Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Whitewater of the SEA!!!

Whitewater of the Sea is an ocean kayaking adventure that Jeff and Cate created to introduce the fun of kayaking and playing in ocean rock gardens. Essentially it is a 3 hour kayak lesson/tour.  The first hour is skills instruction and the next 2 hours are guided play.
Playing in  the whitewater of the sea!!!
Typically 4 students is the maximum number that we take for a quality experience.  With small numbers, we can customize the trip to the interests and skills levels of the participants.  We use sit on top whitewater kayaks for novices because their maneuverability and ease of use.  Experienced kayakers who have a reliable roll have the option of using one of our sit on tops or a decked whitewater kayak.
Cate getting a ride in the Jackson Zen
Participants do not need previous kayak training to go on this adventure but must be good swimmers, willing to get wet, and be moderately fit because this is an in and on water adventure.
Swimming is part of the adventure :)
We think that this is one of the best ways to learn to kayak in ocean rock gardens.  The maneuverability of the whitewater kayak allow us to easily negotiate narrow rocky passages including sea caves and helps us get students playing in the rock garden features way faster than in other craft.  It is not uncommon for us to have first timer's riding pour-overs on their first ocean kayaking trip.
Gail riding a pour-over on her first ocean kayaking adventure!
We typically run this adventure at a Class II Level.  Based on a whitewater river classification of I-VI, Class II is fun water with challenges but low level of threat.  Students get to learn without fear and lots of fun.  Here's a video of some of Whitewater of the SEA.

Jeff and Cate are both certified whitewater and sea kayak instructors.  We teach sea, whitewater river, and surf kayaking in our home waters of Mendocino County and are guest instructors at symposiums including Golden Gate Sea Kayak Symposium and Lumpy Waters.  We love teaching rock gardening because it is Liquid Fusion Kayaking - fusing the elements of sea, whitewater, and surf kayaking into FUN!!!

Of course, we do know how to take it up a notch or two as well.  This spring, we got to team up with Sean Morley and Jackson Kayaks to film the promo video for the Jackson Kayak Karma RG.  Check it out here.

We are working on a new video project but here's a little bit more rock gardening to keep you entertained - Here's LFK and Friends Jive'n

Friday, August 15, 2014

Glass Beach

Exciting news!  The trail into Fort Bragg's famous Glass Beach is getting a make-over.

Even more exciting is that construction has begun on the Fort Bragg Coastal Trail - for the first time in decades, pedestrians and bicyclists will be able to enjoy the beauty of the Fort Bragg Coast.  Here is a link to the City of Fort Bragg's Master Coastal Trail plan.

A small hitch is that land access to Glass Beach is going to be closed from August 18 through November 30, 2014.

Good news is that now is a good time to discover other beaches and areas of Fort Bragg.  Be sure to check out the Mendocino Coast Water Safety Coalition for tips on safely visiting our beaches. “Be Swept Away by the Beauty Not By the Waves”

For tidepools, one should definitely consider the tidepools of Mackerricher State Park.  For a gorgeous place to watch the sunset, Pomo Bluffs Park can't be beat.  And one never knows what else they might encounter there . . .
An immature red shouldered hawk watches over Chicken Point.
Pudding Creek Beach is a great place for playing in the sand.  The headlands around Pudding Creek are amazing too.  When I first moved to Fort Bragg, I remember walking on the Pudding Creek Headlands and seeing/hearing someone playing bagpipes.  I also have enjoyed sitings of Pacific Whitesided Dolphins and Gray Whales at Pudding Creek, and of course walking across the iconic Pudding Creek Trestle.

For those who have the compulsion to collect glass from glass beach, you may find sea glass on our other beaches; however, how about a new spin on things - collecting plastic from the beach.  Sea glass is not harmful to marine life but plastic is.  Perhaps you can turn your trash to treasure like our friends of the Washed Ashore Project or just feel good knowing that you did your part to keep our oceans healthy.
Jeff meets Henry who was created from marine debris by the Washed Ashore Project.
Of course, my favorite way to experience the Fort Bragg Coastline is via kayak.  Liquid Fusion Kayaking is going to be again hosting their annual Labor Day Weekend Sea Kayak into Glass Beach Trip on Saturday August 30.  It is a magical paddle through rock gardens and sea stacks, into sea caves, and onto beaches only accessible by kayak.
Sea kayaks on glass beach where all that glitters is not gold but sea glass.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Long Haul

Twelve kayaks sit on the launch ramp at Dolphin Isle Marina on Fort Bragg's Noyo River.  They are a colorful collection including sea kayaks, recreational kayaks, tandems, and singles.  If it wouldn't be for the 2 handmade wooden kayaks, one might say they looked like a handful of skittles.

Instead of lining them up side by side for a group launch, this eclectic collection is lined up bow to stern for the long haul.  They need to make it 2.5 miles up the river to meet the Skunk Train.  Today's trip is a double as Jeff will be meeting and guiding a Tracks to Kayaks trip and Cate will be teaching and leading a group of Boy Scouts who caught the train from Camp Noyo for a kayak lesson.

But for now, the challenge is how to get 12 kayaks - over 175 feet of kayaks up the Noyo River.  In previous years, we would load the boats up and trailered them to the train depot.  At the train depot, we would load them on the speeder car which would drop them off at our tracks to kayaks landing.  

Last year, the speeder car was out of commission so we had to improvise.  We decided to start towing the kayaks up the river to meet the train.

It is a soulful journey up the river.  Towing up the river is slow and methodical giving one time to relish the beauty of the Noyo River and time to hone one's forward stroke and towing technique.

Efficiency of forward stroke is not the only name of the game.  We are the engine but unlike the train, there are no tracks for our kayaks to follow.  One has to learn how to make a chain of kayaks mind through narrow corridors of willows and obstacle strewn stretches of the river.  One has to plan for negotiating the line up around a bend in the river and has to plan for gusts of wind which will make the best laid plans go awry.

But then there comes the concept of flexibility and problem solving.  What do you do when the third boat in your line up is hung up?  Do you jettison them all and risk them getting blown astray?  Or do you tow them all back with you as you detangle and get the unruly one back in in.  It reminds me of my days teaching special education.

This week, as Jeff and I paddled up the river with our fleet of kayaks behind us.  I did the math.  Jeff was towing 6 kayaks with a combined length of 80 feet and I was towing 4 kayaks with a combined length of 63 feet.

We will admit that it is a bit of a slog but one that gives us time to enjoy the peacefulness and beauty of the Noyo and to share its magic with others.