Lumpy Waters is a yearly kayak gathering sponsored by Alder Creek Kayak and Canoe. It is held on the Oregon Coast at Pacific City. The event occurs in the fall and takes its name from the unsettled, but still manageable, state of the sea, which has usually just started to rise from its (relative) summer calm. Lumpy waters is one of the premier sea kayak gatherings on the West Coast – I can unreservedly recommend the event to anyone who has ambitions to take their paddling from flat water to the sea. It brings some of the world’s best coaches and teachers together with a great set of ambitious students. There are classes for every skill level, but to really get the most out of this event, you should have decent control over your boat, have the beginnings of a roll or other self-rescue and a bit of ambition.
For those who may be unfamiliar with it, the Oregon coast is typified by multiple lines of breaking, dumpy surf. It is a challenging area in which to learn to paddle, but once you have mastered the surf, it opens up one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world. Lumpy can help jump-start your ability to handle surf and moving water in a relatively safe and controlled context. That said, hosting large groups of mixed skill paddlers on the Oregon coast does open up avenues to danger. A miscalculation by instructor or student can have potentially severe consequences for themselves and those around them.
I arrived early to Lumpy on Thursday night October 13, 2011. The event is hosted at a campground just across the street from Cape Kiwanda and, more importantly perhaps, from the Pelican Pub which brews some very excellent beers. I had arranged to meet Steve Hufstadter, an old college friend of mine at the cabin, but upon arrival, found he was not yet in. I repaired to the Pelican for a glass of their excellent IPA.
At the Pelican I recognized faces and friends from last year’s session as well as from other recent kayak gatherings. I was particularly happy to see John Schlesinger, a Kayaker from Coos Bay Oregon with whom I had become friends in 2010. It’s always great to witness the family of kayakers at an event like this. At Lumpy, as at SSTIKS and other events, I felt like I was coming home.