Monday, November 8, 2010

Happy Inuit Day!

Many of you might not know that today is Inuit Day.  If you are able today, I can't think of a better way to celebrate the Inuit people, their traditions, and their great invention, the kayak, than to get out on the water in your kayak. 

 Unfortunately, today I am stuck in an office behind my desk, but in heart, mind and soul I will be in my kayak celebrating Inuit Day and I hope that you will celebrate it with me.
Happy Inuit Day!

*Pictures were "borrowed" from  the great people at Chicago Kayak

Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy Halloween!

We hope that everyone had
a Spooktacular Halloween!!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Beauty and Fun of the Mendocino Coast

We love going to the Mendocino Coast for the beauty of the coast line, all the beaches along the way and of course all the fun little places to check out.  Here is a cool little slot we went in with a tiny beach and waterfall at the end of it.  It is only big enough for one kayak to get into and turn around in and you have to let the water take you in and use your hands on the rocks as it is way to narrow to paddle through but it's a spot we just have to check out each time we go.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Scott's First Pourover

Last weekend in Mendocino, Scott attempted his first pourover.

Although it was not a total success, he came up laughing
with a huge grin on his face.  I'd call that success!
We can't wait to go back and play some more!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Why We Love Mendocino...

Great Friends...

Beautiful Scenery...


Sea Life...




Blow holes...


 and Secret Beaches.

What's not to love about it?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My Parents are Certifiable

Well, only if you consider an extreme obsession to kayaking a mental illness. 

Over the past year and a half my parents have taught us everything that we know about kayaking.  They taught us how to wet exit and how to self and t-rescue.  We moved on to bracing, edging, and forward stroke.  They taught me how to roll.  Then once we got the basics down they took us on trips where they taught us about eddy lines, currents, wind, waves, and being prepared. 

This time last year we were preparing for our second trip to the ocean (on the first trip,  three months earlier, we only got on the ocean once and in very mild conditions).  We were not yet members of the Sacramento Sea Kayakers but had begun going to meetings and joining them on trips, and this trip was their annual Mendocino Campout. 

The group consists of three types of paddlers. Those that stick to the calm flat rivers, those who explore the oceans tunnels and caves, and those who love to explore the rock gardens.  My parents fall in the later two.

Being so green to kayaking, the group expected us to stick to the rivers, but that wasn't what we did.  Every morning we got up early and joined my parents on trips thru caves and tunnels, we were introduced to the washing machine, rode eight foot swells, played in small waves, enjoyed lunch on beautiful secret beaches and even tried a teeny tiny pourover. 

The club was so impressed that at the Christmas Dinner awards ceremony we were awarded with this...

Best Novice Couple Award

Now my parents have gone and got themselves certified!  I can't imagine two better kayak instructors and I am very proud of them for all that they have accomplished.  They have given up many fun and exciting exploration paddles this year in favor of long boring practice sessions on the local lake, and all of their hard work and determination has finally paid off for them.  I just hope they don't start charging us for lessons now...

Monday, August 30, 2010

Blood Dolphins

In these modern times with all we know about dolphins, with all we do not know and all that we still can learn, how is this still happening?

Click on this link to learn more. The Cove Movie  This was heartbreaking for me because dolphins are my passion!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Shark Attack on Clear Lake

With all of the kayaking related shark attacks making headlines recently we thought that we would share our own shark attack experience with all of you.  Which thankfully, we both survived no worse for wear to ourselves or to our kayaks.  For that we are very grateful!

The attack took place on one cool, fall evening in late October on Clear Lake in California.  They always say that early evening is feeding time and that is when most shark attacks occur, but we were too focused on going on our first night paddle, hanging out with friends and paddling to dinner at a great local restaurant.  We didn't give any thought to sharks let alone heed any of the warnings. 

