Rob Casey is the owner of SUP school Salmon Bay Paddle in Seattle, co-founder for the PSUPA and is the author of two paddling guides.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

From Hawaii to Seattle

We spent the Holidays toasting in temps in the upper 80's, getting light surf at Waikiki and fun body surfing at Hapuna on the Big Island. I tried to smooth out my farmer's tan, trying different levels of sun block, heavier on the white areas, thinner on the darker areas. Didn't quite work out, but close.

I paddled today with my friend Steve (of Hemel Board Co.) on Puget Sound. Air temp was 44 degrees, water probably in the lower 50's. Last week, I thought re- climatizing to the NW would be an issue. I fell in twice today, and didn't feel a thing, not from numbness, but rather from wearing a good wetsuit. We paddled a few miles on super flat glassy water, not another soul out. Great day, and am stoked to be back home!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Chaos at Makaha Beach, Hawaii - Tips on crowded breaks

The beaches in front of the Waikiki hotels were more crowded than this, but then the waves were much smaller. It's best to avoid going out if your skills aren't such where you can surf a safe line in between all the people on crowded days. If you're starting out, stay away from other surfers or go out at less crowded times. The longer sup boards are very hard to turn if you're new to stand up surfing. Before I take a wave, I look to see if someone else is planning to take the wave and check to see if the area I will be surfing into is clear, if not, I don't go. It's simply not worth colliding with another surfer. At Waikiki, we had swimmers snorkelers, surfers, sup'ers, and kids on inter tubes floating everywhere, so I took less waves.

And there are rules of the road, or rather 'Surfers Etiquette' at all breaks worldwide to avoid collisions or creating unnecessary tensions. I'd recommend reading the rules to get an idea on how to surf safer, HERE.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The 2009 Deception Pass Dash

Last Saturday, SUPs were allowed for the first time to race in the Deception Pass Dash in Washington State. The six mile course through tidal rapids and incredible scenery was attended by nearly 160 kayakers, outriggers, scullers, surf skis, and SUPs. Here's a few photos, Click Here.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Sweep Stroke

Turning the Board using Sweep Strokes in Choppy Water or Smaller Waves:
When I spot a small wave coming my way and need to turn, I'll let the wave crest come under me, then take one or two full sweep strokes and turn the board the other direction. A sweep can be done forward or backward. To turn the board to the left using a Forward Sweep Stroke, place the blade in the water ahead of you. Keep your outer arm closest to the blade straight, and turn your torso to the right watching the blade as you turn. The paddle should go in an arc or curve around you. Remove the blade after it passes your feet and feather it as you twist back to your forward position. The above turn on a wave is best when the board becomes balanced with the wave crest under the middle of the board. You can turn the board 180 degrees in one stroke.

You can speed your turn up by doing a Reverse Sweep stroke one one side, then a forward on the opposite. A Reverse Sweep starts behind you and moves forward. If you feel unstable twisting your torso backwards, bend you knees to lower your center of gravity. Go lightly at first, adding power as you get more comfortable.

By watching the blade for the entire turn, you torso will turn fully thus turning your board more efficiently. Kinda like watching the ball in baseball or golf - it works. Try the Sweep Strokes on flat water and do 360's using one side, then both sides. The lower you squat, the more extension thus more turn you'll get. A popular version of this stroke often seen in magazines or on YouTube shows the paddler stepping back on the tail of the board sinking it, then doing a sweep stroke. While this definitely moves the board and is good for balance practice, it's kinda of dramatic, and a bit of a show off move.

Paddling Upwind, Part 2..

I took the board out today to surf some smallish wind waves at a park near my house on Puget Sound. Blowing 17kts from the north, the air temp was about 42F, the windchill much colder. I've surfed this location in up to 27kts in winter and have had some nice rides. My definition of a nice ride is one that is anything surfable on a body of water not known for surf. Here in Seattle, the real surf is a minimum of 3hrs away. When I can get 3-7' faces from wind waves or freighter wakes five minutes from my house, in Seattle, I'm stoked. Getting such surf is fickle, but with persistence in watching the weather, tides, and marine traffic, it can happen, more than you would think. Freighter waves are usually clean peeling waves, but in today's wind conditions, the form was pretty chaotic.

Normally I've surfed this spot on a my wave ski with a double ended kayak paddle which is a lot easier to paddle upwind than on a single bladed sup paddle. This was my first time at this location in heavier wind, but had paddled upwind in recent weeks in up to 25kts nearby. I paddled upwind a few times standing up and did make progress, but not much. I tried to use short quick strokes to avoid being pushed backwards.

My friend Bob recently suggested paddling cross legged in wind and shortening up on the paddle. Much like in kayaking or on an outrigger, I twist my torso for much of the power, keeping the upper arm nearly straight for added power. Paddling with your arms alone will burn you out quickly. By twisting the torso, even when standing up, you'll last longer and have more power. Bob's suggestion worked out as I was able to move upwind fairly quickly. I found sitting forward on the board past the middle kept the wind from catching under the nose, but still allowed me to cut through waves. I tried sitting on one side to dip a rail so I could paddle on one side, but it didn't seen to work, so I switched sides every few strokes. Once I saw a decent set coming in, I'd stand up and do a sweep stroke as the wave crest passes below me to turn downwind, and surf.

I got two good rides today, and spent most of my time getting a lot of exercise paddling upwind. After about an hour, I had to call it quits and head home. I passed a few folks walking back to the car who asked if I was cold. I stated that I was cookin' after all that work, and had a good wetsuit. Today was one of those full suit days with a fleece shirt under the suit, booties, gloves, two hoods, and a Gath helmet to keep the noggin warm. A few onlookers enjoyed watching as I poured the 2 gallon jug of hot water over my head which left me and the pool of water around me steaming.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Wetsuits vs Drysuits?

Up here in the Pacific NW, most kayakers wear dry suits and sometimes scoff at anyone with anything different. That sort of thinking comes from dated info stating that a paddler will survive longer in a dry suit in cold water. But in recent years, wetsuits have come a long way and are as warm if not warmer depending on the product. Materials such as the Japanese limestone neoprene, the Merino wool lined Patagonia suits, and the toasty battery warmed wetsuit by RipCurl are changing perceptions.

After owning two $900 dry suits over the years, I quickly became a fan of my $350 4/3mm Xcel Infinity wetsuit not only for the price, but contrary to what others told me, the wetsuit was more flexible than the dry suit. I found the neoprene to be super stretchy and comfortable unlike the baggy and sometimes partially air filled Gortex fabric. Yea, off course I always remove the air from my suit, but there always is some left nonetheless. There are also no seasonal gasket repairs on wetsuits, or weekly maintenance with the lubricant 303 to protect the latex gaskets, not to mention purchasing new gaskets. I found it easier to swim as i am more aerodynamic and if i get a hole in a wetsuit, no big deal. Not so with a dry suit. Tired of the neck gasket strangling you? Not an issue with wetsuits. I also don't get the nasty neck rash after a long day of surfing from the salt and sand mixture.

