Archive for the 'eskimo roll' Category

Aug 12 2014

Jive’n

“Sometimes you get to watch the entertainment . . . and sometimes you are the entertainment.”

Sometimes it is both – especially when someone videos it.  This week I had an evening free and went through some of our ocean kayaking video footage.  I compiled a video of some play sessions that we have had over the past year – mostly rock gardening and surfing in our old school Necky Jive’s.

Here’s the video

Hope you are entertained.

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Mar 20 2013

Dreamtime

Have you ever experienced one of those moments when you have to pinch yourself because it doesn’t seem real?

This morning,  Jeff and I are standing on the headlands scouting a break for surf – the sun is shining, there isn’t a breath of wind, the fog bank is sitting off-shore, and 4 foot glassy waves are spilling across the break.  We lapse further into our fantasy world, when we see a huge pod of Risso’s dolphins feasting and frolicing just outside the break. There are well over 100 dolphins launching into the air, somersaulting and belly flopping into the water.

Our existence feels surreal as we head down to the beach in anticipation of sunshine, surf, and the enchanting magic of dolphins.  Then, the fog rolls in erasing the sun and veiling the glassy faced waves that moments ago we were surfing in our minds.  It socks in so thick you can barely see across the beach, and the glassy green faces morph quickly into dumpy, wrinkled grey masses with madly frothing tresses.

As my fantasy of sunshine and surf dissipates, I tell myself “It’s training.  Get out there and get some waves.”  Slowly, I launch and start to traverse the surf zone heading north where I saw Jeff disappear into the fog.  Foam piles tumble at me as spewing lips threaten to chomp down on me.  Currents push, pull, and grab at my kayak as I work to keep her on course.

Finally, I find the rip current and catch a free ride out of the chaotic soup zone.  The rip feeds me into a quiet place in the break behind a reef where I can chill out and start reading the water.

Jeff is out in the middle – probing and hunting for green faces and spilling shoulders.  I watch and wait.  This is a tricky beach break that we only surf on small days.  The waves are variable and constantly shifting making good rides elusive.  Chances are good that if you venture out into the middle of the break to surf a wave, you will find yourself in too deep, take one on the head, or get tossed.

I am sitting in my eddy at the edge of all the chaos and confusion.  Trying to read the jumbled and bumpy water, I feel like a dyslexic student hiding in the back of the class praying that the teacher doesn’t call on me to read aloud.  I hide in the eddy trying to avoid embarrassment and punishment while the star pupil is showing off.

The sun breaks through and Jeff catches some nice long rides.  I am no longer content to sit in my eddy.  I want to be launching onto those green faces and carving up and down.  I cautiously nose out of my eddy.  A steep face rears up and I turn tail and scoot back into my eddy.  This ticks me off.  Determination sets in and out I go to accept what ever the sea has in store for me.

A wall of water starts to build and I carefully position myself to where it is walling up the steepest.  Two strokes later, I am hurling down a 6 foot wall of water and carving into a bottom turn.  I see a cone of water forming down the line as I carve up the face of the wave.  All of a sudden time seems suspended, and I feel like I am in a freeze-frame photo sequence.  At the crest, I drop back down and set my shore side rudder to subtly climb and drop, climb and drop, climb and drop across the face of the spilling wave.  The wave steepens so I race up the face then drop down to reset my angle and continue my diagonal run until the wave crumbles into a foam pile at the southern end of the beach.

I am elated as I traverse back across the surf zone thinking to myself,  “I ripped the shit out of that wave.”  Jeff is pumping both of his fists in the air.  That magical -  life is a dream – feeling has returned.

We both head back out to try our luck with the next set.  As the morning progresses,  some rides are marvelously long, others are fun steep one drop wonders that end in deep water, while others pitch and hurl us down the line and remind us of the reality that we are not in control here.  This is not a dream.

