Saturday, November 30, 2019


It was too sappy to call this post Gushing with Gratitude.  But that isn't a bad thing.

As we roll into Liquid Fusion Kayaking's slower season, Jeff and I have been reviewing Liquid Fusion Kayaking's business plan and our own personal goals.  Health and happiness are at the top of my short and long term goal list.  This week, I reaffirmed how simple this can be, and I am literally gushing with gratefulness.
Strolling among redwood trees - breathing the fresh air - marveling at life.
I am grateful that I have found the magic potion for happiness - time spent in nature.  It can be as simple as walking on my errands around town - admiring plants and birds or as exhilarating as surfing my kayak, running whitewater, or mountain biking in the forest.  I have let go of the perception that every adventure has to be epic - perfect waves, big whitewater, fast rides.  I have shifted my mindset and discovered that every adventure is a victory of the soul.
My surfing pals and I call surfing a wave that doesn't break sledding.  Rather than being frustrated that the surf is small, I sled and rejoice that I am able to get outside and play in the sea.  There will be days with better waves.
I feel very fortunate to live in Fort Bragg, California with access to the sea and the redwood forest.   I also greatly appreciate my friends, neighbors, and community.  Solo missions are special but sharing adventures with friends is feeds the happiness quotient.
Camping on the Eel River
As we roll into the holidays, take time reflect on all the blessings of this world.  Rejoice in them and share them with others.
Our coastal mountain biking crew sharing adventures in the desert.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Fort Bragg, California

Fort Bragg, California is a bit rough around the edges.  We like it this way.  To live here, one has to be creative, adaptive, and willing to get wet.  When Jeff and I established Liquid Fusion Kayaking in Fort Bragg in 2008, we had to do some out of the box thinking to make it work.  

Earlier this month, Fort Bragg celebrated it's 130th birthday.  Fort Bragg has been a lumber and fishing town for the majority of those 130 years.  These are 2 extremely rugged and dangerous industries.  And industries that often swing on a variable economic pendulum.  Today, Fort Bragg is attempting to break away from its economic dependence on lumber and fishing.  As tourism becomes an important part of Fort Bragg's economy, we are seeking how to stay true to our rugged roots.

Whitewater Kayaking, Cliffside Wine Tasting, and the Strange Wildnerness - The 4 Day Weekend in Fort Bragg is the title of a recent article in Men's Journal.  The author Andrew Leonard shares his experience visiting Fort Bragg including Liquid Fusion Kayaking's Whitewater of the Sea Adventure. 
Kayaking ocean rock gardens on the Mendocino Coast
Working with the water to ride a wave over a rock.  Fort Bragg, California is an ideal location for whitewater ocean kayaking - aka rock gardening.
In the article, Andrew alludes to the challenge of Fort Bragg reinventing itself without sanding away its rough edges.  He closes his article with the lesson that he learned when ocean kayaking with Jeff - "Work with the water and not against it."  Good advice for all of us in changing times - the trick is understanding how water works 😉
Rock Gardening class on the Mendocino Coast
Liquid Fusion Kayaking's Cate Hawthorne coaching students on how to work with the water and kayak as a team in ocean rock gardens.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Lumpy Waters 2019

Once again, Jeff and I returned to Pacific City, Oregon for the Lumpy Waters Symposium.  This was our 8th year coaching at Lumpy.  If you haven't been to Lumpy Waters, mark your calendar for October 9-11, 2020 and get there.  Pacific City is a beautiful location.  Many of the event's classes are within a 10 minute walk or 5 minute drive (and a couple are 30 minutes away). The team at Alder Creek run an excellent event.  The event is very student centered - meaning - it is all about students learning and having a great time.

