Monday, April 19, 2010

Wind and practice

I spent this morning playing in the wind. I go to a particular lake when I am alone, unfortunately I live about four hours from the coast. this lake is small but I enjoy paddling there. It has a few secluded coves where I can work on particular skills. This morning it was still pretty early but the wind started coming up. I knew that by the time I left the water the little wind would be whitecapping the water. I paddled across the lake into the wind directly, and decided to stop and watch how it affected my boats drift. I watched the way the wind, water, and boat interacted, and how the wind turned my boat. When I saw that it behaved as I expected I continued on. As I got closer to the other side of the lake, the trees and a small point of land gave me some protection from the little wind, the water got flat, with just a little ripple. I paddled towards the point of land and as I rounded it, there was my little wind again. The corner interacting with the wind intensified it. So I had some small standing waves. I played in this spot for close to an hour. experimenting with different strokes, letting the wind turn my boat, and continuing the turn with paddle, backing into the wind and spinning slightly with it. Seeing the effects of edge on different turns and different strokes. It was a dance between myself, and the wind, and this little section of land. It was unbelievably enjoyable. I finally let the wind carry me off the point, and I steered into a little depression of land so I could shoot some video for the blog, and when I was done, paddled with the wind behind me, back across the lake. Still playing with edges to hold my course so I could just paddle without correction strokes. This to me is my meditation. While I meditate in the traditional sense, it takes me a while to get my mind to quiet down. But in a kayak, where I can focus on just movement, my mind quiets down by itself.

This is my practice. I continue to practice hard, as I am my own task master. I continue to refine strokes, and try new ones. I am continually looking for was to improve my skill, always trying to get more fluid, more relaxed. I think in anything you do you have to work to get better. As I get better and become more skilled, my enjoyment goes up. Everything is easier.

I am not nearly as good a martial artist as I am a paddler. Though I see many similarities between the two. The more I work as a martial artist the more fluid I become, the more competent I become, and the easier it gets. It is still hard work. And going to class is sometimes not where I want to be going, though after class I am almost always glad I did. You have to get in your boat and do more than paddle. You have to challenge yourself and push your skills. the payoff is beyond words.

Today's video is simple. A view of how a slight wind effects the direction of a boat at rest. This may seem a bit like watching paint dry, but it will only take 40 seconds. The video starts just as I have stopped paddling. Watch the background move behind me. Watch, towards the end, the difference in the surface of the water on the left and right side of my boat. This is a little wind. Imagine a lot of wind. Then imagine a lot of wind and having to perform an assisted rescue.

I should also point out that this is wind only, no current. Wind and current effect our boats very differently. For now, watch the wind.

wind from Paddling Otaku on Vimeo.