Monday, July 19, 2010

Sea Kayaking off South Carolina - July 2010

Cruising off the South Carolina coast on a perfect summer day. What could be finer? Playing in the surf, navigating your way around a small island offshore, paddling with dolphins, and riding five-foot swells. The chance to walk a deserted beach, find awesome shells, and watch seabreeze storms pop well inland. The surprise of beachgoers' when you appear on the beach from seemingly nowhere, after coming into the beach from over the horizon. Or just floating offshore surrounded by nothing by water and peace.

Sea kayaking in the open ocean, a mile or two offshore, is a rite of passage for any kayaker. It says you've passed initiation, mastered the trials, and are now a capable paddler. But it's not without serious risks, nor is it for the unprepared (see my previous post). I was fortunate to take five offshore trips over the past three weeks in South Carolina with my 18' Heritage Expedition and my 14' Heritage Sea Dart - both among the perfect kayaks for such trips. The oppressive heat inland was minimized on the water, as it was mitigated by the ocean temperature. The boats themselves are quite capable - they cut through the surf and the winds, and after paddling up and down so many rivers in Virginia and other states, even the tidal currents are rarely a match.

Returning to the small lakes and streams of western Virginia can be a bit of a let down compared to the vast waterways in and around coastal south carolina. Then again, I worry slightly less about curious alligators and large bull sharks...