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Friday, March 27, 2015

Paddling Scotland

More photos from Skye! I was fortunate to spend about 9 days on Skye with Gordon Brown of Skyak Adventures.  We get on quite well and I had an absolute blast. Photos from Loch Bracadale, Tarskavaig, Kyle Rhea, and the Sleat Peninsula. Enjoy! And if you ever get the chance, come paddling in Skye- there is everything from flatwater touring to 5* conditions and beyond, each and every day!
Kevin in Loch Bracadale heading for Wiay.
Gross-looking sponges here in Skye.
Can you spot Misha?
There he is!
Jonny contact towing my lost boat to me as I relaxed, mid Kyle Rhea.
The southern entrance to Kyle Rhea as the tidal stream shifted... it looked fun but we were already cold.
After hiking the boats to the water in Tarskavaig.
A nice spot protected from wind and sea.
Approaching the Point of Sleat.
Gordon and Rowland conspiring against us.

Monday, March 16, 2015

First days on Skye!

I am currently on the Isle of Skye, doing a bit of training with Skyak Adventures, run by the lovely Morag & Gordon Brown. Yesterday, my first day here, I paddled with a local paddler, Frank, who took me up the beautiful Loch Long and around Eilean Donan castle (featured in the movie Highlander, among others). We had bluebird skies, calm conditions, and not a soul on the water but us (and a curious seal friend). Today I paddled with Morag from the Skye Bridge back to the shop in Breakish- a potential paddle for night navigation later this week. Looking forward to a great trip here in Scotland!

Looking up Loch Long.
A pretty hill whose name I could never spell.
Monkey Puzzle Tree.
Broch (ancient ruin).
Eilean Donan

Friday, March 13, 2015

Storm Gathering USA 2015 Recap

After spending a bit of time with Helen Wilson of at Lumpy Waters and talking occasionally, I was invited down to help at the 1st annual Storm Gathering USA, held last weekend in Trinidad, California.  Helen put on an amazing event, with help from tons of great volunteers. Here is my take on a whirlwind three days.

Day 1 Tricky Launch, Tricky Landing
I helped Paul Kuthe and Cate Hawthorne with the opening day class. Everyone wanted to work in the surf zone, specifically on not getting hit by dumping waves. So that is what we did.
Paul and Cate getting students ready for "Tricky Launching, Tricky Landing" on Friday afternoon.
Speed Spraydeck Races- Can you beat a wave?
Meaghan heading out through the break.
Ian giving directions to a paddler outside the break.
Looking out to Flat Iron Rock.
Day 2: Long Boat Surfing

Ryan Rushton, formerly of Geneva Kayak Centre in Chiberia (a really, really cold Chicago) and I taught long boat surfing. We worked on identifying shoulders, rights and lefts, as well as regaining the wave from a broach. Students were throwing ends and real progress was made.
Ryan Rushton showing a group how to regain a wave after a broach.
First you have to lose control to regain it.
Jason working the soup.
Roz throwing ends.
Backwards too!
Day 2: Effective Forward Stroke

Ben Lawry taught this class, and I just sat in and watched. He had this dialed- really fun to watch. We started on land and did quite a bit of theory, but then got on the water and applied everything. Really a fun guy to work with.
Ben Lawry working on Efficient & Effective Forward Stroke.
Going through all the muscles used in a forward stroke.
Coast Guard Sector Eureka did a rescue demonstration for us. Anytime they do aerial exercises, they have a boat on scene to set safety. They practiced hovering, dropping dummies and rescuing them for nearly 30 minutes. Really cool to see. Afterwards we had their permission to shoot off old flares and practice with something that most boaters carry but have hardly ever used.  Hopefully we keep our rescue interactions with the Coast Guard to a minimum, but it sure does feel nice having them around and constantly training to remain vigilant.
Coast Guard Rescue Demonstration.
Lowering a swimmer to rescue the dummy.
Bringing the swimmer back to the heli.
Day 3: Sea Journey

On the last day of the Storm Gathering, I lead a Sea Journey. A few folks dropped out due to fatigue and sore muscles (and, I suspect, a long drive home). We headed north out of Trinidad State Beach and explored and played our way along the coast, up about 2.5 nm to Green Rock, which during nesting season is covered with common murres. This day, however, there were perhaps 2 dozen sea gulls only.
Ted checking out the swell along Green Rock on Sunday Morning's Sea Journey
Lots of interesting shoreline to explore in Trinidad.

Inspecting a pourover for runnability and safety.
We got to paddle in close along the shore, and put our bows right up next to some of the rocks. A few pourovers we ran, and we decided as a group that a few were either too bony or a bit too exciting for a Sunday morning!

Helen did a phenomenal job putting on a great event, and there were lots of (tired) smiles at the end of the weekend. A huge thanks to her and all the coaches, volunteers, and of course, participants who made it a great weekend!

PS- Extra bonus- I didn't even have to drive home! The other folks I went with had it covered! 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

La Push Pummel

After our exploration of Cape Flattery last weekend, we headed about 50 miles south to the informal La Push Pummel, a surf event of friends and paddlers. There were SUPs, wave skis, surf boats, whitewater kayaks, and a select few sea kayaks.  We had beautiful weather, but winds were a bit strong, and remained offshore for the whole weekend. 

We paddled around James Island, at the mouth of the Quillayute River, and then surfed Saturday. Sunday waves were small, except for the beach break which was quite intimidating. Sunday we journeyed around the Quillayute Needles, exploring arches, pourovers, and exploiting boomers to our advantage. Looking forward to paddling Trinidad Head next weekend at the Storm Gathering USA!