Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Some days life as a kayak guide isn't glamorous, but with anything in life there is the good, the bad, and the ugly.

This week's good has been the amazing experiences that I have gotten to share with people kayaking on Fort Bragg's Noyo River.  On Sunday, we hosted the Mendocino Coast Audubon Society for a bird paddle.  It was great to share the water with 12 other birding enthusiasts.  Some had paddled the Noyo many times.  For some 40 year residents of the Mendocino Coast, it was a magical first time.

Also good, were some friends doing their annual father's day paddle on the Noyo,

a first time Greenland Paddler,

and sighting 2 river otters and lots of Pacific Pond Turtles.

The bad - Jeff hurt his back and is literally laid out on his back.  I guess this is inevitable when one throws kayaks around all day long.  This has made me Liquid Fusion Kayaking's one woman show (please be patient - I will return your phone calls, emails, and get you out on the water).

The ugly - the skunk train's speeder car went down this week.  On Monday, Jeff had to tow 4 recreational kayaks up the river for our Tracks to Kayaks Trip.  This probably was the final straw that broke his back.  Fortunately the Skunk Train acquired another speeder car for Tuesday's trip so I only had to tow one boat with gear in it for the trip.

Unfortunately, a glitch in their reservation system had me missing my chance to send boats up on the speeder  car.  I had to tow 3 barges (so they seemed) up the river.

The good though is that it was a beautiful day.  Lots of turtles were out sunning themselves.  I got to paddle Jeff's carbon/kevlar Valley Avocet sea kayak, with his Saltwood Paddle, and the river was GORGEOUS!!!  Except for surfing, running whitewater, or mountain biking, there isn't much that I would rather be doing.

Especially good is that this weekend, I get to co-teach 3 of my favorite classes - kayak surfing, whitewater of the sea - ocean rock gardening in whitewater kayaks, and a sea kayaks in the surf class.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Surf n Turf

Surf n Turf - Not sure where Jeff got this notion, but a morning of surfing and mountain biking sounded like Maximum Mendo Funness so we loaded up the truck with our toys.

The winds have been cranking on the coast, kicking up quite a wind swell and creating surf at one of our favorite surf spots.  The conditions have been tough with on-shore winds in the 10-15kt range in the early mornings then ramping up to 25-35kt in the afternoon.  Waves have been stacked tightly on top of each other and often doubling up in the surf zone.  However when the set waves come in, there were some green faces and shoulders to ride.

To beat the wind, we conspired to get up and get out on the water early.  There is something magical about starting the day on the water.  Warm, sunny weather always helps with early mornings.  It was great to be back in my surf kayak.  With a couple of strokes it effortlessly catches waves and glides down the line.  The waves weren't the best, and my surf skills are a bit rusty but it sure was FUN.

A quick change on the beach (loving my fleece changing station), and we are driving just a couple of miles to meet some friends for some Mendocino mountain biking.

Our North Coast Coniferous Forest is beautiful in the spring with rhododendron petals and a symphony of birds singing.  Even sweeter is the mountain biking on the Mendocino Coast - lots of tight twisting single track built specifically for mountain biking.

Can't wait for the next Surf n Turf Day.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Congratulations to 9 students of Anderson Valley Elementary School on the successful launch of their spring boat building project.

Thanks for inviting me as a safety boater/lifeguard for the launch celebration. 

Best of days on the water!!!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Just Another Day at the Office

At 9am, I met 2 guests for our morning kayak tour on the NoyoRiver.  After suiting up in our splash wear, we took a quick look at the river from the deck.  My guests asked how the birding was on the river.  I smiled as a green heron flew down the river and landed just  across from us on a log.  Not to be out done, the male osprey  flew over head with nesting material.

We launched onto the river listening to the song sparrows and Wilson’s warblers singing.  The orange crowned warblers soon joined in as well as a Swainson’s thrush creating a symphony of bird song.  Meandering further down the river, we noticed a log that appeared to be moving.  I knew what it was and guided my guests slowly away from it to the other side of the river.  It was as I had expected - a mamma harbor seal and her pup.  We gave them a comfortable distance and were amazed to see the sea pup start nursing. 

Our magical trip continued with a snowy egret flying over us and a small flock of common mergansers hunting/fishing around us.  As we neared the mouth of the river, my guests were delighted with surf scoters and intrigued with a new raven nest under the bridge.   As we paddle back through the harbor, a large male sea lion porpoised along past us into the boat basin.  We paused to check out a kingfisher’s nest and then were treated to a sighting of the female American Kestrel emerging from the nest box, stretching her wings, and exerting her dominance over a brown headed cow bird.

As the tide pushed us back up the river, a sharp eye spotted a sharp-shinned hawk hidden in a fir tree.  Actually a bit of discussion ensued as to whether it was a red shouldered, sharp shinned or cooper’s hawk.  The hawk ended our debate by flying from his perch over us and showing us his angular tail feathers that defined him as a sharp-shinned hawk.

We quietly floated into the magic corner, our launching point and landing point for the trip where we discovered the male and female osprey together in the same alder tree about 25 feet above the river.  As we admired them, the head of a harbor seal emerged from the water and 2 black crown night herons flew down to the river to do some fishing.

The oddest sighting of the day though were some dry suit clad kayakers standing on shore gaping at the wild life surrounding us.

“Just another day at the office.”