“Hi Mark. I’m visiting Norfolk Canoes this week, what’s the chances of an evening session for cod? I’m about Tuesday and Wednesday”
I’m on shift, isn’t that just typical? The weather blows fishing right out of the water so Canoes Shops boss Chris ropes in Norfolk boss Steve for a Tempo test, seeing as how they are now stocking RTM. It’s blowing a bit, onshore and a few days in so I know it’s going to be fun…best bet is to head north and hit the cauldron, as that bowl of mental, confused sea inside the pier and breakwater at Gorleston is known. And so I get off shift, sleep ten minutes and get kitted up, heading north via Paul’s where I fetch my Scupper from Paul’s to use myself – first time I’ve paddled it in over a year but they’ll be in the two Tempo’s I source, mine and Michelle’s, James bringing it along so they can try a rigged and stock Tempo.
I pull up and park and go and say hello.
“Is there anywhere more sheltered we can go?”
They think it’s a bit wild. I guess that’s the foam spilling over the breakwater and the wavetops visible beyond it that’s concerning them. Or the clapotis. Or the big rollers. Or the shore dump. As eloquent as ever I laugh, question their masculinity and we get changed before carrying the kayaks down to the sea; James helps but can’t paddle today. Probably a good thing while his shoulder is still recovering. Oh this is Tempo weather. You want to test a kayak with Snapper? You certainly test it – it’s like the Force 5 northerly huge surf sailing session I did with Andy Benham way back when the 4.7 was launched and the Scupper test with Chris years ago in a snotty sea here…flat water tests mean nothing at all, same with flat water self-rescues. We’re going to get very cold, very wet and very battered…
Chris has seen it, he’s also in here now having a whale of a time and then I turn and catch one coming out to me that’s building and I see that it’s going to collide as I start to ride it; I’ve covered a little distance when I start surfing UPWARDS and this big lump of water grows beneath me; I’m on the shoulder, high above the trough, when it explodes over my starboard shoulder way, way overhead; the photo of a lifetime if anyone had been on hand! Then I’m racing down and along and forward and Chris is well impressed!
I try and surf some more and hit some more clapotis’ and waves and get thrown out a few times, self-rescuing in absolute turmoil…silly water than Chris and I even swap kayaks in without landing, transferring from one to the other while being pitched up, down and sideways. We don’t fall in. Then we head for the shore dump and do some surfing. Steve’s busy ashore with the camera…
It’s just a real bone-crunching mess and we love it though we get pitched out in the shallows at the end almost every time. My most epic fail is while trying my Greenland paddle for surfing and could no longer brace at the end. I roll, lose the paddle and kayak and feel my legs break through into air as I’m somersaulted completely while bouncing off the sand and stones. Luckily Steve is on hand and grabs my beloved paddle; Chris tries it, can’t stand it at all. They take some getting used to and in these conditions it’s not really the time nor place.
we carry on playing, tryng to catch waves and are joined by a big seal; we first sea it when Chris is about to take off and this thing splashes just by his bow and puts him off his stroke. It stays around a while and we just play, catching waves and getting trashed. I’m variously in the Scupper and the Tempo, the former ending up so full of water I can’t even drag it up the beach but I don’t realise at first and fail for ages to get through the shore dump, such is the weight of it!
Conditions vary from bright sunshine to freezing, torrential hail and after a good long session we decided it’s time to head for home. Great stuff and well-tested. They just need to try them in sensible conditions now…