Want to stay dry? Wetsuits such as the Xcel Infinity Drylock will keep your core dry, just as a dry suit will do, sorta. I always had tiny fabric or gasket leaks in my dry suit, and perspiration after a good paddle left me somewhat damp. So much for being dry. For men, the advantage of a dry suit is the pee zipper, but then most surfers I know just pee in their wetsuits and immediately flush the suit out or do so with fresh water after the session.

Wanna stay warm? I get cold easily. In a kayak class last Feb on the Washington Coast, we had daily temps in the 30's, and windchill much cooler. We weren't doing much activity, mostly sitting in our boats on the water for hours. I froze my a... off. I had a full dry suit, one thick polartech layer, and two fleece layers under. Not to mention two hoods, gloves and 7mm booties over my Gortex feet. I was feeling a bit blimpish, and still cold. I wished I had brought my wetsuit, which not only allows me to wear a capilene or polartech shirt of any thickness under, but also gortex drytop over the suit. I had used this wetsuit combo in similiar conditions before, but wore the dry suit thinking I'd could layer more stuff under and stay warmer. Maybe not. Also surfers in our region are regularly spending considerable hours fully immersed in the water in winter without an issue.

What does 4/3mm mean? 4mm chest, 3mm arms and legs. a 5/4/3, means 5mm chest, 4mm legs, 3mm arms. Some friends own 6mm, others a 4/3. it depends on your body and how you perceive cold. I'm open to layering, so the 4/3 quickly becomes a 6mm by adding non cotton synthetic clothing under, or my trusty RipCurl hooded vest over the suit. If I get too warm, I can strip layers.

An alternative to a full wetsuit is the Farmer John/Jane armless wetsuit, usually 3mm, and a Gortex drytop. If in warmer or very safe conditions, this combo allows for warmth yet more options for layering or removing clothing. The downside is that a considerable dunking in cold water will affect you quickly as there's no way to prevent water from entering under your drytop.

Trusted wetsuit companies: Patagonia, O'Neill, RipCurl, Xcel, Matuse. Axxe I'm told makes a very custom warm suit.

Tips for wetsuits:
- When putting it on for the first time, the pull string goes on your back. Newbies often put wetsuits on backwards.
- Wetsuits with no zippers are warmer and leak less, but will be more difficult to put on. Got old stiff shoulders? Get a zipper.
- Does the suit feel stiff at first? Neoprene loosens up when wet.
- While rental wetsuits are often not in the best shape, renting is away to find your preferred thickness and suit type.
- It's ok to put on a rash guard or capilene layer under your suit to boost warmth. I also put a kayaking dry top over in cold temps.
- Do your arms get cold? Put bicycling arm warmers on under your suit.
- It's ok to mix brands. I have a Xcel suit, RipCurl hooded vest, Kokatat hood with a chin strap, and Glacier Gloves.
- Need warm under clothing? O'Neill has thick crew neck fleece shirts, as does Kokatat, and Immersion Research. Check kayak shops too for gear.
- Most importantly, each his own! Find what works best for you.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Orca Network - Where to Post Sightings of Whales

I've followed the Orca Network for several years. A great org, they have created a site that helps protect marine animals in the Pacific Northwest by posting recent sightings, then gives more specific info on each whale or dolphin spotted. They're also contact the appropriate agencies if you find a dead or injured marine animal. I've found a few dead seals over the years and report the location, time of day, and type of seal found, (usually Harbor Seals).

For more info:


SUPs Made in Seattle - Hemel Stand Up Paddle Boards

I've joined Seattle based surfboard shaper Steve deKoch in designing and marketing stand up paddleboards. Steve of Hemel Board Company is now making SUPs as well as his usual fare of paipos (the orginal boogie boards), and surfboards. We currently have a 8' Fish, and a 11' touring/surf SUP, and have a 10' on the way. We have plans for a race board and other sizes of the touring boards for different folks.

If you're interested in trying one of boards, give me a holler.

More info here:

Join us on Facebook..

Also come demo our boards at the Deception Pass Dash in Washington State on December 12th...

Follow us on Twitter..

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

South Puget Sound Paddling Locations

This is a quicky guide to paddling on the South Puget Sound area. The info is copy and pasted from a posting I wrote this morning. Will add more and edit later...

The South Puget Sound is pretty nice. Some areas have strong fun currents to play with as well. A few paddles i'd recommend:
*NOTE: get a tide chart as currents can be strong. Best to plan with the currents.

From Boston Harbor as a starting point (north of Oly a few miles)..
- Paddle to Hope Island, a great island only available via non motorized craft. the WWTA have a campsite there. There's fun light currents that circle the island. A walking trail is nice for a poke around as well. About 1-2 miles north of Boston Hbr.
- Across from Hope is Squaxin Island, The Squaxin indian rez that has no development on it. It's very pristine and resembles what the area looked like prior to the pioneer's arrival. Paddling around Squaxin is also fun. I believe landing is illegal. There's a few currents to the south of the island that might put off standing waves on an opposing wind. Check tide tables, etc.
- Paddling to the right of Boston Harbor to the south end of Harstine Island is pretty scenic with a few currents as well.
- If the tidal push is right, head up Hammersely Inlet, i hear there's standing waves at the entry to the Sound on occasion.
(note: i love rougher water, hence the info on currents, waves, etc.).
- Also Henderson Inlet to the right of Boston might be nice, less developed.

Resources: (develops kayak camping trails)
Local Tides:
Local paddling guide:

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Tips on Staying Warm Before and After Your Paddle

With temps dropping into the 30's at night, I've had to accept the hard reality that it's winter and I'll have to start wearing more clothes to stay warm. As much as I like winter, I already miss the simplicity of a t-shirt, shorts and sandals. I've already begun to wear a polar tech shirt under my 4/3 and a full neoprene hood. Disregard this post if you live in Hawaii.

One thing I've found that helps in staying warm on the water, is to make sure that I am warm before I get on the water and maintain my warmth after getting off the water. Often on frigid days, I'll use my glove less hands to untie my board or kayaks off the car rack, and that alone has been enough to get stiff fingers from the cold. Usually, my fingers would not thaw out during the paddle, making me even colder on the water.

