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Showing posts with label WW/Sea kayaking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label WW/Sea kayaking. Show all posts

Tandem Whitewater Kayaking

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Tandem recreational kayaking is a great way to spend some quality time on the water ! Unlike a single kayak you are able to bond with your passenger, learn to work together as a team, and enjoy each other’s company. Tandem kayaks are great for family bonding; you can guide your family as your significant other and child enjoy the scenery or fishing.

Tandem sea kayaks allow you to paddle faster, cover longer distances, and feel safer in rough sea waters. People with little or no experience of paddling a kayak can find comfort sharing a set with more experienced paddlers. Those never having spent a time in a kayak you can paddle out in the ocean surf accompanied by an experienced tour guide with confidence.

But what about whitewater kayaking ?

From my personal experience, I found whitewater kayaking to be more intimidating, harder to learn, and more dangerous than recreational, and sea kayaking. And until recently, there were no tandem whitewater kayaks.

The Aquaglide 270 Multi Sport - A Remarkable Multi-Use Watercraft

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What if you can use your watercraft for more than just one activity ?

Recently, I came across this interesting product:
Aquaglide 270 Multi Sport 2015 is a great multi-use watercraft that can be transformed into a windsurfer, a sit-on-top kayak, a performance towable, a sailboat, or a motor tender! Compact, quick and easy to assemble, the Aquaglide is the perfect addition to your collection of water toys.

I tried windsurfing this summer , and I loved it ! The only downside - loading/unloading, and transporting the rig to the beach can be a hassle.

Snow Kayaking

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Some people's imagination doesn't have boundaries...I mean, how else would you think of something like "snow kayaking" ?

In reality, it's pretty easy - find a kayak, drag it up a hill, get inside and hang on for dear life. Kind of like sledding...for adults.

It's not a "mainstream sport" ..not just yet. But I'm sure that with Red Bull's involvement in "everything extreme", we'll see people kayaking down the local ski area's slopes in no time...

"No Experience Required" To Get From Vancouver To Alaska By Kayak

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Found out about this "documentary" from the Adventure blog. From the description, it sounded just like the journey from last year ( " Paddle-to-Seattle : Sea kayaking the Inside passage " ). But something caught my attention from the first seconds of the video...

None of the participants were "hard core" sea kayakers. Regular folks, with regular 9-5 jobs, just like you and me...There was no "agenda", "saving/preserving/advocating" anything...Just pure adventure.

Hoping to do my first kayak camping trip this year, this film was a great inspiration for me. It "almost" encouraged me to "simply get out and do it", but, then, being hyperactive, I wouldn't be able to sit in a boat for 30+ days...

No Experience Required_Full HQ from StuntBeaver Productions on Vimeo.

Multisport Adventures : Ski-Raft-aineering

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I am a huge fan of multisport adventures, action packed weekends, and destinations that offer a variety of outdoor opportunities. Our state has an abundance of places where you can hike in the morning, climb in the afternoon , and finish your day with a relaxing sunset paddle.

Recently, I came across a post on "the Mountain Murmur " blog about Forrest McCarthy and his friends, who had been pioneering a " new outdoor sport ".

They combine paddling the lightweight rafts with multi-day climbing or hiking excursions for a rugged, hybrid adventure he and his mates call - “ski raft-aineering.”

Here is a video of them skiing into the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness with their boats on their backs, and floating 75 miles down the Middle Fork of the Salmon River ( Idaho’s most famous rafting river) in seven days :

10 Adventures To Try In The San Juan Islands

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The Essential San Juan Islands Guide

I call the San Juan Islands - "Hawaii of the Pacific Northwest" !

The coastal waters of the Pacific Northwest, between mainland Washington and Vancouver Island, contain hundreds of islands, some little more than sandbars, others rising 3,000 feet. Among these, the San Juans are considered by many to be the loveliest.

The San Juan Island offer something for everyone. The islands are especially attractive to adventurers and outdoor enthusiasts.

We spent a few gorgeous early fall days, exploring the two of the most fun islands - Orcas and San Juan. Below, I offer a few suggestions if you plan to do more than just sitting on the beach and enjoying the sun :

Kayaking Amongst Kalapana Lava Flows In Hawaii

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You know how you set one goal/dream, and then, on your way to reach it, you realize it's not grand enough ?

I've never been to Hawaii, and while planning my tip, among "must do things" like surfing in Oahu, or scuba diving in Maui, I also wanted to see the famous Kilauea Volcano.

KÄ«lauea, being the only volcano in the world that is simultaneously active enough to be interesting, docile enough to be harmless, and carefully monitored enough to be approachable, is a major part of the island's tourist draw.

