Saturday: Choppy 10k in Wellfleet

Weather:  Sparkling sunshine.  mid 70s.  Breezy, about 10-15mph with gusts to 20mph from the SSW.

I launched at about 1:45pm, from the Northeast beach.  I wanted to go for about an hour.  Since the wind was from the SW, I decided to go south for a change so that I would finish by coming downwind.  I also have not explored that side of the island at all.

I hugged the shoreline of Lieutenant Island as it wraps around to the south, then south east, and I skirted along the edge of the salt marsh.  The initial part to the south was quite choppy and I managed to fill the foot well a few times.  I am having trouble with the self bailer.  It does not want to stay deployed.  I think there is a spring that is supposed to hold it in position, but it is not working.  So, ultimately, I gave up and just rowed with the foot well full of water.  On the plus side, it’s a small foot well.

Once I turned the southern corner of the island and headed along the salt marsh, I was headed more across the wind and it took some work to get used to the waves on my beam.  I didn’t realize how much the wind had built up until I turned around to head west.  The wind was whistling past my ears and I was pounding into the waves.  But the water was warm and the sun was out and I felt pretty confident in my boat.  I just tried to keep track of my heart rate and basically ignore the pace.  I kept track of the distance and I decided that I could turn north after I hit 6000m.

After I turned north, I got a better appreciation of how big the waves were since they were coming at me from the stern.  Since my vantage point is so low, the waves looked huge, but I bet they were not much bigger than a foot.  But at times, my bow would be completely buried.  Other times, the stern would be buried for two or three feet, and most impressively, there were some waves that submerged the shafts of my oars while I was recovering.  That was new experience for me.

Generally, I was able to handle the waves well, but a couple of times, I was pushed broadside to the waves and pushed around.  But the boat has a ton of natural stability and I never felt like I was going to go over.

I turned the corner at the northwestern tip of the island and headed over to indian head. The waves were smaller and more regular here and much easier to judge.  Finally I turned for home, heading back into the waves one last time.

I tried to draw the wind and tidal flows on the chart.  The key thing was the tide was against the wind, which I think help pile up the water a bit more.

Screen Shot 2017-07-08 at 5.14.42 PM

You can see the effect of wind and tide on the summary chart.

  • to 800m: flat water in the lee of the island
  • 800m to 3500m:  rowing south along the shore with the wind and waves abeam, slowly turning to the east following the shore.
  • 3500m to 4400m:  rowing south east across the waves
  • 4400m to 6000m: bashing my way to the west basically right into the wind and waves.  The transients to very slow pace are essentially when a big enough wave totally stopped my and filled to footwell.
  • 6000m to 8100m:  Wind and waves on  my port stern.  This was the wildest bit.  Again the slow downs were swampings.
  • 8100m to 8900m:  easy and fun surfing dead down wind.
  • 8900m to 9500m:  back into the wind for the last bit back to the beach.

You can see how rowing downwind in this amount of chop is more technical than aerobic.  My HR was much lower.

myimage (84)

It turned out to be a pretty close to perfect 60 minute aerobic session (and a hell of a lot of fun)

myimage (85)

Its hard to describe rowing in waves.  The gopro point of view doesn’t seem to show what it’s like.  Here’s a picture of the waves after I got back to the house, from about 40 feet above the water.

2017-07-08 15.34.52

When I was out, there were more white caps and the waves were a bit bigger.  They certainly seemed a lot more confused than they look from here.

This has nothing to do with rowing, but last Sunday, I went for a walk as the tide was falling.  I skirted the edge of a salt marsh and I ran into what looked like the kingdom of the hermit crabs.

Tomorrow is the last day of my vacation.  I’m flying out to California on Monday morning for a conference.  I hope to wake up reasonably early and get my last row in.



2 thoughts on “Saturday: Choppy 10k in Wellfleet

  1. sanderroosendaal says:

    My double partner of today was also telling glowing stories about coastal rowing. Perhaps I should plan moving closer to a coast, or buy a beach house? I love walks on the beach.

    You switched to your new coastal boat, right? I lost track. Did someone buy your old one?

    Liked by 1 person

    • gregsmith01748 says:

      Coastal rowing is a blast. The best way to describe it is maybe like trail running. You don’t go as fast, but it’s challenging terrain. Some time you should take a seaside vacation and rent a couple of coastal doubles to play around in.
      I’m rowing a Maas Aero. I’ve decided to donate my old boat to a youth program down here on the cape, but I haven’t gotten myself organized to drop it off yet.


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