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