Archive for June, 2011

Jun 24 2011

Tour de Mendo June 2011

We love running Tour de Mendo trips. Each trip is different with different venues and different paddlers. The primary goal of the Tour de Mendo is to explore and play in kayaks along the Mendocino Coast – FUN, FUN, FUN!!!

Our most recent group of paddlers came from San Diego, Orange County, and LA. Of the 6 paddlers, only one had paddled the Mendocino Coast before with us so Day 1 was an instructional tour day. We launched from Liquid Fusion Kayaking headquarters on the Noyo River and headed out to the coast. Once in the ocean, we started with teaching (reviewing for some) the basics of kayaking in ocean rock gardens including safety and play.

And of course enjoyed lunch on a beach.

And lots of rock garden play.

Day 2 was a paddle out of Russian Gulch. This is probably one of the most spectacular stretches of the Mendocino Coast to explore by sea kayak. We explored many of the sea caves, tunnels, arches, and hidden coves as we paddled north to the Point Cabrillo Lighthouse.

It was an outstanding day with lots of wonder and awe as well as lots of play. Everyone’s highlight of the day was negotiating some technical routes that through rock gardens with chaotic waters. It is super fun to lead a group of skilled paddlers through these tight, technical passages.

This year it was fun to have the group staying in the vacation rental at Dolphin Isle. It is a great space for a group of paddlers. A large private deck is perfect for drying gear and the location is within 50 yards of LFK headquarters.

It was also a great staging point for food preparation for an evening potluck and campfire at LFK.

We had a very special trip in mind for Day 3. It is definitely off the beaten paddle, and we were looking forward to having a group with the skills to share it with. However, the Fog Bug that has been plaguing our cameras decided to envelope us for the day. We shifted gears and decided to go paddle and play on the Noyo River.

It was a nice relaxing rest day for the group followed by our Eel River Paddle to the Sea presentation at Silver’s at the Wharf.

We had been having unseasonably calm conditions. Wind and rough seas are typical for June so we were fortunate to have had a couple of calm days with small swells. Day 4 was more typical of spring paddling on the Mendocino Coast. The wind and the seas had kicked up. We enjoyed some really fun technical meandering along the Fort Bragg Coastline with a little bit of rock gardening and surfing play.

We returned to the Noyo Beach for some play in short boats (whitewater kayaks). This was an introduction to some members of the group and conditions had picked up so we kept things on the mellow side.

The Tour de Mendo is one of our favorite trips to guide. It is fun to share our backyard with a group of competent sea kayakers. This trip was special because it was the first one that Jeff and I got to guide together. We are looking forward to guiding more Tour de Mendo’s together (If you want to join us, we have a couple of spaces left on our September Tour de Mendo’s and offer custom/private trips).

Here is a link to our photo gallery from the trip.

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Jun 18 2011

The Fog Bug

Ever wake up in the morning feeling kind of foggy? Maybe too little sleep or too much to drink – we all know that feeling.

This week, I had serious fog issues with my camera. Several paddlers on our June Tour de Mendo commented about having fog issues with their cameras. I felt for them and took a moment to appreciate the reliability of our waterproof point and shoot camera. Our Olympus Stylus 850SW has been a champ. It has seen A LOT of use since we bought it in the summer of 2008 and been a solid camera for us – taking great photos and video (considering it is pre-HD). Each year, we have sent it in for refurbishing and maintenance and it has come back looking like new and working great.
This week despite all precautions, it caught the “fog bug.” The lens and lcd panel started fogging up. I was very disappointed as I missed some great shots but what can one do?

I called Olympus yesterday and it just happens that my baby is still under warranty from last winter’s repair and refurbish. They warned me that they are no longer fixing older models like this. I begged and pleaded that they bring it back to life as it is the best camera ever. Hopefully they will. Their warranty and customer service has been outstanding so I am optimistic.

I didn’t tell Olympus that perhaps the camera was exposed to the deadly “fog bug.” Jeff had borrowed a camera from one of the paddlers in our group and it turned out to have the “fog bug” as well. He made the best out of some of his foggy photos by making them in to black and whites.

