The US Surfski Champs was absolutely amazing. A big thank you to everyone behind the race for making dreams come true. Just under a year ago I was inspired by a video of last year’s race and bought a surfski with the goal of surviving the long course well this year. San Francisco never disappoints as a paddling destination. I got all the challenge I wanted and survived the long course even better than I expected. I’m looking forward to another year of hard training and racing there again next year.
Before and after race photo gallery.
Ocean Sports Media's race video.
"Maintaining a Cohesive Group: Procedures for Staying and Working Together" Article in Sea Kayaker Magazine, April 2012
The fifth article I've written for Sea Kayaker magazine, "Maintaining a Cohesive Group: Procedures for Staying and Working Together," is in the April 2012 issue and on newsstands now.
Update: The article is also online now at Sea Kayaker.
Seven-Day Catalina Island Crossing and Circumnav Trip, September 11-17, 2011
Four of us had a wonderful trip kayaking around Catalina Island. We crossed over on a Sunday as the crowds were leaving and crossed back on a Saturday as the crowds were coming. We had 19, 16, 24, and 19 nautical mile days, with a day off in between each day on the water, giving a nice mixture of paddling and relaxing. This trip was my 5th circumnav of Catalina, and I've now crossed the channel between the mainland and Catalina 32 times. For more info about kayaking at Catalina Island, you can read my article about it in the August 2008 issue of Sea Kayaker magazine.
Here is the link to my photo gallery for the trip.
Surfski Racing, August 2011
After searching for months, I finally found a good deal on a used surfski, a fiberglass Fenn Mako Elite, and bought a wing paddle along with it. Inspired by the U.S. Surfski Championships in San Francisco Bay, California, I have decided to compete in the SoCal Ocean Racing Series this winter.
Update:. I've since sold the Elite and bought Fenn XT and Fenn Swordfish surfskis.
Black Skimmer Sea Kayak Plans, July 7, 2011
The plans to my latest sea kayak design, the Black Skimmer, are available online. You may use the plans to build your own kayak for non-commercial purposes. They are free here.
"L.A.'s Lost Coast" Article in Sea Kayaker Magazine, July 2011
The fourth article I've written for Sea Kayaker magazine, "L. A.'s Lost Coast: The Palos Verdes Peninsula," is in the August 2011 issue and on newsstands now.
Second Place Racing with a Greenland Paddle, June 11, 2011
Skegless, rudderless, and using a Greenland Paddle, I was the second fastest sea kayaker in the 20 mile Bay2Bay race in San Diego on June 11, 2011. No doubt, a ruddered kayak and wing paddle is faster, but I wanted to show what Greenland style could do. My GPS measured the course at 18.24 statute miles, and I paddled it in 3 hours, 21 minutes, and 30 seconds, giving me an average speed of 5.4 miles per hours. Some things that made the course slower were a couple miles of chop, 5 miles of kelp, and 8 miles against a 1.15 knot tidal current.
California Kayaker Magazine Interview, March 2011
I was interviewed for the Spring issue of California Kayaker magazine. You can read it online here.
Golden Gate Sea Kayak Symposium, February 2011
We had a strong showing of Southern California sea kayakers at the symposium this year. There was lots of rain and cold, but everyone had fun. I was shocked at how many Greenland paddles I saw there. It was an honor to be a part of such a great event!
This photo gallery sums up the event nicely.
My New Sea Kayak Design, the Black Skimmer, February 2011.
See the photo gallery for more info.
Article on Greenland Style Paddling in California Kayaker Magazine, December 2010
Check out the article I wrote for the winter issue of California Kayaker magazine on making the transition from a regular paddle to a Greenland paddle.
You can read it on-line here or pick up a free copy at kayak shops in mid-December.
A Dash Point Pirate Interview About My Shark Attack, November 2010
While at Greenland Week in Washington State, I did a Dash Point Pirate interview about my shark attack.
Greenland Week Competition, November 5-7, 2010
The Greenland Week Competition was a blast! Thank you to Kayak Academy for putting on the event. They put a lot of hard work into it, and it shows their dedication to kayaking. The competition was a wonderful way to honor traditional kayak hunting cultures. After the competition, a lot of people told me they were inspired to train for next year.
My hard training paid off with first place finishes in the ropes, harpoon throw, rolling, and combined champion, as well as second in the race.
Here is the link to my photo journal.
Special Gift from John Petersen/Shaman Kayaks, October 2010
After my shark attack, I was thinking I needed something to honor and commemorate the incredible encounter with man’s most feared creature. But I couldn’t think of anything worthy. Little did I know that traditional kayak builder and artist John Peterson of Shaman Kayaks was inspired and hard at work.
