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

Kayak Over a Waterfall : Not on my Bucket List

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In 2009 Tyler Bradt, a professional whitewater kayaker, established the unofficial world record for the highest waterfall successfully run in a kayak. He ran the 186 ft (nearly 60-meter) Palouse Falls in Eastern Washington.

His motivating factor for this epic stunt was : " because I can ".

I think that every great adventure starts with just one goal in mind - " Can I do it ? "
And just for those chosen few, the answer is always : " Yes, you can " :

Packrafting : Great Alternative To Whitewater Rafting And Kayaking

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I received an email from one of my readers about my " Ski-Raft-aineering " I wrote some time before. He noticed in the video that those folks used spray skirts ( a piece of kayaking gear worn around the waist to keep water out of the boat ) on their rafts. Something unusual for "regular" cheap inflatable boats you can buy from WallMart.

It caught my attention, and after doing some research, I learned more about packrafting.

Packrafts are small, portable inflatable boats designed for use in all bodies of water, including technical whitewater, ocean bays and fjords...the entire package is designed to be light and compact enough for an individual to negotiate rough terrain while carrying the rafting equipment together with supplies, shelter, and other survival or backcountry equipment.
Weigh less than nine pounds they can carry a single passenger and all his gear!

So, why are they a great alternative to whitewater rafting and kayaking ?

For WW (whitewater) rafting you will need a big 6-8 passengers boat, gear up all the paddlers, have a guide to navigate the river, transport the boat and paddlers from and back to put in spot, make sure they are all safe...

For WW kayaking you will still need to transport your boat between put in and pull out spots, it's relatively heavy to carry around, and if you don't know how to roll,it might be hard to get out of the boat. Even if you are kayaking in an inflatable kayak, it's easier to bail out of it, but you won't be able to roll ( as they don't have spray skirts).

The only downside ( for me ) was the price of the boats. Averaging between $ 700-1000 they are less than WW rafts and more than some of the WW kayak.

Nowadays, you can find pretty much everything on Amazon, though NRS PackRaft doesn't look quite like other packrafts, it might still work.

Photo: You can see more awesome pics of packrafting and other epic adventures in Alaska at Ground Truth Trekking

My Bucket List : whitewater kayaking- checked

If you've read my profile ( "About me" page ), you've probably noticed that one of the ideas behind this blog was to create my own "Bucket List" and inspire other people to follow their dreams, goals and adventures.

It's not enough just to have a list of things to do before you "kick the bucket". You need to take actions. Also, you need to check back with your bucket list on a regular basis in case there is something that you have done that you can mark off or that you want to add.

The post " Adventure goals, dreams, plans for 2010 " was written in January. By now I've checked off my Bucket List : surfing at Westport and parasailing. Recently, I can proudly say that I've achieved another goal - whitewater kayaking.
Kayaking the Skykomish River ( Big Eddy stretch )

I've wanted to try it since the first time I went rafting three years ago.

The problem is , unlike many other outdoor activities, WW kayaking is not something you can just "jump in and go". Among many outdoor activities I've tried, I have to say that WW kayaking is one of the most challenging, and personally for me , it was ...intimidating ( and even scary).

Whitewater kayaking involves a steep, long and decidedly counterintuitive learning curve. There is a definite fear that comes along with moving downriver and you’re locked in this little plastic tub. For beginners especially, it’s hard not to panic while stuck underwater in the kayak.

I felt pretty comfortable after spending a few pool sessions, "mastering " Eskimo roll ( a technique used to recover yourself if you ever happen to capsize ). Lucky for me, I didn't use it.

Though, beginners are encouraged to take lessons, I simply couldn't afford spending $ 300 ( especially after investing $ 300 in gear ). But as you know me, I believe that if there is a will, there is a way.

That's why, I want to thank many great folks form Professor Paddle forum, who helped me achieve my dream. I couldn't believe how helpful, friendly and super "safety-oriented" those people were. I had a great first-time experience !

Ski to Sea : Why Do I Keep Doing This To Myself ?


They call it the Bellingham Olympics here. There is no drug testing, no prize money, no sponsor endorsement, and no fame and glory. Then, why hundreds of people, from elite athletes and weekend warrior to outdoor enthusiasts, torture themselves every year to compete in this crazy, seven-sport adventure relay race ?

To me the Ski to Sea race is not just an endurance event and definitely not a competition. It's about challenging and pushing myself not just physically, but emotionally and mentally as well. It's about gaining knowledge of sportsmanship and teamwork, it's the place where limits are tested, friendships are made and confidence is found.

The Ski to Sea race is one of the country's most creative, unusual sports events. Though, the event brings in some of the best amateur athletes and some pros, for most people it's all about having a good time !

