Monday, December 28, 2009
On Saturday Alex and his parents went off to golf a round while my friend Ronny came down to spend the day paddling with me on the Bay. We launched out of Horseshoe Cove at the base of the north tower of the Golden Gate Bridge. We went in to Yellow Bluff but the current wasn't yet strong enough for any action so we paddled on to Angel Island to see if Pt. Stewart had any waves - no such luck. So back to Yellow Bluff which by then had some little waves to play on. But it wasn't that exciting so we headed out under the Gate for lunch on the beach at Kirby and then out to observe the swells at Pt. Bonita. They were huge! It seemed like you could still safely get out by going a long way around but we didn't want to take the time so we just enjoyed the show and then headed back in.
On Sunday I basically repeated the paddle with Alex. Except we went to Sausalito to see where his parents used to live back in the day. And the swells were wrapping into the Bay a littler larger this day so when we went to land at Kirby we both got wiped out on the landing. I actually thought I had landed fun but when I got out of my boat and grabbed the bow to drag it further on shore the receding current was strong enough to pull my feet out from under me in the soft sand. So I ended up on my but watching my boat get pulled into the dump zone and my paddle going further out. I grabbed my boat and secured it before swimming after my paddle - actually a fun exercise since I was in my drysuit. While body surfing back in I got recirculated in the dump zone myself for a brief moment which felt exactly like being stuck in a hole on the river. But luckily waves are only temporary and once it past I just stood up and walked ashore. No more excitement after that.
Here is some video showing the swell action - in HD no less!
Sunday, December 20, 2009
The paddle was nice but the real point of the day is spending time with a bunch of good folks and talking about teaching and stuff. Kayakers in general are a nice bunch of people but those who choose to help share the sport with others are an even nicer subset. And while I've been teaching in the Bay a fair bit recently I live two hours away and don't get to see the instructors down there that often. It was nice to connect again and it makes me want to get back down there more often. So many places to paddle and so little chance to make money to pay for it...
Here's a link to more pictures on CCK's Smugmug site and my own Picasa site.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
On the instruction side it was a blast. We had a great group of candidates who never let the weather get to them. We ended up with some good unplanned scenarios - always the best kind. We had lots of interesting presentations and great discussions about teaching techniques. And we got a little bit of play time in the messy surf at Half Moon Bay on Sunday. It all went like clockwork which is not easy when conditions and plans are changing and you have a large group (eight of us total) to move around.
Going through the certification process takes a significant amount of time, effort and money. It shows a true dedication to the sport and a serious commitment to teaching. It can also be quite bruising to the ego and requires a good dose of humility and openness to criticism. The end result is normally a trans-formative experience in the life of a kayak instructor and well worth it. It makes me happy to be a part of that process for others like those I have learned from were to me.
Unfortunately I don't have any pictures or video due to the rain and being constantly busy teaching...
Monday, December 7, 2009
The purported goal of the paddle was to do some bird watching. In particular to catch the sand hill cranes on their winter layover. But with the cold and approaching storm the animals had the sense to stay hunkered down and out of sight even if us people did not. But regardless it was a nice enjoyable paddle and everyone managed to stay warm enough while paddling - cold starts not withstanding.
More pictures here.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
The climbing we did get in was a combination of fun and frustration. Frustrating in that I haven't climbed since last Thanksgiving and I wasn't very sharp. But ultimately fun in that it is always good to get up on the rock and Joshua Tree is one of my favorite places on earth. If only it had a river running through it I would never leave.
Here's the full photo album:
|091126 Joshua Tree|
Saturday, November 21, 2009
It was a perfect day to shake the cobwebs off and start the winter boating season. The river was rather technical with a number of undercuts and some sieves and general mank. But nothing too hard. And the water was relatively warm and a sunny day made the canyon quite pleasant. Now I'm ready to start getting on the goods - hopefully the NF Feather Poe run where the dam maintenance should mean boatable flows through January.
I'm afraid my helmet cam wasn't working but here is a short clip of some foamy fun at the put in.
