Friday, March 29, 2013

Back Home Kayaking on the Mendocino Coast

For us, there is no place like home.  Jeff likes to wander a bit more than I do, but we both agree that the Mendocino Coast is a very special place and we are always happy to return home.

We are just back from a trip to Santa Cruz for the 27th Annual Santa Cruz Paddlefest - formerly known as the Santa Cruz Kayak Surf Festival.  Santa Cruz is known for its great surf but also its crowds.  As soon as we got there, we went to check the surf and saw waves with hundreds of people in the water.  Ugggg - despite the sunshine and nice surf, I was ready to go home to our uncrowded surf breaks and rock gardens.

I hung in there though, and we both enjoyed and competed in the event (although we have a hard time thinking of surfing as competition).  Jeff was in the HP Men's Open with some of the top kayak surfers in the world surfing Steamer's Lane.  He got some great waves and enjoyed surfing a world class break with only 3 other surfers. 
Kayak Surfing
Jeff Laxier surfing in Santa Cruz Kayak Surf Festival 2013 photo by Steve Mickel
 I was in the Cowell's Classic (aka Intermediate Kayak Open) which was at the friendly Cowell's break around the point from Steamer's Lane.  I caught some nice waves and scored well (well enough to win first place).  Most exciting for us though was getting to see some of our students surfing in the events.  We are hoping to rally more of our students to participate next year.  The Cowell's Classic was a perfect event for novice and intermediate paddlers.  The waves were super friendly and fun and there were safety paddlers out there to help out if necessary.
Kayak Surfing
Cate Hawthorne surfing in the 2013 Cowell's Classic photo by Steve Mickel.
Back on the home front, we are getting lots of phone calls and emails from folks excited about coming to the Mendocino Coast to kayak with us.  We are solidifying our spring and summer classes.  Our Memorial Day Waves and Caves Weekend is almost sold out and our May and June rock gardening, kayak surfing, and sea kayaking classes are booking.
sea kayak rock garden Mendocino
Patty runs her first rock garden pour-over with us.
 We are repainting our signs and remodeling our kayak rack.  Next week we are expecting a shipment of shiny new recreational and whitewater kayaks.  Wahoo!!!  Stay tuned for photos of our new boats and racks.

Busy, busy, busy, but we are still taking time to watch the migrating gray whales, listen to the birds sing, smell the flowers, and surf some waves.  There's no place like home.
Noyo Buoy Fort Bragg CA
Noyo Anchorage Buoy

Monday, March 11, 2013

Whale Watching by Kayak

The third week of March is the annual Fort Bragg Whale Festival.  If you are looking for a little fun this weekend, consider coming to Fort Bragg.  There is Chowder Tasting, Beer Tasting, Whale Watching, and a Whale Run 5K.  The weather forecast is for calm ocean conditions so we are able to offer our whale watching by kayak tour
Whale watching kayak tour on the Mendocino Coast.
Don't worry if you are coming for our kayak surfing class and safari - we know where there will be some nice waves.
Kayak Surfing on the Mendocino Coast
 If you are too busy during the day with all the fun to get out and see some whales, definitely check out our friend Ron LeValley's whale slideshow at the Mendocino Coast Photography Guild and Gallery Saturday evening at 7pm.

We hope to see you in Fort Bragg this weekend!!!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Kayak Surf Classes

There seems to be an increase in interest in playing in the surf zone in kayaks - possibly due to the amazing photos and videos that are being shared on the web via facebook.  Or perhaps we are seeing a generation of kayakers that are becoming more adventuresome in playing in the sea.
Kayak Surfing Mendocino
Cate catching a wave!
 Increased interest in kayaking in the surf makes us happy but also nervous.  Happy because we love to play in the surf zone and teach others.  Nervous because untrained paddlers in the surf zone can be a danger to themselves and others.
Surf Kayaking
Kayakers are responsible for knowing and following the rules of the road in the surf zone. Photo by Bryant Burkhardt
We teach 2 types of surf classes for kayakers.  One is Sea Kayaks in the Surf.  The focus of this class is controlled launching and landing skills which includes reading the water, positive and protective posture, timing and application of strokes, bracing and rolling, swimming in the surf with and without equipment, and surf zone etiquette and safety.  Whew - that's a lot to learn and we encourage our students to take our Sea Kayaks in the Surf several times.  With our coaching, their skills and confidence increase each time and we progress from small friendly surf zones to more challenging ones.
sea kayak instruction
Jeff coaches a paddler in for a controlled landing.
We have been teaching Sea Kayaks in the Surf during our full immersion sea kayak weekends, as private lessons, and by appointment for groups of paddlers.  Six is the maximum number of students in our Sea Kayaks in the Surf Class so each paddler gets lots of individual attention.

sea kayak instruction Mendocino
Timing is everything.
Our other surf zone classes are Surf Kayak Classes - surfing waves in a kayak. For this class, we use highly maneuverable keel-less kayaks that include wave skis, hp surf kayaks, and whitewater kayaks.  This class is a lot of fun!!!  Etiquette and the rules of the surf zone are emphasized as students learn strategies for paddling out, selecting and catching waves, and maneuvering on the wave.

Mendocino Kayaking Surfing
Friendly waves and maneuverable craft are FUN!!!
Our weekend surf classes are often on a Saturday with a Surf Kayak Safari the next day.  This way students get to travel to one or more local breaks with us, practice their water reading skills to evaluate the break, and then surf with us.  We offer private surf kayak lessons and clinics for groups of paddlers by appointment.  Four is the maximum number of students in our surf kayak classes.

Surf kayak class Mendocino
Sunday Morning Surf Zone Service with Jeff Laxier
Our next Surf Kayak Weekend is March 16-17. This is a perfect tune-up for anyone interested in participating in the Santa Cruz Kayak Surf Festival as well as anyone interested in learning and surfing with us.
Mendocino Surf
Jim turns to stay in the sweet spot of the wave.
We like the multi-day approach to instruction because we see huge gains in our students' skills over several consecutive days of instruction.  It also takes planning to get to the Mendocino Coast so we like folks to maximize their amount of instruction while they are here (remember you can get here from there and Mendocino County is an amazing place).

Mendocino Kayaking Surfing
Kayak Surfing on the Mendocino Coast.
Check out our calendar for a schedule of our sea kayak and surf kayak classes and give us a ring if you are interested in joining us for a class or want to schedule a private lesson or clinic for friends. 
Let's go Surfing!!!

Santa Cruz Kayak Surf Festival
Jeff competes at Steamer's Lane in Santa Cruz, California