From my first time participating in the event, I got hooked. Apart from the competition, it's the area that brought me back for the second year.

Named as one of the best adventure towns by National Geographic Adventure magazine, this area offers numerous outdoor opportunities : hiking, mountain and road biking, skiing and kayaking, sailing and diving.

The Ski to Sea race is a team event : families, co-workers, friends, competitive athletes - representing all levels of ability.

I want to thank all members of team EPIC for their participation and support. You all gelled and pushed hard the entire time, crossing the finish line with smiles on your faces. I look forward to next year’s challenge with all the returning racers and hope to encourage more people to take part in next year 100th anniversary of the first Mount Baker Marathon !

Basic sea kayaking class with Washington Kayak Club.

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After a few pool sessions in my whitewater kayak I felt pretty confident, but had no idea how different it would be in a sea kayak. While sea kayakers and white-water kayakers enjoy getting out on the water, the sports that they enjoy are polar opposites. As one of my instructors said : " If it ( sea kayaking) was easy, it would be called whitewater..."

Besides the work of paddling, sea kayaking requires constant navigating, weather monitoring, and dealing with long, exposed crossing. Most important is to realize that you're in water and to be comfortable with the idea that you will get wet, and know that capsizing and swimming will be a part of the learning curve. To that end it is highly recommended that instruction be sought.

Washington Kayak Club offers 2 and 1/2 day Basic Sea Kayaking Class once a year. I had a great opportunity to take part in this year's training course.

This year’s WKC Basic Sea Kayaking Course took place at Whidbey Island’s Coronet Bay Environmental Learning Center. The location itself couldn't be more perfect : the site is set on a saltwater bay and surrounded by forest, most of the sleeping cabins have bunk beds and hold up to 10 people. Spacious and comfortable, the cabins offer groups the opportunity "to get away from it all" in an outdoor, natural environment. Food ( included in the course price) was absolutely delicious.

The course is a combination of on-water and classroom seminars. Evening lecture- style classes covered the topics of safety, tides and currents, navigation, kayak camping, and signaling demonstration ( flare guns, aerial flares , hand held smoke flares...).

The on-water training part was held at Bowman Bay ( just " a few " paddle strokes away from Deception Pass).

Sea kayaks as a class are distinct from whitewater kayaks and other boats. Sea kayaks can be "tippier" than others as they are long and narrow, but that's where they get their speed. Personally, it took me more time to get used to my sea kayak than to my whitewater one. That's why learning even basic strokes was a totally new experience for me. In my opinion, self rescue and assisted rescue techniques are one of the most essential skills you can learn in this class : Paddle Float rescue, the Cowboy re-entry, Bow, T- Rescue...can spell the difference between a dunk and a disaster.

The Great ( huge ! ) Finale of the course was Kayaking Adventure through Deception Pass and a graduation ceremony with "Certificate of Completion " being awarded to all participants !

Sea kayaking is not a solo sport, and there is no better way to learn the sport than with a group of expedition leaders from Washington Kayak Club. Their joy and enthusiasm, wit and intelligence, and superior people skills will make your kayaking adventures exciting and stimulating, yet with a very low risk factor.

How to get started kayaking.

I've done " kayaking " before ; I bought one of those cheap Sevylor inflatable kayaks, a paddle and a pfd ( personal flotation device ( life vest ) and had a lot of fun paddling around Redondo beach and on nearby lakes. It was fun, but it was...not " real kayaking".

When you think about getting started kayaking, one of the first things to consider is what type of kayaking you intend to do.

Basically, there are two types of kayaking : sea kayaking and whitewater ( WW kayaking). The decision is usually based on budget, fitness level, tolerance for risk or danger, and geographic location.

But no matter which type you will choose, learning safety precautions and basic techniques is your first step toward many rewarding adventures. It's not something that should be done without prior instruction, practice and guidance.

A great place I found to get started kayaking in a safe, warm water, and controlled environment was at The University of Puget Sound pool.

November though May they have practice sessions at the pool for anybody who would like to try out the sport of kayaking. This is an excellent opportunity for those who want to learn basic kayaking skills to practice and those who want to improve their techniques in the safety and comfort of an indoor pool.

I was a " brand new beginner ", and during the first lesson I learned a lot : wet exit ( how to exit the kayak in the event of a capsize), forward, reverse, sweep, draw strokes, high and low braces, hand and back deck rolls, assisted T-rescues, hip snap (balance and body movement ).

The Open Pool session is not a class and you may do whatever you like during the session; but there are many friendly, helpful, experienced people who are always ready to help you and can answer any questions you might have about kayaking.

The best part ? This is the cheapest way to try out kayaking ! Two hour session, a boat, a paddle and a spray skirt will cost you just $ 15 !