Tuesday, January 17, 2017

New News

Did you know that Liquid Fusion Kayaking has started a new email newsletter?  
Liquid Fusion Kayaking's Jeff Laxier and Cate Hawthorne 
Our new newsletter has photos, information on upcoming classes and events, and a monthly coaching tip.  Subscribers will get first dibs on our specials and early registration on our special events.

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    Saturday, January 7, 2017

    New Years Whitewater n Surf Safari

    Last month, I shared that I was excited for Liquid Fusion Kayaking's New Years Whitewater and Surf Safari.  We did it!  To see Jeff and our students in action - whitewater kayaking on the Eel river and surf kayaking and ocean rock gardening on the Mendocino Coast, check out my LFK blog post on the Mendocino Trifecta.   As I alluded to in the blog post, I was coaching and photographing - that's my job.  The beauty of a surfari is that I get to play too.  At the risk of being egotistical, I am going to share the fun that I had on the Surfari.

    LFK's surfari began with a whitewater kayak run on the Eel River.  We had a medium to low flow which is perfect for those who like to play their way down the river.  At this flow, there are lots of eddies to catch and small waves to surf.  A rapid that we call Tic Tac Toe is particularly fun at this level and our students rose to the challenge of catching as many eddies as they could by eddy hopping and ferrying back and forth across the river.  I didn't catch as many eddies as I would have liked because guiding responsibilities required me to maintain line of sight and be ready to assist anyone having difficulty.  The small surf waves weren't great at this level but were good for playing around with technique and putting a smile on your face.
    Playing on a chizlee surf wave.
    Day two of our surfari was surf day.  We scouted a couple of different breaks and ended up doing 2 sessions at 2 very different breaks.  The first session at Chase a Peak Bay was probably my favorite.  I opted to paddle my Jackson Kayak 2 Fun.  And it was too fun.  The high tide reflects off the headland walls and the sand bars at Chase A Peak to make for lots of reflective waves and zipper waves.  I had the ride of the day on one such wave.

    It was a zipper wave (2 waves that merge from different directions like when you zip a zipper).  It was a long ride where I threw in a few tricks - including back surfing and spinning.  As I surfed from right to left I saw a wave down the line reflected toward me and zipping up fast.  I hit the convergence at the perfect time and launched off the resulting haystack.  I landed it and back surfed the resulting reflective wave.  It was too fun.

    We moved to another break in the afternoon with more organized waves.  I opted again for the 2 Fun and enjoyed some fun drops and working on my 360 flat spins.

    Day three was whitewater of the sea - kayaking ocean rock gardens in whitewater kayaks.  Jeff and I both opted to paddle Necky Jives.  We have spent quite a few New Years Paddles in rock gardening in Necky Jives.  For us rock gardening is as much about surfing in between and along the rocks as it is riding pour-overs.  In our opinion, the Necky Jive is still the best ocean surfing whitewater kayak.  My highlight of the morning session was a nice long surf along the rocks at a feature that we call Eight.
    Surfing down the line at Eight.  Check out the dudleya succulents on the headlands.
    Our afternoon session was planned to be surf but we ended up rock gardening.  We paddled through squalls of wind, rain, hail and then in the glory of sunshine and rainbows.  When it was my turn to ride a pour-over called No Name (maybe someday we will get a better name for it), we were in the middle of a squall.  The swells were confused and bouncy, the wind was swirling, and we were being pelted with rain.  I had trouble judging the sizes and timing but managed to pull off a nice ride.

    Forgive my tales of fun and adventure.  2017 is off to a good start.

    Friday, December 23, 2016

    Solstice Surf

    A long period swell rolled into the Mendocino Coast for the Winter Solstice.  I could hear it rumble and roar as I plugged away on the computer working on website revisions for Liquid Fusion Kayaking (and occasionally glancing at the buoy readings).  The day was warm and sunny and after a morning of office work, I was ready to get wet.  Jeff and I went on the search.  We checked a couple of spots, but the tide wasn't right or the swell was too big.  We settled on a spot that we thought might get better as the tide filled in.  It didn't look promising but there were waves.
    Little me in the Big SEA! Photo by Jeff Laxier
    Being out on the ocean in a "little" kayak on a "big" day is exhilarating.  The energy is intense as mountains of water collide with the off shore rocks and headlands.  The explosions are spectacular and mesmerizing.  On the Mendocino Coast, we are fortunate to have protected coves that dissipate the swell so it is possible to paddle out on a big day.
    Mountains of water. Photo by Jeff Laxier
    I have been primarily surfing in my surf kayak but didn't see any surfable faces so I opted for my Jackson 2 Fun (whitewater kayak).  The 2 Fun is a blast in bouncy surf.  It likes to slide down the face and then squirt out in front of the foam pile.  My freestyle repetoroire is limited but I have fun bouncing, spinning, and back surfing it.  
    2 Fun in the surf. Photo by Jeff Laxier
    I did find a fun wave to play on.
    Trying to make it down the line. Photo by Jeff Laxier
    My little boat wasn't fast enough to make it down the line.  If my timing and positioning were precise, I could drop in, climb back to the lip, turn to float down on the cascading foam, and then surf along in front of the foam pile.  However, it didn't always work that way.  Sometimes the lip crashed on my head and other times, I bounced out in front of it.  
    Bouncing out in front of the foam pile. Photo by Jeff Laxier
    It was always fun and had me going back for another and another and another . . . . until the sun started dipping behind the headlands and it was time to surf in.
    Surf until the sun goes down.  Photo by Jeff Laxier

    Saturday, December 17, 2016

    The Mendocino Trilogy

    Sea + River + Surf = The Mendocino Trilogy

    When it rains (typically winter and early spring), Mendocino County has whitewater river kayaking, surf kayaking, and world class ocean rock gardening.  It sets up perfectly for whitewater kayakers who want a sampling of all 3 - sea, river, surf.  I am getting excited for Liquid Fusion Kayaking's Holiday Whitewater n Surf Safari.  This is an annual event that Jeff and I host during the Christmas - New Year time period.  
    Kayak surfing on the Mendocino Coast during LFK's whitewater n surf safari. Photo by Mark Boyd.
    The Whitewater n Surf Safari is my favorite events because it is all about playing in whitewater kayaks.  I enjoy teaching but when we take people on safari, it is all about guided play.  I get to coach students on surfing, riding rock garden features like pour-overs, and playing down the river.  Of course a bit of coaching involves demonstrating - demonstrating how to play.
    Whitewater river kayaking on Mendocino County's  Eel River.  Photo by Mark Boyd.
    Things are looking good for this year.  Regular rains have the rivers flowing and large period swells have shored up the sand bars at a couple of our favorite surf breaks.  So far, we have 2 participants coming for their 3rd Whitewater n Surf Safari with us and two newbies to be initiated.  We have space for a couple more.  If you have class III whitewater skills, a reliable roll, and know how to play nicely in the surf and rock gardens, you can put your playground application in with us.
    Playing in a blowhole off the Mendocino Headlands . Photo by Mark Boyd
    Check out this photo gallery of Mark Boyd's photos from LFK's 2015 Whitewater n Surf Safari.
    Exploring Mendocino's sea caves and rock gardens in whitewater kayaks.  Photo by Mark Boyd