Here's some suggestions on staying warm on land while getting ready or after your paddle:

Before the Paddle:
- Cut a foam camping pad in half and stand on it next to your car while putting your gear on. It really helps.
- If putting your wet or dry suit on, leave your hat and coat on until you absolutely have to remove them.
- Put your neoprene or other warm gloves on to put remove your board off the car. A fleece or similar hat helps as well.
- Bring along energy bars to eat before the paddle and/or store one on you during your paddle. (in PFD, fanny pack, etc)
- Going out at night? Attach a waterproof white light on your board and/or body to prevent collisions with boats. Turn it on if you're paddling into a busy boating area. Check out the Guardian LED light. I attach one to my rear PFD or fanny pack to preserve my night vision. I have another wp flashlight to pull out if needed for extra protection. Some use waterproof lasers pointers to shine at boat pilot houses if an collision is imminent. Tie your flashlight on a short string to your PFD or fanny pack to avoid losing it in the water.

After the Paddle:
- Put your board on the car first and tie it down, then remove your wetsuit, PFD, hood, etc.
- Bring a thermos of hot soup or non alcoholic beverage to keep in the car for a warm up.
- Fill a large container of hot water to pour on yourself to wash the saltwater off. It'll still be warm after 2hrs.
- Remove your wetsuit while standing on your foam camping pad.
- Start your car as soon as you get off the water and put the heater on. It'll be warm by the time you're ready to drive home.
- Store some energy bars or a preferable munchy in the to refuel your body.
- If removing your suit, consider storing warm dry clothes and a towel in the car.
- Have a back up key just in case stored in a secret spot.
- Keep a headlight in the car to assist with tying the board on the rack after dark.
- Sounds nasty, but stand by your running car's exhaust pipe to keep your legs warm.
- Bring along a winter coat or warm fleece to put on after your paddle, particularly if you don't remove your suit.

Any questions give me a holler: / 206.465.7167
Check out our SUP classes - beginning to advanced instruction and PSUPA Certification.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Must be Winter, Blowing 35kts..

900 PM PST SUN NOV 15 2009






For real time NOAA forecasts and data, click HERE.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Stand Up Paddling at Deception Pass State Park, WA

December 12th is the annual Deception Pass Dash, a six mile race through the tidal rapids of Deception Pass State Park in Washington State. Last year high winds and ocean swell created six foot standing waves challenging the paddlers even more. Traditionally the Dash has been sea kayakers, surf skis, and outriggers. This year, SUPs are allowed. These images were from a test run where the race organizers wanted to see how SUPs could do in the race. The 6 SUPs and two paddle boarders did well, although the conditions were glassy and nearly calm. Many are curious how they will perform in gnarly winter conditions.

Other Links from yesterday's test paddle at Deception Pass from the racers themselves..

Random Tips on training for a winter tidal rapids race:
- Practice going upwind (or up current). Everyone talks of down winders, but how about going upwind? Where I paddle on Puget Sound, in order to go downwind, you have to go upwind first, which is great exercise and training for inclement weather. And if you happen to get caught in unexpected weather, then you're good to go. Try kneeling to cut wind Resistance and feathering your blade. Sitting works well too if you have a double bladed paddle. Possibly store a kayak paddle on your board with bungis.
- Take a whitewater kayaking (or SUP?) class to understand how current works and how to negotiate and read current or a river. Learn how to paddle up current using the eddies, how to peel out, ferry across current, and how to paddle in whirlpools, boils, etc.
- With a buddy, go out on rough water days in wind, funky current, tide rips, or in surf to gain your sea legs on bumpy water.
- Wear a full surfing wetsuit or dry suit in water colder than 65 degrees. I try to avoid getting on the news.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

How to Whitewater SUP by Corran Addison

Corran Addison is a kayak and stand up paddle board designer in Canada that has always been on the cutting edge of both genres of paddling. This series of YouTube videos can be helpful in learning to whitewater sup. Note that he's using his river sup board that has a recessed deck, is short and plastic to avoid ding repair issues. His leash is attached to his knee, something that Werner team paddler Dan Gavere also suggests. Some river boards have grab handles, a good idea in getting ahold of it in current and getting back on.

Tips for whitewater SUP paddling:
- Take a whitewater kayaking or sup class to learn how river current works and learn safety and rescues. Some folks offer river rescue classes, a great resource.
- In cold water, wear a full surfing wetsuit (4/3mm - 6mm) or full drysuit for warmth.
- Attach leash above knee or waist to avoid entanglement on rocks, logs, etc.
- Always wear a good helmet. I prefer the Gath helmets for their ear protection.
- Wear a PFD (life jacket) not only for floatation, but for warmth and collision (rocks) protection. Also in my PFD or on it, I carry a knife, energy bar, extra skull cap, ear or nose plugs, watch, sun block, and a compact mylar emergency blanket.
- Booties are nice to walking on rocks along the shore. Companies such as NRS have great sturdy soled booties that have ankle protection as well.
- Consider rubber fins or no fins at all.
- If paddling in a boulder strewn river, consider body protection - shoulders, elbows, shins, etc.
- Bring Water. I get more dehydrated in whitewater than any other type of paddling.

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Day of Garbage from the Elwha River

We walked up the Elwha River from its mouth on the Strait of Juan de Fuca on Sunday about a quarter mile, and collected a full bag of garbage. This section of the river is heavily used by fishermen, surfers, beachcombers, and has homes upstream, and also collects flotsam and jetsam from boats or other marine sources. The river's two dams will (hopefully) be removed soon, the largest dam removals in North America. This image is the junk we found along it's shores on Sunday, October 25th from the mouth to about a quarter mile upstream.

I'm beginning a project to document the Elwha River. See my project blog, here.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Reg Lake BrewMug

The BrewMug is a plastic insulated coffee mug that comes with a coffee filter that sticks on the top rim and is stored in the bottom interior of the mug. I love it so much, I have a few of them, and have given them for gifts. See how it works, HERE.

The ingenious idea comes from long time kayak guide, instructor, and expedition leader and waterman, Reg Lake. I met Reg Lake when he was an instructor at Northern California's Otter Bay Lodge. We connected as we were both living in the Pacific NW and have stayed in touch as he co-designs Sterling Donaldson's sea kayaks in Bellingham, WA. I have Sterling's 'Illusion' sea kayak, a 17' sea kayak 'playboat' that almost surfs as loose as a 8' surf kayak.

Reg's adventures to Chile have been featured in Outside Magazine, and he is credited as teaching Patagonia's Yvon Chouinard how to whitewater kayak. He is most known for his harrowing first descents of California's rivers in the late 70's and early 80's. One of these trips down the San Joaquin, also called the 'Devil's Postpile Run' was made with climber Royal Robbins and Doug Tompkins. The 32mile Class V run required a 3,000' climb out if they failed to make it down the river.

