Span-Kit Downwinder – Short

Sunday, August 22, 12021 HE

It seems I capitalised on the change in weather from our last heatwave to the mini-fall window and then back to summer.

Looking ahead at the forecast earlier in the week, I could see that Windy.com predicted favourable winds for a Span-Kit downwinder. A front was bringing a westerly wind, and with it waves.

I was going to trial a friend’s 4.26 metre (14-foot) Laird Hamilton SUP. With the choppier conditions, I decided it would be wiser to be on a more familiar board. Plus, I was riding solo for a one-way trip and taking an Evo Car Share back to my vehicle. I wasn’t sure that I could accomplish that with a long hardboard to pack back as I would need to bring roof ties, etc., with me. Chalk one up for the inflatable SUP!

Below are the forecasted winds in Səl̓ilw̓ət (Burrard Inlet) from Windy.com.

Screenshot of the Windy.com wind forecast for Sunday, August 22.

The forecasted waves from Windy.com are below. They were a respectable one metre.

Screenshot of the Windy.com wave forecast for Sunday, August 22.

I have done this run from šxʷsyiΦəm (its Musqueam name meaning “sandy place”) or Ḵweḵw7úpay̓ (its Squamish name) (Spanish Banks) to X̱epx̱páy̓em (Kitsilano Beach) several times and I have christened it the Span-Kit Run (see here for the backstory). Today with the cooler weather and wave conditions, I planned to wear board shorts and a long-sleeve exercise top. I would be warm if I stayed dry, which I figured I could pull off given the conditions, a 12-knot tailwind with 18-21 knot gusts. But maybe this was my summer hubris talking.

I departed from the Spanish Banks East Concession. It is the furthest westward point within the Evo Car Share home zone. I forgot to check the tides in my excited haste to get out on the water with the favourable wind forecast. As it turned out, when I arrived at Spanish Banks, the tide was going out with a low tide just after 12 noon. Nothing like a long walk on the beach to boost my would be dating profile.

An ebbing tide from the shores of Spanish Banks.

Below is the view from the shoreline at Spanish Banks, looking east towards Vancouver as I walk out to the water. The sun was just starting to break through the morning cloud cover, and Sunday was trying to live up to its name.

The view east over the top of my board at the water’s edge.

All the wind and board sportspeople were out full force: sailors, kite-surfers, windsurfers, foil boarders, etc. And then me, the sole soldier lacking a specific sail structure for self-propulsion.

After launching, I made my way straight out into the inlet. The waves had a slight southerly inclination to them, so I didn’t need to go out too far as the waves were pushing me to the east and east-northeast.

The conditions were choppy. But the wind was directly at my back which made for easy paddling, even when it gusted.

As the sun broke through the clouds more, I was happy with my decision to forego my drysuit. It would have been way too hot.

At some point, I stopped to take a quick video of the conditions. You can hear me panting in the audio. The waves are slowly rolling away as they battle the ebbing tide.

I can’t exactly recall when it occurred, it may have been just after the video above or shortly before. About mid-paddle, in some decent chop, I look down and notice a bolt sitting on the deck of my board. The shimmer of the silver in the light caught my eye. That’s peculiar, I thought. I wonder how that washed on boardWait…could it be from my board? The gears continue to turn. It didn’t look like it was from my board. The implausibility of it washing onto my board quickly rose into my consciousness, as well as the lack of rust on the bolt corroborating this conclusion. I briefly thought about kicking it off my board back into the ocean. Running throw the attachments and parts on my board quickly in my mind I concluded, it wasn’t from my board. As I bent down to pick it up it dawned on me that it was from my paddle! How on Earth it didn’t bounce off into the ocean or get washed off after settling on the deck is a mystery to me. Thank you, sea gods!

Kneeling down I fiddled with it to align the thread before using my fingernail to screw it back in. I mentally added a new pre-paddle checklist item, check your adjustable paddle bolts.

Then it was back to catching some bumps and enjoying the cooler summer weather.

A little while later I booked my return Evo before the finish of my paddle heading into Hadden Beach. It was a little further past my car but I was having so much fun I figured another long walk wouldn’t hurt.

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