Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Sea Kayak Rock Garden 101

This weekend, our friends the Neptune's Rangers made their annual journey to kayak on the Mendocino Coast.  With them came some other Bay Area Sea Kayakers who took advantage of our Sea Kayak Rock Garden 101 Class.

One of the students primary concerns coming into the class was that they did not want to bash into rocks.  Many of the recent videos on YouTube and tales of sea kayak rock gardening involve spectacular crashes and bashes.  We assured our students that everyone has their own style of rock gardening and they don't have to bash boats to have fun.

I still think our students were a little bit wary until after our first set of skills and drills in the rocks.  Then, the smiles and "ah-ha" moments started.

In our rock garden 101 class, we emphasize the skills that a paddler needs to control their sea kayak in the dynamic waters of rock gardens.  We teach and reinforce personal paddling skills that they can use for maximizing fun and minimizing risk.

We also emphasize safety and working together as a team - skills like spacing and looking out for others as well as etiquette for play.

Yes, we did fit some play into the day (after all that is the main draw of rock gardening).  Even better though was the next day when several of the students from the class joined us on our Second Sunday Coastal Paddle.

It was a foggy day with just enough visibility for us to handrail along part of the Fort Bragg Coastline.  The visibility and sights below the surface were as magical as the ones above.  "This is like Disneyland," commented one of our students as we floated above a bed of purple sea urchins, looking for abalone, and admiring the sea stars and anemones.

We challenged their skills as we guided them through some technical stretches of the Fort Bragg Coastline and coached them to run pour-overs and surf through slots.

Their grins were huge and their paddling skills increased exponentially.

We did tag a couple of rocks but left no trace as we enjoyed the wildlife and wonder of sea kayaking on the Mendocino Coast.

A pair of Western Gull chicks wondered about us.

Our next Sea Kayak Rock Garden 101 Class is August 11, 2012  For those that have the basics mastered, check our Liquid Fusion Kayaking's Sea Kayak Rock Garden 201 Class.

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