We were paddling along silently, save for the water splashing from our paddles, dreamily gazing at the moon, when I heard something behind me.  I looked over my shoulder and caught sight of a giant grey fin!  I knew immediately that it was a great white shark!  I shrieked something unintelligable to the others who had no idea what was going on.  I started paddling faster than I have ever paddled before.  I could have won races with the speed at which I was paddling, I could have circumnavigated continents, but it was of no use.  The shark was too fast!  It was gaining on me with incredible speed.  I could see the gleam of it's teeth in my peripheral vision.  Judging it's size, I would say that the shark was an enormous 5 1/2 feet.  I know that might not seem that big to most of you, but I'm telling you that this shark was a HUGE unrelenting monster...

and boy could it paddle a kayak and FAST!

This shark was sure to take it's time savoring the flavor of my legs.
I miss those water shoes!

Halloween Night 2009
Night Paddle/Dinner with Sacramento Sea Kayakers Paddle Club

BTW: I DO NOT recommend paddling with legs hanging from your neck as they tend to swing and sway knocking into the paddle shaft which in turn throws off your stroke.  

For those of you concerned with safety, as we always are, my PFD was on under the sweatshirt as was a dry wicking shirt, the gray pants I wore were dry pants made by Kokatat and we carried extra clothes and a paddle jacket in a dry bag in our hatch (which I wisely wore in lieu of the sweatshirt on the return trip).  But really, what could possibly go wrong when you have Popeye, Bluto, Olive Oyl and Tigger & Poo there to save you!  (I can't vouch for the one in the middle)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Disappointed But Not Discouraged

Rolling last night was... dissappointing.  We thought that with all of the modifications that we had made to Scott's kayak that we couldn't possibly get him any tighter in there while still being able to wet exit.  In fact we were a little worried about the wet exit part. The good news is... he slips right out! Unfortunately, that's also the bad news. 

We found two spots, one behind his lower back and the other was in the two front corners that we could put a bit more padding.  The only problem with getting him crammed in there like a sardine is that he'd also like to be comfortable on say a 14 mile paddle on the San Francisco Bay.  Another thought we had was, what if we could make the foam less slippery?  Scott suggested velcroing his butt to the seat but I thought glueing some kind of non slip material to the foam might be best.

I just love facebook and kayaking friends!  When we returned home I posted on our facebook page asking anyone for ideas of a material that we could use to glue to the foam. I gave the qualifications: it has to be textured as to prevent slipping but also be comfortable to sit on and rub against and it has to withstand being soaked.  Within minutes, one of our kayaking friends whom we just met on the down river trip last month sent us a message saying that she had a pair of rubber pants that she hasn't worn in years.  They are a sticky rubber for the purpose of keeping your butt in the boat.  If the pants fit him he can wear them and the leg material can be cut up and glued to the sections of foam that we want to be less slippy. She is teaching a kayaking class about 5 minutes from our house on Saturday so we can go by and pick them up then! Thanks Lisa!  You are awesome!

A kayak club friend suggested looking into outfitting made of neoprene.  To redo all of the outfitting will be costly but that is an option we will keep open. Thanks Dave!

Another of our friends who created California Kayaker Magazine had a post up about his magazine and I just happened to read a comment on his post from someone wanting to submit an article about kayakers with disabilities, so I added this person as a friend and sent him an email asking if he had any suggestions.  He was kind enough to reply right away offering some helpful suggestions.  The best one being hip pads.  The whole cockpit is padded!  I thought at first, did he even look at the pictures?  But now I get the need for a more shapely peice to hold the hip in place! Duh! So, Thank you, Tom!

As for me, it was weird to get used to a higher seat.  It felt like I had to relearn my balance.  If I rolled quickly I felt it was an asset like it pushed me up almost by itself, but if I hesitated underwater before rolling I felt it was harder.  I was glad that I asked Scott to bring the screwdriver to roll practice, I readjusted my thigh braces at least five times.  I think they are ok now.  It is just weird to fit so differently and hard to get used to.  Since removing those metal braces for the seat I don't have much hip pad.  We put some in there but found it isn't nearly enough so we will have to add more to that too.  Right now I am feeling like I am learning balance and rolling all over again.  So far no bruises yet, but my muscles are screaming!  All of them.