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Oct 31 2012

Coaches at Work

I’m back in sunny California from 2 weeks of  rainy travels in Oregon.  It was a great trip where I got to meet lots of great folks, reconnect with some good friends, and paddle in some neat places.  The reason for the Oregon road trip was Alder Creek Kayak and Canoe‘s BCU Week and Lumpy Waters Symposium.

One of the highlights of the trip was getting to work (and play) with other kayak coaches.  It is fun to work with others and see how their style works for students as well as to learn new ideas.

Karl Andersson tosses the tennis ball in a warm-up drill in the 4 Star Sea Leader Training.

Alex Stoeffl coaches a student on bracing in the soup.

Amanda Cantel directs traffic in the surf zone.

Chris Bensch runs his students through dynamic surf turns on the beach.

Cindy Scherrer coaches a student into the surf zone.

Malcolm Kelly demonstrates a bow assist.

Theresa Flodin goes vertical practicing her surf zone skills.

Matt Nelson emphasizes the paddler’s box.

Jeff Laxier takes his class for a swim.

As a coach, my highlight of the week was at the end of Sunday’s Fun & Feedback Class.   After progressing through bracing, launching and landing drills in the soup zone, the students each had their chance to put all the pieces together and launch and land on their own.  They had to launch themselves, paddle out into the soup zone, turn their kayaks around to face shore (not an easy task in lumpy waters), paddle back to shore, and land with their kayak in control.

They did great!!!  I still get warm fuzzing feelings picturing them smiling and landing their kayaks.

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Sep 07 2012

Rock Gardening on the Mendocino Coast

A few quiet days has us catching up on office work.  We carved out a few moments to put together a new video for Liquid Fusion Kayaking.  This is a new kayak rock gardening video.  It is mostly our Labor Day Waves n Caves Weekend students kayaking in the rock gardens of the Mendocino Coast.

Be sure to watch the last 30 seconds of the video for one of the hazards of being a kayak instructor.

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Jul 12 2012

Upset

A tale from our kayak adventure this spring in the Grand Canyon. 

At mile 150, we encountered Upset Rapid.  We stopped to scout it because the oarsmen were concerned about a large hydraulic in the middle of the rapid that is known to upset rafts.  Jeff and I enjoyed these moments to scout so that we could pick what would be the funnest line rather than reading and running and wishing that we had taken another line. 

As we scouted, sure enough the middle of the rapid contained some good sized waves that fed into a large wave hole with recirculating water behind it.   To the right was a sneaker route.  One could hug the right bank and miss out on the surging wave hole in the middle.  The left line along the river wall looked like a fun wave train with lots of lateral wave action and a chance to skirt the large wave hole in the middle.

Jeff had selected the left route, but I was jonezing for some action.  Like everyone, I had Lava Falls (mile 179) on my mind and wanted to test my skills before hitting it.  So “Hey-Diddle-Diddle-Down the Middle” was my line selection.  Our rafts had mostly decided to skirt down the right side to avoid an upset but hung out to watch our run.

As usual, Jeff went first and carved among the waves and launched off the tops of them.  He had quite a fun line and a clean run as he skirted the big hole in the middle.  I was determined though to blast down the middle and see what the hole had in store for me.

Cate in Upset Rapid in the Grand Canyon.  Photo by Tricia Melosh

Photo by Tricia Melosh.

Hey diddle – I put myself on course to run down the middle.  I glided down the middle of the rapid.  As I got ½ way to the hole, I saw a small seam in the hole and drove for it.  As the current surged the seam disappeared and the wave hole reared up and curled back on itself.

I powered in to hit the seam and drive through the whitewater but the wave hole reared up and threw me backwards literally flipping me end over end in what play boaters call a loop.  The wave barrel-rolled me and imploded my spray skirt. 

My boat was flooded with water, but I went on autopilot and rolled up.  I still had some waves and squirrelly current to negotiate in my flooded boat but didn’t mind it as the excitement of the loop and barrel roll surged through my system.  I  worked my way to an eddy at the end of the rapid to got out and drain my boat.  My spirits were soaring high as Jeff and the rafters congratulated me on a gutsy and entertaining run.  One of the boatmen on our trip was inspired to take my line.  Here are the photos of The Great Sandeeno’s run -
The Great Sandeeno takes the middle route on Upset Rapid.

