Archive for May, 2013

West Coast Water, Tanumstrand, Sweden

Last weekend Mark and I headed to Tanumstrand, Sweden to instruct at the West Coast Water Festival. It is one of three symposiums that Outside Magazine organizes. This was the first year of this symposium and it was a fantastic weekend! The sunny weather, enthusiastic paddlers and superb location all added to the fun.

A superb location for a kayaking event.

A superb location for a kayaking event.

Throughout the three-day event I ran two Yoga for Paddlers sessions, and Mark and I instructed several rolling classes together. Mark also made his way around part of the archipelago during his Coastal Navigation class. Sunday afternoon we joined in the fun in Nigel Foster and Kristin Nelson’s “Fun with Foster” class, then we headed out for a paddle around the islands.

Yoga for Paddlers

Yoga for Paddlers.

One of five rolling classes.

One of five rolling classes.

Mark helps a participant achieve her first roll.

Mark helps a participant work through the steps to get her first roll (she got it)!

James Stevenson discusses incident management before heading out on the water.

James Stevenson discusses incident management before heading out on the water.

Nigel talks about wind.

Nigel talks about wind and its effects on a kayak.

The event had demo boats to try out, as well as several vendor booths.

from Outdoor Research and from Teva enjoy the sunny day.

Guido from Outdoor Research and Mats from Teva enjoy the sunny day.

There was a full schedule, which included an on-water show.

Nigel demonstrates boat handling skills during the on-water show.

Nigel demonstrates boat handling skills during the on-water show.

After Nigel's act I rolled a Hobie kayak.

After Nigel’s act I rolled a Hobie kayak.

Then Nicolai Ilcus demonstrated some incredible balance.

Then Nicolai Ilcus demonstrated some incredible balance.

The on-water show ended with Nigel, Nicolai, me and Adam Hanson rolling a four person kayak.

The on-water show ended with Nigel, Nicolai, me and Adam Hanson rolling a four-person kayak.

There were evening presentations as well, which included an informative presentation by Adam Hanson of Greenland on the Greenland National Kayaking Championship.

Adam talks about the championships.

Adam talks about the championships.

Thanks to Glenn Mattsing and Ulrika Larsson for keeping us fed and watered and taking such good care of us!

Glenn, me, Kristin and Nigel.

Glenn, me, Kristin and Nigel.

Pictures by Helen and Mark.

When water moves sideways

At home, in Northern California, water moves up and down. Once past the surf zone, you can sit and “ride the elevator” as our friend Michael often says.

The River Dee.

The River Dee.

Mark and I have spent the past week paddling in Wales. From most launch points the water appears as flat as a lake, but don’t let it fool you, because this is where water moves sideways… and I’m starting to really like it!

A great way to spend an evening.

A great way to spend an evening.

Our week began with an evening canoe trip down The River Dee. Due to some recent rain, the river had a nice flow, and Ali Othen treated us to an evening of fun as we made our way down the scenic river.

Crossing Penmon Sound to Puffin Island.

Crossing Penmon Sound to Puffin Island.

The following day we drove to North Wales where we’d be conducting rolling classes over the weekend. Upon arrival we decided to squeeze in an afternoon paddle around Puffin Island. From the parking lot the water looked flat, and I was expecting a lazy paddle around the island. Once in my kayak however, I realized that crossing to the island had to be done with determination, and a little knowledge of moving water. We ferried across, and began the journey around the island, encountering several puffins along the way. At the far end of the island the seals made an appearance, and we were quickly surrounded by them. Their heads peaked out of the water, and it wasn’t long before they were swimming under us and touching our kayaks with their pointed noses.

We came across several puffins.

We came across several puffins.

At the back end of the island are some overfalls. On this day they weren’t very big, but we bounced around in them for awhile, enjoying the company of the seals, which would poke their heads out of the waves to watch us.

A curious seal checks us out.

A curious seal checks us out.

