Friday, April 30, 2010

Return of the Osprey

Kayaking on the waterways of the Mendocino Coast always seems so quiet in the winter time without the presence of the osprey. We enjoy the variety and color of our migratory ducks but miss our summer resident raptors. We know that spring is here when they return to their nests in March and April and start their ritual mating behaviors.

We love kayaking and watching the osprey on their nests along the Noyo River. They dazzle us with their spectacular aerial dives from 30-100 into the water to snag a fish (sometimes 2).

Within a mile of our shop, there are 3 active nests (including one right above us on the ridge). Last year, we enjoyed watching the male osprey dive from the Eucalyptus tree by our deck. He is very accurate and seems to be a good provider for his family. One evening I watched him have 5 successful dives in less than 2 hours.

Last year, one of the osprey pairs built a new nest across from the Noyo Boat Basin. We were skeptical of its construction, but they successfully fledged 2 young from the nest.

While the osprey were enjoying their winter in South America, one of our winter storms blew down the nest.

When they returned this spring, they selected a new snag and diligently built a new nest. It was amazing how fast they constructed it.

I had been watching the construction without my camera and slipped out this week in my sea kayak to get some photos. I missed the diving mating ritual of this pair but as timing would have it - they decided to mate during my photo shoot of the new nest.

We are looking forward to another season of watching the osprey on the Noyo River from our kayaks.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Wooden Kayak

After, four months and fourteen days, the FB Wood Duck 12 is completed and launched. We started the project with naive hopes of a quick build but life happens. It rained and there were rivers to run, I stepped away to take a class, visitors came to the Mendocino Coast for us to take kayaking, and we actually have a non-kayaking life.

At the end of the summer, Jeff and I saw how recreational kayaks made kayaking enjoyable and accessible to individuals who didn't need the performance of a sea kayak and couldn't get comfortable on a sit on top kayak. Performance sea kayaks are efficient and easy after a bit of instruciton and time in the seat but aren't easy for the occasional paddler. Sit on top kayaks are easy but are a wet ride for our chilly 52-54 degree waters and aren't the most ergonomical for many body types.

Seeing the need to add recreational kayaks to our fleet that were comfortable and user friendly, Jeff and I began researching what was available. The recreational kayaks that we were finding to be comfortable and easy to use were the "sit in" type with large cockpits and designed to be very stable.

At the time, Jeff and I also were toying with the idea of doing some kayak building. Thus, the idea was born to build a recreational kayak that anyone could enjoy paddling.

We selected Chesapeake Light Craft's Wood Duck 12 for this purpose. Stability for a large range of paddlers and ease of construction were our two main factors for choosing the Wood Duck 12. The third being that it has an elegant shape.

After launching the FB Wood Duck, we have decided that it is definitely the elegant, stable craft that we were looking for. Of course we put it through the measures, including seeing if we could tip it over and roll it back up. It took quite a bit of effort to tip it over, and Jeff was able to roll it back up. It definitley is a stay upright and enjoy the day type of kayak.

For those interested in the building process of the Wood Duck, here is a link to our photos of the construction process.

Needless to say that after 4 months and fourteen days, we only built one so stay tuned to see what other additions will be in our fleet soon.

We are all smiles that this project is completed!!!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Paddling Downstream

Jeff and I have been hard at work getting ready for Liquid Fusion Kayaking's spring and summer kayaking events on the Mendocino Coast. We've had several spring cleaning projects going on including cleaning out our shed, putting up new shelves, touching up the paint, making minor boat and gear repairs, and attending to business matters.

Spring has definitely sprung!!! We have been enjoying gray whale migration and the return of the osprey that nest on the Noyo River. Songbirds have begun arriving and are starting to sing from the newly leaved trees along the river.

We have started playing about in our sea kayaks and begrudgingly admit that our local whitewater river kayaking season is almost over.

We were surprised and excited this week to get significant rains which prompted us to take a day off. We celebrated our spring rains with a warm, sunny paddle down Rancheria Creek.

Rancheria Creek is the primary tributary of the Navarro River. It is classified as a Class II+ wilderness run.

It was a mellow day with enough water to "run" the creek but the flow was mellow enough to just relax and meander downstream. We enjoyed gliding through the class II rapids, admiring the greenery and wildlife.

I was stoked again to see a handsome male wood duck as well as my favorite river running (swimming) ducks - common mergansers.

More rain is in the forecast so we may hold on to our Mendocino whitewater kayaking season a bit longer - paddling downstream. YEAH!!!