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.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

New Waveskis by Ken Debondt in Port Angeles, WA USA

Here's a few new waveski's from shaper Ken Debondt in Port Angeles, Washington State. Ken started out making a SUP then a waveski for himself, then a friend, and another... A lifelong whitewater, sea, and surf kayaker, Ken now does it all including SUP'ing near his home by Crescent Beach 12 miles west of Port Angeles on the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

To contact Ken, he's at:

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

How to Rescue a Kayaker with a SUP

Ever had to help a capsized kayaker? One of the most effecient ways to do so is with a T-Rescue.

See it here:

- Ask the kayaker/swimmer to hold on to one end of your board.
- Put their paddle and yours across your lap or under you thigh to prevent from floating away.
- Grab the bow or front end of their boat and begin to pull it towards you and onto your board so that you can get a good grab hold of the boat. Their boat should be perpendicular to your board.
- Rotate / twist their boat upside down thus emptying all the water out. You may have to rotate it back and fourth a few times to get it all out.
- Place the boat carefully back in the water parallel ot your board while holding onto it's deck lines. Don't let go!
- Reach over one end of the cockpit of the boat with both hands (opposite side swimmer is on) holding on to the coaming.
- Ask the swimmer to follow their boat's decklines to the cockpit on the side of the boat not next to your board.
- While still holding onto their cockpit coaming, ask they to climb in their boat. If they kick their feet while in the water, this will bring their body to the surface, thus making it easier to get in.
- Keep holding on to the boat until the kayaker is 100% in and has their sprayskirt attached.
- Ask about their condition. Are they warm or cold? Fatigued? Do they need extra clothes or need a tow back to shore? Throughout the rescue, ask about their condition to check in.
- Give their paddle back and shove off.

While this rescue sounds lengthly, it can go very quickly if practiced. Having both craft perpendicular makes you very stable even in big seas and breaking waves. If your legs are over your board make sure they boat isn't banging into you if in bumpy water.

Need to tow the kayaker back? See my posting on Towing:

Monday, August 15, 2011

Monday, August 8, 2011

Tips for Improving Your Balance

Here's a few tips for improving your balance on your board..

Staying up:
- Keep your paddle active in the water.
- Take a few strokes once you get up.
- Get your board moving before you get on it. Momentum make you more stable.
- Place the paddle blade flat on the water when not paddling and/or when looking around.
- When in doubt paddle. Feeling tippy? Don't throw your hands above your head - Instead Paddle.

Pratice and Increase Your Balance - Drills:
- Learn to walk to both ends of your board. Keep your paddle in the water as you step to each end. Even paddle forward as you walk forward, reverse when stepping back.

- Learn the pivot turn. Slowly step to the tail of your board. At first just got back a little bit so the nose raises out of the water. Use sweep turns to turn the board around. Then step back further and try your turns again. Once near the tail, get in a staggered surfer's stance - keep your paddle active in the water! Once you stop paddling you're going in. After doing a 360 on the tail, walk back to the middle paddling forward as you go. Try again - pivot turn then recover to the middle.

- Try to turn around on your board. Some can jump around. Others should use their paddle as a brace as you slowly turn around.

- Learn to paddle pushing one rail into the water. This may turn your board, called edging. But is good practice playing with your side to side balance.

- Slowly go out in rougher water. Wear your leash and PFD. Test your skills safely, each time getting into slightly rougher water each time. Don't go above your skill level to stay off the news.

My SUP Book - Reviews for Amazon, etc

If you have and like my SUP book, please post a review on Amazon and/or Barnes & Noble! Thanks in advance!

"Stand Up Paddling Flat Water to Rivers and Surf" by Mountaineers Books, Seattle.

Wanna order a few for your store, shop, or other business?
Contact Darryl Booker, or 800.553.4453.

How to Paddle your SUP Straight

Have a problem going straight on your SUP? Obviously you take a few strokes on each side to keep it going straight, but what if you're veering off to one side or have to do 1-2 strokes rather than 4-7 on one side to keep it straight?

Some tips on going straight:

- Keep the paddle shaft vertical when pulling parallel past the rail. If the shaft is leaning in towards you (over the board) or out at an angle away from the board, then every time you take a stroke, you're turning the board. If you paddle with nearly straight arms (wrists stacked) using some torso rotation for power, this is easier to do. If have limp arms while paddling you may be pulling the shaft over the rail towards you.

- Make sure both feet are parallel to each other facing forward. If one foot is turned out you may be pushing down on that rail thus turning the board in that direction.

- When you put the blade in at the catch (nose) don't follow the curve of the nose to the rail. You'll be doing a J-stroke if you do, thus turning the board. Imagine a straight line aligned with your rail on both sides of your nose - follow that line to the rail.