As a coach, I enjoy the attitude and energy of the Lumpy students.  Students come to Lumpy to learn and have fun.  One can be goofy as a coach (it is encouraged).  This gets everyone laughing and makes for a relaxed, fun, and supportive learning environment in an environment that can be challenging.  Many of the classes at Lumpy are lumpy.  Students come to Lumpy to be challenged by dynamic waters and learn how to kayak in them.  My job is to keep them safe and teach them the skills that they need to paddle and play safely in the surf and rock gardens.

As a coach, I am constantly challenged to create a safe learning environment for students in the surfzones and rock gardens of the Oregon Coast.  Like the students Lumpy challenges and stretches me.  On the last day of Lumpy, Jeff and I were co teaching an Intro to Rock Gardening Class.  During the morning, conditions built. At lunch time, we landed our students through 5 foot surf.  We modified our afternoon plans to do a bit of coasteering. It was super fun.  We had students traversing on foot and swimming through the rock gardens just off the beach.  As we traversed through the rocks, the students got to practice CLAP (communication, line of sight, awareness, and positioning) and feel and work with the pulse of the sea.

We pegged the fun meter with jumping off a rock onto an incoming wave.

Another highlight from Lumpy this year was getting to teach a full day surfzone class.  The full day format took all the hustle and bustle out of trying to cram in the essentials into a couple of hours.  My students had the luxury of a full day to develop confidence and control in the surf zone.  At the end of the day, they were all landing with finesse and control in the surf.

Another highlight from Lumpy is getting to reconvene with friends and fellow coaches and adventurers.  We swap stories of adventures and share the triumphs and tribulations of life in the kayak industry.

Lumpy students - if you are reading my blog - THANK YOU for your positive energy.  Your smiles and success on the water inspires me as an instructor.  It is why I teach.  And if you get a chance, please come take a class or tour through Liquid Fusion Kayaking with Jeff and I in our home waters on the Mendocino Coast or Eel River.  You will love it!!!

Monday, September 23, 2019

Coastal Cleanup Day 2019

We did it again!!!

Check out this video of Liquid Fusion Kayaking's 2019 On-Water Cleanup of Noyo River and Harbor.  We had fun and cleaned up the river.

A huge thank you to everyone who participated in Coastal Cleanup Day!  And to everyone who works to clean and protect our waters.

Join us next year - the third Saturday of September.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Pressing the Reset Button

How does one reset after a busy work season? 
Sea kayak camping trip on the Mendocino Coast of California.
Jeff and I have found that disconnecting and going camping does the trick for us.  The weather this summer at home on the Mendocino Coast has been phenomenal so we decided on a bit of a staycation for our get away.
Jeff suiting up for our paddle into camp.
Last week we carved out a few days and loaded up our sea kayaks for a coastal camping trip.  Our plan was paddling into a beach and sett up a base camp for 4 nights.  We paddled our Dagger Stratos 14.5s because they carry a lot of gear are fun for coastal play - rock gardening and surfing.
Dagger Stratos 14.5 is a versatile sea kayak for coastal play.
Of course we overloaded our boats with luxury items like fresh vegetables, beer, margaritas, and a  ukulele and books.  Fortunately we had the wind at our backs for our paddle into camp.
Wind at our backs for the paddle into camp.
Our camp was just dreamy - warm, sunny weather and just the two of us camping on a remote beach.  At camp, we read, relaxed, and enjoyed some quiet time alone and together.
Jeff reading the Sea Forager's Guide to the Northern California Coast.
The paddling playground surrounding our camp was amazing.  The seas were quite sporty and lured us out for some exploration and rock garden play.
Launching a bit higher than Jeff anticipated on this one.
Evenings were spent cooking over the campfire and playing the ukulele.
Strumming the ukulele while cooking dinner over the campfire.