We are anxious to get back in the garage, modify, modify, modify, and then get back to the pool! But it will have to wait until we return from kayaking on the Mendocino Coast. Darn! LOL

Until then if anyone has any ideas throw them our way, please!  Right now it is just a guessing game and we are willing to try ALMOST anything. :D

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Today Is Going To Be A Great Day!

Today is going to be A Great Day!

How do I know?

Because any day that we get to spend time messing around in our kayaks is a good day!

Once I leave hardly working... um... I mean work (I love my job btw!), we will be headed off to roll practice where we can test out the new modifications that we have done to our kayaks in the safety and comfort of a warm, clean pool.

Here is my baby!  (above)

We removed all of the metal brackets and braces from the old and long gone seating system.  We bought a new seat, the Necky Touring Seat.  So far so good.  It is very comfortable!  In the bucket of scrap foam we found two hip pads that we glued in and after purchasing some more 3 inch foam, Scott lovingly handcrafted this seat back for me. No more flippin' seat band for me! This is so comfy and I can lay flat on my back deck without pinching or having to readjust anything.  The sandpaper tape is gone, and the thigh braces and foot pegs have been readjusted too.  I think she is good to go.  I can't wait to roll her tonight!

Here is Scott's other Girl

Since he was still having an issue with twisting in the cockpit while learning to roll, we added 3 inch foam to the front to hold him in better.  He also had problems with his butt sliding under the seat band so we took that out.  In place of the seat band he crafted himself a seatback out of the foam we had.  Luckily, the Skwoosh seat we bought for me a couple of weeks ago fits perfectly in his cockpit and it feels really good to him.  I am so glad that it didn't go to waste and the money wasn't spent for nothing. Now he is comfortably snug in his cockpit, enough to not twist but not too much as to keep him from completing a wet exit when needed. 

Now to get the roll on!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Kayak Simulator! Backyard Kayaking!

This would be way too cool to have in the backyard! We really want one, but I think we should work on getting a backyard to put it in first!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

You Can't Park Here, You Have Kayaks!

I love to watch people's faces whenever we park in a handicapped spot with the kayaks on the car. Their gazes range anywhere between contempt to admiration. One of the bests looks was one of pure confusion. We walked out of a store just as this guy was walking slowly past our car. His eyes kept going from the handicapped sign to the kayaks and back again with a look of total confusion on his face. As he passed the car and we approached his gaze went from my boyfriend to the kayaks to my boyfriend and back. I didn't think he could look anymore confused than he did before but, Oh boy, did he!  I bet if I looked hard enough I could see the smoke coming out of his ears as his brain tried to work that one out but I was too busy trying to hide my laughter.

One morning on a two and half hour drive to the put in spot, we pulled off at a gas station to use the facilities and parked in the handicapped space. An older gentleman who came in after us was then "forced" to use the space two spots down right in front of the window washing station.  He made a big show of putting up his handicapped placard (he wasn't in a handicapped space), making sure to send us angry glances for good measure, then proceeded to get out of his car without any mobility aids whatsoever and wash his windows and when he was finished he gave us one last dirty look before he got back into his car and drove off???

Best of all though, was the time when we went to Target. We were in line at the pharmacy picking up some sinus medication before heading to a Kayak Club Mixer with 3 of the kayak clubs in our area.  As we waited in line a man approached us and explained that he saw us parking in the handicapped spaces with kayaks on the car. Immediately, I thought "Oh geez, now what?  Does he not see the wheelchair!?" Then he proceeded to tell us that he has Parkinson's disease and that one of his friends has been trying to talk him into going kayaking. He asked us if we would be willing to take him out sometime. We told him that would be great and gave him our number. Unfortunatly, he never called. I hope his friend was able to get him into a kayak and that we will run into him again, on the lake next time!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

It's an Abusive Relationship

I'm starting to come to terms with the fact that I am in an abusive relationship. It is a disheartening revelation as we share so much in common and I really am in love. Alas, I have finally come to terms with the situation and have figured out what I am going to do about it. No, I am not going to end the relationship!
Are you crazy? I am going to change her!