- Use a loose grip on your paddle. A death grip can lead to a slight rotation of the shaft when paddling thus turning the board.

- Make sure you're using an equal amount of power on both sides. My right side seems to overpower my left (am left handed).

- Get a paddle with a dihedral angle on the blade face (also called the power face). This slight vee or angle on the blade sheds or cuts through water as your blade goes through the water. Without this feature, you blade will flutter through the water thus not having a clean flow and may turn the board.

- You can paddle on one side on some boards usually 11' and longer without a lot of ton of rocker. Do this by pushing one rail into the water (raising your other) so your lower foot is slightly wet. Paddle on the lower (wet) side. If the board turns, adjust your trim, (your placement between the nose and tail). Move back a few inches, try agin, or move forward til you find your sweet spot. Once it's found, you can paddle on one in most conditions. A strong side wind above 20kts may throw this technique off. I have one side I can do this on, but seem to over power my stroke on the opposite side.

- Adjust your center fin so it is in the back of the slot (closer to the tail). This helps with tracking. Move it forward (closer to the nose) for easier turning or for surfing.

- Fins. Ohh fins, the mystery of what to get, shape, length, etc.. Not knowing the above info many feel or are told they need a bigger fin. That'll work but try to improve your stroke first, then if nothing changes, look at fins. Longer is certainly better for tracking, but too long will add drag reducing your speed, and may get caught in weeds or kelp.

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.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Safety Tips for SUP Instructors & Guides

Here's a few tips for SUP instructors and guides for gear to take on the water..

Get SUP instructor certification. There's 3 programs in North America for instructor certification (see my blog posting on the subject). Such training helps instructors become better teachers and learn new techniques for teaching. Safety training is also covered. For all 3 programs, certified instructors are listed on the organization's websites. Several folks I've spoken to have receive new clients from the sites. I use Pachner & Associates LLC:

Get your First Aid card and take a Wilderness First Aid course. Both can prepare you for the worst. And sh.. does happen. You may be thinking, "ahhh SUP is so easy, there's no way someone could fall off their board and drown." Google up 'sup accidents' or related, you'll be surprised what you find.

Get Instructor Insurance and a good liablity form for your students to sign. Have your attorney check your form to make sure it's solid. Both items will help you feel more comfortable on the water and will allow you to work with companies such as REI which require $1 million in liability to teach for them as a contracter. In case of the worse case scenario accident you'll be glad you're insured. Keep your signed liability forms for 7 years.

"Hypo Kit." Kayak guides in my neck of the woods where the water is always cold have always carried a Hypo Kit for fatigued and cold customers or those that have capsized. Hypo = Hypothermia. For a SUP, pack items in a waterproof drybag, kayak deck bag, or fanny pack to be attached to yourself or your board via tie-downs. I have EZ Plugs and NSI Plugs for my boards. Cargo netting is great for securing gear to your board. Adding leash plugs to your board is the most reliable anchor to tie gear to and less obstrusive on the deck.

Ideas of what to put in your Hypo Kit:
- Warm packable synthetic clothing such as fleece, capeline, and/or poly pro shirts and hats.
- Neoprene hoods and gloves.
- Nylon or Gortex kayak style paddling jacket or packable rain shell.
- Nylon or Gortex rain pants.
- Chemical heat packets. Make sure expiration date is good.
- Waterproof water socks (neoprene, fleece, etc).
- Neoprene or similar material hooded vest and/or wetsuit top.
- For warmer climates bring warm rash guards.
- Sun hat, lip baum, sun block, sunglasses retainer, etc.

Tow Rope
Have a student who may be fatigued, seasick or injured and needs a tow? Carry a kayakers throw rope or tow belt. Some lifejackets have built in tow systems such as this one by Astral Buoyancy. See my previous posting here on Towing for Sup'ers. Tow ropes can also be used in camp to dry gear or attach to a mesh bag for keeping your beer chilled.

Lifejackets and Leashes
Make sure your students have the proper PFDs and leashes for your paddling location or trip. Inflatable belts aren't the best idea for beginners who aren't trained not only in using the belt but in paddling or falling off the board. Use full (foam) life jackets/vests for novice paddlers. Leashes keep your students close to their boards in a fall especially in wind or rough water. Doesn't look cool? Neither does being on the news.