I am working on a video to share the trip.  I might write more about it but don't want to share too much and hope that you will check out my upcoming video (possibly videos).
View from our tent of the full moon over the sea.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Fall 2019

Whew - it was a busy and interesting summer for Liquid Fusion Kayaking.  I love guiding kayak tours and teaching kayaking but have to admit that the day after Labor Day is always a bit of a relief.  The day after labor day marks the end of our busy summer tour season.  After Labor Day,  we will continue to teach and guide but will not be on the water with students 6 days a week.  Many of our trips in the fall are Mendo Your Way - custom sea kayak tours on the Mendocino Coast.  It is fun working with people to create dream trips.
sea kayak mendocino sea caves
Sea kayaking into Mendocino Sea Caves
Now, it is time to get all the "invisible" work of running a kayaking business done as well as work on home improvement projects.  One of my fall projects is getting back to regular blogging.  I am working on a post about choosing the right kayak for rock gardening and coastal play.  I have a couple of instructional posts in mind as well.  If you have ideas or suggestions for my blog, please share them in the comments or contact me through Liquid Fusion Kayaking.

Also on the Fall list is a sea kayak coastal camping trip and coaching at the Lumpy Waters Sea Kayak Symposium.  If you haven't been, it is the funnest sea kayak event. There are still some spaces available.  Check it out and sign up! 
Pegging the Fun Meter at Lumpy Waters in Pacific City Oregon.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Wave in a Cave

Check out my latest HOT Lap video.

My goal for the hot lap series is 1 minute videos that are FUN!!! My goal is to capture a play spot or a before or after work paddle and share it in a quick 1 minute video. Quick means 2 things - 1 minute in length but also a quick edit. Too often, we spend hours editing videos trying to get them to be perfect. My goal is to get faster in my video editing yet still produce a decent video.

Be sure to subscribe to Liquid Fusion Kayaking's YouTube Channel to see them and to see the longer edits. You also might catch them on our Instagram or Facebook.

Be sure to like, comment, and share - this keeps me motivated to keep producing them.

Here's my latest video -


A day at the beach morphs into a sea cave kayak surf session. The Mendocino Coast of California is an awesome playground for whitewater and sea kayaking especially if you enjoy ocean kayak rock gardening and sea cave exploration. On our day off this week, we decided to a beach day was in store. We packed a cooler, beach towel, and of course threw our surf kayaks and whitewater kayaks in the pickup. Cate went for a swim to cool off and discovered this wave in a cave. Of course we had to go surf it. The Tsunami Ranger saying "A wave in a cave is an early grave" came to mind. Today was not the case. Surfing the wave in the cave was great fun and a fun way to spend an afternoon off.

You can watch the video here but best to use this link to view it on YouTube.

Monday, August 5, 2019

HOT LAP - Cache Creek Whitewater

Summer is one of my busiest months on the water so my blog gets a little bit neglected.  I also have to admit that I have been doing more video work than writing.  In the summer, I am guiding trips or teaching lessons most days but strive to get out for fun each day too.  Fun might be a surf session, a mountain bike ride, a trail run, a spin on my Stand Up Paddle Board, a sea kayak paddle, or a rock garden session.
Messing about on the river.
I have been working on my video skills during these play sessions and am creating a series of HOT LAP videos.  My goal for these videos is a quick edit of my media resulting in a 1 minute video sharing the fun that can be had in a before or after work session.  I am enjoying the challenge of editing my footage down to 1 minute but will probably put together a couple of 2-3 minute videos as well.

Here is one of my first HOT LAP Videos - Cache Creek.  Cache Creek aka Crash Creek is a favorite summer getaway for Jeff and I on our day off.  We enjoy the change of scenery, scorching hot weather, and refreshing whitewater river kayaking.

The video is probably best viewed on YouTube.  I hope you enjoy it and will check out more of my Hot Lap Videos.

Be sure to subscribe to Liquid Fusion Kayaking's YouTube Channel for longer edits and a full playlist of 1 minute edits.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Sun Protection

Summer is here!!!  The UV seems to be stronger each year.  Many days on the water, I feel fried.  Most chemical sunscreens are not good for your body or the environment.  Mineral sunscreens like zinc work for some but not for others. 

