Archive for the 'kayaking' Category

Jan 21 2014

Jackson Zen 55 – A Small Paddler’s River Runner

Goldilocks has found the whitewater river runner kayak that is “Just Right” – the Jackson Zen 55.

Followers of my blog and paddling career know that I have had the Goldilocks syndrome with boats – you’ve heard my stories and read my reviews – this boat is too slow, this boat is too heavy, this boat is too wide, yada yada yada.  For those that are interested, I am working on an overview of the small whitewater river runners on the market from the perspective of a petite woman paddler (5’4″ and 120#).  Until I get it written, here’s my whitewater kayak of choice -

 

Review of Jackson Kayak’s Zen 55

First impressions - 

On the website

The promo video showed a fun, capable river runner, but I wasn’t excited until I saw the specs (I am a bit of a numbers person). The Zen 55 is listed as 7’11″ long and 24″ wide, 60 gallons, and weighing 36 pounds.  The specs would lead one to think – a fast, lean boat.  I could get excited about this but was a little skeptical that it might be too narrow for my hips like many of the kids’ whitewater boats.

On the showroom floor

The Zen 55 looked like the right size.  True this is a very subjective statement but having paddled many different river runners over the years and looking at others, they always look too big.  My fear that the Zen 55 was a kids’ boat was alleviated when I sat in it and fit.  It fits like my favorite pair of jeans.

On the water

River Running – The Zen 55 danced on the water for me as we boated the Chili Bar Run of the South Fork of the American River.  The boat continued to feel like my favorite pair of jeans and moved with me – where and when I wanted to.  The planning hull carved into and out of eddies and glided nicely on waves. The hull was sporty and playful yet stable.  I liked the way the boat rode through the wave trains.  The volume felt well balanced and the handling was very predictable.

Rolling -The Zen 55 was easy and effortless to roll.  This may have been one of the easiest boats that I have ever rolled.

Ocean Rock Gardening – A day rock gardening and surfing in the ocean on the Mendocino Coast reaffirmed my thoughts that this is a great river runner.  For this type of paddling my craft of choice has been a Necky Jive because it is fast and surfs well.  In the Zen 55, I continued to have that solid body boat connection and was able to maneuver the boat and make directional changes when riding pour-overs.

I also really appreciated the Zen’s volume for predictable resurfacing from holes.

I’m not sure about the Zen 55 on an ocean wave yet.  As expected the Zen 55 was slower than the Jive, and  the stern volume was a bit contentious when caught by the foam pile.  More work and testing on this to come.

Outfitting – The outfitting is easily adjusted and comfortable.  Obviously Jackson Kayaks have put a lot of thought into outfitting.  Here’s a link to all the features of their outfitting.  I appreciate that there are no ratchets to corrode and bulkhead adjustments are simple and even possible to adjust on the fly with Jackson Kayak’s corded system (no more crawling in kayaks and wrestling with the adjustment brackets on bulkheads).

Footrest/bulkhead adjustable from the seat of the kayak with one pull on a rope.

The smaller cockpit size of the Zen 55 is really nice compared to other river runners.  It makes for a more comfortable body/boat connection.  The shorter cockpit length makes it so that smaller paddlers can use drier, more implosion resistant spray decks without having a wrestling match to get them on.

The original position of the backband is way to high for my liking so I re-routed the adjustment cords so that it would sit lower.

The foot room is ok in the boat for me in my booties but too tight in my Keen Gorge Boots.  This is not an uncommon problem and one that I will solve by carving out notches for my heels in the center pillar.

Other Sizes – I have not seen other paddlers in the Zen 55; however, quite a few of our students have been paddling the Zen 65 and 75 on the river and in our Whitewater of the Sea Adventures (ocean rock gardening).  Both Jeff and I have been amazed at the beginner friendliness of the Zen – stable, maneuverable, fast, and easy to roll.

Jeff has become a huge fan of the Zen too.  Here he makes the Zen 75 sing on an ocean wave.

Bottomline:

Would I recommend the Jackson Zen 55?  YES!!!  My favorite thing about the Zen 55 is that it is fast and responsive.  The design and outfitting are well thought out and work for a smaller paddler.  For me, it handles like a performance sports car instead of the ho-hum Toyota Camry feel of the other river runners that I have paddled.  Even though it is sporty, the Zen is quite stable and confidence inspiring.  The Zen’s edges will carve into an eddy or on a wave but aren’t grabby in chaotic water.  It is predictable and fast for making moves and super easy to roll.