All I wanted was to hike to the top, and snap a few pictures, very harmless, totally touristy thing to do...

Then I saw this photo and watched this video...

I mean, how awesome is it to be as close to erupting volcano as this ?!!!

Would you put it on your Bucket List ?

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Paddling The Hillsborough River, FL

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The Hillsborough River flows 54 miles from its head waters in the Green Swamp to its mouth in Hillsborough Bay, a portion of Tampa Bay, Florida's largest open-water estuary. From nearly pristine conditions, the river winds its way to Tampa Bay through rural, suburban, and urban settings.

My first introduction to SUPing in Florida happened on  the Hillsborough River where I enjoyed paddling my board to the heart of Tampa.

I also happen to live right across from Lettuce Lake Park  in Temple Terrace. Located at the north edge of Tampa, Lettuce Lake Park protects 240 acres along the Hillsborough River, providing a getaway for hikers, bicyclists, runners, and  all types of paddlers ( kayakers, canoeists, and of course paddleboarders ).

On one of the beautiful sunny days, I decided to go on a short adventure paddle along the river.

For the most part the Hillsborough is what is known as a dark or black water river. The water is stained reddish-brown by the tannic acid (the same thing that gives iced tea that reddish-brown color). It comes from the decaying leaves and other vegetation in the swamp.

The Hillsborough River has been favorably compared to the Amazon and the Florida Everglades as one of the great places to view wildlife. The Hillsborough River was chosen by "Canoe and Kayak Magazine" as one of "North America's Best Close to Home Paddling Adventures" in its May 1995 issue.

The River astounded me with its beauty and abundant wildlife. This would be a great trip for wildlife watchers, families, and those seeking the serenity of the outdoors.

TIP:  The above mentioned Lettuce Lake Park offers canoe rentals ( year round ), and nearby University of South Florida Campus Recreation has canoes, kayak, and paddleboards for rent.

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Windsurfing The WindGlider On Lake Tapps

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Recently I've been obsessed with windsurfing. Nice weather, steady wind, and a few new ( recently discovered ) local spots ( Golden Garden, Magnuson Park, Browns Point ) provided with excellent opportunities for windsurfing in Washington.

As you remember, last summer I got to try my new Windglider ( now re-branded as Aquaglide ), a great multi-use watercraft that can be used as a windsurfer, a sit-on-top kayak, a performance towable, a sailboat, or a motor tender. This summer, I tried to use it as a windsurfer.

Aquaglide Multisport sailboat

Even if you've never ever done ANY board sports, the Windglider would be an excellent way to introduce yourself to both windsurfing and paddleboarding.

Because it's so wide and stable, you'll have no problem keeping your balance. Because it's inflatable, you won't need much wind, and even a light breeze will get it going.

Not to mention how compact it is. Everything fits into a bag. . The WindGlider is compact, quick and easy to assemble, and you don't have to worry about having an expensive car rack or a trailer to transport it. It certainly beats having to transport/keep five separate water toys.

If you're ExtraHyperActive with multiple outdoor hobbies, this is a perfect multi-use watercraft for you !

Aquaglide Multisport sailboat

Canoe Camping On Little Kachess Lake

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How do you introduce your kids to camping ?

I wanted to make sure that my son's first time would be as comfortable, and as much fun as possible. That's why I decided to go with cabin camping at KOA in Leavenworth. My son absolutely loved it ( despite of coming back home with a permanent scar from his "biking accident" ), and couldn't stop talking about going back and doing it again.

This time I wanted to introduce him to "real camping" - a.k.a "sleeping under the stars"...well, minus the stars...good old "tent camping".

Every time I introduce my son to a new outdoor activity, one thing I absolutely must do is to make sure that  he's having fun...

With abundance of things to do in Leavenworth this wasn't a problem. But what do you do on a "regular camping trip" ? Campfire, BBQ, S'mores, may be a short hike ? And that's where the location played a big part...
Set in dense old-growth conifer forest and surrounded by high mountains, Kachess Campground is considered one of the most beautiful sites in the Cle Elum Ranger District. Link
One of the perks of selling used outdoor gear is that you actually get to try it ! Canoes are a very popular product, and this summer I sold dozens of them. I had just one left, and I decided to give canoe camping a try!

The location couldn't be more beautiful ! We were lucky to get a camp site ( on Labor Day weekend !) close to the beach. The campground was also a perfect base camp. We loaded our canoe with gear and food, and went for a day long exploration of the lake.

