Archive for the 'kayak' Category

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.

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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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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Apr 05 2011

Cache Creek Wilderness Run

For the first time in 4 years, the Cache Creek Wilderness Run has been predictably running at a level that is fun for a day trip. When one of our paddling friends emailed about doing it on a day our calendar was clear, we jumped on the opportunity.

Clear Lake is over its capacity so they have been releasing over 3,000 cfs from the dam for the past week. Combined with flow from the North Fork, we estimated that our flow was approximately 3800 cfs.

As we met at the put-in, what to wear was the debate of the day. Being that we were embarking on an 18 mile wilderness run that hasn’t been run (to our knowledge) in several years and that only 2 of the 4 of us had run it over 4 years ago, we weren’t sure what to expect. Down trees and landslides can occur and greatly change the character of a run. We knew the flow was going to be swift with the dam release and looking at the flow coming down the creek at the take-out. Prudence would have us dressing for the worst case scenario and potential immersion. Most of the group opted for drysuits, but I went with my drytop and farmer jane. Eighty degrees and sunny are not my usual boating conditions so if I got hot, I wanted to be able to get wet.

This run is described as a class II(III) by American Whitewater and California Creeks. It is fun to look at the photos on the CA Creeks site which are at low water and over 3000 cfs lower than what we were running it. During our run, the “Big Rock” in Bill Tuthill’s CA Creeks write-up was not visible creating a pour-over and large hydraulic.

As we launched, we were apprehensive about the possibility of down trees and strainer hazards in the muddy waters. The flow on the North Fork moved us along at a comfortable pace as we cautiously boat scouted blind turns and brushy channels.

We enjoyed the sweet sounds of western meadow larks singing and a slight warm breeze that rippled through the budding willows and alders. The landscape of steep open hillsides was quite different from the mossy forests of our typical Mendocino County wilderness runs.

Evidence of volcanic activity was evident in the geology. At one point, the creek cut through a bank of ashfall.

As we bobbed along the North Fork, we continuously scanned the trees and skies for bald eagles. We saw 2 driving to the put-in and hoped to see some more. At one point, the creek bank was not the usual rocks and trees but was built of old automobiles. The vegetation has grown around and through the cars. It is novel, but probably not the most environmentally conscious way for the property owner to stabilize the creek bank.

The character of the run changed significantly when we hit the main branch of Cache Creek (changed to the tune of about 3500 more cfs). The creek was definitely moving along at a good clip and above its regular channel and flowing through the trees and brush at its edges. Few eddies existed along its edges as did opportunities for landing. There was quite a bit of squirrelly water where water flowed over submerged rocks and where channels converged. The squirrelly waters of one of these convergences grabbed one of my edges and gave me a quick dunk.

All 4 of us enjoyed watching for birds. A pair of accipters had us debating between cooper’s or sharp shinned hawks. We were delighted with siting of over 1/2 dozen bald eagles (like the photograph below, some were juveniles and weren’t so bald).

The highlight of the day was seeing a bear and her cub. Unfortunately, I don’t think that we were the highlight of their day as they appeared alarmed by our presence and galloped up the hillside.

The rapids on the run were quite rapid. The bigger ones were mostly giant wave trains with an occasional hydraulic to keep one on their toes. At this flow, we were flying along but one would expect that some might be fun to play on at a lower flow.

Not many wave surfing opportunities. Jeff happened to catch a photo of this wave as we breezed past it.

Knowing that it was an 18 mile run and not knowing what hazards we would come across on the river, we had expected it to be a long paddle. It ended up being the fastest 18 miles any of us had done on a river – we did it in 3 1/2 hours with a lunch break and a stretch break.

They are still releasing 3000 cfs from Clear Lake into Cache Creek and it is still runnable. A boating buddy of ours asked if we wanted to run it with him this week – we declined. We had a great day on the river and enjoyed the run but are looking forward to exploring some other local runs.

