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



Monday, December 12, 2016

Best Gear of 2016

I guess I am a bit of a gearhead.  In the past, I have felt a bit frustrated with the offerings in kayaks, kayaking apparel and equipment for smaller paddlers.  I often felt that what I wanted either wasn't available in my size, was too expensive or not just right.  This year, I feel that I am getting closer to the "just right" in my kayaking gear.  Here is a list of my current "go-to's."
Dry, warm and comfortable in my Immersion Research Shawty Drysuit and charging down the Eel in my all purpose Jackson Kayak Zen. Photo by Jeff Laxier
Immersion Research Shawty Drysuit - Shawty is urban slang for hot woman.  Of course I need a drysuit that makes me hot!  Colorful, comfortable, and dry is how I would describe both my Shawty Drysuit and Shawty Drytop.  The purple color is fun and bright on the water.  Everyone asks about breathability.  I find it to be as breathable as any other top of the line drysuit/drytop.  For sizing purposes, I am 5' 4" and 120 pounds and wear a size medium.  New in 2017 is a electric blue color.  If you are attached to purple, get them now while they are on sale and in stock.

Immersion Research Shawty Drysuit comfortable and functional off the water.  Coaching throw bag techniques on the Eel River. Photo by Jeff Laxier
Dagger Stratos 14.5S - The Stratos is so much fun to paddle!!!  The performance hull has me keeping it as my go to coastal play sea kayak - and has it in Liquid Fusion Kayaking's fleet for students.   There are quite a few things that I don't like about the Stratos, but it performs so well.  The stability is confidence inspiring, it accelerates quickly, and is extremely maneuverable - especially when edged.  I paddle the small and would recommend it for most paddlers under 200 pounds and under 6 feet tall looking for a sea kayak for rock garden and surf zone play.  If the fit is a little tight, there are outfitting modifications that can be done.  There is a larger size for taller, heavier paddlers.
Rock gardening on the Mendocino Coast in the Dagger Stratos. Photo by Jeff Laxier
Jackson Kayak Zen Small -  This is the best fitting and most comfortable whitewater kayak that I have ever paddled.  It seems to be sized just right for a paddler of my size.  The narrow bow and narrow fit are well suited for performance paddlers who like a vertical stroke and like to use their legs to power their strokes. I find this boat to be all day comfortable whether I am teaching out of it or doing a longer river run.  It has enough volume for carrying a bit of gear - for an overnight trip or for guiding.  It also has the volume and speed for running big water and challenging rapids.  It is super easy to roll and surf and has enough of a rail/edge to carve into eddies.  I also like that it is relatively lightweight for carrying and has a smaller size cockpit so that I can get a dry, snug fitting skirt on my myself.
Jackson Kayak Zen Small - a great all around whitewater kayak for smaller paddlers. Photo by Jeff Laxier.
Jackson Kayak 2 Fun -  It is TOO FUN!!!  The 2 Fun is almost my do it all whitewater kayak.  I feel fortunate to have a nice quiver of kayaks but often fantasize about having just one kayak (or realistically two - a short and a long boat).  The 2 Fun would fit my short boat needs for play.  It is fun and performs well on both the river and in the surf.  In addition it is lightweight, has simple outfitting, and fits in the back of our car.  Paddling a boat like the 2 Fun on both the river and in the surf has made me a better paddler.  It doesn't have the speed or forgiving volume of classic river runners so I have to make sure that my technique and positioning are precise for catching eddies and catching waves.
Jackson Kayak 2 Fun is fun river running whitewater kayak.  Photo by Jeff Laxier

2 Fun in the surf!  360' flat spins like a dream. Photo by Jeff Laxier
Mega Bullit Xs -  The Xs is categorized as a high performance surf kayak.  There is definitely a learning curve to hp surf kayaks.  The Xs seems to be a bit more on the friendly side than other hp boats.  Being a smaller paddler, I appreciate the overall low volume.  The Xs is narrow compared to many surf kayaks.  In particular it has a narrow bow and a low stern and back deck. Being 8 feet and 11 inches long, it is on the long side for an hp surf kayak.  However, it has lots of rocker which makes it very responsive.  The length of the hull makes it quite stable and fast.  It excels on low angle waves and days when the surf is a bit on the mushy side.  I am so excited to paddle my Xs.  Every time I paddle it, I feel like I learn its nuances more and surf it better.
Mega Bullit Xs, Oneil Mod Wetsuit, Immersion Research Top and Spray Deck, - my go to surf kayak kit. Photo by Jeff Laxier
Jackson Kayak Sweet Cheeks - Keep all your cheeks happy!  Jackson's Sweet Cheeks are so comfortable that I have put them in all of my kayaks.  They are basically bean bags that you inflate and then deflate to get a comfy custom fit for your butt in your kayak.  They are handy if you want to add some extra height to your seat or change your seat position while in the boat.  I also think that they are warmer than typical kayak seats.  I typically use the 100 but will use the 200 in boats that are too deep for me.
Jackson Sweet Cheeks - yep they are in all of my kayaks.  Photo Jackson Kayak