Kachess Lake is actually a reservoir and stores and provides water for irrigation for south-central Washington.
The surrounding undeveloped wilderness, clean streams and diverse forests support an abundance of wildlife, including deer, porcupine, native fish and migratory birds. Endangered and threatened species, including the Northern Bald Eagle, the Northern Spotted Owl, gray wolves and grizzly bears, also find havens in nearby ecosystems.
During summer, "lake traffic" can be pretty "heavy" - lot's of boaters and jet skis who have very little consideration for "anybody without a motor". But other than that it was a perfect adventure !

It was the first time I got a chance to paddle a canoe, and I have to admit, canoeing is my new love !  I think I'm gonna keep this canoe, and plan a few more outings.

As usual, I planned everything at the last minute. As it turned out the area has a few nice hiking and mountain biking trails, and as I was told later, you can rent a jet ski, boat or even a house boat from a local company.

Also, in winter, this area is popular among cross country/touring skiers, snowshoers, and snowmobilers,
So I guess, it wasn't our last time at Little Kachess Lake...

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Kayaking At Kelly's Whitewater Park In Idaho

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I haven't done much kayaking for the past two years, so recently, I finally decided to sell my whitewater kayaking gear.

One of the reasons was because kayaking is a very co-dependent sport. You need at least two people for the shuttle ( to shuttle gear between put in and take out spots ).

Another, and may be the most important reason, is that kayaking, unlike skiing or mountain biking, is not the most "beginner friendly" activity. Without enough practice and river time, you'll forever be paddling class II-II+ rapids ( which is fun... for a while ).

So, when I heard about Kelly's Whitewater Park in Cascade, ID, I knew a whitewater park would be a great place for people like me to improve the skills, and get more interested in the sport.

When I got there, I was very impressed !

Located on the North Fork of the Payette River, it's accessible right off HWY 55 ( no need to drive around looking for a put in spot ).

When I thought about "the park", I had an image of a "wave pool", rather than an actual river.

The stretch of the North Fork of the Payette River is quite short, but has a few nice rapids suitable for both beginner and advanced paddlers alike.

A few shallow eddies ( eddies are the parts of a river where the downstream current is interrupted, and thus, they are a safe place to be ), are warm, and a fun place for kids to play around.

A nearby shop ( right by the park's entrance ) rents all the gear you'll need.

If you an absolute beginner, my advice is to rent an inflatable kayak, or even a tube !

During my visit the park was the site for USA Nationals.
It was a lot of fun to watch professionals demonstrate their freestyle skills...

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Where To Take A Basic Sea Kayaking Class In Washington

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A couple years ago, I had an awesome opportunity to take a basic sea kayaking class with Washington Kayak Club, state's largest and oldest kayaking club dedicated to all forms of paddle craft in the Pacific Northwest.

Author Paddling Under Deception Pass Bridge

The class took place at a beautiful place - Whidbey Island’s Coronet Bay Environmental Learning Center. During my two and a half day stay, I learned a lot, and had tons of fun ! Unfortunately, the event only takes place once a year...

Recently, I came a cross a post on Sea Kayaker Magazine about similar class offered by the Northwest Outdoor Center (NWOC).

They call it "Fundamentals of Sea Kayaking", and the class takes place closer to Greater Seattle Area ( Lake Union ), but, as far as I understood, they have the same "graduation ceremony" at the beautiful Deception Pass.
This 4-session class gives you three lake sessions to learn stroke and rescue techniques, a current lecture where you will learn what currents are and how they work in theory, and a daytrip where you get to practice all of the above in real-life situations. You will learn about the boats and related equipment, proper clothing, safety considerations, navigational tools, and resource material. You will learn how to rescue yourself and others, and how to prevent capsizing by using bracing strokes. During the stroke sessions you will learn how to use the paddling strokes for maximum efficiency and stability. For our saltwater outing, we will choose a location where we can practice working with, against, and across currents, in a tightly controlled situation. The emphasis of this class is to build good paddling skills along with good sea-sense. No experience necessary, but be prepared to get wet! This class will prepare you to deal with paddling inland waters in moderate current and wind conditions.
Kat Wertzler, the editorial assistant at Sea Kayaker Magazine, in this post offers you her observations as a novice, and shares her experiences of "Fundamentals of Sea Kayaking" with NWOC.

NOTE: I'd like to point out that "Basic Sea Kayaking Class" is not your typical "guided kayak tour".

The class normally takes about 2 days, and provides practical knowledge and skills necessary to feel comfortable in ( sometimes ) rough Puget Sound waters.

Lake Tapps Kayaking

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If you live in Pierce/S King County, I bet one of your favorite places for water recreations is Lake Tapps in Sumner/Boney Lake.

This summer Lake Tapps State Park was my favorite place to go SUPing.