The Great Sandeeno hits the first wave hole of Upset.
Sandeen's 18 foot raft and passengers disappear into the meat of Upset.
Yes, Sandeen’s whole 18 foot raft disappeared into the wave hole (all you see is him in this photo).  Yes, he and his crew came through wet but upright.

This was great training for Lava I thought, but was it?  I had an equipment failure (the spray deck imploding).  I dealt with it in the moment but a little nagging thought crept into my mind – “What if it implodes in Lava?”

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Jun 26 2012

Discipline

“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishments.”  Jim Rohn

Our students often share with us how much they value our instruction and appreciate our patience. (Jeff is patient.  I am stubborn).

Paddlers come to us to become better paddlers.  We have the easy job – coaching them.

They have the hard part – making it happen.

In our classes and lessons this weekend, we had some seasoned paddlers working on rolling and surf zone skills.  Sometimes the hard part is learning a skill that is counter intuitive to our natural instincts – like keeping our head down on the roll.

Or dropping a stern rudder on the shore side of a wave.

For many adults it is difficult to turn the brain off and let the body do what it needs to do.  We encourage students to use tools like positive self-talk, visualization, kinesthetic cues, and lots of perfect practice to retrain the brain and develop muscle memory.

Even more difficult is finding the self-discipline to go out and practice – especially skills that some find cumbersome like swimming with a sea kayak.

We often want to spend our recreational paddling time touring with friends, wildlife watching, running whitewater, surfing or rock gardening.  For many paddlers there is seemingly no glory in flat water perfection skill sessions or surfing knee high waves, but this is where skills are built and committed to muscle memory so that in rough water they are automatic and effective.

Our recommendation to out students is to get out and paddle!!! Each time you are on the water commit 10 minutes to perfecting one of your skills.  Whether it is the draw stroke or the roll, commit to mindful practice.  Talk yourself through the key components of the skill and practice them.

Even better yet, get your friends to practice too so that you all become more skilled paddlers together.

Please comment and share any strategies that you have found helpful.

“Without self-discipline, success is impossible – period.”  Lou Holtz

 

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Jun 13 2012

A Rock’n Sunday Paddle

Typical windy spring time conditions are here on the Mendocino Coast.  High pressure systems make for sunny warm days but also tighten the pressure gradient and kick up winds off-shore.  Predictions of gale force conditions have been hit or miss, and this Sunday looked like another miss.  On Saturday morning, Sunday’s swell prediction of 2 feet had us giddy about the possibility of some serious sea cave exploration.  As the winds kicked up on Saturday, we knew that our paddle the next day wasn’t going to be a lily-dip sea cave exploration.
Captain Jeff

We started our Second Sunday Paddle with a little warm up in the bay and admired a handsome horned grebe (which isn’t common on the Mendocino Coast this time of the year).

As we went to exit the protected bay, seas steepened and the wind conspired to blow us off course as we tried to thread the needle through the rocky reefs guarding another protected bay.  Back into the Gulch we went.  To the delight of everyone, Sunday’s exploration became a rock garden play session.

Heather knocked the rust off and showed good form and lots of smiles.
Heck Yea!!!  Great ride Heather!!!

Dick tested his combat rolling skills.

I got a nice saltwater facial.
Cate gets a salt water facial.

Of course, Jeff styled it in his Valley Avocet who after 10 months now has a name – “The Red Scorpion”

Just another Mendo Sunday with LFK.

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Jan 20 2012

Review of the Dagger Alchemy S

Last fall, we bought a Small and a Large Dagger Alchemy for our instructional fleet and have been using them for classes and lessons (and other fun adventures)

Of course, I had to indulge my “Goldilocks” tendencies and take the small one out for a test paddle – which actually ended up being more than one since I really enjoyed paddling it.

