Archive for the 'sea caves' Category

Jul 26 2013

Whitewater of the Sea

Whitewater Rock Garden Kayak Tours on the Mendocino Coast:

A story of creation and evolution-

We love kayaking and playing in the rock gardens of the Mendocino Coast in our whitewater kayaks.  As Liquid Fusion Kayaking evolved to teaching paddlers of all skill levels, we tossed around the idea of introducing novice paddlers to rock gardening.

kayak rock garden mendocino
Jeff boof’s a pour-over in the ocean.
Our vision was to be able to share the fun of kayaking in ocean rock gardens with those who wanted an adventure in the rock gardens and sea caves of the Mendocino Coast regardless of their kayaking skills and experience.  We wanted to create a trip that could get our students riding pour-overs and playing in the whitewater features of the ocean in a 3 hour trip.

whitewater kayak rock gardening
Cate styling it in the rock gardens of the Mendocino Coast.

We experimented with some friends to see if this would be feasible (it is great having friends that love to play and are always up for an adventure).  While we liked the comfort and performance of our “old school” decked whitewater kayaks, we recognized that our athletic and water savvy non-paddling pals needed a kayak that was more user-friendly.  Inspired by the “wash deck” kayaks of the Tsunami Rangers and our own love of the maneuverability of whitewater kayaks, we decided upon the Dagger Torrent – a sit on top whitewater kayak formerly called a Perception Torrent.

Dagger Torrent Sit on Top Whitewater Kayaks

BINGO!!!  We had a winner!!!  Stable, maneuverable, easy to adjust and fitting a wide range of sizes, the Dagger Torrent gave us a user friendly craft to for introducing students to rock gardens.

whitewater kayak ocean rock gardens mendocino
Novice Paddler Rock Gardening

In 2009, Liquid Fusion Kayaking started offering ocean rock gardening adventures for paddlers of all skill levels.  We called it “Mendocino Kayaking ROCKS!!!”  We coined it as our “Wet and Wild Adventure” to contrast with our “Dry and Mild” kayak tours.

family kayak wildlife watching tour
Dry and Mild Wildlife Watching Kayak Tours on the Noyo River

In 2010, we continued the theme of Wet and Wild but changed the name to Whitewater of the Sea to convey that this is an ADVENTURE in the ocean – kayaking and playing in the waves and whitewater of the sea.  Participants usually swim at least once in the trip – unintentionally or intentionally.

Thrills and Spills!!!

We are in our 5th year of running Whitewater of the Sea Adventures.  This year, we have evolved the trip to involve more swimming.  Last week we had a blast swimming through a sea cave.

sea cave mendocino swimming
Swimming through a Sea Cave on the Mendocino Coast

The first hour of the adventure is “training” which includes instruction in maneuvering and safety skills.  Participants quickly recognize that this isn’t your average kayak tour but a fun learning adventure.  One of our students wrote about it on YELP - “One of the best classes that I have taken on any subject ever.”

instruction class whitewater kayak rock garden
Instruction and drills in rock gardening

Students leave the adventure with a better understanding of the ocean as an ecosystem and as a playground as well as tales of thrills and spills.  Each tour is different as we cater to each group (usually 4 or less participants) and the conditions.  Wildlife moments are enjoyed as they happen from checking out gull chicks to marine mammal encounters.  Humpback and gray whales have made appearances during our tours this summer as well as harbor seals, sea lions, and river otters.  This week, we watched a Peregrine Falcon stooping (diving) some Western Gulls.

Western Gull Chicks Checking us Out!

Whitewater of the Sea is an adventure and is not intended to be a substitute for kayak instruction and training.  Novice and experienced paddlers on LFK’s Whitewater of the Sea Adventure recognize the quality of instruction that is occurring.  Jeff has masterfully taken the key skills for rock garden safety and fun and condensed them into a 3 hour course that allows students to be guided in dynamic ocean waters, to run pour-overs, and to play in the whitewater.  His teaching progression builds individual and group skills.

Jeff coaching

Of course, the more skilled and able the group – the more that the group gets to do.  A special dynamic of rock gardening with a masterful leader allows skilled boaters to share a rock gardening experience with a novice paddling friend.  It is possible to have Class II and IV on the same feature and the ability for the guide to choose the challenge level for you.

Choose your adventure level!

We have had paddlers repeat our Whitewater of the Sea Adventure to learn and experience more as well as bring friends along to introduce them to the fun of paddling and playing in ocean rock gardens.  For those that really want more – our Waves n Caves Weekends are 3 days of Whitewater of the Sea.

3 Days of Whitewater Ocean Rock Gardening!!!

Of course the bottom line is that our Whitewater of the Sea Adventure is a reflection of our love for the ocean – our passion for playing in her waves and whitewater, our admiration and appreciation of the wildlife that call her home, and the privilege of getting to share it with others.

Sharing the magic of the Mendocino Coast

Are you adventuresome?  Willing to Play Hard and Get WET?  Then here’s your official invitation to come play with us in our playground.


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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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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.

YouTube Preview Image

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Aug 05 2009

From WILD to MILD – a perfect Day kayaking on the Mendocino Coast

It has been sunny and warm on the Mendocino Coast with very calm, glassy ocean conditions. Yesterday, our day started with a WILD rock gardening session with some experienced whitewater kayakers, proceeded to a sea kayak coastal exploration, and wrapped up with a mild Noyo Meander (of course followed by a trip to North Coast Brewery).

