Sunday, December 20, 2009

Old Rasputin

Dark Beer Paddlers - Never Say Die!!!

We just celebrated our Second Annual Old Rasputin Paddle and declared this to be an annual event for those of us who love North Coast Brewing Company's Old Rasputin and sea kayaking out of Fort Bragg, California - the home of North Coast Brewing Company and Liquid Fusion Kayaking.

In 2008, we celebrated the conclusion of our paddle with Old Rasputin XI which is North Coast's barrel aged version of Old Rasputin celebrating its 11th anniversary and only sold at the brewery in Fort Bragg. This year, we followed suite with the even smoother and more delicious Old Rasputin XII. YUM!!!

December 2010 - Fort Bragg, CA - Old Rasputin Paddle III - Never Say Die!!!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Confessions of a Boletivore

Hi, my name is Cate and I am a boletivore.
David Arora in his book Mushrooms Demystified defines boletivores as ---- predators of boleteus edulis - King Bolete. The King Bolete (boleteus edulis) is considered to be one of the best edible species of wild mushroom. I love the size and shape of it. It is exciting to spy one growing out of the forest floor. Just one is enough for dinner unlike other mushrooms that require a bit more gathering.

After the first fall rains, I disappear into the forest of the Mendocino Coast in search of these delicious fungi which I enjoy dry-sauteeing, grilling, drying, and sharing with friends.

Even when paddling, I am scouting the banks of our rivers for wild mushrooms. The boletes are one of my favorites; however, I admire all forms of fungi and enjoy trying to identify them. Some are easy like this amanita muscaria (aka Alice in Wonderland Mushroom) and others are more challenging.

Boletivore, mushroom-head, crazy, . . . whatever . . .

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Noyo's Odd Duck

Dolphin Isle on the Noyo River of Fort Bragg, California has become home to a male harlequin duck. We enjoy seeing him daily and admire his handsomeness but can't help to think that he is a bit odd.Over the past 3 years, this harlequin has delighted and baffled us. Typically harlequin ducks like turbulent waters not flat water estuaries like the Noyo River. Harlequins typically are solitary birds or hang with just a few of their species. This harlequin is quite gregarious with other ducks. He flocks with the buffleheads in the winter and the mallards the rest of the year.

He doesn't appear to have a mate. In previous years, we had hoped that he would convince a female to return to the Noyo with him. However, last year he only migrated for a short period of time, and this year he did not migrate. Here's a photo of him this summer on the Noyo in eclipse plumage.

Odd or not, we enjoy his colorful presence on the Noyo River.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Tail of a Noyo Harbor Cat

Felis catus noyo - subspecies of domestic cats specific to the Noyo Harbor of Fort Bragg, California. These cats generally have black and white or gray and white "tuxedo" markings and reside along Fort Bragg's Noyo River. It is common to see them in the Noyo Harbor around the fisheries, but some appear to have migrated into the town of Fort Bragg and up the river. Several are regularly sighted in the vicinity of the river otters' dens and shoreline tunnels. It is theorized that they have a symbiotic relationship with the river otters of the Noyo River.

Today, my friend Amy and I were kayaking up the Noyo River and discovered a Noyo Harbor Cat stranded on a log in the river. She was damp and shivering uncomfortably on the log. We figured that she must have lost her balance and fell down the steep bank.

The tide was rising and her log was soon to be submersed so we decided to attempt a rescue. We paddled next to her log and with the guidance of my paddle (I didn't want to risk her putting holes in my drytop) coaxed her onto the deck of our kayak.

She cooperatively sat there while we paddled her to shore landing her on the bank (hopefully on the side with her home).

God speed kitty and be careful around steep river banks.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Mendocino's Disney Slot

At least I rolled up.

This weekend the Bay Area Sea Kayakers were paddling in Mendocino, and I had the fortune to paddle with them and run the fabled "Disney" slot. Jeff has me practicing a protective tuck position on my landings to keep my paddling injury free. Unfortunately I haven't quite got the balance of it yet and am capsizing on many of my landings. The upside of this is lots of eskimo roll practice.

Thanks for the video Peter and a special thanks to Jeff for all of his coaching and patience.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

It was Inevitable

Sooner or later . . . it was going to happen. BASH!

Brindle's Bash is one of our favorite rock gardening features on the Mendocino Coast. As our typical NW swell wraps around the north point of Noyo Bay it hugs the shoreline and creates a very fun whitewater ride over a bedrock outcropping along the north side of the bay. On some tides and swells, the wave and whitewater ends with a spectacular bash on the rocky cliff.

The Bash is very spectacular - representing an explosion of whitewater hitting the rock and shooting away from the rock. "Waaaabooof and splash" is the sound that it makes (I must get some video to help with my description). Dramatic effect is very evident in this feature.