If I had one word to describe the Dagger Alchemy, it would be FUN!!!
Cate tests the Dagger Alchemy in the rock gardens.

Here is my review of the Dagger Alchemy – S (small).

Overview:
The Dagger Alchemy is a 14 foot touring kayak designed for touring on both for flat and moving water. It is designed to be stable and maneuverable and suitable for paddlers of all skill levels. It has become a popular rock gardening boat among the Bay Area Sea Kayakers and can be seen in action in several of the Neptune’s Rangers’ videos.

Fit and ergonomics: The Alchemy is 14 feet long. I didn’t weigh it, but it felt much lighter than most plastic sea kayaks. Its lighter weight and shorter length really made it nice to transport, store, and carry when compared to our other plastic sea kayaks which are in the 16 foot range.

The first thing that I liked about the small Alchemy is that Jeff felt it was too tight of a fit for him (5′ 11″ and 150 pounds). He rarely feels that way about a boat and often gravitates toward smaller sized or low volume boats. On the other hand, most small sized boats are too big for me (5′ 4″ and 120 pounds).

The outfitting was quite comfortable and fairly adjustable. This is important for an instructional kayak and also for me as a petite paddler with short legs. I was able to get good thigh contact with the adjustable thigh hooks and was happy that the foot braces had shorter adjustments than what I needed (meaning we could use this boat for very small paddlers and kids). As I moved the boat around and sat in it, I was starting to really like it. I liked the low deck and was starting to feel that this was a boat truly designed for a smaller paddler.

My opinion changed when I went to put the spray deck on. The Alchemy has a large cockpit (similar in size to many whitewater kayaks). Putting the spray deck on was extremely difficult. There is a lot of space between the rear of the seat and the back of the cockpit combing making it very difficult to stretch and get the back of the spray deck on the combing. I have very good shoulder flexibility and putting this spray deck on was definitely tested it. After I got the spray deck on the back, I had a very long stretch to get it over the front of the cockpit combing. My fingertips don’t reach that far so I had to scrunch up in my seat to get the deck on. It was very frustrating to have to do a contortion act to get ones spray deck on. This photo shows the large cockpit.

Also when I sat in the boat, I realized that the day hatch was inaccessible due to the amount of space behind the seat and the day hatch. (I speculate that this isn’t an issue for those that are taller and have longer arms.)

Performance
: I paddled the Alchemy last fall on our typical Mendocino ocean kayaking adventures – rock gardening, surfing, and crabbing.

My initial reaction was “Gee this is FUN!!!” It is a lively boat in the swells and surf zone. It was very stable and wanted to be upright which is a good quality for beginning paddlers and those gaining confidence in moving water. This is particularly nice in the surf zone where many sea kayaks are a bit twitchy.

When surfing it, I really had to work to get it to edge and felt that I needed to weigh another 20-30 pounds get it to carve. Of course, Jeff hopped in it in the surf and got it to edge and carve (Jeff weighs more but is also a VERY skilled paddler). I worked at it and eventually carved a few nice turns.

When capsized, I was pleasantly surprised at how easy the Alchemy was to roll up. I could effortlessly hand roll it. I also discovered that the Alchemy is a great kayak for kayak crabbing. I was especially pleased that I could carry two of our non-collapsing pots on it due to the flat front deck.

Hull speed is an issue that I had with the Alchemy. I expected that it would be slower than a 16 foot sea kayak, but it was a lot slower. I found myself paddling harder than usual to keep up on flat water stretches and was dismayed at my lack of speed and ineffectiveness in a towing situation.

It didn’t have the speed that I was looking for when paddling out through the surf nor the speed that I needed to catch waves. I adapted and positioned myself on the waves and pour-overs like I would in my whitewater kayak.

For playing, the speed issue is something that I would adapt to. However when guiding or doing more extreme paddling when speed is necessary and others are depending upon me, this could be an issue.