Seeking whitewater with experience whitewater paddlers in calm conditions sent us to one of the outside reefs where it was anything but calm . . . Definitely WILD!!! I dropped an “F” Bomb going over one of the 12 foot drops when I saw the gigantic hole below. The mermaid boat submerged and flipped . . . but the mermaid in the boat was calm and cool (cold water helps with that) and rolled up.

In the afternoon, we toured in tandem sea kayaks the Noyo Bay and Fort Bragg Coastline. I was excited to have a 13 year old young lady paddling with me while her family waived to us from shore. We saw some amazing jelly fish and enjoyed the sunshine, wildlife, and meandering along the coast and checking out a couple of sea caves.

In the evening, I enjoyed the company of a family from Sacramento for a meandering paddle on the Noyo River. We enjoyed spectacular displays of marine mammals including a pair of sea lion pups jumping clear out of the water in unison. My streak for daily sitings of the river otters is continuing and my guests have been treated to displays of their quirky behaviors.

Ahhhh . . . I am enjoying a few minutes in the office this morning uploading photos and attending to communications but am looking forward to another afternoon of sea kayaking and wildlife watching on the Mendocino Coast (paddling paradise in my opinion).

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Jun 20 2009

Gulch to Gulch

Ahh . . . after 3 weeks of unheard of calm coastal conditions on the Mendocino Coast, the wind has kicked up again. Just as it was starting to pick up on Wednesday, we enjoyed one of our favorite Mendocino sea kayak paddles from Russian Gulch to Smuggler’s Gulch. Unfortunately, Smugglers’ wasn’t breaking for a surf session, but we did find a fun wave to play on just under one of the big archs of the Mendocino Headlands.

Of course we ventured deep into the Mendocino Headlands via sea caves and played in rock garden currents and pour-overs. Randy was enjoying paddling his new poly Avocet. We kinda looked like twins with our lava colored Avocets and mango colored drysuits.

Ralph let me take his skin on frame for a spin. Wow!!! Not only is it beautiful but light and responsive. I am super excited about our plans for kayak building this winter. Ralph took video footage from the day. It will be fun to see his footage. We had 3 sea lions negotiating swells outside of the Emerald City that we are hoping he got in his video.

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May 10 2009

Kayaking with Mom

I recently joined the community and was reminiscing on my most memorable paddle. Numerous kayaking trips came to mind but 2 in particular have been on my mind lately – both included my mom.

My mom is not an athlete or paddler but an enthusiast of life. She has kayaked a couple of times while on vacation in the Caribbean, but the first time that we kayaked together was on the Noyo River in Fort Bragg, CA. She was visiting me from Pennsylvania and flaunting and enjoying the perks of her new “Senior” status. Having gone to the Botanical Gardens and visited the Skunk Train, she was ready for a new adventure. We met up with some friends and enjoyed a sunny afternoon kayaking on the Noyo River. It was on this paddle that her enthusiasm and excitement over the birds that we saw sparked my interested in birding. In particular it was a green heron that perked my interest. The next day while I was at work, she bought me my first bird book. I have been fascinated by birds ever since and now call her to report my latest sitings.

The other memorable trip that came to mind was sea kayaking from Russian Gulch to the Point Cabrillo Lighthouse. This is one of our favorite spots on the Mendocino Coast for rock gardening and exploring sea caves. My mom and Jeff shared a tandem sea kayak while my girlfriend and I paddled single boats. The ocean conditions were calm and glassy. It was so exciting for me to be able to share this special stretch of coastline with my mom. We were able to paddle into all of the sea caves and were dazzled by the vibrant colors of the caves and intertidal life. Mom still talks about the spectacular colors and the excitement of the trip. She even let Jeff take her over a couple of pour-overs (when an ocean wave washes over a rock – similar to whitewater on the river).

Happy Mother’s Day Mom, I love you!!!

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May 03 2009

Kayaking Mendocino Sea Caves

Glassy ocean conditions on Thursday enticed us explore the sea caves in Mendocino Bay in our sea kayaks. The predominant swell direction on the Mendocino Coast is northwest. It creates many sea caves in our rugged coastline, but also makes many of them inaccessible to kayaking in all but the calmest conditions. Every now and then Poseidon smiles upon us and gives us that window to explore. And smile we did in return as we sea kayaked into the Mendocino sea caves.

A few nice sets rolled through and made for some fun surfing and rock gardening. The tide conditions were perfect to stand up some green-faced waves at Smuggler’s Gulch that were perfect for surfing our sea kayaks. A couple of abalone divers whistled as I took a right to carve across one of the first slow spilling waves of the day. This was not my best videoing day because I was having too much fun surfing to focus on setting up in the right location for the shot. Most of my shots were quick grabs of the camera as I was paddling back out to line up for the next set.

Much to Jeff’s chagrin, I continue to maintain my status as the wave magnet and had a couple of exciting pour-over and surge channel rock garden rides that were probably as entertaining to watch as they were to ride. One of our paddlers had a helmet cam and I will save my verdict on that until I see the footage.

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