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Jun 16 2011

Taking One for the Team

Published by under Uncategorized

Yep. Sometimes, you get to take one for the team. In last week’s Tour de Mendo, I took at couple. Sometimes, it is taking one when guiding another paddler through rocks or waves and other times it is being in the impact zone for that perfect photo.

I took 2 on our first day of the Tour de Mendocino. The first was guiding some sea kayakers in through a small, dumpy beach break. I had paddled in to check on a student and then turned to come back out and a larger set came in. I didn’t have the speed to punch through the wave and did a nice end over end. It was quite entertaining, but most importantly I guided all of my students in safely without carnage.

The other was sitting in the wash zone of a pour-over. A larger wave came through and I was photographing Jeff and John coming over the pour-over together. My one handed brace wasn’t enough and ker-plop I went with the camera dangling. All was well though, I got the shot and rolled up (although not one of my better photos, but sometimes its not the photo but the story).

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Jun 06 2011

Black Oystercatcher Survey

It was raining so we took Friday afternoon off to help out the Audubon Society with a black oystercatcher survey. I guess most people take a sunny afternoon off to go to the beach or something, but we live life a little out of the box.

The black oystercatcher is a species of concern. They are coastal birds that are almost prehistoric looking with their jet black bodies and bright red bills, pink legs, and glowing yellow eyes. They live on coastal rocks and feed on mollusks like mussels. With lots of rocky reefs and coastal rocks, the Mendocino Coast is a prime habitat for them. The California Audubon Society decided to organize a citizens in science project to survey the oystercatchers with special attention paid to nesting behaviors.

Of course kayaking is our favorite way to explore coastal rocks so we loaded up our sea kayaks and took them to Noyo Beach. Our survey area was Noyo Bay and the area just to the north and south to the southern headlands of Hare Creek. We had unbelievably calm ocean conditions. It was fun to meander through the rocky passages that are often inaccessible due to waves exploding through them. We had binoculars, our waterproof tablets, waterproof camera, and GPS.

We found 4 nesting pairs of oystercatchers in our survey. We knew of 2 of the pairs from watching them over previous years. We also saw quite a few Western gulls and pelagic cormorants sitting on nests in our survey area. We saw a common raven nest with 3 young as well as a couple of common ravens raid a couple of cormorant nests. The ravens swooped in and scared the brooding parent off the nest and rifled through the contents of the nest.

We haven’t been out in our sea kayaks much so this was a great way to get some of the rust off our long boat skills. We used our greenland paddles because they are stealthy and quiet for wildlife watching. Of course we had to surf a couple of waves at Hare Creek and ride a couple of pour-overs and slots. I took advantage of the south swell for a fantastic ride over a wash rock with a gorgeous cascading backside (Of course – Jeff didn’t have a camera). Here’s Jeff coming over Nick’s Nightmare.

And Jeff blasting through Angie’s Angst.

After our paddle, we drove up to Pomo Bluffs with our spotting scope to scope out several of the nests that we had seen. From on top of the headlands, we had a better vantage point to see the oystercatchers in their nests.

The Mendocino Coast Audubon had local birders covering most of the coastline during the 4 day survey period. It is great to see people rally to help out with these citizen science projects. We were happy to be able to help out with a portion.

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Jun 01 2011


Published by under birds,surf,video,wildlife

Have you ever thought about how much plastic we use?

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And where it ends up?

Plastic seems to have become a necessity in our lives. Many of us have discontinued using single use plastic bottles and carry cloth bags to the grocery store. Unfortunately, this is only a start. As I write this, I look at all the plastic shtuff around my desk and all the plastic kayaks on our kayak rack.

Plastic seems to have become a necessary evil in our lives today, but I think that we need to start decreasing our dependence of it and be more conscientious of recycling and proper disposal.

Any thoughts or ideas? Please share, discuss, ect.
Let’s work together to increase awareness and start working toward solutions!!!

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