For some reason, after October 31st, the authorities keep the park closed. I don't know and don't care about the reasons, I just know that it's wrong to restrict people from using THEIR OWN land and water.

After that date, the only place that allows access to the lake is Allen York Park in Bonney Lake.

This week, I went for a quick kayak paddle on lake, and as always it was great !

Never Too Old For Kayaking

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Here is another inspiring story from the series " Never Too Old For Adventures"

Whether it's mountain biking, longboarding or even something as extreme as kite boarding, you can get started at any age.

Jacksonville, Florida resident Hortense Morris celebrated her 99th birthday by trying out kayaking for the first time. "It sounds exciting," she said, "and I'll try anything once."

It's a great motto to live by. Before you say "I'm too old/out of shape for this", at least give it a try.

If this story doesn't inspire you to get out and try something new, nothing will.

SUPing The Windglider

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Last year I wrote about the WindGlider -a great multi-use watercraft that can be used as a windsurfer, a sit-on-top kayak, a performance towable, a sailboat, or a motor tender.

One of my ( generous ! ) readers, who happened to come across my blog, generously donated this watercraft to use it to its fullest potential.

Last summer I was extremely disappointed with windsurfing opportunities in/around Seattle area, and after a few attempts gave up and sold my sailboard.

As you might know , recently, I got my first SUP ( stand up paddleboard ), and now I'm absolutely obsessed with it !

When I assembled my WindGlider, I realized that it would work just fine to use it as a SUP as well.

The middle of the WindGlider has pockets to insert two planks that you can stand on, and a 3 section paddle can be used as a SUP paddle as well. Two inserted fins allow to keep the Windlider in straight line, an added strap and multiple D-rings will keep your dry bag and water bottle in place, and it's wide enough for two ( who knows, may be three ? ) people to sit on.

Other advantages ( comparing to SUP or a windsurfer ) - it's very light to carry around, load on and off your car roof rack, or you can just deflate it to transport in your trunk and store in your garage/closet.

Performance wise...well, let's not forget we are still talking about a cheap inflatable. So you definitely wouldn't want to enter a SUP race on it...

But it's so stable and easy to paddle that even a 4 y.o can do it...

Tips on visiting Everglades National Park in summer

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Everglades National Park is one of the most famous National Parks in US.
Here are no lofty peaks seeking the sky, no mighty glaciers or rushing streams wearing away the uplifted land. Here is land, tranquil in its quiet beauty, serving not as the source of water, but as the receiver of it...
With these words, President Harry S. Truman formally dedicated Everglades National Park on 06 December 1947 in a ceremony held at Everglades City.

It's true, this park is like no other parks in US. Most famous for its backcountry kayak and canoe adventures, the park offers a truly unique experience.

Tip - visiting Everglades National Park during "wet season" is ...unpleasant, if to say the least. Best time to visit the Everglades is December through April, with low humidity, clear skies and less mosquito.

A recent trip to Everglades City, where the park's Gulf Coast Visitor Center is located, made me rethink the whole idea of how most people visit our national parks.

The dream of paddling along the Wilderness Waterway, a 99-mile path between Everglades City and Flamingo, is ...still a dream.

Tip - if you are short on time, go for a boat trip

I only had a day to explore the area, and that's why I decided to do a typical "touristy" activity - boat tour.

There are numerous tour operators in the area, but since Everglades National Park has been declared a Biosphere Reserve, a World Heritage Site and a Wetlands International Alliance, only Everglades National Park Boat Tours is allowed to operate in its waters. All other companies operate on privately owned land/water which makes trips shorter with fewer chances to see wildlife.

There are two "official" tours - 10,000 Islands and Mangrove Wilderness.

I've always wanted to see the dense swampy part of the Everglades, and to get a face-to-face with an alligator, manatee or even the famous Burmese Python.

Tip - if you are venturing into Everglades wilderness, use bug spray/insect repellent...and A LOT OF IT ! Mosquito, horse and deer flies will eat you alive !

Tip - keep your expectations low.

It's not like the wildlife will come out to "meet and greet" you. The gaters we saw were usually no more than a pair of cold eyes staring out from the still green water, a few manatees here and there, but mostly it's the frequent calls of birds, the occasional splash of jumping fish, and the wind whistling through the leafy ceiling overhead.

Back to my thought about how most people visit our parks...

Unlike Rainier or Olympic National Parks, you can't just roll into the Everglades to snap a few pictures and call it a day. To really appreciate this park you must "go deep".

Paddling your kayak or canoe deep into the marshy backcountry waters, with claustrophobic tunnels of mangrove trees and giant cypress trees around you is the Ultimate Everglades Adventure !