This year we have run it hundreds of times in both our whitewater and sea kayaks as well as coached our students in running it. On a high tide, Jeff has been riding the swell clear up above the bash and then sliding down with the spray of bash behind him. In skateboarding terms, it is kind of like doing a kick turn on the top of a half pipe.

My strategy has been to ride the feature with a low brace turn away from the bash letting the spray from the bash rain on me. Lately I have been taking bigger and bigger and bigger rides the ones that inevitably sweep the paddler into the bash.

Now the story of my bash . . .

It was a warm, sunny day on the Mendocino Coast - too perfect of a day not to be on the water. My friend Kim was visiting from San Diego and we were playing and exploring in the Noyo Bay and around the Fort Bragg Coastline. I had just finished explaining Brindle's Bash and saw a nice swell on the horizon. I quickly excused myself and paddled around to get into position. It was a good size wave but no bigger than many that I have taken. I took a couple of forward strokes as the wave built behind me and was instantly elevated about 6 feet and swept over the rock in a rush of whitewater. I don't know if the swell was bigger than I had anticipated or just what happened but I was being hurled directly at the bash with none of my usual low brace exit maneuvering.

Bashing was inevitable so I purposely capsized my kayak so that the bottom of the boat and not me would take the bashing. The pillow of water in the bash prevented collision with boat and rock; although, Kim reports that there was quite the dramatic "Waaabooof" sound of water hitting the rocks. I of course did not hear this as I was underwater in the swirling whitewater timing my roll.

Sorry to report for those who were hoping to hear of more significant carnage - I made my roll and my little mermaid boat and I were just fine but with a story to tell. Wheeeeeew!

Kim tells me that it definitely had entertainment value. Too bad she didn't have the camera.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Welcome to My Playground

Sea kayaking on the Mendocino Coast is never complete with out some rock garden play and the Noyo Bay in Fort Bragg is one of our favorite play spots.

I was injured for over 6 months last year and couldn't play . . . so now I am making up for lost time.

This week we were sharing a few rides with Chris and Hawk from Humboats . . .

How do you like dem apples?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

From WILD to MILD - a perfect Day kayaking on the Mendocino Coast

It has been sunny and warm on the Mendocino Coast with very calm, glassy ocean conditions. Yesterday, our day started with a WILD rock gardening session with some experienced whitewater kayakers, proceeded to a sea kayak coastal exploration, and wrapped up with a mild Noyo Meander (of course followed by a trip to North Coast Brewery).

Seeking whitewater with experience whitewater paddlers in calm conditions sent us to one of the outside reefs where it was anything but calm . . . Definitely WILD!!! I dropped an "F" Bomb going over one of the 12 foot drops when I saw the gigantic hole below. The mermaid boat submerged and flipped . . . but the mermaid in the boat was calm and cool (cold water helps with that) and rolled up.

In the afternoon, we toured in tandem sea kayaks the Noyo Bay and Fort Bragg Coastline. I was excited to have a 13 year old young lady paddling with me while her family waived to us from shore. We saw some amazing jelly fish and enjoyed the sunshine, wildlife, and meandering along the coast and checking out a couple of sea caves.

In the evening, I enjoyed the company of a family from Sacramento for a meandering paddle on the Noyo River. We enjoyed spectacular displays of marine mammals including a pair of sea lion pups jumping clear out of the water in unison. My streak for daily sitings of the river otters is continuing and my guests have been treated to displays of their quirky behaviors.

Ahhhh . . . I am enjoying a few minutes in the office this morning uploading photos and attending to communications but am looking forward to another afternoon of sea kayaking and wildlife watching on the Mendocino Coast (paddling paradise in my opinion).

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Doggie Paddle

Yesterday, Aften (my red doberman) went for her first paddle. Aften is not a "water dog" and is definitely not fond of swimming so we have been waiting for the right moment to try her out in the kayak. It seems to have gone well. She was interested in the birds and wildlife on the Noyo River as well as chilling out. Definitely a girl after my own heart.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Social Paddle

Our Wednesday evening social paddles around the Noyo Bay continue to be a lot of fun. Paddle craft varies as does the cast and crew. Some like it on the MILD side and others on the WILD side.

Heather and Craig enjoying the setting sun and calm waters.

Here's Dave and Yoshi. Yoshi went with Jeff for a few minutes so that Dave could take a couple of rides on Brindle's Bash.

Craig explores the Sinkhole Cave.
Reid in "The PIT" waiting for the swell to lift him up over and out of it.
John watching as Chuck takes the wave straight on.

