Thursday, June 12, 2008

Slop
Milwaukee's shoreline forms a natural harbor. That is, it curves dramatically inward toward where three rivers enter into the lake. This shape, in part, confuses and bends winds coming from the N, NE, S and SE so that a paddle across the outer harbor (the area inside the break wall) will often take one through several changes in wind direction. There is, as well, an effect on the water.

It is nice to paddle on flat water, at least once in a while. Better, I think, to have waves. Big slowly moving waves that gradually lift my kayak to where I can see far onto the horizon and then set me slowly down into a canyon surrounded by walls of water. Fact is, however, there is most often just slop out there. The shoring up of the bottom, the waves bouncing from shore or break wall and shifting winds usually combine to produce slop.I define slop as a disorganized chop which comes from several different directions. For new paddlers in this area, this slop is disconcerting and often leads to a tip over (it's also a good media for intermediate paddlers to practice rescues). This is especially true when the boat is swaying in one direction and then, during the end of a stroke, it changes attitude. It is, actually, a good teacher.

Good paddling requires one to separate the top and bottom halves of the body. The top, of course, is (or should be) busy with torso rotation (don't get me started). The bottom, from the waist down, need only remain relaxed so that the boat can waggle (my word) beneath us. Good hulls, be they kayaks or sail boats, always know what to do...no matter what the water conditions might be. Many sailboats that have been abandoned in storms have later been found to be floating nicely along by themselves. Kayak hulls will also assume the best attitude if left alone to do so.

Paddling in aggressive slop can be gratifying as the boat does its little dance beneath us. We, for our part, need just go along for the ride.

Paddle safe...
DS

1 comment:

steve said...

dont we just love that dancing on the waves in anything from slop to larger swells and rougher water.I agree its a lot more fun than flat water and a great learning tool