Tuesday, October 28, 2014

ACA SUP Instructor Certification Workshop - October 24th-26th

Awesome course!  A great venue, a great assistant and ten qualified, well experienced standup paddlers added up to one fun weekend.  I think everyone walked away super stoked on standup paddling with a bunch of new friends and energy for our sport.  For three solid days we worked on personal paddling skills, teaching skills, rescue skills, safety, judgement, leadership and ambassadorship for sup.  I feel really good about my delivery and am already brainstorming on how to improve for the next course.

photo by Tim Chandler / trystandup.com

photo by Jeff Burton / paddlestandingup.blogspot.com

photo by Jeff Burton / paddlestandingup.blogspot.com

photo by Jeff Burton / paddlestandingup.blogspot.com

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Gulf of Maine King Tide

The Gulf of Maine experienced a King tide this past Thursday at 12:10pm with a height of 10.8ft in my Southern Maine coastal destination.  To celebrate, my sister and I paddled the route around Gerrish and Cutts Islands, a trip I haven't done in almost ten years.  The trip needed a high tide and offered a very short window to complete the circumnavigation as it relies on high water to fill-in an adjacent marsh in order to have the depth needed.  Jill is still fairly new to SUP but was amped up for a challenge, dressed for the part and anxious to improve her skills - this was the perfect trip for that.  

The term King tide is not scientific and indicates the highest tide cycle in a calendar year.  The gravitational pulls of the moon and sun are aligned and working together to create a very high tide.  King Tides are not a phenomenon, in fact they're very predictable and expected.  If a weather event happens to take place during a King tide, say a hurricane, strong wind or a large swell, the combined forces of the tide and weather can easily create devastating coastal flooding.  The useful thing with King tides is they provide insight into what a normal tide could look like in 40-50 years.  Thursdays King tide that brought water levels much higher than normal, into yards, streets, filling up wetlands and rising over jetties, could soon be the normal everyday tide height.  Scientists in Maine use King tide observations for coastal planning and to have a working model of what could be as sea levels are on the rise.  For Jill and I, it meant we could paddle this awesome route with ease.  

Since this trip depends on water in the marsh, we had no choice but to run this route clockwise starting from the culvert on Chauncey Creek.  For the first five minutes we paddled upstream into the marsh then quickly passed the midpoint where the current runs the other direction into the harbor on its way out to sea.  Going with the current, we began cruising through the narrow passageways, some parts not much wider than ten feet.  It feels like a racetrack as you rally for the holeshot into each corner.  For Jill, it was a realistic place to practice board control and better understand how to turn a SUP quickly and efficiently.  Into Brave Boat Harbor we surfed a few small waves rolling through the mouth, then turned South, paddling the outer coast for the next few miles along Cutts and Gerrish.  As we made the turn, we hugged shore for wind protection and buckled down for a 12-15mph headwind that was pretty stiff.  Ducking into lee after lee to take quick breaks, we made decent time considering the challenge of the wind and bumps on the water.  No doubt this was Jills toughest paddle to date and hopefully her most rewarding.   

Continuing into the wind we finally hit the crux as we passed Fort Foster and began our turn West into the Piscataqua river.  Paddling upwind and up-current for a very difficult short stretch, we slowly made it through the worst of it and began to increase our pace heading upriver.  Negotiating the shallow water of Pepperell Cove, we made our last right hand turn up Chauncey Creek with wind at our back and some small bumps to glide on.  We fought hard to attain ground up two small shelves, paddling hard shallow strokes to avoid slamming rocks.  Once above that section we relaxed, slowed our pace and completed the 8.5 mile loop to our starting point with a time of 3hours 45minutes, completely spent.  This was one of the tougher paddles I've had in awhile and super fun with only one fall apiece.  Nice paddling Jill.  

