Monday, July 26, 2010

Dog Days of Summer

Many visitors to the Mendocino Coast have been discovering us at our off the beaten path location up the Noyo River. Much to their delight, they have found the sun hiding back the Noyo River with us. As the temperatures rise inland, the coastal fog tends to suck in on the coast but often we are just beyond that misty fog line enjoying warm, sunny days.

Our visitors have also been intrigued by our skin on frame kayak building endeavors. The skin on frame kayaks that we are building are inspired by traditional building methods but adapted for modern materials and recreational purposes. We are building wooden frames which involves steaming and bending wood and lashing and pegging the wood together to create a frame which will be covered by a skin. The skins for kayaks traditionally were made from the hides of walrus or seals. Instead, we are using ballistic nylon or canvas for the skins.

I just finished my skin on frame kayak and hope to put it into the water today. My skin on frame was adapted from Brian Shultz's Cape Falcon F-1. I am hoping that it will become my multipurpose sea kayak.

Jeff and I are currently designing a new skin on frame kayak. The boat that Jeff and I are designing is going to be a tandem recreational kayak that we will be able to use on Noyo River tours including our Tracks to Kayaks adventure.

Our Tracks to Kayaks adventure with the Skunk Train has been a lot of fun. In the morning, Jeff loads the kayaks on a flatbed car that is pulled by a speeder and follows the train.

Guests board the train at the train depot in Fort Bragg and enjoy the 22 mile journey through the redwoods to Northspur. On their journey to Northspur, they are immersed in logging and railroad history. At Northspur, they can get off the train and enjoy a picnic lunch. On the return journey, the train stops before it its final crossing of the Noyo River and journey through Tunnel #1. This is where the Noyo River becomes an estuary and we meet our guests to paddle down the river.

Riding an ebbing tide, visitors easily meander down the Noyo River. We are using our new recreational kayaks which are all shiny and new as well as comfortable and stable.

Paddlers get to cruise by Pacific Pond Turtles who are sunning themselves on logs in the river as well as harbor seals schooling fish, deer resting along the banks, and kingfishers and cormorants diving for fish. Many newly fledged birds are spending time along the river learning the ways of the world outside of their nests.

After a 2.5 mile jaunt, the tracks to kayaks participants arrive at our shop at Dolphin Isle Marina where they meet the Surf Motel shuttle bus which takes them back to the Skunk Train Depot. For those staying at the Surf Motel, they can enjoy the privilege of a shuttle from the motel to the train in the morning and back to the motel in the afternoon - not to mention they get to stay among the beautiful gardens of the Surf Motel.

We are stoked to be able to work with 2 other Fort Bragg businesses to bring a fun and unique adventure to Fort Bragg.
Where does the expression dog days of summer come from? How about working like a dog? As I write this, Bear is lying at my feet and Aften is lying in a patch of sun on the floor. If that is working, I want that job - well maybe not. Pinch me - kayaking, studying and watching wildlife, tinkering around with building kayaks, and getting to share all of this with others is a pretty sweet job (life).

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Mendocino Green

Fort Bragg's Noyo River Valley continues to be a lush green - complete with an algae growth that give the river a gorgeous greenish hue. Here is a slideshow of photos taken this week by a couple of kayakers on the Noyo River

A green heron has been meandering about the Noyo River below our deck. We haven't gotten a good photo of it yet but here is one from last spring (notice that the Green Heron isn't so green).

The kelp is rapidly growing with all of the warm, sunny days that we had last week. Some is green, some brown, some red, and some is even iridescent. I had a boy on one of our Noyo River Kayak Tours pick up a handful of green eel grass and find a couple of eels slithering about. This guy thought that the kelp tasted better than spinach.

Of course anyone would be green with envy over the custom sea kayak trip that Jo and Sam got to take with us this week. We explored tons of sea caves and tunnels and even rode a few waves on the stretch of the Mendocino Coast north of Russian Gulch.

My new skin on frame kayak is in progress and it has been fun to share the progress with visitors to our shop as well as those paddling by on the river. I am contemplating coloring it green.