Contact Info to order the BrewMug:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

24th Annual Santa Cruz Surf Kayaking (and SUP) Festival, 3/10

From Dennis Judsen in Santa Cruz:

Ladies & Gentlemen in touch with Humans,
The 24th Annual Santa Cruz Kayak Surf Festival is slated for March 26th-28th, 2010, at the internationally acclaimed break and symbol of Surf City Santa Cruz. We would like to invite you and your viewers to the contest that is changing the world of paddle surfing. Welcome to history in the making.

Pics of the 2009 Contest, HERE

Dennis Judson
Marketing Agent for Adventure Sports Unlimited
And Host of the Santa Cruz Kayak Surf Festival
303 Potrero Street
Santa Cruz,CA 95060
Phone: 831-425-4887
FAX: 831-425-4887

Monday, October 19, 2009

Surfed waist high freighter waves today on Puget Sound..

Occasionally with the right tide level and the right freighter(s) that happen to be moving fast enough, I get really nice waves five minutes from my house - in Seattle. Today I surfed an hour of knee to waist high waves from three fast moving freighters in almost glassy conditions. Waves came from three different directions, making for a combination of clean sets, and a few funky tide rip like sets which I think are good balance practice. In the latter sets, I'd surf about ten feet, then have a set from my left side intersect with my wave. The longest ride was about 30 yards.

Usually, I share this spot with a dozen kite surfers on windy days, but today the wind was minimal, so It was nice to have it to myself. If you're interested in knowing where this spot is, contact me directly.

Since I was surfing in about a foot or two of water over some rocks, I wear my Gath helmet just in case. Although, I usually end up banging up my shins in shallow water. I always wear my leash, particularly if there's kite surfers around to prevent my loose board from becoming a hazard. The kite surfers surf east to west here, and I go north to south. I let them come in, then paddle out, and vice versa. Gotta share the beach, and the stoke.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Paddling Season is Over, Apparently.

I keep hearing that paddling season is over. I know boating season is over as I rarely see any boats on weekends anymore on Puget Sound. Wow, all that money spent, and only for four months of the year. Why live here if you're going to be inside forthe next eight months?

The advantage of the supposed end of paddling season are less crowds, no ferry lines, cheaper lodging rates, and I don't have to watch my back as much due to drunken boaters.

Interestingly, it's often calmer during the day here in the winter than the summer. In contrast, we also get bigger storms thus high winds and larger waves closer to home, reducing the number of times I drive to the coast several hours away.

As I always say about life in the Pacific Northwest,' Life's too short to wait for a sunny day.'

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Autumn is here!

A storm has been predicted for several days and finally hit today with 20 knot southerly winds and horizontal rain. The barometer is +0.11"and 'Rising Rapidly'. Normally, I'd take my board or kayak out to get some sizable wind waves, but the saturating rain and 45 degrees kinda takes the fun out of it. Normally I'd go, but I'm not quite acclimated yet for Autumn.

The foggy cam image is from today of West Point / Discovery Park in Seattle. The clearer image of the whitewater is from last February, blowing about 30 knots. We paddle over a mile there from the Ballard neighborhood to surf the waves on the south side (for a southerly). I've seen some 4-5' faces there, had some nice rides, and never a line up, not sure why. Once last February, we paddled our sea kayaks upwind against 41 knot gusts, almost too much to paddle against. Waves were easily 6-7' faces, pretty confused form, gnarly for sure. It took an hour to get there, 10 minutes to surf home with the wind at our backs.

Note: The white building is actually the historic West Point lighthouse covered in plastic while being restored.

Tips for Paddling in High Wind:
- Definitely Wear a Leash. You'll board will disappear out of reach in a jiffy after a fall.
- Dress for immersion. Puget Sound is about 55 degrees now, so 5mm is suitable and a hood.
- Tell folks you're going out, and where. Best to bring a buddy for support.
- Don't go beyond your skill level. If it looks gnarly, it probably is. I try to stay off the evening news.
- Consider bringing a waterproof VHF radio in a fanny pack or on your PFD. Sounds hardcore, but you might actually need it to rescue someone else. Been there, done that.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Cali SUP Race - Jesse King Memorial Race - Morro Bay

Just in from Matt Hutgens from the Central Coast California..

Come to California's beautiful central coast at the best time of year here for this event! All are welcome, and for those who may not be up to an open ocean event then there is plenty of stuff happening inside Morro Bay suitable for any skill level or age.

Monday, October 12, 2009

SUP Courses in the Puget Sound Region:

Many say learning SUP'ing is easy. Just stand up and paddle. And it can be that easy for some. But everyone learns differently, some are slower to pick things up while others may not need instruction at all. Stand up paddling is the fastest growing sport in the USA, yet there's few options for instruction available.

Here's a few options in the Puget Sound region for instruction:

www.salmonbaypaddlecom (me):
With a background of nearly a decade in sea kayaking, surf kayaking and whitewater, I've guided and taught kayaking for several local retailers, thus bringing a wide perspective to SUP'ing from a similar activity. I'm currently writing a book on 'How to' SUP for the Mountaineers Books, due out Spring 2011. In my courses, I focus on basic stroke techniques, light navigation, reading weather, understanding different types of water, and safety. Instruction varies per person depending on skill level, personal interests (surf, flat water, or moving water), and skill level. I can also assist in finding gear that best fits your needs. $50 per hour per person, (min. 2hrs), not including gear rentals. I'm based in Ballard but can of course travel to you. Contact:

Azimuth Expeditions / Ken Campbell:
Also with a kayaking background, Ken recently paddled his SUP 150 miles throughout Puget Sound to raise money for the Washington Watertrails Association ( Ken runs a respected kayaking/sup guiding and instruction company called Azimuth Expeditions, based in Tacoma. Click HERE to see the Tacoma News Tribune article on the sport featuring Ken last summer.

Paddling On One Side

I've recently figured out how to paddle my board one one side. I do so by sinking a rail and paddling on that side. I've found it helps to move your stance up and down the board to find the perfect position. Too far forwards or too close to the tail will make the board turn. Every board is different, so try different positions and see what works best for you.

On my board, a Laird 12', I even adjust my paddling stance to the left side of the board, so both feet are on the left side (I'm a lefty) of the center line. This reduces the amount of board in the water thus making me a bit faster while paddling. Ideally, paddling a wide flat board in the water isn't the most efficient method of moving forward. The faster racing boats such as surf skis are super narrow to have as little boat in the water thus less drag. This technique was challenged when a side wind was pushing me about making me paddle about ten strokes on each side to correct my direction, each time dipping the rails.

When I paddle, i adopt a kayak style stroke using as much as my torso as possible to rotate through the stroke. This is done by keeping the upper arm as straight as possible and rotating the upper body towards the water as the paddle follows the rail. Much as in kayaking, this technique is powerful, and is not only less fatiguing on the shoulders, but creates less stress reducing tendinitis.

GoPro Images from the weekend..

