Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Headwaters Albion Weekend

It's a kayaking party on the Mendocino Coast - WAHOO!!!  The Headwaters Adventure Company of Redding, The Headwateers Kayak Shop of Lodi, Jackson Kayak, and Sterling Sea Kayaks have teamed up to put together a paddling event on the Mendocino Coast.  Clinics, demos, tours, and hanging out with other paddlers is in store.  Liquid Fusion Kayaking is excited to be on board.  For those planning to come, we thought we would pass along a few tidbits about out backyard -

The paddling on the Mendocino Coast is world class!!!  

From paddling quiet protected estuaries for wildlife watching and birding to wet and wild ocean rock gardening adventures, the Mendocino Coast has something for all paddlers.  The Albion area has both readily accessible.
Jeff paddles through an arch in the Albion Area.
Paddling the Albion River - if you are into unique paddles, this is one not to miss.  Paddlers will be intrigued by the remnants of logging days and quirky Mendo style oddities as well as enjoy the wildlife of a coastal estuary.  Definitely consult your tide log before paddling and be prepared for coastal breezes.
Kayaking the Albion River Estuary
Lil'green glowing things - No, aliens have not taken over our waters. At night, the Albion River is sparkling with bioluminescence.  Pack your headlamp and head up the river away from light sources and you may start seeing things :)

The ocean waters of the Albion Area have lots in store for the coastal paddler.  The area is strewn with sea stacks and rock gardens with a character that differs from the more popular Mendocino Coast paddling areas of Van Damme and Russian Gulch.  The Albion Cove has rock garden features that range from mellow and fun to sporty depending upon the ocean conditions.  On certain swells, there can be fun surf conditions.
Jeff doing a little rock hopping in Albion.
In some areas the rocks are mussel bound and others the rocks are padded with kelp.  Please be conscientious of marine life when playing on the ocean's rocky features.  Plastic kills marine life - please continue your efforts to pick up trash in our marine environment but also try not to leave plastic behind - including plastic from your boat!!! Moves that involve sliding or landing on rocks are fun and may look cool to some but often leave a trail of plastic behind. Please be mindful.
Cate runs a kelp covered pour-over in Albion Bay.
Ocean water temperatures in the fall are typically in the mid 50' range so appropriate thermal protection (wetsuits/drysuits) is necessary.  For an idea of the water temperature and coastal conditions, check out the Point Arena Buoy Reading and NOAA's  Cape Mendocino To Point Arena Marine Forecast.  The nautical chart for this area is #18626.
Even on a Calm Day, Albion Head can be sporty!
For those interested in exploring and playing in the rock gardens, kayaking skills you should have include effectively maneuvering your kayak - forward, backward, and sideways, self and buddy rescue skills, good swimming skills.  Helmets, life jackets, booties, and immersion wear with thermal protection (wetsuit/drysuit) are a must!!!  Taking a rock garden class is highly recommended as there are tricks, tips, and safety skills that one does not often learn in other coastal kayaking classes.  During the Albion Weekend, paddling clinics are being offered by the Headwaters.  Cate of Liquid Fusion Kayaking will also be teaching LFK's Whitewater of the Sea Class . . . this is a great introduction to rock gardening using highly maneuverable and playful whitewater kayaks (provided for the class).
Liquid Fusion Kayaking's Whitewater of the SEA!!!
Friday - Sunday, Jeff Laxier of Liquid Fusion Kayaking will be coaching a 3 Star Sea Kayak Training. If you want to learn skills appropriate for paddling on the ocean and become a better asset to your paddling team,  a 3* Training should be on your paddling agenda.  Jeff will be also be coaching this course at Alder Creek's BCU Week in October.  Check out Paddlesports North America for more details on Star Trainings.

Fishing - Salmon is still in season but the season for fishing for rockfish by boat (kayak) ends September 1.  Mussels are still quarantined.  For the divers, abalone is still in season as is spearfishing.

Driving to the Mendocino Coast - the roads are winding and slow.  Drivers are required to pull over, when it is safe. Please use pull-outs if others are traveling faster than you.  Here's a link with useful driving information.

Get fresh goods at Mendocino County Farmer's Markets.  The Mendocino's farmer's market is Friday from noon to 2pm.  The Albion Farmer's Market is Sunday from 2-4pm.  The Fort Bragg Farmer's Market is Wednesday afternoons from 3 to 6pm.

Harvest Market in Fort Bragg and Harvest at Mendosa's in Mendocino are locally owned and operated grocery stores with local produce and tasty beverage selections.

COFFEE!!! Support a local, fair-trade coffee company.  Thanksgiving Coffee is roasted in Noyo Harbor and served at most coffee shops on the Mendocino Coast and sold in the local grocery stores.  For drive-though convenience, there is the A Frame just south of the Noyo Bridge in Fort Bragg.

For those hankering for a fresh beer and pub food, Patterson's in Mendocino is a good stop (be sure to bring cash as many Mendocino businesses do not accept credit cards).
Patterson's Pub in Mendocino
If you arrive and realize that you have forgotten something, The Outdoor Store in Fort Bragg carries quality outdoor equipment and gear and often has really good sales.  Subsurface Progression on Highway 1 will have wetsuit rentals, pfd's, and dive gear.  If you are looking for a deal on used kayaks or gear, check out Liquid Fusion Kayaking's online yard sale of new and used kayaks and equipment.
Kayaks, paddles, sprayskirts, helmets . . . lots of great gear on LFK's Online Yard Sale.
Other Mendo Stuff -There is so much to do and see on the Mendocino Coast that you would have to live here to experience half of it.  Here are a few other things that you might want to consider on your visit (this trip or the next).  For more information, check out Fort and the Mendocino Coast Chamber of Commerce.