To my amazement I opened a gift from him with a necklace featuring a shark tooth he carved from caribou antler. Emerging from the carved shark tooth is a human face. In a finely written letter John explained that the face on the shark tooth symbolizes the link between me and the shark. Above the shark tooth is a Carnelian crystal that was used by the Egyptians, Tibetans, and Eastern cultures for its healing properties, including acceptance and the calming of fears about death and rebirth. The art represents the encounter wonderfully.
The thing that has amazed me most about the attack is how it has touched so many people. This gift from John is a fine example. I can only imagine all the thought, hard work, and time he put into it, and his creativity reminds me of how we are all connected. His gift will always be cherished!
The Grand Canyon with a Greenland Paddle, September-October, 2010
Twenty-one days down the Grand Canyon, September 16 through October 6, 2010, 226 miles, Lee's Ferry to Diamond Creek, 8,000 CFS, non-commercial permit trip, 16 people, 6 rafts, 6 kayaks. I had never kayaked in whitewater before, used a Greenland paddle, did two portages (Horn Creek and Lava Falls), and had zero swims. The Greenland paddle worked great in the rapids.
Here are the photos.
Open for Business: "Shark Attacks Kayak" T-shirts, mugs, and stickers, September 4, 2010
Shop and make your purchase at The Roll or Drown Store.
Dolphins Visit My Kayak, August 30, 2010
Sunset with a Blue Whale, August 26, 2010
On Thursday evening after work, I paddled straight out three miles looking for blue whales, didn't see any, turned around, and as I was coming back, found one barely a half mile from the Newport Harbor entrance. I stayed with it for 30 minutes right through sunset.
And by the way, would someone please tell that dolphin that jumped up three feet to my left that after what I've been through, it's just not polite!
Attacked by a Great White Shark, August 2, 2010
Read all about it at Great White Shark Attack.
Greenland Strokes and Rolling Class at Aqua Adventures, Coming July 25, 2010
I'm excited to announce a Greenland style strokes and rolling class at Aqua Adventures in San Diego. Learn how to take full advantage of the highly versatile Greenland paddle. Topics include the canted stroke, blade flow dynamics, extended and sliding strokes, braces, controlling the kayak in wind and waves, and preventing injuries. The rolling will focus on the balance brace as the foundation for learning and perfecting Greenland style rolls. Jen Kleck and I will be coaching the class on Sunday, July 25th, all day for only $100. Space is limited, call AA: 800-269-7792.
Foggy Night Crossings/8 Oil Rigs/22 Nautical Miles/6.75 Hours/Bonus Oil Rig, June 6-7, 2010
Read about the crossings at: SoCal Offshore Oil Rig Aware.
4 Oil Rigs Off Oxnard,/28 Nautical Miles/8 Hours/1 Whale, May 17, 2010
Read about the crossings at: SoCal Offshore Oil Rig Aware.
7 Oil Rigs Off Long Beach/26 Nautical Miles/8 Hours of Paddling, May 3, 2010
Read about the crossings at: SoCal Offshore Oil Rig Aware.
SoCal Offshore Oil Rig Aware, May 2, 2010
I’ve never been a person with a cause. But the disaster at the oil rig offshore from Louisiana has made me realize the risk we face with oil rigs along the Southern California coast. As a sea kayaker who loves to cross to our Channel Islands, I’ve often paddled by our offshore oil rigs. I appreciated them as aids to navigation, often using them as a stepping stone in foggy weather. I also found a certain beauty in them, with their towering size, the hum of the machinery, and their lights shining bright at night. But since the Louisiana disaster, I see them in an entirely different light. Yet many Southern Californians don't even know we have oil rigs off our coast. I'm going to paddle my kayak to each and every oil rig to help people become aware of them.
Follow my new blog: SoCal Offshore Oil Rig Aware.
Oil Rig Edith Crossings, April 19, 2010
Today I tested the “bananas are bad luck on a boat” superstition 8 nautical miles offshore at oil rig Edith. It was a 20 nautical mile/5.5 hour solo paddle. There’s nothing better than being offshore on a beautiful day, sharing the ocean with a couple dozen dolphins and a half dozen sea lions. The wind didn’t pick up till I landed, so you know what I think about the superstition. And gosh did the wind pick up. I had trouble getting my kayak on the truck, and I even had to cancel my plan to tan in the sun afterwards, because I was getting sand blasted. So much for the 10 knot wind forecast. I watched the kite surfers for a few minutes and left.
Allunaariaqattaarneq: Trying To Make It Look Easy, April 17, 2010
Allunaariaqattaarneq (ah-sloo-nar-ee-ah-kah-tar-nuck) or Greenland rope gymnastics. In this video I'm doing my best moves. I end the video in failure, because it's something you have to get used to learning this kind of stuff.