Here's a few images from the GoPro camera from the weekend. Despite a predicted 2' swell, I found a few hours of 3' faces breaking near a favorite surf break. No one around, sunny day, and the first bite of Autumn in the air.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Small October Swell & Tips on Flat Cold Water Paddling

What's a guy to do with a 2' swell? Go SUP'ing! That is on flat water. We're headed off to our favorite spots on Washington's Olympic Peninsula to paddle the inner coastal areas with the sup. A high pressure system will bring blue skies and sun, and a slightly chilled October air. NOAA is calling for a 17' swell next week. Winter's coming.

Tips for Flat Cold water Paddling:
I always bring a water bottle in fanny pack. Also in the fanny pack goes a energy bar, waterproofed flares, a compact emergency blanket, neoprene gloves, a neoprene skull cap or hood, and a waterproof camera. I attach a waterproof watch to the exterior to watch for tidal changes. In some areas here, missing the flood can be a long paddle home. Lastly, I attach a waterproof twist on Guardian LED light to the exterior for after dusk. It's required in some states to have one white light at night while paddling. Attached to the back of the fanny pack, it's not glaring in my eyes, and gives boaters an idea of where I am. I always use a leash to avoid loosing my board in case of a fall in heavier winds or surf. I'll be soon purchasing a bungy leash to avoid having it caught in kelp beds.

I'd also recommend a waterproof camera such as the Pentax Optio W60, and possibly a gortex paddling drytop for windchill protection. If the wind is up, consider a two piece kayak paddle to strap to the board for upwinders. It's a lot easier to sit down with reduced wind resistence than standing going upwind.

Prior to leaving, I tell a friend or two of where I'm planning of going and how long I'll be out. I'll also check the NOAA site for wind and a barometer reading. If the barometer's dropping, there's inclement weather approaching. In coastal areas, I'll check the tides to see whether the flood or ebb will be of benefit to me, or a problem. I also check tides to determine if there's an exposed tide pool area of interest to see. Of course despite the best swell and weather prediction sites, Mother Nature makes the final call. If i get to my launch spot and it looks sketchy, I'll make other plans. Sometimes the predictions can be incorrect and thus to my benefit. I love those days where no swell is predicted, but there's surf anyway, and no crowds.

For Seattle and Washington State, I use these two sites for weather and swell prediction..

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Hemel Surfboard Company

Here's a few images of Steve deKoch, founder of the Hemel Surfboard Company in Seattle. I've been documenting his progress on shaping sups for Flow Paddleboards. Trained as an architect, Steve once worked for Miller Hull, a prestigious Seattle firm. He left the company and it's sweatshop hours to spend more time with family and follow his real passion of surfing and building boards. He's currently working on a new website which should be up soon. For more info about Hemel, contact Steve: 206.715.7289.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Hobuck Hoedown 2009

The Hobuck Hoedown was again successful this year with participants coming from as far away as California, sunny skies, and a decent swell to boot. The Hoedown is the only annual surf kayaking and sup competition north of Santa Cruz, now in it's third year located on the very NW corner of the continental USA. The sup heat wasn't as filled as we had hoped, but hopefully as the sport grows, will be more successful next year. The three of us sup'ing did get some fun mellow rides throughout the day further down the beach.

Ken Campbell has a great review of the Hoedown on his blog HERE.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Shortboard SUP - Fletcher Burton Profile

Fletcher Burton has been surfing a waveski (sit-on-top surf kayak) for a decade in Pismo Beach, California. As early as 2005, Fletcher was seen standing up on his waveski doing what he calls 'striding', essentially stand up paddling but with a kayak paddle. I've seen footage of him striding at Pipeline and Indo. Waveskis are generally 7-8' long, about 15 pounds, and the rider is strapped in with a single seatbelt. The paddler can do 360 degree spins, aerials, surf backwards, and of course eskimo roll to avoid poundings from big waves paddling out or to recover from a wipeout. Waveski designers include Island Waveskis, Wavemaster, Dick Wold, and featured in Canoe Kayak Magazine this month, the Maui based Tyler Lausten.

Here's a video of Fletcher striding, (about mid video), Click Here.

United States Waveski Association Forum, Click Here.

Pipeland Photos by Vince Shay of Shell Beach, California.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Stroke Techniques for Racing by Beau Whitehead..

See Beau Whitehead's great blog for this topic..

Visibility on the Water

Quite often I'll be paddling in open water on Puget Sound and happen to turn around to see a fast moving power boat with it's bow up, headed directly towards me. If I move to the left, the boat follows. If I move to the right, they follow. At the last minute I'll raise my paddle high in the air hoping to make eye contact. We've had some close calls with boats narrowly missing us by a few feet. In most cases, we're the only crafts out there, so it's always odd our paths happen to intersect. More often than not, as the boat passes the driver isn't even looking in our direction, sometimes they're not even at the wheel. Occasionally, they'll wave as their four foot stern wake of whitewater rips under us. Sometimes, they use us as a buoy or channel marker to make their turn. Luckily we're good at surfing, others may not be so fortunate. Once while crossing from Southworth to Blake Island using sea kayaks with a friend's wife and 6yr old daughter, a fast moving yacht came within a few feet of our group and kicked up a huge wave, about a 4' face, waving as they passed. We quickly rafted up to each other to prevent capsize. Often we will get vocal with the boat if it's completely obvious that they're doing something stupid.

On the flip side, stand up paddlers and kayakers often cut in front of moving boats in busy boating channels. Near our put-in in Seattle's Ballard neighborhood where the busy Chittenden Locks empty into Puget Sound, paddlers often are too impatient to wait for incoming or outgoing boating traffic. A narrow channel and very shallow on one side, boaters have little options for space when they are forced to swerve out of the way of paddlers. Boats don't have brakes. Here, human powered craft don't have right-of-way over boaters. Last year, we rescued a kayaker who got impatient and crossed in front of a dozen power boats just released from the locks. He capsized on a boat wake, forcing the remaining boaters to swerve in two different directions to avoid the swimmer. We squeezed in there with our kayaks and performed a T-Rescue plucking him from the frigid 55F water. In less than 20 minutes in the water, he was getting stiff and was slightly unresponsive. In this case, none of the passing boaters stopped to offer help, and they continued to swerve around us during the rescue.