Oneil Women's Mod Wetsuit - In Northern California, a good wetsuit is a must for ocean play - surfing, coasteering, snorkeling, abalone diving, swimming, body surfing, ect.  A huge thank you to Dylan at The Lost Surf Shack in Fort Bragg for turning me on to this suit.  It is a warm 5/4 with super flexible and relatively quick drying neoprene.  This suit is super comfortable, warm, and versatile.  The neck on the Mod wetsuit is interchangeable.  I like using the hood for diving and surfing and the suit without a hood for kayaking.  I pair my IR shorty top with it for kayaking to block the wind and to keep water out of my kayak.
Coasteering on the Mendocino Coast in the Oneil Mod wetsuit. Photo by Jeff Laxier
Immersion Research ShockWave Plus Spray Skirt - For 3 seasons, this has been my go to skirt.  I have a Large and Extra Large to accommodate my different boats.  After 3 years, they are still dry and look almost like new (despite many days of use).
3 year old Immersion Research spray skirt still dry and looking good.  Photo by Jeff Laxier
Maui Jim Pipiwai Trail Sunglasses -  Sunglasses are a necessity on the water to protect your eyes from glare and UV rays.  Polarized are a huge benefit for those of us who like to see what is under the surface.  It is always a trick finding the right glasses - ones that have good optics, are comfortable under a hat or helmet, and don't fog up.   I have found the Pipiai Trail to be just the right fit for my small head and on water needs.  The MauiPure lenses are super lightweight and comfortable.  HCL Bronze tint good contrast in all but the lowest light conditions.  These have become my go to glasses both on and off the water.
See your wave, surf your wave!  Thanks Maui Jim for comfortable, functional, and stylish sunglasses. Photo by Jeff Laxier
Ear Plugs -  I finally found my go to earplugs - Mac's Ear Seals.  Here is a link to my blog on protecting your ears and my experience and recommendations on ear plugs.

Warm Gloves - Winter whitewater kayaking requires gloves (and pogies too).  I actually will wear glove and pogies.  This year I discovered Patagonia's R1 Fly Fishing Gloves.  The XS fits great.  The R1 gloves are warm and have good dexterity and grip for paddling.

Huppy Bars - Yummy, gluten free energy bars.  Huppy Bars are made in Flagstaff, Arizona.  The company was started by Lindsay Hup who is a Grand Canyon raft guide.  She has been making her own delicious and nutritious bars for years in her home.  Her bars became such a hit on the river that others nudged her to start her own company and make the bars for others.  My favorite flavor is pecan orange spice.  It might sound weird but it is not and is delicious.  Check them out and definitely follow them on Instagram.  Lindsay posts some awesome photos of outdoors and Huppy Bar athletes.  And often has specials on her bars.
Grab a Huppy and Go!  Perfect snack to keep me going on the water! Photo by Cate Hawthorne
Changing Station - A few years ago, a friend made a fleece poncho for me to use to change in and out of my wetsuit.  I love it and take it just about everywhere with me.  Peeling off a wet wetsuit on a chilly day is no problem with the fuzzy warm fleece blocking the wind and cold.  It is also a discrete way to take ALL the wet stuff off in mixed company or in public parking lots.  Also it is a warm extra layer for lunch time breaks.  On camping trips, it functions as an extra blanket and as an extra warm layer for chilly evenings or mornings in camp.

Relief Zippers in Wetsuits -  I like wearing a wetsuit for surfing and playing in the ocean.  When playing, I can take a break and peel my wetsuit off to answer mother nature's call.  When I am teaching and guiding, I only have moments to take care of business.  I really don't like peeing in my wetsuit so I am super fond of relief zippers in wetsuits.  My NRS Farmer Jane Ultra has one and it works great.  Unfortunately, I like wearing a surfing fullsuit for teaching in the surf and they don't come with relief zippers.  Then I discovered Chris at Terrapin Wetsuits.  She makes custom wetsuits and does alterations and repairs to wetsuits.  She put in an awesome relief zip in my wetsuit.  Now answering the call of nature is a breeze.