Training Blog for Greenland Style Competition, April 2010
Southwest Kayak Symposium, March 26-28, 2010
It was another great Southwest Kayak Symposium in San Diego. On the drive down a day early on Thursday, I stopped at San Onofre and surfed my sea kayak is some nice five footers. On Friday it was fun to be at the symposium to watch friends arrive. Jake Stachovak's slide show that evening was one of the most interesting ones I’ve seen. On Saturday I helped Greg Stamer with a Greenland style paddling class that went really well. That night was a great potluck dinner and a fun party around a campfire. It was tough to leave on Sunday morning. I’m looking forward to the event next year.
Golden Gate Sea Kayak Symposium, February 26-28, 2010
On the seven hour drive home from the Golden Gate Sea Kayak Symposium, I didn’t play the radio, because I wanted my mind free to relive the entire 3-day event. I made a lot of new friends and got to know a lot of old friends better. There were lots of exciting sea kayaking experiences in wind, rain, current, rips, and rock gardens that I will never forget.
"Holy Grail" Refinished, January 29, 2010
I refinished my redwood Greenland paddle (#21). I had finished it in tung oil originally, but I sanded it off and went back to my old trusted epoxy. Also, I had to add a wood-burned inscription of the "feeling" I had when I found this perfectly vertical and straight grained piece of redwood at the lumber yard.
Skinboat Launched, January 9, 2010
See the photo gallery.
A San Onofre Christmas Eve with Friends Video, December 24, 2009
Some friends and I had a wonderful Christmas Eve morning kayaking and singing at San Onofre. Enjoy the video.
Skinboat Frame Done, December 23, 2009
I finished the skinboat frame just in time to relax and enjoy the holidays. It is 17' long, 19.5" wide, 6.75" deep, and weighs 20 lbs. The gunwales, deck beams, and stems are redwood, the chines and keel are pine, and the ribs and cockpit are red oak. The wood was treated with linseed oil. I built it as a lightweight kayak for Greenland competitions. It has no deck stringers. I'll be skinning it with 8oz polyester and sealing the skin with Zar outdoor water based polyurethane.
Steam Bending Wood For a Skin-on-Frame Kayak Video, December 8, 2009
Today I steam bent wood for the ribs and cockpit hoop on a skinboat I'm building, and it went great, even better than when I did it before over 10 years ago. I spent $45 on red oak with flat grain and minimal run-out from Lowe's, and it turned out to be enough bending wood for two kayaks. I only had to replace one rib, and I replaced a second rib just to make it perfect. I'd like to give special thanks to my assistant, Ken Fry, whose commentary is often heard in our video of the steam bending.
Jake's Going Away Paddle, November 7, 2009
Jake Stachovak is moving back to Wisconsinsin and beginning his Portage to Portage Paddling Project around the eastern USA. He will be greatly missed in Southern California. We had 37 paddlers on his going away paddle. See the photo gallery.
Traditional Arctic Kayak Symposium (TAKS), October16-18, 2009
It was another great TAKS at San Simeon, California. Like I said in previous years, the surf really makes this location a lot of fun, and more so this year than in the past, a lot of people spent a lot of time playing in the surf.
Check out the surf photos taken by Mark Sanders.
Here is my photo gallery.
Rolling Video, October 12, 2009
The surf forecast was only 6-12 inches today, so I decided to have some fun documenting the rolls I've been working hard on this summer. I'm sorry about the last couple of minutes getting goofy, but saltwater does that to the brain.
Here's the video.
The Folding Kayak Frame is Done, October 11, 2009
The frame for the folding kayak I'm building is 100% done. It weighs 26 lbs. and requires no tools for assembly, which took me 26 minutes the first time. No piece is longer than 39 inches, so it's shorter than a 2-piece paddle. I'll skin it with 18 oz. PVC after TAKS. The folding design is the Sea Ranger by Tom Yost.
Solo Anacapa and Santa Cruz Island Crossings, August 31-September 2, 2009
I did a 3-day crossing and island hopping trip, and during the 18 nautical mile crossing back, I had one of those crossings that reminds me of why I like crossings so much.
During the last 4 hours of the 5.5 hour crossing back, I was in thick fog. I really like how fog turns the visual world into one of sounds. I didn't bring a GPS on this solo trip, so it was up to me and my compass. Halfway across the channel is an oil rig, and with it's fog horn, I used it as a navigational stepping stone.
Closer to shore, the fog horn at the harbor I was heading for helped zero me in. I aimed a bit left, found the surf zone, and followed it for a few minutes to the harbor jetty. The fog was still so thick, I never saw the outside break wall.