Tips for being more visible to boaters, (or defensive paddling):
- Always watch your back. Do frequent checks for oncoming traffic.
- Know the Angle on the Bow Method to determine boater speed.
- Know where the boating channels are, and understand what the buoy colors and types stand for.
- Don't cross in front of boats unless you know you'll 100% clear their bow without an issue.
- Put silver reflector tape on your paddle blade and a strip or two on your paddle shaft. Works for both day and night.
- Purchase a PFD with silver reflector tape, or attach reflectors to your fanny or hydro pack.
- Attach a waterproof flashlight on your PFD, jacket, or board at night. The Guadian light is small, very bright, and reliable. I have 3.
- Know your right-of-ways on the water.
- Don't cross in front of a freighter, tanker, or cruise ship. They take several miles to stop and won't stop for you.
- Wear bright colors.
- Pay attention.
- Bring immersion clothing in case you do fall in after a boat wake capsize. While on a sup with a leash, you'll be OK most of the time. But the cold air and a long paddle back might chill you beyond your comfort level. I pack ext as in my fanny pack or on my board.
- Carry flares, a whistle, waterproof laser pointer, or smoke for greater visibility.

Further Reading:

Where to find lights and rescue gear in Seattle:
-Northwest Outdoor Center
-The Kayak Academy

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Flow Paddleboards - Made in Seattle

Seattle based master shaper Steve deKoch and paddler Paul Langer just launched Flow Paddleboards. Flow will offer a full line of stand up paddle boards, including their 8' 34" wide quad fin Fish and Disk boards. They will be attending the upcoming Sacred Craft show in California and will soon have boards to demo. Keep your eyes peeled for more updates here including their web link when it becomes available.

Contact Flow:
Paul Langer
Tel 206.718.8955

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Hobuck Hoedown Oct 4th - SUP heats

The third annual Hobuck Hoedown will be held on October 4th this year and will have SUP heats in addition to the normal fare of surf kayaking, waveski, sit on top, and sea kayaking heats. This low key event with no blaring horns, music, or PA systems offers paddlers the only surfing competition of it's kind in the Pacific Northwest.

Registration starts September 21st. 10% of registration fees will be donated to Surfrider. A beach clean up will also be held.

For more information, contact Dave King at Olympic Raft and Kayak in Port Angeles, WA. Tel: 888-452-1443

Event Link:

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Round the Rock Race - Mercer Is, Seattle Sept 27th

The first annual Round the Rock Race in Seattle will be held Sunday Sept 27th. I hear Gerry Lopez is coming and there will be sup clinics, product booths, etc. There's two courses, a short 2.5 mile race, and the Full Course, 13 miles circumnavigating Mercer Island.

I know the wind funnels through the narrow passageway between Mercer Island and Bellevue (to the east), so that should be interesting. September is historically fairly warm in Seattle, but you never know.

Race Course / Map

Choosing a Paddle, Part 2

Beau Whitehead of Bellingham, Wa recently placed 2nd in the final Naish Race series in San Diego. He was on a standard Isle board, using the Werner Nitro Paddle. He said he had the only small blade paddle in the race, and beat out many who had race specific boards. While many factors affect how races are won, but this did lead to a chat about blade size. I also have the Nitro and find it's easier on the shoulders, and when used correctly - using a shorter and quicker cadence, it is faster, for me.

I already have dealt with tendinitis from kayaking in using a very long paddle (240cm) and a lower angle stroke. After a year of PT pulling rubber bands attached to a doorknob and popping Advil daily, I solved the problem by using a shorter length paddle, (215cm), higher stroke (whitewater stroke), and fatter blade, (the Werner Corryvken). That was three years ago, and I haven't had an issue since - in kayaking. But in testing the fatter bladed sup paddles the past few months, I'm was beginning to feel a touch of sensitivity in my right shoulder. When I tried the Nitro, no pain. I've found that the narrow blade and shorter strokes create less overall shoulder stress, and is interestingly faster. Greenland style kayakers using the Greenland 'stick' paddle that is a 2x4 carved into a minimalist double bladed paddle. Their stroke is slightly different than the standard kayak stroke, often noted for less shoulder stress. Many Greenland paddlers feel their paddle is just as fast as a fatter bladed kayak paddle. One advantage in surf could be less paddle to deal with when going down the line.

Every board and every paddler are different. I use the Laird 12'1 Softtop. Some feel bigger is better, each his own.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Fun Video of Dan Gavere Going off Punchbowl Falls in Oregon

Click Here

I'd like to suggest to not try this on your own unless you have superior sup surfing and river skills. Note the padding on Dan's body to prevent from nailing rocks on falls. Also, the falls he's dropping into is quite deep at the bottom allowing him to fall without hitting bottom or a protruding rock. I've even read of sup'ers wearing 'spine protectors' while doing whitewater. Scary.

If you're new to whitewater, take a sup river class, or a whitewater kayaking class prior to hitting a river. You need to know how a river works, which drops to avoid, and how to scout the section you want to run either prior to getting on the water, or/or while paddling. Best to go with experienced paddlers, and don't forget the helmet. Local paddling clubs might provide adequete instruction and buddies to paddle with. We lost a good friend over a year ago after he was pinned. Quite the trajedy, and he was a very experienced local instructor.

Basic River Instruction for SUPs - Video

This video by sup shaper and kayak designer Corran Addison covers basic instruction for paddling on rivers. He has a few of these videos out that cover basic to advanced whitewater paddling. His company is Imagine Surfboards which offer some of the most innovative sups on the market.

Basic River Paddling

Basic River Paddling, Video 2

Corran surfing a river wave on one of his sups

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Currently in Iceland, no SUPs here..

It is however 44 degrees and raining horizontally. And after two weeks in Denmark and southern Sweden, no sign of sups in either location. Both have incredible flat water opportunities and wind generated surf, as well as the picturesque canals of Copenhagen. Iceland is the colder cousin of Hawaii - many lava reefs to surf. It would be a great opportunity for someone to start a rentals and sales shop there. Next time I visit those regions, I'm bringing a board for sure.

Back to Seattle Saturday the 12th, missing my water time!

Monday, August 24, 2009

\Stand Up Paddling Instruction and Guiding in Seattle

Seeking instruction for stand up paddling? Want to learn new skills? Need help buying a board and related gear?

I'm Available for SUP instruction covering (but not limited to) the following areas:
- How to stand up
- Paddle Stroke Basics (turning, bracing, balance, efficiency, tips on preventing shoulder pain, etc)
- How to select a board, and a paddle. Which clothing to purchase.
- Understanding rivers. Learn how to read moving water, safety, clothing, where to go.
- Basic surf instruction. Learn how to read waves, forecast surf, where to go.
- Where to go, how to prepare for day or overnight trips.
- Basic weather forecasting and safety on the water.
- Advanced strokes.
- Tune up your skills.

My instructional experience includes several years teaching for various kayak retailers and teaching sea kayaking 1 on 1 in Seattle. I am also writing an instructional guide to stand up paddling due out by Mountaineers Books on 2011. I have written safety and rescue articles for Sea Kayaker Magazine as well.

I'm also offering guiding for those seeking a local or regional trip accompanied by an experienced instructor and guide.