Girl Stuff - On another note about the call of nature - girl stuff isn't always fun in the outdoors.  I have to share that I have become a fan of menstrual cups.  Menstrual cups are a healthy, no waste way to deal with one's period.  No more packing in and packing out tampons.  With a little research, you will find that there are quite a few options out there.  Ladies and concerned guys, feel free to contact me privately for more thoughts on girl stuff in the outdoors.

And what I am still searching or hoping for - 

A whitewater helmet with good coverage that fits a small head and has a dial for an adjustable fit - so that I can potentially wear a hood or hat under it.

Hoping for the Immersion Research Shawty drysuit to sport a drop seat.

Outfitting and structural changes to the Dagger Stratos - better plastic, stiffer hull, shorter cockpit, better hatches and more secure foot keepers.

A girl can always dream right?



Sunday, December 4, 2016

Okay!

Communication is a key skill in paddling (and all aspects of life).  There are many means and needs for communication on and off the water.  One is to check in with someone.  Sometimes, a paddler has taken a spill, is swimming, or is just a little bit spaced-out.  A common way to see if that person is okay is to use signals.

When using the okay signal on the water it is a question and answer.  One gives the okay sign and if the others are okay, they give the okay sign back.  Close up, we use the universal hand signal for okay.

This tells us a couple of things.  First being that the person is okay.  Second that maybe they really are or aren't okay.   If the person is slow to respond or doesn't make a clear okay sign, we need to investigate a little bit further.  When someone doesn't make a clear okay sign, they could be a little bit shaken or could possibly have issue that they are unaware of.  For example, one of the signs of hypothermia is a decrease in fine motor skills.  If they aren't making their index finger touch their thumb, hypothermia could be a concern.

From further away, we use one tap or a fist on the head.  Again, we make sure that we close off the "O."  The fist on the head forming an "O" is a universal sign for okay among the US Coast Guard and other Search and Rescue teams.

From larger distances or when view may be obstructed by swells or waves, we make a big "O" over the head with both arms meeting above the head.

Many paddlers use a tapping motion on their head to signal that they are okay.  This is often understood in the boating community but is not universally recognized.  It also can look like a signal for help.  We encourage paddlers not to use the head tap but to make closed "O" with a fist on the head, a hand signal, or arms overhead.



Sunday, November 6, 2016

Early Whitewater Season

Significant rainfall in October kicked off whitewater season on California's North Coast.  Jeff and I were pining to get up to the Smith, work commitments kept us close to home.  No complaints from us.  We had warm, sunny days, and lots of water and runs to chose from.
Kayaking on a scenic stretch of the South Fork Eel River.
We opted for a scenic run on the South Fork of the Eel River.  The scenic run did not disappoint.  The big leaf maples were in full color.
A colorful day with the vibrant maples and my stylish Immersion Research Shawty Drysuit. Photo by Jeff Laxier.
And the waterfall at Grizzly Creek was going off!!!
Grizzly Creek cascading into the South Fork Eel River. Photo by Cate Hawthorne
Day two, we rallied with a couple of the usual foul weather gang to run our local favorite the Eel.  Warm sunny weather and a perfect flow had us poking our way down the river - soaking in the sights, surfing waves, and relishing the day.
Jerry starting down "split rock" rapid on the Eel. Photo by Cate Hawthorne
It was the first run of the season so we had to attend to some of the debris left by summer picnickers and swimmers.
Jeff helps Jerry retrieve some pool noodles from the river.  Photo by Cate Hawthorne
Jerry reels in a toy raft that was tied off in the river.  Photo by Cate Hawthorne.
We definitely scored on the fall colors and the flow.
Jeff and Paul "shitalking" about the what line to take at "The Wall."
Many of our favorite surf waves and play spots were working.
Jeff testing out the speed and surfability of the Dagger Katana. Photo by Cate Hawthorne.
An eagle soaring overhead reminded us that it is salmon and steelhead season.  We didn't see any fish on our trip but have heard reports that they are making their way up stream to spawn.
Adult bald eagle soaring above the Eel River.  Photo by Cate Hawthorne.
And while somethings are the same on the river.  There is always something new.  There is now graffiti artwork decorating "The Wall."  We may have to paddle the river at a lower flow to see what the rest of the message contains.
Artwork on "The Wall." Photo by Cate Hawthorne
Ahhh and what does the rest of the fall hold for us.  Hopefully more rain so that we can get back on the river.
Cate enjoying whitewater kayaking on Mendocino County's Eel River. Photo by Jeff Laxier.
Here is a link to some more of our photos from our glorious fall day whitewater kayaking on the Eel River.




