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, 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.