I have found the best sun protection is to be covered up.  Here is my favorite combo at the moment -

For whitewater - river or ocean, I like the Shred Ready Zeta Helmet.  The small is a great fit for my small head and the brim gives lots of sun protection.  For flat water days, I wear a floppy sun hat.  If it is windy, then a ball cap.  Lately I have been digging the fit and sun protection from my new Immersion Research Women's Trucker Hat.  Usually trucker hats are way too big for me but this one fits my pea sized head and gives great sun protection.
As you can see in the photo, I am pretty covered up.  Cold water paddling necessitates a drytop or wetsuit which suffices for sun protection too.  On flat water paddles days, I try to protect my skin from the sun with a lightweight hoodie.  I like the hoodie because it protects my neck and helps to shade more of my face than a regular sun shirt.  I practically live in my Immersion Research Highwater Hoody.
Hoodies are great on and off the water and give extra protection for the neck and face.
To further protect my face, I will wear a sun mask.  These can be a bit of a pain with sun glasses.  Sometimes they interfere with ventilation under the glasses and cause fogging up.  I deal with it or readjust as necessary.
Game face - fish-on!
Of course protecting the eyes from the sun and the glare off the water is super important.  I am hooked on polarized lenses especially those from Maui Jim.  Maui Jim's are a bit pricey but so worth it.  Everything looks crisper with them and their warranty repair service is top notch.

Do you have any suggestions for sun protection?  If so, please share.

Monday, June 3, 2019

I Don't Care Why -

“I don’t care why they invited me. So many times in my life people said no to me because I was a girl.”  Manon Rheaume

Manon Rheaume was the first (and only woman to date) to play in an NHL game.  Check out this video interview with Manon Rheaume.

Being a woman in sport is a double edged sword.  Sometimes, you are discriminated against for being a woman.  Other times, you are include because you are a woman (these "token chic" experiences often lead to further discrimination).

Last year, I stopped posting on my blog and Woman on Water Facebook Page.  I changed my Woman on Water Instagram name to Cate Hawthorne because I was questioning what it meant to be a woman in a professional sports.  

I don't want to be identified by my gender but by who I am.  However, the reality is that my gender does contribute to who I am.  The world is more black and white and male and female than many of us believe or want.  Despite our best intentions, we are not blind to color/race/gender/sexual preference.

I am uncertain if I should be flying the flag as Woman on Water but feel that my contributions have a place.  I am inspired by women like Manon Rheaume.  I hope to inspire others to be the best that they can be and to get out and enjoy life - on an off the water.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Swimming with Your Kayak

Sooner later, it happens . . . your kayak capsizes and you are in the water.

Often kayakers rely on other people to assist them with getting back into their kayak, but sometimes it is necessary to be able to swim your kayak to shore or to swim to your paddling team for assistance. Usually in ocean rock gardens, you will want to swim away from the rocks and toward deep water.  On the river, you usually will be swimming to shore.

The number one thing to do when you capsize is to hold on to your kayak and paddle.  For more on this check out Hold on to Your Kayak.

The second thing to do is to gain your composure and figure out what to do.  Often this means swimming with your kayak away from the hazard that capsized you, swimming to a safe spot, swimming to shore, or swimming to where a friend can help you.

Here are some tips for when you need to swim with your kayak -

1. Right the kayak.  Kayaks move more efficiently right side up.

2.  Get to the end of the kayak (bow or stern).

3.  Grab the carry handle or swim toggle on the end of the kayak with the same hand that you are using to hold onto the paddle.

4.  Choke up on the paddle so that it is streamline and out of the way.

5.  Use your free arm and legs to swim to safety.  We usually use a side stroke similar to what life guards use.

As you are swimming, figure out if you can use wind, waves, or current to help you.

If your friend is swimming, call out to them with encouragement and simple directions.

Practice these skills in easy water to perfect your technique.

