Monday, June 30, 2014

Nick's Nightmare

"You've got a big boat - you gotta go for the big wave!"

I've been getting my new Jackson Kayak Karma RG out to play in the rock gardens of the Mendocino Coast.  A lot of my time is teaching and coaching so I get to work on dialing in my skills on small waves as I demonstrate techniques for paddling ocean rock gardens.  Small waves are fun and a great place to build skills and learn the nuances of a new boat but don't usually make for exciting stories and dramatic photos.
Styling it in the Karma RG
This weekend, we got a little play time in.  As I continued to work on style and finesse in the RG, Jeff kept urging me on - "You've got a big boat - you gotta go for a big wave!"  I found it at Nick's Nightmare.  Nick's is a dramatic pour-over.  In the ocean, a pour-over is a feature that involves a wave washing over a rock.  A simple way to think about it is riding a wave over a rock and then surfing or sliding down the other side.  SUPER FUN!!!
Jeff running Nick's Nightmare in his Jackson Zen 65.
Nick's Nightmare is a tricky spot with a lot of hydraulic activity on both sides .  The approach is straight at a rock with lots of swirling hydraulic currents in front of the rock.  Your instinct says that there is no way that you want to paddle straight at that.  Timing, positioning, and wave selection are critical.  Get it right and you get a spectacular ride.  But even with the best made plans, Nick's can be a nightmare.

Most nightmarish is the giant hydraulic at the bottom.  When you ride a sizable wave over Nick's, you feel on top of the world . . . that moment of bliss ends when you look down.  The water slides down deep into a gaping hole and reverses into a wall of whitewater.  Try as you might and no matter how big the boat - Nick's Nightmare swallows you up . . .  It does spit you out.  Sometimes you are lucky and the buoyancy of your boat rockets you out of the depths.
Sea kayak going subsurface at Nick's
Other times, the nightmare continues as Nick's sucks you back into the throngs of chaos and confusion and back over the other side.  I guess you could say you get double your money when you get to ride Nick's both ways on one wave.

We had some spectacular rides at Nick's this weekend including this one where I got double my money.
That moment of bliss on top of the wave . . .
Plunging in deep . . .
Subsurface in a 12' boat
Nick's spitting me out  . . .
Rolling up as I go back over the pour-over.
Jeff says, "Sometimes you get to watch the entertainment and sometimes you are the entertainment."  I know he was entertained . . . I hope you are too.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Goldilocks Outfits Her Jackson Kayak

I love the simplicity of Jackson Kayak's outfitting - especially since it doesn't involve ratchets (which corrode and break) and has a bulkhead that can be adjusted on the fly (no more wrestling matches on shore getting a bulk head into place).  The one thing that I don't like about Jackson Kayak's outfitting is where the backband sits.  Being a smaller paddler, the backbands feel like they are too high.  After some experimenting over the winter with my Zen 55, I found a fix that I liked.
Outfitting changes to my Jackson Kayak Zen 55.
When I got my Karma RG, re-routing the backband was the first thing that I did.  Jeff ended up liking it to so we made a video as I re-routed his.  Here's a link to the video.

If you try my backband fix, please let me know if you like it and/or if you have any other suggestions.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Symphony of the Noyo

Happiness is a butterfly, 
which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.
Nathaniel Hawthorne

We all have those days when things don't go as planned.  Sometimes being open to possibilities or just being present or willing to embrace a moment is all that it takes to transform a derailed to-do list into a moment of bliss and happiness.

This week, I have ended up spending a good part of my days on our deck over the Noyo River priming boards for our shed remodel.  This wasn't on my extensive to-do list and I've had a moment or two of panic about the things that I wasn't getting to.  As I rolled primer onto the plywood and the sun shone on my back, the tension in my neck and shoulders started to ease as I tuned into the Symphony of the Noyo.

Over the years, the slow pace of kayaking on the quiet waters of the Noyo has expanded my curiosity about the creatures and plants that I see everyday.  This curiosity has blossomed into a fascination and love of birds.  Many birders love the challenge of identification and seeing many species.  My fascination is more about their behaviors and natural adaptations.  Part of their behavior that I enjoy is their songs of spring.  (Birds sing in the spring to attract a mate and/or to defend their territory.)

As I paint, I tune into the Symphony of the Noyo - the birds are painting the air with their colorful songs.  Here are some of the star performers - 
The swainson's thrush carries the main melody.  His spiraling song lifts ones' spirits.  

Song Sparrows chime in with their song.

The wilson's warbler contributes his "lazer tag" chorus.

The black-headed grosbeak stars.  His chortling adds some pizzaz to the movement.  

A western wood peewee adds dissonance with his off key - Rrreeeeeks!  

The osprey flies overhead.  When the female sees him, her pleading adds drama to the movement.

Chestnut backed Chickadees - add the "dee, dee, dee's.".

The rattling of the belted kingfisher adds "cha-cha-cha-cha-cha's

The occasional quoak, quoak, quoak of the great blue heron flying up river inspires commotion and percussion in the heron rookery.

The common ravens have a nest over the river and are like the peanut gallery. 
The ravens don't contribute much to the symphony's movement but are a vocal presence.

And a mute swan silently glides across the water - drifting to the Symphony of the Noyo.

Some day I hope to piece together a sound recording of the birds of the Noyo.  Until then, come enjoy the Symphony of the Noyo with me on the water.
Cate guiding Liquid Fusion Kayaking's Sunset Bird Paddle on the Noyo River