I do realize that I could work on myself, but changing her is much faster and easier than losing 30 or so pounds, so for now it's her that's gotta change. I have already started by taking out those horrid metal bars that went down each side and under the seat, squeezing the life out of my hips and thighs. We have added foam for the hips but are still working on shaping the foam to make it just right. We have replaced the hot seat with a Skwoosh Classic Kayak Seat Pad Cushion but I'm still not sure if this is the "one" for me. So far only one leg is hurting and going numb now as opposed to both, but my butt still hurts. 

It is really hard to enjoy a fabulous day out on the water when you are uncomfortable and in pain. It always starts about 10 minutes into a paddle and wont let up. I often take my thighs out of the thigh braces and balance my knees between the braces, but I can only do that on calm waters. It's no fun being in rough water and needed to keep your legs in the braces when you don't feel like you could brace anyway due to no feeling in your legs. The thigh braces that I have now are metal with thin foam glued to them. I am thinking of replacing them with more comfortable braces but am not sure if there is enough room yet. I already have my eye on a beautiful pair of soft squishy lovliness.

My seat back is constantly flipping over and while it is just irritating when getting back in my kayak, I am thinking of replacing it with outfitting foam shaped for comfort.

I am also stumped as to exactly where my foot pegs should be. Right now I have them so that I can extend my legs straight but my feet don't reach so well when I am bracing. Should I have them positioned more to constantly be in the brace position?

Oh, and you see that black tape on either side behind the cockpit? That's gotta go! My dad put it there when it was his boat because he liked to rest his hands in that spot and it kept them from slipping. The tape's surface is the consistancy of sandpaper. Think about doing the cowboy rescue with shorts on!  OUCH!

If anyone has any recommendations, opinions or ideas on outfitting, thigh braces, seats and foot peg positions
please Please PLEASE share!!!  : D

 I am dying to be in love with my kayak again
and to LOVE to be out in my kayak for hours on end!

2 Krazy Kayakers

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

We Need A Go Pro!

Last Sunday we were invited to join BASK (Bay Area Sea Kayakers) on a down river paddle.  We have done a good share of ocean kayaking and A LOT of lake paddling, but this was the first time that we have had an opportunity to get out onto a moving river.  Most of the paddle was a lazy float with plenty of time to enjoy the scenery, that is when not navigating through the maze of rafters and avoiding (or trying to get a direct hit, whichever the case may be) from their water cannons, but the best parts of this stretch of river were the two sections of Class II rapids that we got to ride through.

In all actuality, these rapids were no more challenging than the times that we have run Yellow Bluff on the San Francisco Bay, but the river was new to us and these were RIVER rapids. At least that is what our minds were telling us anyway. As the only camera we have right now is a point and shoot waterproof camera and I have yet to set up some kind of tripod system for videos and  I was too hesitant to release my grip on my paddle, we don't have any good pictures of these sections of water so you will have to use your imagination.

Soo picture this...

You are paddling down the river with twenty-four or so other paddlers.  You know rapids are coming up and this will be your first time experiencing them. Your nerves are building. With each little stretch of bumpy water you ask yourself, "Was that it?", but no, the group confirms that the rapids are still ahead. 

Finally, there in the distance you see the white water rising. You slow your stroke to let a few paddlers get ahead of you and watch as they approach the rapids.  They seem confident and in control as they paddle and brace through the white chop and hey, they are still upright, so you follow their line and make your approach. Just as you commit, you see a boat in front of you flip. Instinctively, you reach for the release strap on your spray skirt, just to make sure it is not obstructed and to give yourself one last mental reminder of where to reach... just in case.  There is no turning back now.  You find that you are no longer following the line of 5 confident paddlers, all your mind focuses on now is that one overturned boat being swept along. The current is sweeping you swiftly into the rapids and all you can do now is keep your hips loose, hope that you apply each brace correctly and pray that you don't make the same mistake that the poor wet paddler in front of you did. Another boat capsizes. You don't want to look, but you can't look away. The water is crashing over your kayak, spraying you in the face, splashing over your sprayskirt from the sides. The current and waves are trying to turn you sideways, you apply a stern rudder to quickly correct your direction and keep your kayak pointed straight ahead. A wave hits you from the side and you feel yourself tipping to the right, you brace. Another hits you from the other side and you start tipping to your left, you brace again.  A series of quick braces with a few stern rudder strokes thrown in and before you know it, you have come out the other side.

