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.

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.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Sssh! It's a secret!

A good friend grew up in San Diego in the 1960-70's and saw the change from empty beaches to crowds often with a lot of attitude. I met him while surfing on Shilshole Bay in Seattle several years ago. Since then, we've been regularly surfing freighter, yacht, and high wind waves in that area several days a week and all year long. Despite telling friends out of pure stoke about the waves, no one believed us. When we did find an interested person, usually they'd be too impatient for the often 1-2hr waits for a boat to arrive that might put off a surfable wave. When a local surf shop Cheka Looka moved in nearby offering stand up paddle rentals, there was a slight increase in activity, but usually only on sunny weekend days.

A friend was in a downtown Seattle surf shop and was told by the concerned store clerk that 'someone' was blogging about the local waves. He mentioned my name. I find it kinda hilarious that one would feel that our local breaks would become too crowded. While it has happened elsewhere, but Puget Sound waves are so fickle that most don't have the patience to find or wait for them. 50% of the time we spot a freighter, we get stumped with no waves due to wind and current slowing the wave, or the boat itself slowing down. The tide level in certain locations has to be perfect. Too low or high, you don't get a wave. Interestingly, 99% of the time we're surfing waves at Shilshole, no one else is there doing the same, and if they are, they're not in my way or often don't even know where or how to catch the good stuff. Too many friends would rather still do the long drives to the coast, not wanting to spend time waiting for something that might not happen. Life's too short to worry about it.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Tribal Journeys 2009, Leaving Seattle for Suquamish...

Today 20+ Indian canoes left Golden Gardens Park in Seattle for their final destination at Suquamish across Puget Sound for the annual event, Tribal Journeys. It's pretty amazing to see dozens of pullers hauling heavy cedar canoes over their heads to the beach, several at at time. Each canoe captain thanks the local tribe for their hospitality, and the local tribe thanks the canoe for coming. Quite the moving experience. Some canoes came as far away as northern BC, south of Alaska. They'll be in Suquamish for nine days. I could see the party tents there from Seattle, a distance of 4.5 miles. The tents reminded me of the 480' longhouse once seen there prior to indian agents burning it down.