Archive for the 'Noyo River' Category

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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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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Jan 03 2012

A Series of Unexpected Events

Surreal would be my best adjective for 2011. Of course phenomenal paddling is to be expected when one’s regular paddling playground is the Mendocino Coast. However, 2011 seemed to be the year of the unexpected.
Jeff catches air and Kathe gets a saltwater facial.
As I reflect on 2011, I recall regularly thinking, “Really? Someone pinch me so that I know this is really happening.”
Cate and Amy coasteering on the Mendocino Coast.
From befriending a garter snake

Cate's friend Hairy.

to testing strip-built sea kayaks, 2011 was a bizarre year.
Cate takes the strip built sea kayak in the rocks.
Probably one of the most unexpected events of 2011 was helping Jeff salvage a sunken sit on top kayak from the bottom of Noyo Bay.
Salvaging a sunken sit on top kayak in Noyo Bay.
Equally unexpected was stepping my game up to run some Class IV whitewater.
Cate descends Double Drop on the Eel River.
My favorite adventure of 2011 was our 169 mile Paddle to the Sea on the Eel River. In 8 days, Jeff and I paddled whitewater kayaks from Lake Pillsbury to the Pacific Ocean on the Eel River.
Setting off on Day 2 from Hearst.
2011 was a year of fun and adventure but also of frustration (Tales from the Surf Zone) and disappointment (Skunked). And also sadness as 2 of my beloved pets – Button and Aften passed away. It is these moments that remind us that we are human and things aren’t meant to be perfect.
Aften's first kayak trip on Fort Bragg's Noyo River
What will 2012 bring? More fun adventures I hope. Jeff and I will be traveling a little bit more in 2012 and sharing the fun. In January, I am meeting with Risa Shimoda to consult with her on The Ladies’ Project. Later in January, we are road tripping with the toys to Bodega Bay for Crabfest 2012 sponsored by The Headwaters and Promar. In March, we will be sharing our Eel River Paddle to the Sea Adventure with several clubs including Explore North Coast.

Unexpected has been the positive response that I have gotten from readers of my blog. Initially, I was surprised that people were reading my blog. Thanks for reading and sharing the adventures. Here’s a link to some of our favorite photos of 2011.

Best wishes for fun and adventure in 2012.
Looking for Pearls?

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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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Jun 24 2011

Tour de Mendo June 2011

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


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


And of course enjoyed lunch on a beach.


And lots of rock garden play.


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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Feb 09 2011

Back into the BCU


When Jeff taught for Aqua Adventures in San Diego, he had the good fortune of being introduced to the British Canoe Union (BCU). The BCU has developed a structured progression to guide and measure paddlers in their paddling skill progression. Paddlers can earn star awards in sea, whitewater, surf, and canoe. Star awards range from 1-5 star with 1 being introductory and 4 and 5 being advanced skills including leadership.


Jeff has been working toward keeping his coaching and star award certifications current. Jeff has BCU star awards in Sea, Canoe, and Surf and is a level 3 Sea Coach (one of only 2 in California). This weekend we held our first BCU events on the Mendocino Coast.


On Saturday was a fun 2 Star Assessment that involved basic paddling skills in a variety of craft. We used sea kayaks, whitewater river kayaks, and canoes as well as a variety of paddles.


The canoe portion of the day was the most challenging as most participants did not have much canoe or single paddle experience. It was also probably the most fun. We had an audience at times when we were purposefully flipping the canoes over.


On Sunday, we had a 3 Star Sea Training. From theory of navigation and first aid to strokes and rescue and recoveries, it was a full day of sea kayak training.


Flat water perfection drills had the paddlers fine tuning their edges and torso rotation through a variety of maneuvering skills.


Towing practice gave students the opportunity to try out different tow methods and work the kinks out of their gear.


It was great to have 2 days of focused skill work. All of the paddlers showed significant improvements in their skills and Jeff got to do what he loves – coaching. We are looking forward to offering more BCU training and assessments. Even those who are not interested in BCU star awards, it is a great way to practice and hone your skills.


Our next scheduled BCU event is a 3 Star Assessment on Saturday May 7. Please contact us if you are interested in our future BCU training and assessments.

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Dec 19 2010

Paddling Candy Cane Lane


Arriving home after some pre-holiday travels, we were anxious for some boating close to home. We decided on an exploratory paddle of the South Fork of the Noyo River – a class 1 tributary of Fort Bragg’s Noyo River.


We have heard nightmare stories from locals trying to run this at flood stages. Our plan for the trip was to enjoy the scenery and wildlife. Being in a wooded area, log strainers are inevitable hazards so we chose a flow that would be high enough to float us down the river but mellow enough for us to limbo under logs and easily get in and out when necessary to portage obstacles.


Our journey entailed approximately 4 miles of paddling (and portaging) on the South Fork of the Noyo River followed by 4 miles down the Noyo River to our shop at Dolphin Isle Marina.


The trip met our expectations lots of log strainers and great scenery and wildlife watching. We limboed 12 logs and portaged numerous times.


Our favorite sitings of the trip were 6 Coho Salmon and numerous American Dippers. We came across a couple of the Department of Fish and Game surveyors wading the river and counting salmon. Talking to them, we discovered that the candy cane striped ribbons that we were seeing along the river were their markings of Coho Salmon sitings.


In addition to enjoying the scenery and wildlife, we realize that the run was a good preparation for our upcoming swiftwater safety class for the local fish surveyors. Check out our photo gallery for an entertaining slideshow of our adventure.

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Sep 28 2010

California Coastal Cleanup Day 2010

The sun was shining on us as we joined forces with the Lost Coast Chapter of the Traditional Small Craft Association to clean up Fort Bragg’s Noyo River. We could not have asked for a more beautiful day.

Of course being water folks, we kayaked and rowed to locations to retrieve trash and retrieved quite a bit (over 800 pounds).


It is amazing how many little plastic wrappers accumulate in our our waters – ziplocs, chip bags, and wrapper from candy. Thanks to Jim and Jim for their efforts in collecting those annoying little bits of trash.


Lin donned some gloves and waded in to retrieve a toilet that someone had dumped into the river.

Jeff turned one our our recreational tandem kayaks into a garbage barge, and Stan and Selby towed an old rowboat garbage boat as well.


Speaking of towing . . . we have another story to share from the day. Stay tuned for the Towing of the Vrrroooom, Vrrroooom.

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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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Sep 14 2009

Early Rain

Talk of El Nino brings numerous speculations to the California Coast. Will we get a rainy winter?

Yesterday, we had the first rain of the season on the Mendocino Coast. It started just as we were getting ready to launch. It sprinkled then showered, and we commented that it might settle the dust. Moments later, it began to rain.

Excitement built throughout the afternoon paddle. The rain was warm and hope of a good winter warmed us further. In Mendocino County, rain means wild mushrooms and whitewater river kayaking.

Stay posted as we hope to be enjoying both mushrooms and whitewater this fall and winter. Our Mushroom Kayak Tour was mentioned in Oprah’s magazine in a feature article about food festivals. And yes, we will be venturing off of the coast this winter to paddle the whitewater creeks and rivers of Mendocino County.

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