Monday, November 16, 2009
On Sunday I went out with a bunch of friends for some paddling and play time. We launched from Horseshoe and rode the fading flood out to Alcatraz and then over to the backside of Angel Island for lunch. By then the ebb was starting and we headed around to Pt. Stewart for some of the cleanest standing waves to be found inside the Bay. Everyone was getting nice rides and another group of paddlers from BASK showed up to join the fun. Even with fifteen boaters there were plenty of waves and space for everyone. Eventually we headed over to yellow bluff but by the time we got there it was fading and just confused (which to be honest is its normal condition - confused waves). So we just rode on through and back into Horseshoe. Another mild day of weather creating the perfect day of paddling in the Bay. More pictures here and video below.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Their trip has been piecemeal, generally getting in one day of paddling on the weekend. So it's taken a few months to get here and we had to wait for the right currents and good weather for the Bay. We had a beautiful day with light winds that allowed us to cover the 20 miles withouth too much difficulty. The final leg will hopefully happen next week when we go from Richmond out the Golden Gate - weather permitting.
More Pictures HERE.
Monday, November 2, 2009
This course was a sea kayaking course and we spent two days down in Half Moon Bay and one paddling in SF Bay. The first day involves technique work and video and the warm and sunny weather made rescue practice more palatable. Our Bay day started with dense fog and had high currents which ended up making a challenging day in spite of the mild weather. We had more fog and some light surf for our final day back in HMB which worked out well. All in all a great weekend of weather, paddling and most
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Since I now live in Folsom there was no way to really get the team together for practice. And most of our guys are getting a little old in the tooth. So our rusty group had a few challenges to overcome. We started off with a victory over the Ft. Collins club - they were even rustier than us. Then we tied the defending champs - a great result for us. Then another tie with a Canadian team before heading into the second round robin. Our next game was the key to get into the top tier for the tournament but we lost to a random assortment of folks by one goal. Then we lost to the Canadian national team by one goal (they ended up winning the tournament) and finally lost by one goal to the east coast guys. While we got dropped down to the bottom bracket for the tournament in the end we ended up playing the Ft. Collins team once again for third place out of the U.S. clubs and we won. So we got our medals but definitely a frustrating tournament for results. Maybe next year?
More pictures and video below:
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
We didn't see as much wildlife this time - a couple of large dolphins came by but not much else. Once we got to the island we spent a full day just playing around the caves near Scorpion Beach. This has got to be the easiest place to get into some really deep yet friendly sea caves. We met a couple other paddlers in little boats who had taken the ferry over just to explore the caves - their boats worked a little better than ours for the task but I always enjoy the the caves more if I've paddled over to them.
Here's some more picture and the video is below:
Saturday, October 17, 2009
GPS location Date/Time:10/17/2009 09:44:27 PDT
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Message:This is an automatic post from my SPOT tracker. All is well and here is my position.
Friday, October 9, 2009
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
And with whitewater kayaking it's especially challenging to find that line between having a fun class and teaching skills. While it is often fairly easy to lead folks down fun rapids (which they tend to really enjoy) the truth is that the necessary skills are really best learned practicing in flat water and simple eddies. I always try to focus my teaching on the long term results - I assume that my students are going to keep paddling and I want them to have good habits and good technique that will serve them well for the rest of their life. But you also have to throw in some fun to get them hooked and realize what the sport has to offer. It's a balancing act...
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Some more pictures and a little video here.
Monday, September 28, 2009
Pedro is really the guy who got me started in a kayak, taking a bunch of us on a kayak/camping trip to Catalina. But after he got married and got into mountaineering I didn't see him so often. And then I moved away to NorCal so it had been several years since we've paddled together. Aaron has been one of my best friends since grad school but he's never done more than casual kayaking - this would be his first crossing in open water.
But a week before the paddle Aaron hurt his shoulder and was off the trip - it sucks getting old. So it was just me and Pedro as it was so often in the past. We did some very casual planning and packing the night before and got a not too early start on Saturday morning. Everything is just easy when each person is experienced and you are used to paddling together. The crossing is about 15 miles and on the way over we saw lots of dolphins, some friendly sea lions and a couple of Minke whales.
Once at the island we played in a few caves, went through the famous arch and dragged our boats up to the dock to hang out with Aaron and his wife Dawn who had come over on the ferry. They took the boat back around 5pm while Pedro and I set up camp - sort of. Neither of us brought a tent and I forgot my tarp. Pedro remembered his tarp but had no stakes for it. Without a good wind shelter we passed on trying to cook and just split the Subway sandwich Aaron had brought us. Then we caught the gorgeous sunset before trying to rig the tarp for a little shelter as we slept. In the middle of the night the wind shifted and exploded our poor little structure so the rest of the night was exposed and quite wet in the dense fog. But we were headed home the next day so it didn't really matter.