Suggested trips:
- Seattle's Lake Union or Elliott Bay.
- Seattle's Shilshole Bay.
- South Sound - Boston Harbor to Hope Island.
- Chuckanut Bay south of Bellingham.
- Freshwater Bay by Port Angeles.
- Bowman Bay by Deception Pass.

Inquire for guiding rates.


Check out our SUP classes in Seattle - Beginning to advanced instruction including freighter and tug wave surfing, coastal surfing, rivers and racing, plus PSUPA Certification.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Tips for Paddling over waves

Last week Laird Hamilton was in Seattle giving a talk at the REI flagship store on recent exploits and promoting his new film shot by Don King about autism. During the Q&A, someone asked about how to paddle over large waves on a sup. He suggested standing on the rear of the board and matching speed for speed and powering over the wave. Another method to add to that technique is to angle the board slightly to deflect some of the wave power to the side. As a surf kayaker for many years, I was taught various methods of getting over waves while paddling out. Angling the boat or board works quite well. As the wave approaches you, push down a rail with one foot to angle the board thus allowing your opposite foot to rise. Flatten it once you've passed the crest of the wave.

Click HERE for more info on Don King's film, 'A Beautiful Son'.

Benefits of a Coiled Leash

The other day I was paddling my Laird 12' board on Puget Sound and spotted a large kelp bed. Kelp beds appear in summer and are a great source of marine life. I paddled towards the kelp bed gaining speed to make it over the sections that can often slow a paddler (kayak or board) down. Bad idea. My 8 inch fin began to drag through the kelp, then my leash dragging behind the board acted like a fishing net and completely stopped the board throwing me forward and nearly knocking me off. Kneeling, i pulled up my leash as if i was pulling up a fishing line and removed it from the kelp bed. I then put the leash on the board, and gingerly paddled out to open water. So much for the nature viewing experience. The solution: a coiled leash attached below my knee that says on the board at all times.

Beau Whitehead of Bellingham, Washington suggested the Bully's Coiled Knee Board Leash to reduce drag in racing. I've also considered getting one for my waveski to prevent losing control of it in case of a missed roll. The Bully's leash comes in several sizes. It's recommended to get one the length of your board or waveski.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

What Not To Wear

Despite looking like a dork, that's me trying to get a taller perspective of video footage from my Gath helmet using a GoPro Camera. With the camera attached to the board, you don't see the actual wave size, so am experimenting with the helmet.

Paddling Upwind

If you've ever paddled upwind on a stand up board, you know it's literally an uphill battle. Some kneel to cut their wind resistance, while others don't go out at all. I find our local waters are void of sup'ers on the more windy days, a bummer being that paddling down wind can be a lot of fun. For those that due enjoy 'down winders', they usually do a car shuttle to avoid paddling upwind. Personally, I don't have the time or extra people available to coordinate shuttles for all the windy days I want to paddle, and paddling to your destination upwind can be rewarding and great exercise.

I've found three methods what work great for paddling upwind:
- While standing, take short quick strokes. In anything above 18kts, the longer strokes will slow you down as the wind will push your down wind during the time it takes to rewind to your starting position. This technique reminds me of paddling against fast moving water or a river. As soon as you stop, you go backwards. Using a smaller blade such as the Werner Nitro might reduce shoulder tension, wind resistance, and be easier to take smaller quick strokes as there's less blade in the water.

- The second technique is to get a sea kayak double bladed paddle, and sit down while paddling upwind. By being much lower on the board, you reduce wind resistance considerably, and the double ended paddle gives you more power and cadence. I have bungis on my board to hold items such as a backup two piece sea kayak paddle. When using the kayak paddle, I then put my sup paddle on the board. The kayak paddle should have angled blades such as right 45 degrees. This allows for the blades to be slightly twisted when going up wind, reducing wind resistance. Twist your torso and use slightly bent arms to paddle, rather than arms alone to you give more power.

- Lastly, consider dropping a rail by pushing down with one foot to have the least amount of board in the water, thus less drag. I find most sup boards are so wide and flat bottomed, that they're inefficient for flat water use. The fastest human powered craft in the water is a surfski which are very narrow and tippy with a displacement (round) hull. Less is more.

A few safety tips in paddling in wind:
- Always wear a leash to not lose your board in case of a fall. Wind can push your board away very quickly, thus a long swim.
- Tell others you're going out and where before you leave home.
- Bring extra water in a fanny pack, hydration PFD pack, or on your deck. Paddling upwind is a lot of work, hydrate to make it more pleasant.
- Wind often makes the air temperature cooler, and in some cases quite cold, (windchill). Dress warmer than usual with a wetsuit or bring extra clothing in a fanny or backpack, or on your deck. I usually bring a neoprene vested hood and gloves in a fanny pack during the summer.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Apparently I've joined the 'Dark Side'

Kayakers for years have seen surfers (board surfers) as an evil group of folks. This feeling comes from boarders being known for localism, dressing in black, and in general being the largest demographic of surfers on the water. So now that I'm doing sup, I've had a few kayaker acquitances tell me that I've joined the 'Dark Side'. Interesting. Although, in general, I've found more kayakers to be less chatty than board surfers (or sup paddlers). The sup thing is so new, at least around here in the NW, that everyone on the water wants to chat about it, talk about gear, paddling technique, etc. In recent months, I've met more sup'ers than I've met kayakers in years. Kayakers either tell me I'm wearing too much gear, or too little. One guy questioned my second backup paddle suggesting there's no need for it, (despite the fact I paddle in 40kt winds and surf whenever I get the chance). Others try to one ya up on how many BCU stars I don't have, (and don't plan on getting). Sorry for the rant, had to get if off my chest.

Friday, August 14, 2009

John Holm, Surfscapes, Upcoming Show

Check out John Holm's fabulous surfing paintings at the Everett Fresh Paint Festival this weekend. Booth 33.

More Info:

See his work online at:

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Ideas for attaching gear to your board

One of the issues I've had with sup boards is not being able to attach much needed water bottles, extra clothing, or camera gear to my board. While there's nothing wrong with carrying such gear in a fanny or backpack, but those options do make me top heavy. Coming from the kayaking world, I'm use to having an easy accessible 'day hatch' to store these items. After a bit of research on Stand Up Paddle Zone and the Werner blog, I found a few options that solve this issue.

Paddler Dave Collins on the Werner Blog (August 2008) suggested attaching his E-Z Plugs to the board with marine epoxy. See his posting of rounding the north end of Vancouver Island on a 12' Laird sup. He suggests using nylon rope for E-Z Plugs as the loops are too small for bungi hooks.

Beau Whitehead of Bellingham, WA suggested the NSI Deck Mount Attachment System that stick to the board using a high bond adhesive. These come with a larger loop than the E-Z Plug.

Lastly, the most bomber method of attaching gear is to cut into the board, attach leash cups with epoxy, (or a similar item), and glass the edges to prevent leakage. See how to do so HERE.

