Monday, December 28, 2009

A Bay Area Christmas

My buddy Alex invited me down to Orinda (just behind Oakland) to spend Christmas with him and his parents. They turned out to be very generous folks and I had a great weekend with lots of good food and some vicious games of dominoes. I also managed to squeeze in some paddling.

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

A gaggle of paddlers

Saturday was our annual instructors paddle/meeting for California Canoe & Kayak. We get together somewhere in the Bay area for a little paddling, a little administration and lots of good company. This year we got in a short paddle out to Angel Island and then back to the Presidio Yacht club for refreshments. The fog was heavy when we arrived but by the time we had gotten through catching up and gearing up with all 24 folks the skies had cleared.

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

Instructor Certification

We had a weekend of wet and windy weather down in SF Bay for the ACA instructor certification course I was teaching this past weekend. My personal goal was to stay warm for three very long days of much sitting around in cold rain (you don't actually paddle a lot during these types of classes) and sleeping in a boat house. I can't emphasize enough what a difference a dry suit makes in these circumstances.

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

Cosumnes River Preserve

I woke up Sunday to a freezing cold morning. Literally. 32 degrees in Folsom. With snow expected later in the evening. But that didn't deter our hardy group of paddlers heading down to the Cosumnes River Preserve for the day. And once we arrived at the Preserve the sun was out and it was warming up - at list a little bit.

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.