Sunday, October 16, 2016

Lumpy Waters 2016

The beginning of October rolled around, and we closed Liquid Fusion Kayaking for the week and journeyed to Pacific City, Oregon to coach at Alder Creek Canoe and Kayak's annual Lumpy Waters Symposium.  If you haven't been to Lumpy, mark your calendars for October 6-8, 2017 and make it happen.  Lumpy has classes and fun for all skill levels.  Registration is open now and you can save $$$ by registering by the end of the month.

This was my sixth year coaching at Lumpy Waters.  Lumpy is my favorite sea kayak symposium.  It is an extremely well organized event that permeates with excitement and enthusiasm.  I think that this is a trickle down effect from the event organizers - Suzi Elle, Dave Slover, and Paul Kuthe.  Suzi, Dave, and Paul are fun loving folks who teem with energy and enthusiasm.  To compliment their enthusiasm, they rally a stellar crew of kayak coaches, support staff, sponsors, and students.
Sea Kayak Surf Zone Class at Lumpy Waters. Photo by Cate Hawthorne
My favorite element of Lumpy is the stoke.  Whether working or participating in the event, everyone is there to have FUN!  And to share the fun with others.  Students come to class ready to learn and to participate in the coaches creative games.  At times the games and drills appear silly; however, powerful learning is occurring.  Lumpy always gets my creative juices flowing.  Each year, the spontaneity of teaching eager students in a fun environment inspires me to try out new games and drills.  Students and coaches alike laugh and play and learn.
Cate Hawthorne leading the surf zone congo at Lumpy Waters. Photo by Kim Granfield
A huge thanks to Alder Creek Canoe and Kayak for inviting me to coach and rallying quality folks to the event.  Each year, I enjoy the reunion of paddlers that come together for Lumpy.  I have made many friends at the event that I look forward to seeing at least once a year at Lumpy and potentially at other sea kayak symposiums or at home on the Mendocino Coast.  We share tales of adventure, tales of life, recipes, and trip ideas.  I always leave Lumpy with new friends and inspired to paddle new places.
Lumpy students practicing their Wave Warrior cries! Photo by Cate Hawthorne
The venue of Cape Kiwanda RV Resort facilitates much of this camaraderie.  Most participants and coaches are staying on site or within walking distance. We share meals, happy hour, and evenings around the fire together.  A huge thanks this year to Ninkasi Brewing Company for joining on as sponsors and providing plenty of excellent beer to help us unwind after a day on the water and to fuel stories around the campfire.
Liquid Fusion Kayaking's Jeff and Cate just off the water and getting their Happy Hour Brews from Ninkasi. Photo by Andrew Romanelli
A huge thanks to event sponsors who help to make Lumpy happen.  This year Maui Jim Sunglasses stepped up with a couple of pairs of sunglasses and some swag for the event raffle. Thule, Werner, and Ninkasi sponsored happy hours.  Other sponsors included Sterling Kayaks, Jackson Kayak, Current Designs, Kokatat, NRS, Airstream, American Canoe Association, and Paddlesports North America.
video

Lumpy 2017 is October 6-8, 2017.  Be sure to mark your calendar and register early to secure your spot (register this month and save $$$ too).

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Hoppy Beerday to Me!

I don't often share my birthday details.  Only my close friends and family know my birthday.  I figure that to others if I don't have a birthday, I don't age.  I bet some of my former hockey teammates still think that I am 29.  Well I am.  Growing up is not on my life bucket list.

Over the past 10 years, some of my birthdays have been spent with the love of my life - Jeff.  Others have been flying solo.  This was a solo year as Jeff was coaching a BCU 3 Star Sea Training at Fort Stevens, Oregon for Alder Creek Canoe/Kayak/Raft/SUP 's annual BCU week.

Of course I would have loved to share the day with him, but he wasn't here.  I had a great day and I know that he is a bit envious that he missed out on what the universe had in store for my birthday this year.