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Nov 09 2010

The Hockey Stick Roll

This week when I was grabbing paddles to take to our Monday night pool session at the CV Starr Center, I grabbed a stick (not a greenland paddle but a hockey stick). Peter Donohue, editor of California Kayaker, inspired the idea this summer. Here’s a video of my first attempt at the hockey stick roll.

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After I loaded this onto YouTube, I discovered that some paddlers in the Olypmic Kayak Club have already rolled with a hockey stick. They call it the Canadian Emergency Paddle Roll.

Pretty fun, eh?

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Oct 19 2010

Tradional Arctic Kayak Symposium

Last weekend, we journeyed off the Mendocino Coast with our sea kayaks and greenland paddles and headed to Trinidad, California for the Traditional Arctic Kayak Symposium (TAKS). Beautiful weather, calm wind and ocean conditions, and an eclectic gathering of sea kayakers interested in traditional kayaking made for a fun weekend.

The ocean was very calm and allowed for mellow paddling around and between the rocks of Trinidad Bay.

We fit 9 kayaks in this particular slot. Bob in his beautiful stitch and glue wooden kayak was very happy to have my plastic Avocet as a buffer between his boat and the rocks.

A pair of harlequin ducks added to the color of the weekend.

John Peterson of Shaman Kayaks organized the event. His kayaks are truely works of art. It was fun to see several of them on the water this weekend.

Greenland skill demonstrations included rolling and bracing. Jeff and I thought that the resting brace position looked great for an on water nap.

Wolfgang Brinck paddles over in an Aleutian Kayak sporting an Aleutian hat. Wolfgang is the author of The Aleutian Kayak and teaches skin on frame kayak building in the San Franscisco Bay area.

Despite the roll or drown motto of paddlers dedicated to greenland paddling techniques, Dan and Andrew demonstrate a rescue and recovery of a swamped boat.

Our friend John Henry observes the lunch break from the deck of Jeff’s kayak before going back into his drybag.

We paddled around Trinidad Head – home of the Smack Wall. We paused for a couple of rides on the refractive waves that come off of the Smack Wall. Here’s a link to Ralph Johnson’s video of Tony’s wild ride on the Smack Wall.

Cheri Perry and Turner of Kayak Ways and Jeff of Liquid Fusion Kayaking held a surf zone training and practice session at college beach. Here is Marcella of the local kayak club Explore North Coast catching a wave.

Admiring the handmade kayaks and listening to presentations on the history of kayaking and kayak designs provided much food for thought over the weekend. Here is a photo of Andrew paddling a baidarka into the surf zone. Much debate ensued over the weekend of the unique bow design of the Aleutian kayaks. Any ideas?

I left my skin on frame kayak at home. It would have been fun to have in the surf zone and rock garden and definitely would have been an object of curiosity and critique as it is not a long pointy greenland kayak.

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Jun 26 2010

Tour de Mendo – The Ultimate of Mendocino Coast Sea Kayaking

Kayaking in Mendocino Sea Caves

Kayaking in Mendocino Sea Caves

Imagine 4 days of sea kayaking among the rock gardens and sea caves of the ruggedly beautiful Mendocino Coast. Yes, many come to the Mendocino Coast to sea kayak and have paddled stretches of the rock gardens and sea caves but few have done a Tour de Mendo Liquid Fusion Kayaking Style.

Jane enjoying the Mendocino Coast scenery.

Jane enjoying the Mendocino Coast scenery.

Congratulations to a group of paddlers from San Diego who just completed a Liquid Fusion Kayaking Tour de Mendo.

Dennis paddles through the window arch.

Dennis paddles through the window arch.

What makes a Liquid Fusion Kayaking Tour de Mendo different from others sea kayak tours of the Mendocino Coast? We have an intimate local knowledge of the Mendocino Coast because we live, paddle, and play here. We know those special off the beaten paddle places (and the best spots for great food and live music). We instruct and challenge paddlers to improve their skills and paddling repertoire while paddling with us – be it paddling a whitewater kayak, surfing a kayak, or tossing a greenland paddle in their hands.

