Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas Bird Count 2012

We were back on the Noyo River this year for the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count.  The Mendocino Coast Audubon counts on us to count the Noyo River's colony of Black-crowned Night- Herons for the Fort Bragg Count.
Black-crowned night heron

The weather forecast was dismal - rain and the Noyo River was flowing at a quick 1800cfs.  It turned out to be a beautiful day with lots of sun and a few rain and hail showers.  Jeff and I got a good work-out as we paddled up river into the current.  We ferried and used eddies as much as possible but still took some paddle power to attain up the river.  We made it about a mile up river from Dolphin Isle before turning around and going with the flow downstream.

Geoff from Ukiah joined us again as a birder and tally person.  It is great to have a dedicated tally person as we sometimes can't put our paddles down to identify birds with our binoculars and tally who we are seeing.

We cruised with the current back to Dolphin Isle and then down into the Noyo Harbor where we enjoyed quite a hail storm as well as the Noyo Harbor Christmas Tree.

We dropped Geoff off at the harbor to connect with others about the possibility of a pelagic trip, but before we returned to LFK headquarters at Dolphin Isle, we stopped by the boat basin to see if we could find any more species.  We didn't add any additional bird species to our list but stopped for a moment to admire the California Sea Lions basking on the docks.

On our way back to Dolphin Isle, we did add an additional species to our list - one our our favorites, the Snowy Egret.

Overall, it was a great day birding by kayak.  We didn't see or hear as many birds as usual due to the stormy weather but we accomplished our main goal of counting the Night-Herons.  We also got 2 other species that no one else saw - a flock of Green-winged Teals and a female Wood Duck.  We don't commonly see Wood Ducks on the lower part of the Noyo so this was a surprise.  Hopefully she is enjoying the estuary and decides to take up residency.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Noyo Harbor's Lighted Boat Parade

Once again we decked our hulls and joined the Lost Coast Chapter of the Traditional Small Craft Association in Noyo Harbor's Annual Lighted Boat Parade.

It rained most of the day but cleared off for a nice evening on the water.

There were 5 boats total including 3 rowing skiffs, Diver Dan's Boston Whaler, and Jeff and I in one of our tandem sea kayaks.

We hope that the folks dining at Silver's at the Wharf enjoyed our little parade.

Happy Holidays!!!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Outlet Creek

For years we have drove along Outlet Creek to go boating on the Eel and wondered what it was like to paddle it.  There are areas of it that can be seen from the highway and of course this view from the confluence of Outlet Creek and the Eel.

Last week the water was too high on most stretches of the Eel so Jerry, Jeff and I decided to give Outlet Creek a try.  We expected to encounter a couple of ledge drop rapids and lots of willow choked sections.

Early on in our paddle, we portaged twice through a large thicket of willows.

It really wasn't bad and was actually kind of fun.  Afterall, we were here for an adventure.  After the willow thicket, we managed to find channels through the willow bars.

The ledge drops ended up being a couple of boney Class II and III rapids that were of course decorated with willows.

We were surprised by how beautiful the stretch was and thoroughly enjoyed the adventure including siting a Merlin and several pairs of wood ducks.

And of course lots of railroad trestles from the old Eel River Railroad.

Would we run it again?  Perhaps if it was another warm, sunny day with lots of water on the creek and too much water elsewhere.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Rancheria Creek

Rain, Rain, Rain!!!  We've been getting more than what we've asked for, but isn't that the saying - "When it rains, it pours."  Even though the road was closed due to flooding, we found our way into the Anderson Valley this week to boat on Rancheria Creek.  (Speaking of pours, the Anderson Valley of Mendocino County is know for its tasty beers and wines).

Rancheria Creek is one of those runs that when it flows, you gotta go.  For more information on Rancheria Creek, check out or my article in the Winter 2010 Issue of California Kayaker Magazine.

On Monday, we had an inkling that a couple of friends were going to go and last minute looked at the Dreamflows and decided to do it.  We enjoyed the scenery and the boating and reuniting with some of our foul-weather friends (friends we only see during and after storms for boating purposes).
Paul enjoying the sunshine and hoping that Hans has as beautiful a day as ours on his trip.

Of course we were filled with awe of the remnants of the high flows the previous night and many of the wonderous waterfalls that cascade into Rancheria Creek.
The water level was at least 5' higher the day before our run.