We made our way through the overfalls and to the other side of the island, and enjoyed a leisurely paddle back, with a group of seals following closely behind us. The current had picked up, and the sideways movement of the water from Puffin Island to the mainland was now visibly noticeable. We ferried across, riding the front wave for awhile before landing on the beach.

Seals watch us from every angle.

Seals watch us from every angle.

Sideways moving water.

Water moving sideways.

Over the weekend we ran rolling classes on Anglesey, followed by a paddle to the rocky shore just west of Rhoscolyn Beach. Here we played in slots, tunnels and caves. At home I am very familiar with rock gardens, but here they are different. In Wales slots are often used as escape routes from tide races and overfalls. The water in the caves was flat and smooth, and it was easy to explore and enjoy the magnificent, and often colorful rock formations.

The view from a sea cave.

The view from a sea cave.

Making our way through one of several slots.

Making our way through one of several slots.

 

Another slot.

Another slot.

Our final day of paddling took us from Soldier’s Point to North Stack, South Stack, Penrhyn Mawr and back. We worked with the tide, hitting the overfalls at North Stack and the tide race and overfalls at Penrhyn Mawr. The tides weren’t running fast this day, but it was good fun, and a fabulous day to be on the water. The curious thing about surfing in a tide race or overfalls is that the waves stay in place. This took some getting used to because I’d see the mound behind me and paddle forward waiting for it to catch up to me. In reality, I was actually paddling away from it. After a few tries I got used to backing into the wave then moving forward with enough speed to catch it.

The water was incredibly clear and often colorful.

The water was incredibly clear and often colorful.

Rhoscolyn Beacon.

Rhoscolyn Beacon.

A slot (often called a chicken shoot) to take a break from the fast moving water in the tide race and overfalls at Penrhyn Mawr.

A slot (often called a chicken shoot) which can be used to take a break from the fast moving water in the tide race and overfalls at Penrhyn Mawr.

On the way back to Soldier’s Point the wind had picked up a bit, and wind and overfalls at South Stack made for an exciting few minutes going around the headland. From there back to the beach it was smooth sailing. After only paddling these waters a few times, I can see why Wales is a top sea kayaking destination.

Pen

Heading out to Penrhyn Mawr.

South Stack.

South Stack.

A Kayak Immersion Weekend in Southern England, and a presentation in Northern England

Last weekend Mark and I headed to Southern England to run one of our Kayak Immersion Weekends at Swanage in Dorset. Although the weather was a bit gusty, we had a wonderful time instructing for the Chiswick Pier Canoe Club.

Yoga for Paddlers

Yoga for Paddlers.

Simplifying the Roll

Simplifying the Roll.

Both days started with Yoga for Paddlers, and throughout the weekend we took the group through Simplifying the Roll, towing exercises, Simplifying the Rescue, open water skills, exercises in group management, surf launches and landings and a few on-water scenarios.

Learning a Balance Brace.

Learning a Balance Brace.

Mark talks about tow lines.

Mark talks about tow lines.

On Monday we headed north to Liverpool to present for the Liverpool Canoe Club. The presentation included the Greenland National Kayaking Championships in 2008 (Qaqortoq, Greenland) and 2010 (Nuuk, Greenland) as well as an expedition that we guided in East Greenland in 2012.

Discussing where to attach the tow line.

Discussing where to attach the tow line.

Working on some handy knots.

Working on some handy knots.

It was wonderful to meet so many enthusiastic paddlers at both events, and we look forward to seeing you all on the water soon!

A nice paddle through Swanage.

A nice paddle through Swanage.

Talking about risk assessment and consequences.

Talking about risk assessment and consequences.