For those looking for an easy to roll, beginner friendly boat for learning to whitewater kayak, the Zen is it. The Zen is stable, maneuverable, fast, and easy to roll.  The Jackson Zen is the first whitewater kayak that comes to mind when students ask for recommendations for a river runner or ocean rock garden kayak.  The Jackson Zen is also a very capable performance craft for river running up to class IV and playing in ocean rock gardens.

I am at the top of the weight/size recommendations for the Zen 55 which is probably why is it such a sporty kayak for me.  If you are taller than 5’4 and/or over 120 pounds, you might want to try the Zen 65.  I have sat in our 65.  It feels too big but will paddle it and share my thoughts – if I can tear myself out of the 55.

These are my overall impressions of the Zen.  Fortunately the Zen 55 seems to fit the hard to fit smaller paddler but also there is the 65 and 75 to accommodate a wide range of paddlers.  If you are in the market for a river runner, definitely check out the Zen.

If you have experience with the Zen 55, please share them with me in the comments below or send me an email.

 

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Jun 08 2013

Dawn Patrol

An object at rest remains at rest unless acted upon by a force. An object in motion remains in motion unless acted upon by a force.” Newton’s First Law of Motion

It’s 4:45am.  The alarm clock hasn’t gone off yet but my internal clock has activated.  My body continues at rest nestled in the covers and sandwiched between Jeff and Tom Cat.  I could happily remain in bed but a force stirs within and sets my body in motion . . . 

Dawn Patrol

As I emerge from the house, it is dark, but I can hear the surf – a constant roar.  The air is still and cool.

This morning, I don’t have to search but know exactly where to go.  I have a mission – to get wet and catch one wave.  I’ve been guiding kayak tours a lot and need some “me” time.  Time for me to enjoy the ocean and her power and beauty without the responsibility of others.

I know exactly where to go.  I don’t expect huge waves, barrels, or even long clean rides – just faces to slide upon and frothy salt water in the face.

Arriving at the beach, no one else is there.  Jeff has decided not to surf this morning but tags along to enjoy dawn on the beach.  It is light but the sun is not up yet. I watch the waves for just a couple of minutes – not really caring about their shape or form but just longing to be out there in them.

The stillness of the morning is interrupted by the screaming calls of black oystercatchers as they patrol the beach for breakfast.  I hop in my kayak and paddle out.  As I paddle up and over foam piles, my hands get the first cold water wake-up of the morning.  As I move further out into the surf zone and paddle through a wave, the cold water smacks me in the face knocking the cobwebs out.  I feel so ALIVE!!!

The surf is small and confused.  I see a bump of water on the horizon and continue to work my way to the outside.  As the bump travels toward me, I continue to warm-up – focusing on my forward stroke technique – a vertical shaft, good anchor, legs and torso powering the stroke.


The bump continues to roll toward the beach.  It wells up into a mound and then into a steep slope of water. I launch onto its 4 foot glassy face, and the sun crests the trees erasing the gray of dawn – sparkling off the whitewater and illuminating the glassy, green face of my wave.  


The ride wasn’t anything spectacular but the moment was magical   This was the moment that my soul was craving.

kayak surfing mendocino coast
Kayak Surfing on the Mendocino Coast of California








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Jun 01 2012

Waves n Caves

Whew!!! Our website is back up so now its time to report on our first Mendocino Kayaking Waves n Caves Weekend.

It was awesome!!!  Three days of kayaking, exploring, and playing in the sea caves and rock gardens of the Mendocino Coast in whitewater kayaks.

Five of our students had never paddled whitewater kayaks before so it was a fun introduction for them.  They were amazed at the maneuverability of these playful craft.  Sea cave exploration was a breeze in the 8-10 foot boats especially when compared to their previous experiences maneuvering 14-17 foot sea kayaks in caves.

It was fun to see our students’ confidence build and to see them playing in whitewater features with comfort and ease.