The paddle back was subdued by the fog. We saw more dolphin pods but no container ships crossed our path - that's the only real danger on a foggy crossing. We made it back by 1:30pm and had a couple burgers and headed back to LA. Smooth sailing just like the good ol' days.
More pictures here.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
We headed down to the San Francisco Bay in the morning and launched from Horseshoe Cove at the base of the Golden Gate bridge. It was a foggy start - we could barely see the bridge towers - but the winds were mild so we decided to paddle under the bridge over to the peninsula. There is always something special to paddling under and getting a different perspective on such a well-known physical icon. We then headed to Alcatraz before crossing over to Angel Island for lunch. After lunch we cruised past Sausalito and Yellow Bluff (small current meant not a lot of action in the tide race) on our way back to Horseshoe.
The sun came out as we paddled and the wind was never too fierce. All in all a delightful paddle with good friends in a really cool place. Kayaking can take you to remote and beautiful places far from the touch of man, but sometimes it is those very signs of humanity that give an area its beauty and grandeur.
More pictures here.
Monday, September 14, 2009
The downriver race was dedicated to paddling legend Lars Holbek on the Chili Bar section and it was decided to do a mass start, at least with those who weren't busy doing the slalom competition beforehand. The race was divided into long and short boat categories with 11' being the cut off. There was quite a range of boats but my buddy Alex Wolfgram showed up with a Lazer of his own. So at least the two of us had an even playing field and I decided I would try to stick to Alex's tail as long as I could. The plan was working well and two thirds through the race I was right on his stern with only a couple longer boats ahead of us. Then I blew it: Alex was heading for a narrow channel full of rafts and I chose an alternate left route hoping the rafts would slow him down. When the channels joined I was a good 100 yards behind with just a mile of flatwater left before the final rapid (troublemaker) - too much to make up.
So Alex ended up winning the short boat category but I was not second. Nor third. Nor any place. When we got to the take out the question came up as to exactly how long the boat was and what class it was in. After lots of debate and approximation we finally got out the tape measure to settle things. Turns out my boat was 11'3/4" - long boat class. But we also measure Alex's boat since it was from a later version of the Lazer - and it was only 10'11.5". So all told I was third in the long boat category. Next year I will sand down the ends of the boat and give Alex a run for his money!
Thursday, September 10, 2009
So on Saturday we did an advanced stroke class in the morning and a rescue class in the afternoon. The weather was awesome - after several weeks of grey and wet weather it was nice to be out in the California sun.
On Sunday I helped the surf zone class get set and then went back up to Russian Gulch to lead a rock garden tour. The swells were a little big and then the fog started heading in so after a little exploration on the coast we headed back into the bay and worked on playing in the rocks and channels. It was a great time and we were off the water in time for the salmon potluck.
On Monday morning most people took off home after the pancake breakfast but a few of us decided to head out from Big River and round Mendocino and back. The surf was a little large for some of the group so it got whittled down to just Dave and I. The swells were even bigger so we didn't get much playing in, but were treated to a great show of the impressive power of the waves.
More pictures here.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
I'll be back to California and updating this blog in September, so don't forget about me!
I had actually planned to leave for BC a couple weeks ago but the oppurtunity came up to co-teach an ACA whitewater certification course. I've been an American Canoe Association instructor for several years, both whitewater and sea kayaking, and I have learned a lot through the process. For the past couple years I've been in the process of becoming an Instructor Trainer (the folks who get to certify the instructors) and this course was the last step on the whitewater side. And if the coastal certification class I'm scheduled to teach this fall actually happens I'll be an IT on the ocean as well. It's taken a while to make it happen but it will be good to get the chance to train more new teachers - one of my favorite things. The ACA does lots of great things to help the paddling world - check them out: ACA .
Monday, July 13, 2009
So this past weekend I wanted to get in some more distance training for my upcoming BC trip and I decided I would do Pt. Reyes the quick and dirty one day version with a bike shuttle. Launch in Tomales Bay, paddle out the mouth and around the lighthouse at Pt. Reyes, and then tuck into Drakes bay and land at the beach parking lot. Route Here
I drove down on Saturday to check out the launch at Heart's Desire and learned that it didn't open until 8am - way too late. But there was a roadside beach I could use that only added a couple miles to the trip. So after a little day paddle on Tomales Bay I drove out to Drakes beach and locked up my bicycle for the shuttle the next day and drove back to Petaluma to check out the city for the night (it's a cool place by the way). The marine forecast for Sunday called for winds increasing to 15 to 25 knots and a small craft advisory in the afternoon.