 

The Shotgun Roll

Question: When attempting the Shotgun Roll I go over and am able to keep the paddle on my chest and wait for the tip of the  paddle to surface. I then turn my hand palm up and sweep, thus rotating the boat on its side whereby I am able to breath. However that is it. Because the paddle is straight out from my hand and not perpendicular (like in a Balance Brace), I am not feeling any support, and I can’t slide up on my back deck. The paddle sweeps as far  as the center of my boat, and then if I can’t work my hand to the center so I can do a Balance Brace and slide up, the boat flops over on me and I need to do a layback recovery roll. What am I missing here?

Answer: It sounds like you have the concept right. There could be a couple of things that are preventing you from recovering. Make sure that you are flat on your back and sweeping the paddle so that it finishes perpendicular to your kayak. If recovering on the right side of your kayak, try pushing your left shoulder toward the ground during the sweep to square off your shoulders. Engage your knee at the start of the sweep, and right the kayak as early as possible. You should feel an arch in your lower back if the kayak is righted enough during the recovery. This is a very slow roll, and when done correctly the paddle will provide a lot of lift, more so than the Butterfly Roll.

Wining, dining and a little paddling too

Between instructing at the East Coast Paddlesports and Outdoor Festival and running programs in the UK, which is where Mark and I are now, I got to spend a couple of weekends in our home waters of Northern California. Our local kayaking club, Explore North Coast, had lots of activities going on these two weekends, and it was nice to be around to join in the fun.

Brent checks out the abundance of mussels.

Brent checks out an abundance of mussels.

Kelp pickles.

Kelp pickles.

On a foggy Saturday morning I hosted Yoga for Paddlers and Paddle Day, which was a great physical and mental warm up for all of the activities that were scheduled to take place over the next few days. The following day Club members Georgianna Wood and Bruce Hales hosted a wild harvest paddle out of Trinidad. Those with fishing licenses harvested mussels, and everyone gathered seaweed and watched as crab pots were pulled.

Making chocolate pudding from seaweed.

Making chocolate pudding from seaweed.

Mussels.

Mussels.

We then gathered on the beach to cook up all of the goodies that had been collected. Additional ingredients had been brought by Club members in an organized potluck. As a starter we had kelp pickles. For the main course we had a seaweed and mussel based stir-fry over rice and a mussel based pizza. For dessert we had chocolate pudding, which was thickened with Turkish Towel, a strangely textured seaweed. It was wonderful to catch up with club members on the water and the beach during this tasty feast.

Seaweed stir fry.

Seaweed stir-fry.

Dinner.

Dinner.

And more dinner.

More dinner.

The following weekend was Explore North Coast’s Fourth Annual Social. This four-day event features paddles in several locations in Humboldt and Del Norte Counties. The purpose of the non-commercial gathering is to bring California kayaking clubs together for a weekend of paddling and socializing.

A gorgeous evening at the Stone Lagoon spit.

A gorgeous evening at the Stone Lagoon spit.

The first day consisted of a paddle across Stone Lagoon to a sand spit overlooking the ocean. Once there we had a fantastic potluck while enjoying the unusually warm weather. The second day consisted of a paddle out of always popular Trinidad, followed by an evening barbecue. On the third day, some paddlers ventured north to Crescent City, others went out of Trinidad again, and a third group went for a relaxing paddle from Big Lagoon to Maple Creek. That evening the group met for dinner at the Seascape in Trinidad, which hosts a wonderful view of Trinidad Harbor. Binoculars hang over each table in case diners want to get a closer look at all of the fantastic marine mammals that live in the area. The final day was back to paddling at Trinidad, followed by surfing in Humboldt Bay. I missed most of the paddles because I ran private classes all weekend as part of the event, but I did make it out a couple of times and enjoyed catching up with paddlers during the evening gatherings.

A paddle in potluck at the beach... yes, Explore North Coast likes to eat.

A paddle-in potluck at the beach… yes, Explore North Coast likes to eat.

A whole beach to ourselves.

A whole beach to ourselves.

Some new rollers came out of the weekend as well.

Some new rollers came out of the weekend as well.

Thanks to Mike Dedman for organizing this fun event!

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