Chop: Short, steep isolated waves caused by local winds
which give a small boat an uncomfortable action
The Dictionary of English Nautical Language
As my kayak plows into the next wave, water splashes over the pointy prow and catches me full in the face, adding to the uncomfortableness of the action of this particular small boat. I’d make a pointy comment but I’m busy paddling hard against the wind and the aforementioned chop, progressing, albeit slowly, toward the small island ahead of me.
We are four seniors, crossing a great stretch of open water that Google Maps inexplicably represents as only about 300 metres: Something to to do with the distortions of the Mercator Projection, perhaps? Distance quibbles aside, our flat-calm morning paddle has suddenly deteriorated into hard work.
But as we reach the island a blessed calm descends, just like that. A small projection of land upwind from us is sheltering this patch of water along the shore. We skirt the leeward side of this island for another 400 metres or so, before popping out into another unsheltered strait requiring all our attention.
Trough-crest-trough, splish-splash-sploosh. And repeat. This isn’t my first choice of kayaking conditions, but I’m not unduly concerned. I have little fear of being swamped and I can see the next target island ahead, with its inevitable patch of calm water: Rest awaits.
In any storm, there is a lee somewhere.