Though the park's ranger station offers maps and tidal charts for sale, Paddler's Guide to Everglades National Park is the most comprehensive guide to paddling the Everglades.

The Wilderness Waterway is poorly marked, and it's easy get lost. Mangrove waterways have a tendency to look very much alike, and no place to camp besides the designated sites. So, plan accordingly, and use all means of navigation ( maps, charts, GPS, location beacon...) or hire a local guide.

Kayaking Snoqualmie, Middle Fork (The Club Stretch)

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My Bucket List:

Whitewater kayaking - been there, done that.

This year I was on the fence about pursuing my "whitewater kayaking passion". Should I develop better skills and take it to the next level ( class III ), or should I just sell all my gear and call it quits.

My biggest concern is that whitewater paddling is not a solo sport; it is recommended that there be a three boat minimum on any trip. Unless you entirely dedicated to this sport from the start ( willing to spend every weekend on the river and hang out with "river rats" ), it's tough for beginners to fit in. More experienced paddlers are not "super psyched" to waste their time on class II-II+ rivers, and if they do, ( from what I heard ) they treat newbies as "free shuttle". At the same time, you don't really want to go paddling with somebody who has the same amount of experience ( or less ), and not familiar with a river.

This is not the case with the folks from Professor Paddle. Last year I had a great introduction to whitewater kayaking, first at the University of Puget Sound pool where I "mastered" Eskimo roll under 1 hour, and then on two local rivers - Snoqualmie and Skykomish.

This spring I came back to Snoqualmie, Middle Fork (The Club Stretch). The Club Stretch is an easy class II run with a couple of class II+ rapids. It can be comfortably run as low as 800cfs in kayaks, and can run well into July. Running the same stretch definitely made my second time more enjoyable and confidant.

One of the rapids ( and for many paddlers a take out spot ) called Blue Hole which is a headwall drop that has good strong eddylines to practice on. I love this spot because it offers an easy access from City Park in North Bend. Following a short path, you can put in above the rapid, have lot's of fun running it, take out at the bottom, and run it again or stay in for more practice. I can also see how one can do it on a river board or ( may be ) even a SUP.

As I wrote before, whitewater kayaking is not something you learn from watching Youtube. So, if you can afford it - take a class, and after that, experience becomes the best teacher.

Sea/ocean kayak surfing

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The first time I heard about kayak surfing was during my basic sea kayak class with Washington Kayak Club ( WKC). I'd seen whitewater kayakers surfing in the rivers ( in a WW kayak you are essentially surfing in place, with water passing below the craft at fairly high surface velocity ), but couldn't imagine that it would be possible to surf ocean waves in a sea kayak.

It was during my visit to La Push when I saw sea/ocean kayak surfing in action.

How is it different from surfing or SUPing ? When you're surfing, you can bail from your board pretty easily, but ditching a kayak while strapped to it can be more difficult.

Kayak surfing is growing in popularity over the last decades, and by some kayakers considered to be a discipline of its own.

Though, there are a number of specialty surf kayak designs available, sea kayaks, due to their length, are the most difficult to maneuver in surf.

To see just how wild sea kayak surfing can be, check out the video below :

To learn more about ocean kayaking, check out Hurricane Riders...

Sea/ocean kayak surfing is a fascinating kayaking discipline, I sure will write more about it...

Kayaking with a basking shark

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When a basking shark opens its jaws, try not to find yourself in this situation:

Basking sharks, that can measure 40 feet long and weigh 8,600 pounds ( even larger in the Atlantic ), are the planet's second-largest sharks ( only the whale shark is larger ).

Did you know that Puget Sound is home to an impressive array of sharks ? At least six species of sharks have been reported in local waters. But only three species - spiny dogfish, sixgill sharks AND basking sharks - have been encountered with any regularity.

But don't worry, basking sharks are harmless creatures. They feed exclusively on massive quantities of microscopic plankton.

Time to upgrade your surfboard and kayak to something Hi-Tech

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Last year I wrote about the introduction of the PowerSki Jetboard, which made surfing accessible to not only diehard surfers, but also to "general public". And this year, it looks like other motor powered water toys are taking the world by storm.

This year, Surfango Inc., a New Jersey company that specializes in adding motors to human or nature-powered aquatic recreation toys, came up with two fun and amazing toys : Powersurf FX, a powered surfboard and Adventurer, a powered kayak.

I'd like to add this toy to my collection ( I'm even willing to get rid of my surfboard and kayak ), but couldn't find the price for none of those toys.
Surfango Inc. has a local dealer in Shelton, WA ...but unfortunately their web site is inaccessible.