Friday, September 26, 2014

East Coast Autumn

Now that summer is ending I decided to head East to spend some time re-connecting with family & friends.   I haven't witnessed or enjoyed a New England Autumn in years.  As summer holds on tighter than expected and fall begins to inch itself in, the leaves are turning, the air is cooling and I've found some time to breathe it in, look around and scout some potential paddling trips for summer 2015.  

Ferry crossing to Grand Manan

Swallowtail Lighthouse, Grand Manan

Dark Harbour

The view from Southwest Head

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Tomales Bay Sea Kayak

We had 26 teenagers out on Tomales Bay this week and were treated to four days of awesome weather with sun, warm temps and favorable tides.  This was a really fun trip stacked with three other incredible guides and rounded out with four adult chaperones from the school we were guiding.  For three nights and four days we explored the waters and trails around Point Reyes and Tomales Bay.   We saw wildlife, we hiked, we paddled, we visited Clayton Lewis, we swung from trees and we ate local oysters.  The kids learned about nature & Tomales Bay, they learned paddling skills, camping skills, camp kitchen skills and a ton more.  This was easily one of the best trips I've had with children or adults and it came at the perfect time.  Fall in Northern California is like summer everywhere else.

Friday, September 5, 2014

15 Hours Late

Paddling is one of the best things in my life so sharing that with friends and family in a beautiful location is the ultimate.  My buddy from Boston messaged me about returning to a paddling destination we'd visited together six or seven years ago.  I jumped on it and pretty soon we had the plan to rendezvous on the river.  He flew in with his girlfriend a day before me.  Driving down from the Bay Area with a partner, we made a pitstop at McCarren International to pickup my sister and her husband, also flying in from the east.  Not untypical, we launched just before dark, paddled about four miles upriver and camped in a wash the first night.  Waking early and drinking coffee, we got back on the river and met our friends at the site a mere 15 hours late.  Before unpacking boards and gear, we promptly began to celebrate the reunion with drinks in the river!

The next four days was more of the same - celebrating, eating, swimming, hiking, soaking, paddling, laughing, screwing around and just enjoying each others company.  Once back to civilization (sadly) we wrapped up with a few extra days on the Vegas strip.  After that we happily endured more than a few clean, fun surf sessions with friends in San Diego and a stop in Tahoe to camp with returning burners.  Nice fucking trip, eh!  

relaxing on morning two

typical day on the river

always wear a sweater in the desert

another reason sups are better than sea kayaks

proud taco

morning grind

Focus SUP Hawaii Cali 14' loaded

unwinding in Vegas

Century egg anyone?

Focus Cali 14' on tour

Last week I had the chance to tour on the Focus Cali 14' for five self-supported days on class 1 river.  To ready the board, all I did was fit a shorter, smaller flexi fin to deal with rocks (I never touched one) and add four tie-downs to the front deck.  I've put miles on this board on flatwater, bumpy water & downwinding but hadn't yet paddled it loaded.  Unloaded, it excels as a fast & stable all conditions board that is easy to maneuver and control.

The Cali 14' is extremely capable surfing, downwinding, holding speed and dealing with cross-chop.  It's stable from rail to rail and on the tail, it's lightweight, and the volume distribution is perfect for what I need.  The only unanswered question for me, until now, was how well it would handle with a load over 50lbs.

I definitely felt less stable, but only a bit.  Part of the stability loss was due to the small fin and some due to weight.  The sunken deck took on more water than usual, but shed it quickly enough.  Initial rail to rail stability was less than normal, but secondary remained high.  Speed was reduced on flat water, but felt the same on bumpy water.  It definitely wasn't as quick as unloaded, but that would be the same for any loaded board.

When touring I prefer all my gear front of center.  I don't like gear behind me out of sight and personally I need to keep the back deck clear for walking back and turning.  Since I was acting sherpa for friends, I was carrying much more weight than if I were alone, but even at 70+ pounds on the front deck, the Cali was really capable in flat water, current and chop up to 2'.  More later...