Archive for the 'Photography' Category

Oct 10 2012

Missed Opportunities

Sometimes things go just right.  Perfect wave, set-up, timing, and execution.

Sometimes you make a mistake and get tossed.

Other times, you are in the perfect position at the right time but just don’t feel it (and chicken out).

Other times, you see that perfect opportunity but aren’t in position and watch it go by.

Other times you try but it eludes you.

Other times, you have the perfect shot and your camera malfunctions.

This is the way things are and why it is so great when everything comes together for that perfect ride and photo/video to go with it.

Cate in Lava.  Photo by June Ruckman

And what keeps us heading out there for more.

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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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Aug 23 2011

Crash Test Dummies

A couple of strip-built sea kayaks were dropped off for us to demo. “The Mattang” was designed to be a rugged, nimble surfing and rock gardening sea kayak. It was specifically built for the surf and rock gardens of the Mendocino Coast. “The Sundance” was a gorgeous, 18.5′ long, pointy sea kayak with Greenland and British design influences.

We slipped out for an evening paddle. I paddled the elegant 18.5′ Sundance and Jeff paddled the rugged Mattang. A couple of minutes after we launched from the beach, the bulkhead on my boat came loose and shifted forward of my feet, and the right thigh brace came unglued. I didn’t come unglued over these outfitting details (story of my life) and enjoyed the smooth, effortless feel of her gliding through the water. She was surprisingly nimble and turned well with a little edge. She was fast, sleek and efficient and very different from my 16 foot plastic Valley Avocet.

It was a mellow evening, and we enjoyed a couple of rides on a rock garden feature called “The Toilet Bowl.”

We meandered over to Chicken Point which was breaking on some of the larger sets. I was content to sit on the edge of the break and admire and photograph Jeff and the Mattang in action. Jeff was tearing it up with her!!! He made that boat dance on the water.

My friend Amy and her family were spectating from the bluffs. Of course they goaded me into catching a wave at Chicken Point. I thought, “Sure, great idea – surfing a rock-strewn break in an elegantly crafted 18.5’ wooden sea kayak with a hull design that had never been tested in the surf.”

I contemplated . . . worst case scenario . . . I would not be able to control the boat and end up broach surfed into the rocks . . . at least my friends would witness some spectacular carnage.

As my friend Amy says, “I nutted-up” and got into position. The boat accelerated with ease onto the wave. As I dropped in, I felt totally in control. The bow and stern both rode high in the water allowing me to control the boat’s direction. I edged her slightly and surfed her across the face of the wave.

Huh? An 18.5 foot sea kayak that drops into a wave and edges and carves. The builder was ecstatic. He had no idea what she would do on a wave. Jeff and my friends were hooting and hollering . . . . I was grinning from ear to ear and paddling back for another wave. And caught another, and another, and another. On one wave, I actually dropped in and cut right toward the rocks and then cut back left. It was amazing and so much fun.

So much for being crash test dummies . . . this time.

Here’s a video of our session using the rapid fire photos that Amy took from above on the bluffs.

YouTube Preview Image

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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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Jun 18 2011

The Fog Bug

Ever wake up in the morning feeling kind of foggy? Maybe too little sleep or too much to drink – we all know that feeling.

This week, I had serious fog issues with my camera. Several paddlers on our June Tour de Mendo commented about having fog issues with their cameras. I felt for them and took a moment to appreciate the reliability of our waterproof point and shoot camera. Our Olympus Stylus 850SW has been a champ. It has seen A LOT of use since we bought it in the summer of 2008 and been a solid camera for us – taking great photos and video (considering it is pre-HD). Each year, we have sent it in for refurbishing and maintenance and it has come back looking like new and working great.
This week despite all precautions, it caught the “fog bug.” The lens and lcd panel started fogging up. I was very disappointed as I missed some great shots but what can one do?

I called Olympus yesterday and it just happens that my baby is still under warranty from last winter’s repair and refurbish. They warned me that they are no longer fixing older models like this. I begged and pleaded that they bring it back to life as it is the best camera ever. Hopefully they will. Their warranty and customer service has been outstanding so I am optimistic.

I didn’t tell Olympus that perhaps the camera was exposed to the deadly “fog bug.” Jeff had borrowed a camera from one of the paddlers in our group and it turned out to have the “fog bug” as well. He made the best out of some of his foggy photos by making them in to black and whites.

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