Several of us ran "The Ledge."
Cate runs

Bill of CACreeks runs "The Ledge."
Bill runs

And of course Jeff surfed

 And Jerry surfed.

There was much conspiring for runs later in the week and excitement about the possibility of a wet, whitewater winter.  A special Liquid Fusion Kayaking Whitewater Event(s) is soon to be announced.

Here's a link to some of our photos and videos from our run on Rancheria Creek.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

To the Point

We've been busy -

Surf Kayaking 

Whitewater kayaking on the Eel River

and in the sea (ocean rock gardens)

And creating Gift Certificates to share Mendocino Coast kayaking fun with others.

Of course we are also enjoying some quality time in the forest gathering wild mushrooms for dinner.

And signing autographs for our Sacramento friends - we were featured in November 25th's Sacramento Bee's Sunday Travel Section - Enjoying Mendocino Coast by Getting Outdoors.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Let it RAIN!!!

Finally we are starting to get our regular fall rains on the Mendocino Coast.  We love the rain.  It is beautiful and renews our forests and watersheds.

For those that are planning to travel to the Mendocino Coast this fall or winter, don't let a rainy weather forecast deter you.  Pack your rain jacket and boots and enjoy one of the weather wonders that makes our area so beautiful.  Also know that even though a forecast might call for several days in a row of rain or showers - it is very typical for the sun to emerge during this time producing rainbows, dramatic skies, and wild mushrooms.

Kayaking in the rain is quite magical.  We provide our guests with waterproof splashwear and use decked sea kayaks that make kayaking in the rain comfortable and really fun.  The wildlife doesn't seem to mind the rain.
Great Blue Heron on fishing in the rain.

We of course get really excited about rain because it makes the Mendocino County Rivers flow which means WHITEWATER!!!  For those that want to learn to whitewater kayak, improve their skills, or run the Mendocino County Rivers with us, we have a full line-up of whitewater classes planned.  LFK's Whitewater I class will get you started with the basics.  LFK's Whitewater II puts your basic kayaking skills to work to catch eddies, ferry across channels, roll in current, and help friends in need.

After you have the basic skills of Whitewater I and II under your skirt, take advantage of the 3 day weekend in January and perfect your river running skills in our Precision River Running Class.

Private lessons or custom group lessons are available as well.  Call or email us to schedule and then

Let's do our rain dance and go to the river!!!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Lumpy Waters 2012

"We want LUMPY!!!  We want LUMPY!!!  We want LUMPY!!!," chanted an enthusiastic crowd of sea kayak students and instructors at the 4th Annual Lumpy Waters Kayak Symposium in Pacific City, Oregon.  Hosted by Alder Creek Kayak and Canoe, the Lumpy Waters Symposium is a gathering for paddlers to learn skills and gain experience in bumpy coastal waters like surf zones and rock gardens.

Despite predictions, the weather was not terrible.  We had some rain as well as some wind, hail, rainbows, and sunshine.  The weather was more exciting than nasty.  It really was quite beautiful especially from the perspective of an enthusiastic group of paddlers who like to get wet and play in lumpy waters.

The waters were definitely lumpy and gave the students and instructors lots to work with.  The instructor to student ratio was quite high in all of our classes giving all of our students lots of individual attention on the water.

Jeff and I spent most of our weekend teaching in the surf zone.  We were so jazzed to see the successes of our students in such a short period of time.  

We especially enjoyed the camaraderie of being around many like-minded folk.  This year Paul Kuthe set the bar for symposium entertainment with his "Pre-Pub Quiz Game."  In teams of 10, we racked our brains to answer trivia questions that ranged from kayak theory and history to accomplishments of celebrity coaches.  Paul spiced things up with the random questions as well as a Name that Can Round (identifying a coach from a photo of their backside).  Everyone was roaring with laughter at the final round that pitted Sean Morley and Rob Yates against each other in a blindfolded and hands behind the back gear identification contest. 

Be sure to mark your calendars for Lumpy Waters Symposium October 18-20, 2013. For more on this year's Lumpy Waters, check out sea kayaker magazine's blog and check out Fred Marsater's video on Vimeo

Lumpy Waters 2012 from Fredrik Marmsater Photography on Vimeo.

