Monday, April 21, 2014

Spring Run-Off 2014

Yep, we "run'd 'oft" again.  In 2010, we decided to start an annual spring run-off trip.  The goal was to have a spring break to enjoy some time camping and whitewater kayaking before our busy summer season begins.  (yes those of us in the recreation profession need vacations too).

This spring our options for California whitewater were limited by drought conditions.  Fortunately a couple of early April storms primed Northern California's Rivers giving us some options.  The day before we left, our new Jackson Kayak Karma RG's arrived.  We were jonezing for whitewater and some kayak camping so we loaded up the truck with our whitewater toys and camping gear and headed north into the Redwoods.

Our Spring Run-Off 2014 began with a 5 hour drive north to Northern California's Smith River.  It has been on our wish list for sometime, and we enjoyed 4 days of boating on its crystal clear waters.

We enjoyed runs on both the Main and South Fork.  (There wasn't enough water to run the North Fork so we will be back for sure.) We had fun paddling both of our Jackson Zen's and the Karma RG's.


Of course, with us it isn't just about the boating - we enjoyed some spectacular hikes and learning about the ecosystem of a different area.  Jeff was fascinated by the pitcher plants.

From the clear serpentine waters of the Smith, we journeyed through the redwoods toward home and the emerald green waters of the Eel River for a kayak camping trip.

With limited time and low water, we opted for a class 1 stretch of the Eel that would offer some great scenery and camping.

Kayak camping is really fun.  In a way it is a challenge of prioritizing what one can pack into a small boat.  Packing our RG's was a whole new experience.  With tons of storage, we got to take more than one book each and even a cooler of tasty beverages made it on this journey - including Eel River Brewing Company's Earth Thirst.

The best part is being fully immersed in nature - whether boating, hiking, or waking up in the morning in the forest - is being disconnected from the distractions of the outside world - no phone, no internet.  One has the time to enjoy the beauty and wonders of the natural world.


We are home now and trying to slowly assimilate back into preparations for our 2014 summer season.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Jackson Karma RG Video

Last week, Jeff and I were stoked to take Jackson Kayak's Karma RG out for a test spin and were honored to be able to help Jackson Kayak make their promotional video of the boat.  The timing was perfect.  We had a streak of warm, sunny weather and sizable swell, and the Eel River was flowing from a recent rain making the waters of Mendocino County the perfect place to film the RG's promo video.

Sean Morley and Marty Cronin of Jackson Kayak pulled up to our house and we unloaded and outfitted 3 brand new Karma RG's.  Our friend Bryant Burkhardt came out to paddle and help with the video project.

Whitewater expedition kayaker Ben Stookesberry was the videographer for the project.

The Mendocino Coast was a perfect testing ground for the RG as an whitewater ocean play boat.  We put the it through the paces in Mendocino's rock gardens riding pour-overs, surfing waves, traversing through technical areas, and paddling through sea caves.

On day two of our adventure, Chicken Point was firing!!!  A 20 second period west swell was stacking up 15 foot walls.  There was definitely some chickening out, some carnage, and some spectacular rides.
Sean Morley rockets down the face of Chicken Point
There aren't many places in this world where you can surf ocean waves and within 1.5 hour drive be running a whitewater river.  This is not always the case in Mendocino County but when we have had some rain it is possible so off to the Eel River we went to see how the RG's would perform on the river.

Enough ado about making the video - you gotta watch it!!!

This video embodies a lot of what we love about our home waters of Mendocino County - whitewater, surf, rock gardens, beauty and shows off a new boat that we are really excited about.  We hope you enjoyed watching it - we sure had fun making it.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Surfzone FUNdamentals

The surf zone is one of the most dynamic areas that kayakers will paddle in.  Many paddlers love to play in the surf zone but for many others the surf zone is intimidating.  Most paddlers will agree that they need more time in the surf zone (even those of us who love to play in the surf crave more time to further our skills there).
Jeff demonstrating in the Valley Gemini SP.
In 2014, we started offering 2 day Surfzone FUNdamental classes to give our students more time and experience in the surf zone with our instruction and coaching.  With 2 coaches and a maximum of six students the classes are very individualized to the needs of the students.  Last weekend's class was sea kayakers looking to develop the skills to safely launch and land in the surf.

Typically we will teach this course on the Mendocino Coast, but last weekend's the gang convinced us to travel south.  So we loaded up the truck with toys for the surf and journeyed down to Dillon Beach.
Sea kayak, whitewater kayak, hp surf kayak, sit on top, boogie boards - a truckload of FUN!!!
We of course had to start the weekend off with a little bit of playing in the ocean.

The main focus of this weekend's course was safety and control in the surf zone.  We drilled on the skills necessary for the surf zone like bracing.
Cate reviews low bracing technique.
And worked extensively on launching

and controlled landings.
Landing with precision control in the surf zone and avoiding broaching.
In both sit on top whitewater kayaks and sea kayaks.

It was fun to see our students' skills progress over the weekend and to see the "ah-ha" moments occurring.  Everyone left the class sandy, salty, and grinning from ear to ear.

Our next Surfzone FUNdamentals class is for whitewater kayakers interested in playing in the surf and kayak surfing.  Come play and learn in the surf with us!!!  We will add more Surfzone FUNdamentals classes as needed so call us if you are interested.