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 :)

Monday, May 6, 2019

Inspiring Video

So the rumors are true . . . I have started playing the ukulele.  I am having a blast with it - so much fun that I have figured out how to pack it in my Dagger Katana for multi-day whitewater river kayak trips.

I don't have any aspirations of being a great ukulele player.  I am subscribing to the school of thought that the ukulele is all about fun.

This video uses the ukulele to speak the language of fun.  Check it out here or on YouTube.

Maybe someday, I will be good enough on the ukulele to play a song for one of my video edits.