Especially cool was on the third day when we went into the Devil’s Punch Bowl.  This is a narrow tunnel that leads to a large sinkhole.  With the whitewater kayaks, we landed the whole group on the gravel beach in the punch bowl.

We also had fun paddling into a scenic beach for lunch, tidepooling, and beachcombing.

Psssst – We are having another Mendocino Waves n Caves Adventure Labor Day Weekend.  Register today for the early bird discount.

Also, Jeff and I had so much fun outfitting this trip (providing food, camping, and guiding) that we have plans to host more in 2013.  Continuing the Waves n Caves but also including a couple of sea kayak overnight trips as well as a whitewater river trip.  We have lots of options and are open to designing custom trips so drop us a line if you have some friends and want to come kayak and explore the Mendocino Coast with us.

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Apr 07 2012

Spring into Kayaking

Spring has sprung on the Mendocino Coast.  The Alders and Willows along the banks of the Noyo River are awash in brilliant hues of green and the song birds have started singing their songs of spring.

Doggie Paddle on the Noyo River

For those who don’t paddle year-round, spring is often time to start thinking about getting out on the water.

For some this means paddling locally, planning a vacation(s) that involve kayaking, or taking a class.  Some even start to thinking about purchasing a kayak.

Here are a few tips for those looking to get on the water this spring or summer:

Check out your gear.  Some things to consider are – Your life jacket (pfd) – Are the buckles and zippers working?  Does it fit snugly and stay in place?  Your kayak(s) – make sure that your craft is sea worthy and suitable for where you plan to paddle.  Are there any holes or dings that need to be fixed?  Are the deck lines in good condition or fraying?  Is it comfortable?  Is your paddling attire in good condition and does it fit?  Are your roof racks on your vehicle secure?

Check out your skills.  Maybe it is time for a class to tune-up your skills.  A forward stroke class is extremely valuable as it is the stroke that we use the most and one that even the most skilled paddlers are always working on perfecting.  A class will help refine your skills to paddle new areas – rock gardens, surf zones, or whitewater.  Taking a BCU training or assessment is a good way to determine where your skills are and develop a plan for developing your skills.

Explore your local waterways.  Look around, we bet you can find a place to kayak less than an hour from home.  The days are getting longer and evening paddles are a great way to unwind from the day (and a great time of the day to see wildlife).  Getting in a regular paddling habit is easier when you find a spot that is easily accessible and close to home.  It is also good for the heart and soul and helps you build up seat time for when you want to do longer paddles.

Explore a new area.  If you are planning a vacation around kayaking and don’t have much kayaking experience, contact a local outfitter.  They will help you assess your skills and interests and decide on the best paddling venue for your trip, best time of the day/conditions, and appropriate equipment.  Areas like the Mendocino Coast have estuaries that are best planned around tides and coastal areas that are best planned around ocean conditions and paddler skill levels.

Paddling past the Pt Cabrillo Lighthouse

For those with experience and your own equipment, you might want to connect with a local paddling club.  Often the paddling club’s website will have helpful information for planning your trip or even trips that you could join.  Check out the Bay Area Sea Kayaker’s Planner is a very useful tool.  Sometimes paddling clubs host special events to share their local waters with others.  Our friends at Explore North Coast are hosting a sea kayak social weekend May 3-6.

Also remember that it is fun to explore an area on one’s own, but one will often see more
and get the best experience when going with a local guide who knows the
area like the back of their hand.  Most of us aren’t in the kayaking business to get rich but because we love sharing the waters, wildlife, and wonders of the outdoors with others.

On tour in Trinidad Bay with Hawk Martin of Humboats.

For those looking to purchase a kayak, be sure that you know what you want.  Knowing this involves identifying what your skill level is and where you are going to be paddling.  Two mistakes that people often make are buying a boat because the price is right (even though it is the wrong boat) or buying a boat that they don’t have the skills to use.

TRY BEFORE YOU BUY.  Do you buy a car without taking it on a test drive?  You can research all the bells and whistles but until you paddle the boat you don’t really know how it will handle with you paddling it.  We recommend that you determine what type of kayak is suitable (sea kayak, recreational kayak, whitewater kayak, surf kayak, fishing kayak) and then get out and test paddle as many different models within that classification.  Check with your local outfitter for demo days and demo programs.