Bottomline: The Dagger Alchemy is a fun kayak! I would recommend it to beginning and intermediate paddlers who are looking for a playful plastic sea kayak. It’s lightweight and shorter length make it convenient for transport and storage. It is comfortable with adjustable outfitting, and its stability is confidence inspiring for surf zone and rock garden play. I also think that the Alchemy would be a good choice for beginners who are leaning toward purchasing a recreational kayak but want a boat that is seaworthy.

For me – We have one, and I will play with it as it is lightweight, easy to transport, comfortable and fun. However, it won’t be my primary sea kayak for rock gardening due to its lack of speed and difficulty of the spray deck. I have to be able to put a spray deck on quickly and easily unassisted in all conditions (perhaps I should have Jeff video me contorting to put the spray deck on to demonstrate my point). If Dagger fixes the cockpit issue, I would probably revisit it as my sea kayak rock gardening boat.

If you’ve paddled the Alchemy or have questions or thoughts on it, feel free to comment on my Woman on Water Blog. If you are considering buying one, take one out for a test paddle.

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Jan 16 2012

Do IT!!!

If your new years resolutions are to get in shape, learn a new sport, improve your skills, or paddle more – let’s do it!!! One of the best ways that we have found to stick to resolutions is to set a goal and to recruit a friend, training partner, or coach to work with you toward the goal.

Here are a couple of ideas for kayaking goals for 2012.

Make it FUN – What ever the goal or resolution. Find a way to make it fun and it will be more attainable. This is where recruiting a fun-loving friend, coworker, or family member will help.

Learn proper skills and technique. Some aspects of kayaking are intuitive; however, there are many nuances and tricks that one can learn that will make kayaking more efficient and more fun for paddlers of at any skills level. We (and many other instructors) often share tips on twitter, facebook, and in our blogs, but, the best way to develop proper technique is to work with an instructor or coach who can give instruction and feedback. Kayak symposiums are a great way to meet different coaches to find that right mentor. Two of our favorite west coast symposiums are the Golden Gate Sea Kayak Symposium in February and Lumpy Waters in October.

Try a new discipline of paddling. The skills that you learn with a different type of boat or paddle will improve your overall skills in all disciplines. If you like to paddle a sit on top kayak, take a sea kayak lesson in a decked sea kayak. If you like to sea kayak ocean rock gardens, try a whitewater river class or rock gardening in a whitewater kayak. Jeff and I are expanding our paddling skills this year to include Stand-Up Paddling (SUP).

Sea Kayaking – Pick a BCU Star Award to work toward. The BCU system is a well organized guide for skill progression. It gives a paddler a way to assess their skills and plan for improvement. Trainings and assessments are available throughout the US and in many other great kayaking destinations (Baja, anyone?). If you are new to the BCU, consider taking a 2 Star Assessment or 3 Star Sea Training this winter or spring. Here’s a link to LFK’s BCU schedule.
Whitewater River Kayaking – Make 2012 the year that you style the river rather than survive it. Perfect your eddy turns and ferries and dial your wave surfing by a few minutes of focused practice on each of your river trips. Either with a class or with friends, see who can ferry across the river with the fewest strokes or time each other on surfing waves.
Chuck

Surf Kayaking – How about training for an event? The Santa Cruz Paddlefest is March 16-18. See some of the best kayak surfers in the world as well as have a chance to surf at Santa Cruz Steamer’s Lane. Here’s our video from 2011.

Have a Reliable Roll - For the safety of yourself and others, you need to have a reliable roll if you are paddling challenging waters. For most of us, this takes a lot of focused practice and often some good coaching. Often there is one little thing that we can do or focus on that will improve the success of our rolls. How do we find that one little thing? Usually it involves feedback from a coach or friend who analyzes your roll. That one little thing can be as simple as making sure you finish ( Creating a Reliable Roll by Phil and Mary Dereimer) or using an active leg drop (Shawna Franklin’s tip in Adventure Kayak Magazine) or just relaxing and taking a moment to relax before rolling.