Don't need no stinking GPS!
Here is the trip photo journal.
Surfing Short and Long Boats at San Onofre, August 24, 2009
Here's the video.
Goofing Around with Hand Rolling in Small Surf, August 10, 2009
Here's the video.
Blue Whale Jackpot and Video, August 5, 2009
For 2 1/2 hours I followed two blue whales and had them all to myself for the first 30 minutes until a whale watching boat zeroed in on me. I was able to get some nice video.
Another Day of Surfing and Another Video, August 4, 2009
Mark Sanders and I went surfing at San Onofre. I brought my surf boat, and he surfed and shot video from his sea kayak. At 2 minutes and 15 seconds there is an embarrassing moment for me.
Long Live Long Boat Surfing Video, August 3, 2009
I canceled my 3-day Anacapa Island crossing and circumnavigation trip because of strong winds and went kayak surfing instead. With the waves small at San Onofre, it was a perfect day for surfing the sea kayak and shooting some video.
Saw My First Great White Shark Today, July 13, 2009
It was a beautiful summer day down at San Onofre State Beach, where I was surfing my sea kayak in some small waves. About 40 yards outside the breakers, a woman stand-up paddle surfer was paddling back and forth. It looked like she was a bit unsteady on the board and was practicing just paddling rather than surfing.
Suddenly, the woman came paddling up to a group of us as we were waiting for the next set. She was visibly shaken and said she just saw a great white shark. I asked her how big was it, and she said, "huge!"
As she paddled on in, I paddled out 40 yards to where she had been. As soon as I arrived there, I saw it. We were heading in opposite directions, and it passed by 3-4 feet down and to my right. It was only about 7 feet long, but it was very thick, which makes me think it was a young great white.
I felt pretty safe behind the plywood and layers of fiberglass of my kayak and was disappointed it wasn't a 20-footer. But I didn't do any more static braces with my head and shoulders laying in the water.
I've been hearing about some great white sightings at San O', this year and in the past, but even with so many surfer's legs dangling in the water, I haven't heard about any bites. So I still think it's a pretty safe place. But I'm glad my legs are in a kayak and not dangling in the water.
Hanging Out With Common Dolphins, July 6, 2009
The surf looked good this morning, but July is blue whale season, so I launched solo at Dana Point this Monday morning. After paddling 15 minutes to get out of the harbor, I paddled another hour straight out to get 4 miles offshore.
The conditions were calm, and I sat in my kayak quietly, scanning the horizon for spouts and listening carefully for them. After sitting for a half hour, I thought to myself that there can't be any blues within a mile of me, because I would've heard them.
Right then I barley heard the distant and faint sound of dolphins jumping in the air and flopping back into the water on their side. I turned into the the direction I heard the sound, but couldn't see or hear anything. Then I heard the flopping sound again, exactly in the direction I was looking. After some more hard looking on the horizon, I saw dolphins jumping high about 3/4 mile away.
A ten minute paddle later, I was in the middle of a pod of 300 common dolphin, moving along slowly and jumping 6 feet into the air. With them moving so slowly, I was able to easily keep up with them. I watched them swim along, often right under me, and often jump high into the air.
I also often heard their high pitched whistles, no hydrophone needed.
After hanging out with them for a half hour, I started the 4 mile paddle back to Dana Point. About halfway back, I ran into another large pod of about 200 common dolphin, and while I hung out with them for a half hour, the pod I was with earlier came and merged with the other pod.
No blues today, but needless to say, it was a special day on the ocean.
Here is video of a jumper and one dolphin swimming within 2 feet under my kayak:
Four More Redwood Greenland Paddles Carved, July 4, 2009
Recently, I carved 4 more redwood Greenland paddles, which brings my total to 23 GP's built now. One of them is from the "Holy Grail" (see post below) piece of wood, which has near perfect grain and deep red color. These recent paddles have been finished with tung oil rather than epoxy. There are advantages and disadvantages to both, but redwood turns dark when saltwater leaks into it, so tung oil seems to help keep it's appearance better. A tung oil finish is also easier to maintain.
I'll be saving one of the paddles as new to donate at the auction to help support TAKS.
Seven-Day Catalina Island Crossing and Circumnav Trip, June 7-13, 2009
I just got back from a wonderful 7-day Catalina Island crossing and circumnav trip with six friends.
By far the highlight was on the crossing over, when for 40 minutes a minke whale followed us. Every 3-4 minutes it came up for air 10-30 yards from us. Occasionally we saw it swim under our kayaks to change sides. It actually joined our pod. We also saw a blue whale spout.
I have two really good photos of the minke whale with kayaks in my photo journal.