A joy of bach'ing it and self employment is being able to be on ones own schedule.  My birthday entailed some housework - something that often gets neglected in our life.  It was a rainy day and perfect for me to get our house in order.  The fall rain was beautiful - warm and refreshing.  Everything smelled so fresh and clean.  It was a perfect day to get the house clean and in order too (well somewhat).

A random glance at Instagram revealed that this year's barrel aged Old Rasputin batch XIX was just released.  You know that you live in the right place when your favorite beer is brewed in your hometown.  Even better, when a release of their special barrel aged version happens on your birthday.  Of course, I had to venture down to North Coast Brewing Company to pick up a bottle.  Hoppy Beerday to Me!

I slipped out during an afternoon break in the rain to pick up my special beer and to go for a run on one of my favorite trails.  I enjoyed the fresh, clean sent of the forest after a rain but had to watch my footing on wet roots and the presence of rough-skinned newts on the trail.
Rough-skinned newts enjoying the fall rain Photo from California Herps.
Of course fall rain is exciting - October rains bring November flowers (mushrooms).
Last year's score of Boletus edulis - King Boletes!
As I drove home from running, the ocean was glassy, gray and flat - possibly perfect surf conditions for a solo surf at my favorite local break.  One doesn't usually think of flat, small seas for good surf - that 's ok - it keeps the crowds away.  My favorite spot was working.

The waves were glassy smooth - 3-4 feet and spilling with the occasional 5-6 footers.  It drizzled off and on and the breeze was slight and off shore.  It was perfect for a mellow, contemplative, solo surf session.

I wasn't totally alone . . . a Common loon hovered just outside the surf break.  I heard his loony haunting call but didn't seen any other loons out there.  Must just be the two of us.  I thanked mother ocean for the blessing of beautiful seas on my birthday.  My birthday surf was fulfilled with gliding, carving, and dancing with the sea.

At home a tasty barrel aged Old Rasputin awaited.
Hoppy Beerday to Me!




Saturday, October 1, 2016

Protect Your Ears

A couple of years into my kayaking career, I went in for a yearly physical.  The first thing my doc noted was that I had an ear infection.  She also commented on my "surfer's ear."  Surfer's ear is a bone growth that occurs in the ear due to repeated exposure to cold water and wind.  If you want the gory details check out this Magic Seaweed Article - "Surfer's Ear - An Inconvenient Truth."  For the not so gross photos - Wikipedia's entry on Surfer's Ear is fairly straight forward.

After my physical, the wheels started turning . . .  

I went on the search for ear plugs.  Lots of kayakers recommend Doc's Pro Plugs.  Doc's come in different sized and are vented so that you can still hear.  I tried them.  Despite trying multiple sizes, I could not get them to seal.  They were great for blocking the wind.  Wearing them, I could hear fairly normally and found that I was much warmer when I was wearing them.   The problem was that they didn't seal out water and actually would trap it in my ear.

The next plugs that I tried were Mack's AquaBlock Earplugs.   These worked!!!  They kept the water out.  I also discovered that the cold water vertigo that I often experienced when doing a lot of rolling or surf kayaking was not an issue when I could keep the water out of my ears.  The problem was that my hearing was definitely compromised when wearing them.  I started using these as my primary plugs for surfing.  They were great except when I was bs'ing with guys in the line up.  I would have to pull one out to hear and then pop it back in when I went to catch a wave.  These also would not work for sea kayaking, whitewater kayaking, and teaching where hearing is important.

For a while I kept both Docs and Macks in my pfd and wore which was appropriate - Doc's when I was instructing and guiding and Macks when I was surfing.

One day, I lost on of my Mac's.  In the drugstore picking up some other things, I discovered  Mack's Ear Seals.  DING - DING - DING!!!  We have the winner.  These plugs keep the water out when I am rolling and surfing.  I also have discovered that I can partially insert them in my ear to block the wind but still be able to hear.  When I am going to be rolling or getting wet, I push them in the whole way to seal the water out.

Tip - the plugs do come off the ends of the string easily.  Before using them, pull them apart and put some aquaseal on them before using to help keep the plug from pulling off the string. 
I keep my ear plugs on my helmet.
A few notes, we all have different size ears and ear canals.  What works for some might not work for others.  Other forms of ear protection include hoods and helmets with ear covers.  It is personal preference.  I am sharing because I think that too many paddlers don't protect their ears until they have started to have problems.  I also am sharing an inexpensive and convenient fix that has worked for me in my multiple disciplines of kayaking. 
Now you know what those strings are poking out of my ears.