You scan the T-rescue attempts taking place to make sure your assistance is not needed.  You spot a piece of foam padding floating slowly down river, so you paddle over to retrieve it and return it to it's soggy owner. Then you make your way over to join the group waiting in the eddy by the beach.  Finally you breathe and a huge smile crosses over your face.  You went in a novice and you came out the other side, upright, relatively dry and with more experience and confidence than when you set out!

The only problem?  There is only one more set of rapids left to go through before the day is over!!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

1st Annual Lake Tahoe Sharkfest

Last weekend we had the opportunity to volunteer as kayak swim support for the first annual Lake Tahoe Sharkfest put on by Envirosports. It was a perfect day for this event, the sun was out, the weather was hot, the water was warm, and  there was no wind. It could not have been a more beautiful day or location.

We felt very lucky to be a part of this event. We love supporting the athletes, cheering them on, giving them encouragement and helping them out when needed and the athletes always show so much appreciation for our being there. It feels good to watch the last swimmer cross the finish line, especially when it was someone who had been struggling, you can feel their determination and their sense of accomplishment and it is hard not to cheer your loudest for them.

This was the fourth event that we have volunteered for with Envirosports. Some races go so smoothly that you feel as if you are just a front row spectator at the event. Other races may have your addrenaline pumping.  We have had races where not a single swimmer needed assistance and others where I have had up to 3 swimmers hanging on to the bow of my boat at one time and it seemed that once a swimmer either got picked up by the jet ski or decided to continue, I had a new one coming to hang on. A few times I have had to paddle to pick up a swimmer with swimmers already hanging on to my bow. You never know what is going to happen, you just need to be ready for anything.

The swimmers gathered behind the lead kayaker,
waiting for the Coast Guard boat to blow it's horn, signaling the start of the race

And they're off!

The pack is starting to thin out. We took sweep to make sure that there were no swimmers left behind.  The beginning of the race is where a lot of swimmers either drop out or need a minute to hang on while you give them a pep talk and once they regroup they are ready to continue.  This race was an easy one.  All of the swimmers were well prepared for open water.  There were no swimmers needing rests and no drop outs, each and every swimmer made it to the finish line on their own power!

The final swimmer crossing the finish line among much cheering from the crowd and the swim support crew! Total time: 1:07:52
A great day!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Spreading Our Addiction

Over the Fourth of July holiday we had the chance to go back to KK2's hometown of Ithaca, New York to visit family and friends.  While we were there we decided it would be fun to spread our addiction onto his family, and his sister and her boyfriend were more than willing participants.

We headed out the main inlet to Cayuga Lake and then into Stewart Park and the inlet leading to Ithaca Falls.  Along the way we saw lots of wildlife..

The water was really shallow and rocky and the current was running from the falls.  I managed to pull myself along by grabbing onto rocks and pulling myself forward.  At times I would get stuck on a rock and when I would finally free myself the current would push me back making me lose all the ground I had gained, but with a bit of determination, I finally made it up to the falls.

We explored more of the inlets on the way back.  It was fun to see the town of Ithaca from the waterline and a first for KK2 after 40 years of living there.

Thanks to the guys at Puddle Docker's for making such a memorable trip possible!  We have two more kayakers in the family.  They did 7 miles with us their first time out.  I am eagerly awaiting another trip with them.  Now it's their turn to come out to California and get on the ocean in some real kayaks!  :D

I think she's hooked.  Mission accomplished!