Another great event to check out is the Golden Gate Sea Kayak Symposium January 25-27, 2013.  Registration is now open and new classes have been added including our 2 of our favorites kayak surfing and rock gardening in whitewater kayaks.

Monday, October 8, 2012


We hinted that we are doing some planning for 2013.  Our late fall and winter calendars are reflecting the goals and directions of LFK.  Lots of our sea kayak and whitewater classes are on the calendar (surf classes are coming).  Be sure to check out our Precision Whitewater Weekend in January and our Full Immersion Intensive Sea Kayak Weekend in February.

Our big announcement is that we are discontinuing our walk-up rental program.  We will still have boats available for students to rent to use in our classes and tours.

Jeff started LFK in 2005 as an instructional kayak company that offered quality instruction and guiding in sea, whitewater river, and surf kayaking.  In 2008, LFK relocated to the Mendocino Coast and Cate became a partner.  The focus remained on quality instruction and guided adventures and expanded to include beginners and families.
Which Bird?
We were constantly getting calls for rentals.  People wanted to rent a kayak and go out on their own.  We decided to give rentals on the Noyo River a try.  (Rentals for the ocean would be for our classes and tours only because kayaking in the Pacific Ocean on the Mendocino Coast takes considerable knowledge and experience.  Paddlers unfamiliar with the waters here get into trouble easily and quickly.  Here's a tale of a sunken kayak).

People loved our rentals.  Our location on the Noyo River is great and they got great customer services.  However, our rental program detracted from our tours and classes.  It meant that one of us was always manning the shop for people to walk up and rent kayaks.  Our tours program was effected because, people were choosing to rent kayaks instead of going on a guided tour based on price.

In 2012, we went to reservations only for rentals and often didn't rent kayaks on weekends or holidays when we were both teaching and guiding trips in the ocean.  This was better but one of the main problems with rentals was that everyone who rented a kayak wanted either a kayak lesson or wildlife/natural history tour on shore before their rental.  We got rave reviews from our customers but it was entirely too energy consuming for an inexpensive rental.  Rentals were also physically challenging on our bodies and our boats.  Rentals were an increased stress on wildlife that we seek to protect and increased liability (people were harassing wildlife, didn't have paddling and swimming skills to be out on their own, were not wearing their life jackets, and were paddling into the main harbor area).
We didn't put a float bag in the bow yet.
We felt like "River Nazi's" nagging people about wearing their life jackets and to respectfully view wildlife.  For us, it's back to our instructional and educational tours and classes to ensure that all of our students have a fun, educational, safe and environmentally responsible kayak adventure.  YEAH - more time on the water!!!

Friday, September 28, 2012


We are updating our fall 2012 calendar and planning for 2013.  Got any ideas for us?

As we go through the planning process, the first thing that we look at is what was fun - for us and our students.

Our Second Sunday Mendocino Coastal Paddles continue to be a highlight of our month.  It is fun for our students who took our Rock Garden 101 Class on Saturday to come out and apply their skills on Sunday in a coastal tour.  It is also great to see our regular students improving each month including becoming leaders on the water.

Of course, we will be keeping our rock gardening classes.  We see lots of students gain confidence and skills in our Sea Kayak Rock Garden 101 and Whitewater of the Sea classes.

We hope that we will have more students ready for our Sea Kayak Rock Garden 201 in 2013.  In this class, we move beyond the basics of 101 to include more advanced water reading, decision making, rescue scenarios and play.

Kayak Surfing - put a smile on everyone's face this year.  Expect more surf classes and even some surf tours in 2013.

Speaking of smiles - whitewater.  We are sticking close to home this winter and planning to teach on our local whitewater runs - The Eel River and Rancheria Creek.  We already have some of our classes on the calendar - those that have some whitewater under their skirts but want to sharpen their skills should definitely check out our Precision Whitewater Paddling Weekend in January.

For sea kayakers looking to sharpen their skills, our Full Immersion Sea Kayak Weekend over President's Day Weekend in February is a must.  We have a vacation rental for the weekend and will eat, sleep, breath the skills and theory of sea kayaking including stroke instruction and video analysis, navigation and planning, and group paddling skills.

So this is what we have so far - classes in Sea, River, and Surf.

If you have a class/tour/event that we should consider, please contact us.