Improving your fitness
– We of course advocate cross training. Cardiovascular training will make long paddles or slogs through a headwind easier. Hiking, mountain biking, and swimming are our favorite cardio exercises. Recruit a friend, family member, or coworker to power walk, hike, bike, or swim 2-3 days a week. Set a schedule with specific times and days and try to stick with it.

Strength and flexibility are equally important and will help with injury prevention. I am a reluctant yoga participant, but Jeff has been rallying me to regularly practice. We do our strength and flexibility workouts first thing in the morning so that they get done and we feel great the rest of the day. It is best to work with an instructor, but I have a hard time getting myself to the gym or studio and prefer to practice at home. My two favorite yoga workout dvd’s are Yoga for Cyclists and Anna Levesque’s Yoga for Kayaking.

Be prepared for emergencies – Prevention, prevention, prevention is our motto; however, it is important to be prepared for the unexpected. CPR and First Aid are a must for anyone. This year, we have recruited Sierra Rescue to come to the Mendocino Coast to teach a Wilderness First Aid Class for the outdoor enthusiasts in our area. If you are playing in whitewater, a swiftwater training is a must as well. If you have had training, rally your friends to practice scenarios and to maintain a dialog of contingency plans.

Part of our emergency preparations includes our OSB’s (Oh Shit Bags). These are part of our kit on all kayaking trips and include essential first aid, communication, and repair materials.


Most important – DO IT and make it FUN!!!

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May 08 2011

Stepping It Up

Sometimes you DO IT . . .
You get into the zone and JUST DO IT . . .


We didn’t get much whitewater river kayaking in this winter, but somehow I stepped up my game from being a schizophrenic class II/III boater to confidently paddling some class IV.

I’m not sure how this really happened but suspect that it had a lot to do with the time that we spent this winter in the surf zone.


Capsizing in the surf zone when you are kayak surfing is inevitable and even a good strategy so needless to say a winter of kayak surfing meant lots of time upside-down and rolling in moving water.


When I started whitewater kayaking, my main goal was to remain upright. I was terrified of flipping and being flushed down a rapid upside down. Through experience, I have come to realize that a capsize and roll only takes seconds and that you don’t end up way downstream in the process. It is almost like time stands still and you roll up in almost the same spot where you capsized. The key is confidence in your roll.

So this whitewater season, I surrendered myself to the inevitability of capsizing on the river. My mantra shifted from take the easy line and stay up-right to see your line and execute it. If things go to !@#$ – roll up and paddle to safe water.

On our Eel River Mountains to the Sea Paddle last month, We encountered a couple of stretches of Class IV.  Our last paddle of the trip was on the Middle Fork of the Eel River at 3500cfs. The run was 25 miles of class II and then probably the hardest rapid that I have run yet in the class IV range.

We scouted the rapid and the middle looked downright ugly. It had 2 consecutive but slightly offset recirculating hydraulics – DEFINITELY not a place to be. Neither the left or right had a clear path but the left looked like the best route to take and not end up in the messy middle. Of course the left had 2 considerable hydraulics to be negotiated. The plan was to avoid the first and punch the other one (most likely capsize, flush-out, and roll-up) and enjoy the wave train finish.


Of course, I capsized on the entrance drop into the rapid – rolled up and eddied out. THUMP, THUMP, THUMP – I felt my heart beating through my chest. The thought “I could get out here and portage,” shot through my mind. I erased the thought and told myself to charge it. I ferried midway across but should have ferried further to the left. When I turned to head downstream, I was heading right at the hole on the top that the plan was to avoid. I didn’t have time to avoid it and tried to drive through it.

It grabbed me and flipped me. I rolled up and continued driving for my target rock on river left. I got there and somehow skirted the flush-out and roll up hydraulic. F – Yeah!!!


It might have been nice to run the lines cleanly, and I am sure that someday I will. But there is definitely satisfaction in nailing a combat roll in a critical situation – not to mention nods of approval from paddling companions.

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