Tension mounted on the water. Five sea kayakists on a day trip to a small group of islands off the coast had started in fine sunny weather, but now the situation had rapidly changed….
The group had begun two hours earlier from the boat ramp with a vague briefing from the trip leader as to what he had planned. The group were unknown to each other and eager eyes searched other peoples boats for some clue as to what they should pack for the day. Without any help forthcoming they look to the water ….
In the bay the tension relaxed a little as the warm day and the relief at being finally on the water prompted casual conversation. Rounding the headland and sighting the small group of islands the sea state changed as the current was steepened against the wind. By now two paddlers were a mile ahead of the rest heading for the horizon, the other less experienced paddlers were finding it hard to stay upright in the big swell.
Each person was quickly reflecting on what they had learnt since the day recently when they had bought their shiny new sea kayaks. Clinging to this little knowledge they put their heads down whilst their kayaks were surged one way and the next with each successive wave. John, distressed and getting very tired and cold, was now 400m behind.
Up ahead the other two were surging forward on the face of each wave with a couple of well-timed paddle strokes followed by light paddle control with a stern rudder which kept them on course.
The inevitable happened…! In the middle group first one paddler capsized and as if it was a contagious disease the other soon followed…
I leave you to make your own conclusions …