Testing The Waters
Following the return of my van and having been left with a decent amount of leftover bait from yesterday’s foray, I decided that the logical thing to do was get the kayak out onto the water.
The weather conditions were not looking great and I only had a short window of opportunity so I decided to try a small bay just south of Dublin’s city centre to try my luck. With 15 knot winds and 30 knot gusts making up the forecast, some would have raised eyebrows at my plans and I would never have dared to bring my previous boat, the ‘Mojo’, out in such conditions. The wind was blowing offshore and I still had not given the ‘Trident‘ a good go in rougher water so I figured this morning may be an ideal opportunity.
A harbour launch was the way to approach this trip, removing the necessity for a surf launch. I arrived at the small pier and became somewhat disappointed by the apparent lack of swell. I set up, jumped on board and paddled out to my mark – a few marker buoys which I was going to tie off, eliminating the need for anchoring.
Bait consisted of live crab and ragworm, fished static, paternoster style just up off the bottom and in close proximity to kelp beds. After a couple of drops a rattle on the rod tip signalled a bite and I lifted into the first fish of the session, a small ballan wrasse. This was followed swiftly by a second small wrasse.
Then the wind really started to pick up. It started howling off the land and the sea started to become quite ‘lumpy’. The Trident seemed to take it all in her stride. I had positioned myself with the bow facing into the wind and she was well able to ride over any swell with ease. I was impressed with the stability of the boat. Even when I was faffing about with the crabs in the bait bucket behind me, having to turn 180 degrees to reach into it, I never once felt uneasy or off balance.
I fished on for a short while longer, the session producing a few small wrasse more and a couple of surprise codling. All fish were returned to the water to fight on for another day and I released my tie to the marker buoy to paddle back towards the harbour.
It was only then that I actually realised the strength in the wind. As soon as I was untied from the buoy I started to be pushed out to sea at a very fast pace. Once again, the Trident performed admirably and was able to cut me through the waves with relative ease. She tracked across the swells with no worrying issues presenting themselves. Very impressive stuff, making the return trip to the harbour a lot easier than a lot of other kayaks would find it.
On the drive home I thought about the morning’s adventure. I would not encourage anybody to head out in 30 knot gusts, be they offshore, onshore or in any other direction. There was a swimming event being held in very close proximity to me, a team of divers were in the water with them and I made my intentions known to them. They assured me that they would keep an eye on things. I never made it more than a couple of hundred metres off shore and I was, as ever, carrying my VHF radio and flares.
The purpose of this exercise was a test of the kayak in the conditions which she passed with flying colours. The couple of fish were a bonus. Fishing in such waters is not recommended and at best would be uncomfortable for most anglers. But what it did show me is that when I am out there, if the weather does take an unexpected turn for the worse then I will be sitting on a craft that will be able to help me deal with that problem, should it arise.
So, the weather is forecasting strong winds for the rest of the weekend. Just because the top of the water is now off limits, it does not mean that the subsurface is. We are off snorkeling this afternoon!