’t be surprised if you see the tracker doing some funny things – I’m going South at the moment with some NNE wind, and then we’re expecting a dollop of S/SW winds next week. Some quite strong. As I said, it’s looking changeable though so anything could happen.

Thanks for all the lovely messages – glad we’ll be seeing some of you for the party. Great idea about cards too – money much better spent by Arthritis Care than on a card which would only get soggy out here. Thank you in anticipation.

Have yourselves some good weekending with your purple carrots and tomato and JD cakes!

S x

PS
Geoff & Spike : Sadly too much swell for a celebratory dip yesterday though I did think about it all!
Geoff: I’m still keeping WST at the moment – I like having later sunsets. Yes, sun up NE. Tehe! Celestial nav book still in its waterproof case – I’ve been too busy rowing so far and don’t want to get it wet…
Clare:Purple carrots actually exist?! Can’t wait to see the video when I get back. If you post the link on here everyone can have a good laugh and also see my beloved Isis in Oxford – where my rowing days began.
Arthrits Care: Hello everyone! Arthur Bear still going strong – he’s the Steward and tries to stop me eating all the chocs… He doesn’t know about my secret stash though. Ha ha ha!

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13 Responses to Seablog: Surf lesson, ocean rowing style

  1. Barry Gumbert says:

    If my Teddy bear tried to keep me off the chocolate I’d Keel haul him.

  2. Darren says:

    Sounds a tad scarry, but you appear to be enjoying it. I am amazed with your enthusiasm and drive. Take care and thanks for constant inspiration. Darren

  3. BPC and Albie says:

    Very exciting to imagine you surfing along – great description, i feel i can really see you and dippers. I have only done body boarding before but love that feeling when the wave takes you.

    Youve nearly moved off the next tracker page – will keep checking excitedly!!!! xxxxxx

  4. robert jones says:

    Hi Sarah, glad to see you are doing so well the pictures look great
    you are a inspiration to everyone.

    best regards Robert and tracey (Stanley and mollie the newish dogs)

  5. your big brother says:

    Sarah, it sounds like ur having a whale of a time. Remember as kids in wales we went surfing in our kayaks. Good times. Take care sis and I hope the weather isn’t to unfavorable in the coming days. Big love xxx

  6. Lina says:

    Hi Sarah, well, I nearly got sea sick surfing along with you and Dippers, but from the excitement in your narration, you are having a “squealy” great time!!!!Gerard and I will try to make it on your Birthday!!!! ( I really wish we could). I am sure that Marcel will organise a Sega ( Mauritian traditional music and dance) welcome for you!!! Stay safe and hope the weather/wind pushes you in the right diretion!!!!

  7. Inspiring for all.
    We follow you every day and tell our Groups of your progress………
    Most cannot believe what you are doing, perhaps you’d like to tell them on your return?

  8. Vincent from Arthritis Care says:

    Hello back from us at Arthritis Care, we’re glad Arthur is looking after you and its a good idea to keep some choclate back from him.

    I thought that you might like to know that you have raised an incredible £3627 so far! A massive thank you from all of us – you’re the best!

  9. Phil Cheek says:

    Otter,
    Glad you`re having fun & going well.Keep at it.
    I`m off today for a dose of Silurian,I`ll say hello to some baskers for you.
    Take care.
    Phil

  10. MARK&JOinHULL says:

    Wet and windy in Hull,life on the edge.Thats one fine surf board you got yourself, what a rush , more carbs needed chocalate anybody its a hard life. Hope to hear you on Mark and Stuarts show soon much lv.M&Jx

  11. Claire C says:

    Sarah, I’m loving the tone of your blogs these days – I have visions of you being almost too full of energy and writing writing writing writing to help burn it off. That chocolate of yours must be INCREDIBLE.

    Yesterday we read in the news of some Nemo-esque occurence with a seahorse and a seagull in Dorset which I’m pretty sure you’d enjoy.

    It seems some nasty gull had scooped up a 5 inch female long-nosed seahorse from the sea and dropped it on a pavement in Weymouth. The nice lady came across it on her way to do a bit of shopping, saw it was breathing and dashed home to get a fish slice to pick it up. She grabbed the bowl from her weighing scales and Pegasus was placed in some tepid water and despatched to a Sea Life centre, where they, worryingly, were reported to have put it into ‘salivated’ water. Perhaps they knew she lived on a spit, ha ha.

    Pegasus seems to be in shock ( no! ), but is now getting used to her new home, in the dark, to reduce shock..

    Amazing!

    It reminds me of when I was much younger and gave my ma my goldfish to look after while I went off to spot clown fish in the tropical seas of Asia. They wanted to come with me, but I think the 100mls of fluid-on-the-plane rule was around, so I made them stay at home.
    Anyway, ma left the lid off the tank, 1 fishy jumped out, landed under the dresser and the cat started to go beserk. Ma comes in, sees tiny fish under the dresser, amongst the fluff and crumbs ( hey, she was old, the hoover wouldn’t fit under it ), rescues fishy and, ( I’m very proud of this ), swooshes fishy in the cup of her hand through the aquarium water, making the water swish over the gills in a kind of piscine resucitation event. He revived and lived another good few years. Good old ma, eh!

    Keep on with the surfing, the happy socks and the choc loading – being able to read your blog is such a treat!!

  12. Jane Spence says:

    What a rollercoaster read your blog is today – you’ve given us a unique glimpse of life aboard (well just barely it seems!) the Dippers Express. Utterly Outerly. All around the world, people are gazing at their computers but they’re switched not to their maths prep or sales figures but to TV Outen with its breathless rush of cliffs and chasms.

    Hope you’re still favoured with good winds and seas – and preparing for that change in conditions you’ve predicted.

  13. David B. says:

    Sarah,
    It seems as if your having such a great time that Mauritius will be just a place to stop to pick up more chocolate, and some coconuts, on your way round the Cape and on to Bristol harbor. Goodluck, and managable tailwinds to you always! David B., in Telluride Colorado

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