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Water You Want In Your Hatch

It is imporant to keep hydrated while out on a long paddle, especially during hot days.  To accomplish this, we started out by buying rubber rings attached to a clip.  We would buy bottled water and slip the ring over the neck of the bottled waters and clip them to the deck lines on the front deck of our kayaks.  We soon found  a couple of problems with this solution.  One being that it cluttered our front deck.  The second problem was that in order to drink, we had to stop paddling.  It was very difficult to unclip the bottle from the deck line, unscrew the cap, drink, screw the cap back on, and re-clip the bottle to the deck while trying to keep up with a group or in rough waters.  The third problem was that on hot days, even if we froze the bottled waters the night before, the ice soon melted and the water heated very quickly.  The result...  we weren't drinking nearly enough water and we needed a better solution.

Recently we customized our kayaks with hydration packs.  We can't take the credit for this idea, but when you see a good idea and it works, why not copy it?  We went out and bought ourselves a couple of Camelbak hydration packs.  The long drinking hose let us be able to drink leaving our hands free for more important stuff, like paddling.  However, attaching the pack to our decks still left us with two problems, a cluttered deck and warm water, but we weren't finished.

Now, I know this solution isn't for everyone, especially when it comes to step number one... drilling a hole in your kayak.  Since this idea was originally my dad's and both of our kayaks were originally his until they were appropriated by us and because we were afraid we might screw something up, we let dad drill the hole.  I decided I wanted my pack to be kept in my day hatch, so I chose a spot directly behind my cockpit that was within easy reach. Once the hole was drilled we inserted a Ferrule, 5/16", Screw Down Deck Bushing that we purchased at West Marine.  We used silicone sealant to seal around the bushing and the screws.

We had also purchased extension hoses for our Camelbaks.  We inserted the extension hose into the bushing, making sure the adapter was inside the hatch.  The hose fits very tightly making the hole waterproof.  In fact, we needed to spray 303 on the hose and work it in.  It took quite a bit of effort.   

We attach the hose from the Camelbak to the adapter inside the hatch.

We place the Camelbak inside the hatch and cover.

Walla!  We now have a hands free hydration pack, an uncluttered deck, and best of all, because the water sits on the bottom of our kayak which is usually (for us) sitting on cool or cold water, we have cold water to drink all day long! 

I created a little loop to stick the end of the hose through from left over hatch straps and the screws from old rudder hardware that I removed since I have never had a rudder on my kayak.  My boyfriend was able to wrap a strip of velcro around his hose near the end which sticks nicely to his spray skirt.  These finishing touches are helpful in keeping the hose from falling into less desirable waters.  

So, what if we are going rolling in the pool and don't want to bring along our hydration pack?  We found 5/16" cork that can either be placed into the hole in the bushing if the hose is pulled out or into the hose itself to keep the water out and our hatch dry... or as dry as it can be with repeated rolling.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

New State-Of-The-Art Kayak Launch

I came across this article about Windsor Castle Park in Virginia.  After major renovations, one of it's cool new features is a state-of-the-art kayak ramp.  The ramp is V shaped, has rollers on the bottom and sides, and handrails so that you can launch your kayak from the top of the ramp and gently roll right into the water without ever getting wet. 

This new ramp will be great for disabled kayakers who have trouble getting down ramps or with launching from uneven shores.  I am not sure how getting back up it works?  It seems it might be a bit tougher, but with handrails, maybe you are able to pull yourself up?  That shouldn't be too hard what with all the arm strength we have acquired from paddling.  :D

I couldn't help but to look at this ramp and think of how fun it might be to ride down.  I would add some more ups and downs, some twists, and maybe even a loopdy-loop...  Ok, maybe I just need to get back to the ocean or take up whitewater.  LOL

In all seriousness, I think this ramp is very cool and will help to make kayaking more accessable to all and for the sometimes lazy paddler (I'm only very rarely lazy :P), just easier and more enjoyable.  I hope to see more of them in the future!