Regardless of your paddling goals and plans our best paddling advice is

DO IT!!!  Be safe and have FUN!!!

We hope to see you on the water!!!

Ahhhhhh . . .

 

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Mar 15 2012

A Weekend on the North Coast

A huge thank you to the Explore North Coast Club and local ACA instructor Mike Zeppegno for hosting us for a weekend of Humboldt kayaking fun.

On Saturday, we had the pleasure of introducing 8 sea kayakers to Whitewater of the Sea in their home waters off Trinidad. It was fun to see the “ah-ha” moments as they enjoyed the playfulness and maneuverability of the “short boats.”

On Sunday, we taught our Intro to Sea Kayak Rock Gardening Class in Trinidad.

In each class, we had our students working on personal skills, group skills, and rescue skills.

It was a great experience for paddlers who regularly paddle together to train together and for their instructors to shadow us as we shared our progression and techniques for kayak rock gardening.

Paddlers got to sort out their equipment specific to paddling in ocean rock gardens including modifying their towlines and rescue techniques for kayaks without bulkheads.

As we were teaching experienced sea kayakers, it was fun to see Hawk Martin of Humboats Kayak Adventures sharing an ocean kayaking experience with some first timers.

On Monday night, we completed our weekend by entertaining the club club with tales of our 169 Mile Paddle of the Eel River.

We love traveling north to the Humboldt area where there is lots of great paddling and fun folks to paddle with. For more information on paddling in the Humboldt area – be sure to check out Explore North Coast’s new guide book – Sea Kayaking the Redwood Coast or do a kayak adventure with our friends at Humboats, Kayak Zak’s, or Greenland or Bust.

Here’s a link to photos from our Trinidad Whitewater of the Sea Class and a link to our photos from the Intro to Sea Kayak Rock Gardening.

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Feb 29 2012

Tearing It Up!

I missed the Golden Gate Sea Kayak Symposium again this year but was stoked to host several coaches and friends afterward for some rock gardening and surfing on the Mendocino Coast.
Playing chicken with the rocks at Chicken Point.
After event paddles are a great way for coaches to unwind and play. Bryant Burkhardt writes in his Paddle California Blog – “After a couple of days of teaching that were fun but hard work, it was great to get out on the water just for fun. On Monday Cate took us to Noyo Habor, a two minute drive from her house (where she kindly put us all up). We didn’t launch until noon and we didn’t paddle more than half a mile. It was a mellow and relaxing afternoon (that still cracked two boats and ripped a drysuit).” Here’s a link to Bryant’s Video.

Yep, I put the holes in my drytop and some nice gouges in my hand as a bigger wave than expected reared up, threw me down, and raked me over a pour-over.
Photo by Bryant Burkhardt http://www.paddlecalifornia.blogspot.com
Photo by Bryant Burkhardt http://www.paddlecalifornia.blogspot.com
Richard didn’t get as big a wave as expected and ended up repairing the bow of his boat.

A submerged rock claimed some of Paul’s shiny red gel coat.

After a few repairs, we were all good to go and off to surf Chicken Point.

Chicken Point is a tricky break made trickier by the consequences of rocks. To catch the waves, one had to be among the rocks or drop in toward them. (This is spot for expert paddlers only). After studying the break and a few runs, the guys started tearing it up!!!

Nick Scoville and Richard Davis with NDK Explorers and their Saltwood Paddles (Jeff just got one and I can’t wait to paddle with it).


Paul Kuthe of Alder Creek Canoe and Kayak ripped it up in his TideRace Xtreme.
Paul Kuthe tearing it up at Chicken Point.

In my whitewater kayak, I was only going to catch one if I was in deep and it was one of the bigger, steeper waves. I watched and photographed for a while but of course, I couldn’t let the guys have all the fun and dropped in on a couple. Bryant caught me on video back surfing one of the waves.

It was an awesome day – having all the kids over to play in my playground.

(It was a little bit of a bummer that Jeff wasn’t here – guess we will have to have to call up the kids and make a play date to do it again.)

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Feb 22 2012

Whitewater River Kayaking

Rain on the North Coast of California usually happens in the winter and early spring and has us traveling inland to the rivers of the Coastal Range for whitewater river kayaking. 2012 has been a dry year so far. Yesterday we managed to get over to the Eel for a low-water run that was Jeff’s second run and my first of the season. While we love the surf and the spray of salt-water, there is nothing quite like floating downstream.