Monday, May 20, 2019

A Series of Unexpected Storms

Who would have thought that we would have 2 back to back rain storms in the middle of May?  And more rain forecasted in a couple more days?

We were in denial last week when we saw the weather forecast for the 3rd week of May 2019.  We had scheduled rolling lessons, beginner sea kayak lessons, the Big River Walk and Paddle, Whitewater of the Sea, Kayak Safety Clinic, and an Afternoon on the River Benefit.  Those plans all got washed out . . .

It poured and poured and blew and blew all day Wednesday and Thursday.  When it became apparent that we were going to get over 4 inches of rain in under 48 hours, high winds, and more significant rain and wind coming, we cancelled our weekend events and hunkered down for office work and rolling lessons in the pool.

Friday the sun poked out and we had had enough rain to make Rancheria Creek Run.  Rancheria Creek is the primary tributary of the Navarro River.  It takes a lot of rain for it to be runnable and running it in May is relatively unheard of (of course there are debated stories of paddlers running it in May in the 1990's).After a morning of office work, we joined a friend to run Rancheria Creek.   It was a treat to run it in the late spring.  The trees and plants were green, and we felt like we were kayaking in a rain forest. 

Especially spectacular were the wild azaleas blooming along the river.

It was particularly novel to be paddling on a warm, sunny, spring day and wearing shorts and a drytop.  It seems that most of the time when we are running Rancheria, it is raining and chilly.  Usually, we are wearing drysuits and keeping an eye on time to make sure that we finish the run before dark.

We had some large rain storms this winter that flooded and changed many of our local waterways.  Signs of flooding and extreme flows were evident as we paddled down Rancheria Creek.  Many trees were uprooted and lined the river banks. 

As we paddled, we were on our toes watching for trees down across the river creating hazards and strainers.  Sure enough - we encountered a river wide strainer that required portaging.

One never knows the exact flow of Rancheria Creek because there isn't a gauge.  We estimated it to be about 740 cfs but could be guessing too high or too low.  There was enough water for clean routes through most of channels.  Of course, Paul had to try his luck on "The Ledge."

There were also a couple of nice surf waves including this all day wave.

Who knows if it is climate change or just an odd storm pattern.  We do know that we can't control the weather and that it is best to go with the flow - especially if Rancheria Creek is running in the spring.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Dreamy Days on the River

Jeff and I are back home on the Mendocino Coast preparing for Liquid Fusion Kayaking's spring and summer season.  As I work through my projects, I occasionally allow my mind to day dream of our dreamy days on the river.
Evenings on the river - playing the ukulele by the campfire.
For our spring run-off trip this year, we did 2 self support kayak camping trips on the Eel River.  The first trip was a 5 day 70 mile trip on the main fork of the Eel with our friend Jerry. 
Jerry Albright whitewater kayaking on the Eel River.
The second trip was an extremely leisurely 4 day 24 mile trip.  Saving more on this trip for another blog post.  Hint - it was leisurely with a mission.
Lots of fun surf waves . . . even in a loaded boat.
My mind continues to wander back to cloudless 80 degree days, emerald green water, familiar yet fun whitewater, spectacular scenery, wildflowers, and wildlife.
Fun Class II and III Whitewater.
My favorite dreamy days were those when we didn't have to make miles and could leisurely float along the river - immersing ourselves in nature.
Watching a young cinnamon colored bear cruising along the Eel River.
Between Jeff and I, we shot over 1,000 photos.  I will share more photos and more stories from our adventure as I sift through them.  Here are a few of my favorites to give you a taste of our trip.
Kayak camping along the Eel River.
Remnants of the Eel River Rail Road at Island Mountain.
The Eel River's version of "Pick up Sticks."
Gotta love when a man cooks for you over a campfire.
There is a story to go with this photo.  For now, check out the red capped rock behind Jeff on the river.  It is one of my favorite rocks on the Eel River.
We saw lots of pairs of eagles along the Eel River.
Perhaps the happiest couple in the world :)