If you are interested in art inspired by the sea, we recommend checking out Glass Fire. Here you can watch fellow ocean lovers Buster and Trish blow glass into jelly fish and other sea creatures. They are on Highway One just north of the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens (another of our favorite spots).
Hand blown glass jellyfish at Glass Fire.
For those that like mountain biking, Jackson State Forest offers miles and miles of epic singletrack mountain biking.  Pick up a map at the Fort Bragg Cyclery or contact our friends at Mendocino Bike Sprite for a guided ride (you never know who you might see out riding in the forest).

Rare Mendocino Coast sighting - Jeff mountain biking.
Surf n Turf = a great day on the Mendocino Coast
We look forward to seeing everyone so please drive and paddle safely.  Please call or email us if you have any questions.

Jeff and Cate

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Whitewater of the SEA!!!

Whitewater of the Sea is an ocean kayaking adventure that Jeff and Cate created to introduce the fun of kayaking and playing in ocean rock gardens. Essentially it is a 3 hour kayak lesson/tour.  The first hour is skills instruction and the next 2 hours are guided play.
Playing in  the whitewater of the sea!!!
Typically 4 students is the maximum number that we take for a quality experience.  With small numbers, we can customize the trip to the interests and skills levels of the participants.  We use sit on top whitewater kayaks for novices because their maneuverability and ease of use.  Experienced kayakers who have a reliable roll have the option of using one of our sit on tops or a decked whitewater kayak.
Cate getting a ride in the Jackson Zen
Participants do not need previous kayak training to go on this adventure but must be good swimmers, willing to get wet, and be moderately fit because this is an in and on water adventure.
Swimming is part of the adventure :)
We think that this is one of the best ways to learn to kayak in ocean rock gardens.  The maneuverability of the whitewater kayak allow us to easily negotiate narrow rocky passages including sea caves and helps us get students playing in the rock garden features way faster than in other craft.  It is not uncommon for us to have first timer's riding pour-overs on their first ocean kayaking trip.
Gail riding a pour-over on her first ocean kayaking adventure!
We typically run this adventure at a Class II Level.  Based on a whitewater river classification of I-VI, Class II is fun water with challenges but low level of threat.  Students get to learn without fear and lots of fun.  Here's a video of some of Whitewater of the SEA.

Jeff and Cate are both certified whitewater and sea kayak instructors.  We teach sea, whitewater river, and surf kayaking in our home waters of Mendocino County and are guest instructors at symposiums including Golden Gate Sea Kayak Symposium and Lumpy Waters.  We love teaching rock gardening because it is Liquid Fusion Kayaking - fusing the elements of sea, whitewater, and surf kayaking into FUN!!!

Of course, we do know how to take it up a notch or two as well.  This spring, we got to team up with Sean Morley and Jackson Kayaks to film the promo video for the Jackson Kayak Karma RG.  Check it out here.

We are working on a new video project but here's a little bit more rock gardening to keep you entertained - Here's LFK and Friends Jive'n

Friday, August 15, 2014

Glass Beach

Exciting news!  The trail into Fort Bragg's famous Glass Beach is getting a make-over.

Even more exciting is that construction has begun on the Fort Bragg Coastal Trail - for the first time in decades, pedestrians and bicyclists will be able to enjoy the beauty of the Fort Bragg Coast.  Here is a link to the City of Fort Bragg's Master Coastal Trail plan.

A small hitch is that land access to Glass Beach is going to be closed from August 18 through November 30, 2014.

Good news is that now is a good time to discover other beaches and areas of Fort Bragg.  Be sure to check out the Mendocino Coast Water Safety Coalition for tips on safely visiting our beaches. “Be Swept Away by the Beauty Not By the Waves”

For tidepools, one should definitely consider the tidepools of Mackerricher State Park.  For a gorgeous place to watch the sunset, Pomo Bluffs Park can't be beat.  And one never knows what else they might encounter there . . .
An immature red shouldered hawk watches over Chicken Point.
Pudding Creek Beach is a great place for playing in the sand.  The headlands around Pudding Creek are amazing too.  When I first moved to Fort Bragg, I remember walking on the Pudding Creek Headlands and seeing/hearing someone playing bagpipes.  I also have enjoyed sitings of Pacific Whitesided Dolphins and Gray Whales at Pudding Creek, and of course walking across the iconic Pudding Creek Trestle.

For those who have the compulsion to collect glass from glass beach, you may find sea glass on our other beaches; however, how about a new spin on things - collecting plastic from the beach.  Sea glass is not harmful to marine life but plastic is.  Perhaps you can turn your trash to treasure like our friends of the Washed Ashore Project or just feel good knowing that you did your part to keep our oceans healthy.
Jeff meets Henry who was created from marine debris by the Washed Ashore Project.
Of course, my favorite way to experience the Fort Bragg Coastline is via kayak.  Liquid Fusion Kayaking is going to be again hosting their annual Labor Day Weekend Sea Kayak into Glass Beach Trip on Saturday August 30.  It is a magical paddle through rock gardens and sea stacks, into sea caves, and onto beaches only accessible by kayak.
Sea kayaks on glass beach where all that glitters is not gold but sea glass.