Top of Ramsey Rapid.

The media has many people envisioning whitewater kayaking as paddling over death-defying waterfalls or hairy first descents of big water rivers in little traveled parts of the world. We don’t have any of these death-defying trips in our plans but respect the courage and skills that it takes for this type of boating.

What we like about whitewater kayaking is the adventure of journeying through a river canyon. We like the technical aspect of running rapids – water reading, precision boat control, and composure under pressure (like when you capsize in turbulent 45 degree water or miss your line and quickly have to find a new one).

Hell hole

We also like the planning, preparation and training for emergencies that might occur on our trips in the wilderness. On our trips, we are the only solution to problems that might occur so a toolbox (drybags) of items packed into our tiny boats is a must. First aid materials, extra paddles, throw ropes, carabiners, webbing, extra food, and emergency supplies are typical items that we carry and practice using.

Most of all, we enjoy the landscape and wildlife that one only sees while paddling on the river. Yesterday, we saw and heard lots of American Dippers. These are small birds that like us enjoy swift moving fresh water. They are known to walk on the bottom of creeks, streams, and rivers in search of insects and aquatic invertebrates.

Yesterday, we also were privileged to see several bald eagles including several dining on the carcasses of spawning salmon.

It is a pretty special feeling to be floating down the river and see black tail deer casually watch us go by. Perhaps they are unalarmed because they know that we are only passing through or just accept us as part of the movement of the river. Other unexpected wildlife sitings are another perk of floating down river.

This little piggie . . .

As we finalize our spring calendar, our thoughts keep returning to the river. In addition to teaching whitewater kayaking classes on the river, our hearts long for a multi-day whitewater trip. Last year we blocked out 2 weeks in April to paddle and enjoy the Eel River. We have a similar window of time this year before we get busy with the summer season. Where will we go? The only plan now is to go with the flow – down river.

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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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Dec 19 2011

Interval Training – Mendo Style

I vowed to get stronger, faster, and more skilled this fall/winter and have been trying to stay on track with regular training. With limited hours of daylight and lots of other projects to do, this presents a problem. Fall/winter is also our favorite time to hunt and gather. Hmmm – the need for high intensity exercise and the need for hunting and gathering?

Ah-Ha!!! Interval training!!! For years athletes and fitness enthusiasts have used interval training to boost fitness levels. The general gist of interval training is interspersing bursts of high intensity effort with periods of low intensity effort. Here is my evolving Mendo Interval Training Plan for Forage, Frolic, Feast, and Fun.

Intervals in the WoodsMountain biking and Mushroom hunting

How it works – Riding to specific mushroom patches and stopping to pick. Mountain biking on single track trails through the forest constantly engages the core muscles as well as challenges ones balance and timing. Short steep climbs and long sustained efforts provide cardiovascular training.
Cate mountain biking
Results – in 3 hours – cardio and core training, 2-3 pounds of choice edible mushrooms, fresh air, and FUN!!!

Variation – hiking and mushroom hunting. Not quite the core workout but a fun way to get a workout in while trekking to mushroom spots and sharing the adventure with friends who don’t mountain bike.


Intervals at Sea
kayak surfing and crabbing

How it works – setting crab rings in a sandy area near a surf zone and then going surfing. After 20-30 minutes, return to pull the rings which are hopefully heavy with dungeness crabs. Repeat 4 times. We usually end up sprinting between the crab rings and the surf zone and of course surfing always involves rolling.

Results – in 3 hours – an intense paddling workout(sprints, rolling, and salt water sinus cleaning), fresh dungeness crabs, and FUN. Lately I’ve been working on surfing a sea kayak and demoing a Dagger Alchemy. The day hatch is a handy place to transport and store crabs.

Variation – Dropping crab pots and going rock gardening – see CARS.

SUPing for Crabs
– (I got a SUP for birthday/Christmas this year). This week was our first time on the SUP’s so we are still learning and developing this variation. The SUP is definitely a good core workout and a lot of fun.

Frolic, forage, feast, and fun is the theme of these evolving Mendo Intervals. Who knows where the adventures will lead next.

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