Saturday, July 23, 2011

Lost Coast

Tomorrow I head north with three other local paddlers to tackle a 70 mile stretch of the Lost Coast in sea kayaks.  The goal of the trip is to make speed along the beaches in order to allow playtime along rocky sections.  Although I originally set out to travel light and fast, it looks like I'll be traveling heavier than planned.  Part of the reason is that I haven't camped from my boat in almost a year and I'm anxious to re-evaluate my systems, especially for solo travel.  I've spent the week packing and repacking, organizing, simplifying and reducing redundancies in my kit.  It's at the point now where it just needs to be tested.

In the picture above, the bag on the left contains everything packing into the cockpit - my clothing, helmet, pfd, skirt, towline, shoes, water and more.  The bag on the right contains everything else to be spread between the three hatches in my poly Avocet. Besides my main paddle, this is everything I need. Look forward to a trip report in the coming week.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Rodeo to Muir

I got out for a nice evening coastal paddle with Sean Morley yesterday afternoon in the Marin Headlands.  Sean has invited me on a Lost Coast trip coming up shortly and we felt it was a good idea to get out in the plastic boats in real conditions and make sure the kit is up to par.  It was beautiful in Berkeley yesterday, but that quickly changed as I got closer to the coast and entered the thick fog, wind and drizzle.  Conditions were okay with a long-period south swell producing decent sized waves.  The wind was blowing close to 20 kts on the bay and made things bumpy on the coast.  We launched the kayaks into dumping surf around 4:45pm and headed north for some play.  Sean has been paddling a ski quite often lately and I've been spending more time on my SUP than in my kayak.  I really enjoy crossing back and forth between paddle craft and the SUP paddling is making me a noticeably stronger paddler.  You simply cannot get away with lilly dipping on a standup board in anything but the flattest conditions and it forces you to paddle with technique and deliberateness.

It's quite an honor to play in the rocks with Sean and the stuff he pulls off is nothing short of spectacular.  I took awhile to warm up but he was charging from the start.  There is one standout moment that the pictures do absolutely no justice at all, but it really blew me away.  He lined up at a wall a good six feet below some rocks.  A large wave comes in, lifts him and he sprints on the wave and pulls off this incredible drop on the back slope of the wall.  To me it resembled a skier jumping off a cliff more than a  sea kayaker in the ocean.  Absolutely fluid, controlled and as stated above, spectacular.

It was a nice little warm-up and I'm getting really excited for this trip in less than two weeks.  Yesterdays conditions really reinforced the fact that we have to be prepared for fog, wind, swell, surf landings, bumpy conditions and more.  The group he has assembled is competent in all these things so I'm confident we are going to have a great time.

Monday, July 11, 2011

SUP surfing San Diego

About two weeks ago I finally made the jump and added a surf specific SUP to the collection of paddle craft.  I picked up a 8'11" Lopez Lil' Darlin the night before I left for a week of surfing in SoCal.  Up until now I've been surfing boards in the 11 - 12' size and having a blast, but I was ready for more performance. I made the trek down by car and met up with Hales and some other friends and right away got into the water.

The board is obviously much less stable and slower than what I'm used to - on flatwater.  On the wave, it is fast, stable and maneuverable, but I need more time before I have control of it.  After five days in well formed small waves, I felt really pleased on my progression in that short time and got a good sense of what the board can do once I improve my skills a bit.

My background in the surfzone is roughly ten years of sea kayak surfing.  Very little in short boats, some longboarding and a bit of time on a shortboard.  I've always really loved surfing waves, especially in sea kayaks, but I won't be switching back anytime soon.  The SUP is sooooo much more fun on the wave and is opening up a new realm of paddling fun for me.

After five days in San Diego the deck pad was barely hanging on, so first order of business once I returned was to strip it off and remount it.  I didn't document the process with photos, but feel it is worth mentioning that it is a ton of work.  The pad peeled off easily enough, but obviously left a ton of residue.  I finally came to a system that made short work of a clean removal of all stickiness.  Next I wanted to try something different and cut the pad into many smaller pieces approximately 2" by 4".  After more work laying it out, taping it off, using a spray adhesive to mount and walking on the board to provide pressure, I'm finally done and the finished product is pretty nice.  So far I really like the grip it provides but time will tell as to how long the pad will stay down.  If it fails me, I will likely be going back to good old fashioned wax.