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...