Jeff rounding Nick's Nightmare.
Chuck charging Brindle's Bash.
Me taking a ride on Brindle's.
And another beautiful Noyo Sunset.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Gulch to Gulch

Ahh . . . after 3 weeks of unheard of calm coastal conditions on the Mendocino Coast, the wind has kicked up again. Just as it was starting to pick up on Wednesday, we enjoyed one of our favorite Mendocino sea kayak paddles from Russian Gulch to Smuggler's Gulch. Unfortunately, Smugglers' wasn't breaking for a surf session, but we did find a fun wave to play on just under one of the big archs of the Mendocino Headlands.

Of course we ventured deep into the Mendocino Headlands via sea caves and played in rock garden currents and pour-overs. Randy was enjoying paddling his new poly Avocet. We kinda looked like twins with our lava colored Avocets and mango colored drysuits.

Ralph let me take his skin on frame for a spin. Wow!!! Not only is it beautiful but light and responsive. I am super excited about our plans for kayak building this winter. Ralph took video footage from the day. It will be fun to see his footage. We had 3 sea lions negotiating swells outside of the Emerald City that we are hoping he got in his video.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Wild Life

Today, I was at our local chapter meeting of Delta Kappa Gamma International, (an organization of women educators). This year I have been blessed with so many opportunities including a leadership role in our Iota Zeta chapter.

When asked today to reflect upon my doings outside the realm of public education, a smile spread across my face and Mendocino Coast WILD LIFE came to mind . . .

A fawn nursing on the coastal rocks near Point Cabrillo Lighthouse.
A pigeon guillemot escaping turbulent water.

A starfish doing pull-ups in a sea cave.

And me going a little wild - rock gardening in Fort Bragg's Noyo Bay.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Birds on the Brain

Paddle, paddle, paddle . . . I started to write my blog about a week full of paddling and ended up with more bird banter than paddle prose. Oh well, nevermymind . . . check back soon for a paddling update or take a gander at our photo gallery to see our paddling adventures.

This week, we have seen lots of great wildlife including lots of babies. On the Noyo River, the mother merganser duck and her tribe are probably my favorite, and I haven't gotten a photo of them yet. I love the way her ducklings take turns riding on her back. The violet green swallows have been swoooping through the air eating insects and appear to have a nest in one of the pilings by our boat slip. We have seen the osprey snag fish, and the acorn woodpeckers continuing to work on their granary. Many of the black crowned night herons are in their breeding plummage, and the juveniles are just as goofy as ever.

The air around the Noyo River is filled with the melodies of happy song birds. I was really stoked to see a Western Tanager with his brilliant colors shimmering in the sun. I have been regularly hearing the black headed grosbeak and have had a couple of sightings of him. We sighted an odd duck on the river that we still need to identify. Last night when we were hiking, we saw her with ducklings on a lagoon near the river. At first we were hopeful that maybe our beloved odd duck the Harlequin had found a lady friend, but it doesn't appear so.

Regarding the mammals on the river, we are still watching for fawns to start appearing. There is a baby sea lion traveling about these days. He looks like a skinny teenager who hasn't grown into his body yet. We have seen some harbor seals courting and the river otters frolicing about.

I often feel as though I am immersed in a National Geographic episode but even better as there is no script.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Kayaking with Mom

I was recently reminiscing my most memorable kayaking trips. Numerous trips came to mind but 2 in particular have been on my mind lately - both included my mom.

My mom is not an athlete or paddler but an enthusiast of life. She has kayaked a couple of times while on vacation in the Caribbean, but the first time that we kayaked together was on the Noyo River in Fort Bragg, CA. She was visiting me from Pennsylvania and flaunting and enjoying the perks of her new "Senior" status. Having gone to the Botanical Gardens and visited the Skunk Train, she was ready for a new adventure. We met up with some friends and enjoyed a sunny afternoon kayaking on the Noyo River. It was on this paddle that her enthusiasm and excitement over the birds that we saw sparked my interested in birding. In particular it was a green heron that perked my interest. The next day while I was at work, she bought me my first bird book. I have been fascinated by birds ever since and now call her to report my latest sitings.

The other memorable trip that came to mind was sea kayaking from Russian Gulch to the Point Cabrillo Lighthouse. This is one of our favorite spots on the Mendocino Coast for rock gardening and exploring sea caves. My mom and Jeff shared a tandem sea kayak while my girlfriend and I paddled single boats. The ocean conditions were calm and glassy. It was so exciting for me to be able to share this special stretch of coastline with my mom. We were able to paddle into all of the sea caves and were dazzled by the vibrant colors of the caves and intertidal life. Mom still talks about the spectacular colors and the excitement of the trip. She even let Jeff take her over a couple of pour-overs (when an ocean wave washes over a rock - similar to whitewater on the river).

Happy Mother's Day Mom, I love you!!!