Sunday morning I awoke just after 5am and the wind was already a steady breeze in spite of the heavy fog. I was on the water paddling by 6:30am into a constant headwind. The big safety concern was the 18 miles of exposed coast I had to paddle after leaving Tomales and with the headwind slowing me I figured I would assess conditions once I reached the mouth but most likely turn back. When I got to the mouth the the fog wind were still there but I was feeling good and the open ocean didn't look too rough so I headed on. I cut straight to the lighthouse instead of following the coast which saved a few miles but left me in blind greyness for several hours. But the wind was now a tailwind and the waves quartering so I got a good push and kept a four knot pace for that section. Just as I approached the light house the fog lifted and the sun shone down on a beautiful day of ocean paddling. I thought I was home free.
But just as was forecast and as only natural when the sun breaks out the wind picked up. At first I wasn't worried because I was just running before it. But the gusts became strong enough so I was just steering as I rode down the waves created and hoping not to have the paddle torn out of my hand. But it was just a short distance until I reached the point where I'd be able to turn in and use Pt. Reyes as a wind block as I covered the final four miles to the beach. But as I rounded the point the wind was even stronger and dead into my face. I could barely inch forward and quickly landed on a nearby beach to rest and reasses. Nothing like paddling 35 miles only to get to the hard portion of the paddle! But after some more food and water and a short cat nap I got back in and worked my way up the coast slowly before crossing the wind to ferry over to the beach. The wind let up a little once I got out in the bay so it wasn't so bad.
After surfing a one foot wave into the beach I packed everything into my kayak, changed into dry clothes and had a little more food and rest before beginning my ride. The ride started with a killer climb up of the beach to the ridge - leaving me totally exposed to the wind gusts. This was the scariest part of the day: careening down a narrow winding road with traffic whizziing past as my exhausted muscles tried to keep me upright. But after what seemed like a long time to cover the 11 miles I made it back to my truck and was safe. Then I got to run shuttle, load up my boat (very hard in about 40 mph gusts at the parking lot) and make the long drive back to Folsom.
All's well that ends well. Not many pictures due to fog and rough water I'm afraid.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
The California coast along Mendocino really has to be one of the most amazing places I've ever paddled. Lots of caves, tunnels and arches; incredibly scenic cliffs and forests; plenty of big waves and rock gardens; and a ice cream shop in town with free Wifi! Check out more pictures and the video below to see the beauty:
Monday, June 29, 2009
On Tomales I got the opportunity to paddle with my buddy Frank while exploring the Pt. Reyes shore and wildlife. There were a number of elk walking along shore and lots of birds on the water and in the air, as well as people out clamming. Then I continued down the Bay solo for a good workout paddle and was happy to realize that it wasn't much of a strain. I guess the hours in a little boat do transfer over.
I have one project left to get my boat ready for BC: I am installing an automatic electric bilge pump. It's the type of thing I don't expect to ever need but might make all the difference if things really go south. It goes along with my SPOT, VHF, manual pump, paddlefloat, flares and more. You can't have too much safety equipment, right?
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Well, I was supposed to head out to Colorado to visit my dad and attend a whitewater festival in Salida but my truck had other ideas. So after several days of listening to mechanics reports like an anxious parent at the hospital I ended up staying home which enabled me to help out with CCK's annual Paddlefest on Lake Natoma. It's a day of clinics on Saturday (including Greenland rolling and rescues) and a day of demos on Sunday.
I wasn't teaching on Saturday but stopped by for a workout paddle and took some pictures. Greenland rolling was taught by Helen Wilson and is a thing of beauty to watch. The rescue clinic is always good to see - people in the cold water desperately trying to get back in their boats. There were also Stand-Up-Paddling and Fitnes clinics at the other end of the lake.
On Sunday, after helping unload and set up boats , I spend most of the day doing hourly kids clinics. Mostly it was just to keep the kids busy while their parents tried out some kayaks, but it was fun to see the littlest kids figure out how to get where they wanted to go (eventually). Then more kayak loading at the end of the day and a long weekend came to an end.