Update: Since I wrote this posting, I had applied the E-Z Plugs to my board using the adhesive provided. After two weeks, one plug dettached from the board while in storage. That said, I'd recommend using epoxy to apply the plugs to your board. If you have a softtop or pad, obviously remove that section first and apply directly to the glass or tuflite.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Paddling Guides for the Puget Sound Region

If you're new to paddling on the Puget Sound, you might be curious of cool places to paddle to. I've seen folks post about this on the various SUP forums. Here's some guides that I use that are quite helpful:

'Paddling Puget Sound', by Mountaineers Books.

Washington Watertrails, This wonderful org has secured dozens of human powered craft only campsites around the Puget Sound and the Columbia River. These include the San Juans, the South Sound, Whidbey, and Seattle's Blake Island. They also work to keep things clean and educate paddlers on No Trace ethics.

Little Bay Press - A great series of self published books by Tacoma based kayaker and SUP'er Ken Campbell. Ken recently paddled around Puget Sound on a sup for 150 miles as a fundraiser for the Washington Watertrails Assocation. Definitely worth a look. He also runs the great blog, The Last Wilderness, which can be found on my blog roll.

'Watertrail' a picture book by Seattle photographer/writer Joel Rogers. This book is a pictorial and historical guide to the Cascadia Marine Trail.

'Gunkholing in the San Juans' / 'South Sound': these two incredible guides are designed for boaters, but their coverage of those regions are very extensive. Navigation issues, weather, history, where to stay, currents, etc are all covered well. A great read too.

'Afloat and Afoot' Series by Mountaineers Books. This series covers south, middle, and the North Sound as well as the San Juans. A very helpful series by Marge and Ted Meuller, longtime area sailors.

Weather Links?
I use NOAA for both surf and inner waterways forecasts. Click on 'Latest NWs Marine Forcast' for a regional outlook. For Seattle, I use:

Have questions on where to go? Give me a holler.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Used SUP boards at Cheka Looka, $600

Just heard that Seattle's Cheka Looka surfshop is selling a few sup boards for roughly $600, the list as I understood below. Call them for specific details..

2 - 11' NSPs. Great board, loved this one for both flatwater and surf.
3 - Surftech 11' EPX boards, blue, red, and yellow.

Tel: 206.726.7878

Friday, August 7, 2009

Boat Wake Surfing

While I love a good freighter wave, boat and yacht waves can be just as fun and more frequent. If the current is right, or if the boat is moving fast enough, it's possible to get 3-4' faces from them. I've even seen zodiacs kick up waves in areas of current offering nice rides. Boat wakes can be tricky though and require a bit of work to get the best stuff. Since the waves spread out away from the boat, they push you away as well. I'm always trying to surf back towards the boat. Some put off a fun rolling wave directly behind the boat that requires matching the boat speed to catch and drop into. If you're lucky, you can get 'locked' into a trough of a wave and get a free ride speeding along at the same speed of the boat. I've been surfing boat wakes in a sea kayak for years, but have found that since boaters in the Seattle area aren't used to seeing stand up paddlers, they either stop the boat (bogus!) to watch me, or slow down thinking the wave might capsize me. I try to surf little waves before the boat nears me to show them I'm capable of dealing with rough water.

Some Tips on Boat Wake Surfing

Safety -
- Don't cut in front of a boat. Not only do we not have right of way, boats don't have brakes or can stop quickly.
- Make eye contact, wave, or nod to show you see the boater, and sorta get their ok to surf their wave. If they don't respond or look stern, I'll pass that one up. Some will speed up and give you a better wave if you earn their respect or interest.
- Respect local boating rules. Where I surf most often, there's a boating channel marked by buoys. I stay on the outside of the channel until the boat is parallel to me. If there's two lanes of boats passing in different directions, I'll pick one lane and approach from that side.
- Don't get right on their stern (or back of boat). Give them a bit of space, for your own safety.
- Watch your back. Some boaters might not see you when they plan on changing course. Some don't care and will plough past kayakers or sup'ers rather closely at high speeds. Sometimes I feel like the point in which they plan on turning.
- Consider wearing bright colors. Maybe a yellow PFD with reflector tape, or a colored paddle blade. At night have a light visible to boaters, often required in many areas.
- If there's multiple boats coming in one direction, I'll pick the last one so in case I fall, I won't be in the way of the oncoming boats.

Sorry to sound like your mother, but since I'm putting this out to the public, better safe than sorry liability wise.

How To -
I like to match the speed of the boat and then as it passes me, turn in right behind the boat (10' or so) catching the whitewater wave, then often the green waves behind. I'll stay with the green waves dropping in, and surfing in towards the boat so as not to be pushed away in the outwards direction of the waves. For beginners, this is great practice in getting your sea legs in bumpy water. While underway in kayaking, we 'edge' (or drop a rail) to turn the boat without having to use the paddle to turn. I've been doing this on a board and find it useful in boat wakes where a paddle is instead used for maintaining speed. So edge to one side pushing a rail in the water, while paddling forward. You should turn in the direct you're edging.

Hawaiian Coffee from Seattle

My good friend Sean Lee from Oahu has lived in Seattle for a number of years and owns Kealas Coffee. He started out owning an espresso stand, then worked for Hotwire, then Cafe Appasionato. He opened his own roaster and shop, 7 Coffee Roasters, in the Greenwood neighborhood. Deciding that running a shop wasn't his forte, he is now just roasting for clients such as the Bellevue Whole Foods, Sunset Hill Green Market, and the West Seattle Hotwire. Check out his hilarious site designed my Seattle design shop, Modern Dog:

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Who reads this? I'm curious who's out there!

While you're at it, tell me where ya from and how you found this blog. Thanks!

GoPro Camera Tests

Being a professional photographer, I'm used to shooting digital cameras with 21 megapixels or higher. In our world, anything less is basically not acceptable. Recently, I've been contacting stand up paddle magazines about submitting my images and hoping to write a few articles. Most of my surfing shots have been from land, but the magazines were asking for water shots. I realized I had to mount a camera on my board (or kayak). Carrying a $3k camera on the water can be an issue with water damage or the paranoia of simply dropping it in the drink. So I began to research point and shoot waterproof cameras. There's a few on the market are totally waterproof and take good images. The Canon Powershot D10 has good reviews, and I've personally owned older versions of the Pentax Optio WP80, an impressive camera. But these cameras have mounting issues in that I'd have to drill holes in the board, something I don't trust myself to do at the moment. Beau Whitehead of Bellingham, Wa suggested a GoPro camera. I purchased one the other day, stuck it to my board with it's own versatile mount and sticky tape, and found the results to be quite good for a 5mp tiny camera. Problem solved, for now.