Jon threads his sea kayak through a labrynth of rock gardens.

Jon threads his sea kayak through a labrynth of rock gardens.

Unfortunately, I had to hold down the shop for most of the Tour de Mendo, but it was fun to get their perspective of each day’s adventure. They marveled over their exploration of intricate networks of rock gardens and sea caves and told stories of fun rides through surge channels and pour overs and moments when Jeff and the sea challenged their skills. This crew was definitely up for the challenge.

Dennis sea kayak rock gardening.

Dennis sea kayak rock gardening.

P2 on the Wave

P2 on the Wave

I did get to paddle with them one morning for a whitewater kayak rock gardening session in Noyo Bay and look forward to joining them in the fall of 2011.

C2 Flushes out of the Toilet Bowl

C2 Flushes out of the Toilet Bowl

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May 11 2010

Eel River + Rain = FUN!!!

It’s raining, its pouring, whitewater kayakers are snoring and dreaming of more whitewater kayaking adventures on our local Mendocino County waterways.

Last week, we enjoyed 4 glorious days of warm weather and whitewater kayaking on the Eel River in northeastern Mendocino County. We ran the Class III Outlet Creek to Dos Rios stretch at flows of 900-1900 – executing crisp eddy turns, playing in hydraulics, and surfing waves.

A local photographer meandered out to shoot us in action. Check out his photoblog.

We are doing our rain dance and getting excited about more river time.

Of course Simpler Times is an LFK Eel River Tradition.

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Dec 21 2009

Old Rasputin Paddle

Dark Beer Paddlers – Never Say Die!!!
Sea kayak rock gardening on the Mendocino Coast.

Sea kayak rock gardening on the Mendocino Coast.

We just celebrated our Second Annual Old Rasputin Paddle and declared this to be an annual event for those of us who love North Coast Brewing Company’s Old Rasputin and sea kayaking out of Fort Bragg, California – the home of North Coast Brewing Company and Liquid Fusion Kayaking.

In 2008, we celebrated the conclusion of our paddle with Old Rasputin XI which is North Coast’s barrel aged version of Old Rasputin celebrating its 11th anniversary and only sold at the brewery in Fort Bragg. This year, we

Jeff Laxier of Liquid Fusion Kayaking

Jeff Laxier of Liquid Fusion Kayaking

followed suite with the even smoother and more delicious Old Rasputin XII. YUM!!!

December 2010 – Fort Bragg, CA – Old Rasputin Paddle III – Never Say Die!!!

Old Rasputin Paddle 2009

Old Rasputin Paddle 2009

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Dec 06 2009

Land and Sea Adventures in Fort Bragg, California

Here’s our latest video creation Outdoor Adventures in Fort Bragg, California featuring some of our land and sea adventures in our home of Fort Bragg on the Mendocino Coast of California. Of course, we feature kayaking but also some of our other favorite activities on the coast and in the forest including abalone diving, mountain biking, and more.

A special thanks to Brent Reitz – master instructor of the Forward Stroke – for allowing us to use Single Care as our main song. If you have taken one of Brent’s Forward Stroke Clinics, you probably have immensely improved your forward stroke and probably heard him rock-out on the harmonica. Here’s a link to his group – Bad Habits.

We hope that you enjoy the video – we sure had fun making it.

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Oct 04 2009

Gone to the Dogs

Published by under Fort Bragg,kayak

Liquid Fusion Kayaking has gone to the dogs.

Bear and Aften the kayaking dogs of LFK have convinced us to host a Dog Paddle for all of their friends and to benefit the Mendocino Coast Dog Park.
We will be hosting our first (hopefully to become annual) Noyo River Dog Paddle on October 11 from 1-3pm at Dolphin Isle Marina. We have special canine life jackets for paddling pooches and a special tour planned for them and their owners and friends. The Dolphin Isle Deli will have specials on hot dogs and other tasty treats for people and pups.

Hair Putter the canine ambassador for Mendocino County enjoyed his first kayak lesson with us last week and will be joining us for the Dog Paddle.

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