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!!!