Archive for July, 2011

Jul 26 2011

The Ladies’ Project

Yes, you’ve heard Goldilocks’ tale – “This kayak is too wide, this kayak is too deep, this kayak is too heavy, this kayak is too slow, this kayak is uncomfortable, I can’t reach the foot pedals, I can’t stretch a spray deck over the long cockpit, my butt doesn’t fit in the seat . . .” Gosh, the same thing happens when I try to shop for clothing in the men’s department. DUH!!! There are significant anatomical differences between men and women.

Of course, I am not the only Goldilocks. Many women paddlers face these same issues. There is no ladies’ department for kayaks so we end up shopping in the men’s department and making due with what we can find that fits best. In doing so, we compromise comfort and performance.

The learning curve for a beginner in whitewater kayaking is steep especially when trying to paddle boats that don’t fit properly. I remember my first lesson when the instructor was teaching edging and said to apply pressure with my right thigh in the brace. My thigh was no where near the thigh brace. Many women give up on paddling or are limited to flat water paddling because they don’t get the body-boat connection necessary for developing confidence and skills.

Kayak manufacturers have started offering more size options to accommodate a wider range of paddlers, but no one has really scientifically looked at how the anatomical differences of men and women (lower center of gravity, shorter arms and torso, lower muscle to weight ratio, different pelvic structure, and narrower shoulders) effect a kayak’s performance.

The Ladies’ Project is a step in this direction. Risa Shimoda is a whitewater paddler and advocate for rivers and whitewater accessibility. She has enlisted Carnegie Mellon University’s engineering and design department to take on the challenge of developing a kayak design for women. This fall, students will be posed with this challenge (provided the materials and lab fees can be raised).

Let‘s rally to help and be a part of this movement to further kayak design for women. Donations are being sought to cover the $7000 material and lab fees. $25 is the suggested donation amount but any amount will help fund this ground breaking project.

Even if a solution is not found – we are furthering awareness and knowledge. You can help make kayaking more accessible to women by spreading the word and making a donation by 7/31.

To donate to The Ladies‘ Project, click here.

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Jul 19 2011

Kayak Golf

Fort Bragg, California has a Disc Golf Course so why not a Kayak Golf Course?

We were looking for some new kayak games and stumbled upon the WaterRipper. The WaterRipper is a ball designed for water play. On the WaterRipper website, there are lots of game ideas including kayak golf. Of course, we had to give it a try.

Using Chuckits, WaterRippers and all sorts of kayaks, we started messing around. So far, we have 4 holes on the Noyo River. Most of our holes are actually buoys, but we are working on some holes.

We are still working on developing our course and technique. Stop by and play a round.

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Jul 06 2011

Sunken Kayak

While 2 red flags flew above the US Coast Guard Station in Noyo Harbor, a green sit on top kayak bounced and bobbed beneath the surface of the water.

Around 2:30 a phone call came in about a sunken kayak in Noyo Bay. It was an office day for me. I was in a stupor of paperwork and bookkeeping and didn’t know how to respond so I gave them Jeff’s cell phone number.

An hour later, Jeff walks into our home office and starts assembling his dive gear and kayak rescue kit. I couldn’t let him have all the fun so I wrapped up my office work, grabbed my kayak and gear and headed out to catch up with him in the Noyo Bay.

As I drove down the hill past the US Coast Guard Station, I noticed 2 red flags flying indicating a small craft advisory and rough sea conditions. A glance out at the ocean, it showed steep seas pitching the buoys sideways. The tide was high and waves were breaking over many of our favorite rock garden play spots.

When we arrived, Scott (the guy who had sunk his kayak) had an entourage of family and friends waiting to see what we would do. He had quite an adventure already – sinking his kayak and being rescued by the Coast Guard. They had called the local diver who does subsurface repair and salvage work, but he wasn’t going out due to the conditions. They expected us to come out on a boat to recover the kayak and exclaimed their surprise when we started suiting up and unloading our kayaks.

Scott borrowed his dive buddy’s kayak and came to assist us with the retrieval mission. We launched and paddled out to the spot where the kayak sunk. When the kayak sank, the guys cleverly tied a float tube (used for abalone diving) and anchor to the kayak to mark its position on the bottom of the bay.

When we got to the spot, Jeff suited up with his dive gear (fins, snorkel, and weight belt).

The kayak had sunk when the paddler had the front hatch open to store his weight belt and lost balance and capsized the kayak. If the weight belt had fallen out, the kayak would have been flooded but would have been neutrally buoyant. However, the weight belt slid into the bow taking her nose down into Davey Jone’s Locker.

Jeff dove down and assessed the situation. The bow of the boat was bouncing on top of a submerged rock about 15 feet below the rolling surface. Getting the weight belt out of the bow was going to be key in recovering the boat. Not only did Jeff get the 25 pound weight belt out of the boat, but he swam with it up to the surface. We stowed it in Scott’s borrowed kayak and I braced his boat.

Jeff had tied a line to the sunken kayak to one of the carrying handles. I stabilized Scott’s boat as he attempted to pull her up, but the handle broke. Jeff dived down and retied the line, and we successfully pulled her up.

Without the weight belt, the kayak was neutrally buoyant and floated just below the surface of the water. We thought that we could bilge her out and tow her back to the beach, but her drain plug was missing and she continued to take on water. Plan B – tow the waterlogged, submerged kayak back to shore.

We got her back to shore with lots of cheers.

After getting the water-out, she didn’t look too much worse for wear with the exception of her bow.

After bouncing and bobbing on the rock for 3-4 hours, the bow was considerably banged- up but still intact.

Just another day at the office.

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