Tool Kit
To prepare for dings in the field, broken paddles, etc, here's some basic items to help keep you going...
- Ding Repair: Solarez is great for a quick fix if you have some UV to work with. Another great product is the NSR 150 Quick Repair Kit which can fix any material, even wet quite simply. Contact Rhonda Schwab in Wa State for more info. Other less reliable but sometime useful stuff for repair include duct or Gorilla tape, and superglue (for paddle chips, etc).
- Bring extra tie-down plugs in case of a break such as NSI or EZ Plugs.
- Extra bungy for deck tie-downs.
- Extra fin screw and bolt thingy.
- Multi-tool. Also fin tools (hex, philips, etc).
- Going overnight? Tent repair supplies.

Extra Water
Most of the SUP'ers I see leaving shore have little if anything on them in terms of clothing, sun protection, and especially water for hydration. Carry extra water for your students or make sure they're carrying water prior to leaving shore via a water bottle, hydration pack, etc.

Know where you're going?
I took off on Thursday for a circumnavigation or a medium sized island part of the outer San Juans in Washington State. Once I reached the island after a short crossing, I realized I had left my marine chart in the car, (dork). This particuliar island is known for wacky currents. Despite the ebb, current was still flooding on one side, swirling on the other, etc. I had no problem finding the site (and great outhouse) but after reaching some rougher water, I wasn't sure how much further to go before the island rounded back to the car. Next time I'm preparing myself properly and doing my homework prior on the currents situation of a destination. Things to bring: Tide and currents tables (can also be written in a grease pen on your board); Marine Chart in big ziplock bag; Watch to track current/tides; and GPS to confirm locations. Ask a local. Local info even from boaters can be useful.

Got the 411 on the weather?
There's nothing worse than telling a client, "ya, the weatherman said it is going to be nice today" then gale force winds swoop in. Bummer. I don't trust the weathermen/women. In coastal places check with NOAA for your local weather predictions. Learn to understand how to read barometer readings and carry a waterproof VHF radio to re-check the weather. I use a local NOAA link that has real time readings at the location I'm paddling. Then check a webcam to confirm the NOAA readings. When you get to the water, does it look ok for the skill level or your customers? If not bail, or find a smoother or more protected paddling location.

Communication on the water:
For client trips in open water, consider using the following communication tools..
- VHF radio to check local weather, shipping traffic status which may affect your route, use to communicate with other boaters or even those in your group, and use to call the Coast Guard in case of an emergency in your group or for others in your area. Get a floating waterproof VHF by companies such as ICOM or Standard Horizon. Bring exra batteries, keep clean from saltwater, and know how to use before leaving shore. Use on high power for calling the CG.
- Waterproof Walkie Talkie: Whitewater guide and instructor Dan Gavere uses these to communicate to his students while on the river. If a student floats out of sight, he can check on their status till he reaches them.
- Cell Phone / iPhone for all of the above functions where you have service. You can store it in a waterproof bag or case. Bring extra batteries, and keep handy for easier use.
- Learn water safety hand signals, (see my book for samples). Teach your students how to communicate with each other via hand signals in case of an injury, bad wipeout, sea sickness, etc. Patting your head for example is the sign for 'I'm OK'.

Note: Research solar chargers to restore battery power while in camp.

Need more info? Check my book!

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.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Ferrying River Current on a SUP

Here's a great video by Nikki Gregg from the SUP Instruction site. She demonstrates how to move your board laterally or rather ferrying across the river. This is an important technique for river and tidal rapids paddling as well as in surf where there's strong currents.


If you can't find the link, go to the site and check out the Tips and Techniques pull down menu.

Longboarding freighter waves in Seattle 8/4/11

A friend wanted to try to longboard waves we've been surfing with SUPs and kayaks, it worked!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Learn How to Pack Your SUP for a Trip, from Canoe Kayak Mag

This is a recent project I did for Canoe Kayak Magazine, enjoy..

Learn how to Pack Your SUP for a Trip, from Canoe Kayak Magazine,

Pros and Cons of Inflatable PFDs

A drowning recently occured a few years ago when a SUP renter was found struggling in the water and soon submerged. He wasn't wearing a leash but did have a deflated inflatable PFD around his waist. Like many deaths of this sort, it was a mystery to why he went under as he was in his mid 30's, a good swimmer, and in good shape. But, if he had been wearing a Type 3 PFD (vest) and/or leash could this incident have been avoided?

Many get into SUP for the minimalist pov and the feeling of simplicity. Several have told me kayaking always looked gear intensive, expensive, and harder to learn. This is one reason why SUP is taking off so quickly.

Keeping with the minimalist approach, C02 triggered inflatable belt style PFDs have become popular. Folks use because they don't like the feeling of a full vest style PFD and/or because it passes the Coast Guard requirements for PFDs thus keeps them from getting a ticket. SUP racers love them for the above reasons as well. I use one for freighter wave surfing to get to a break on Puget Sound which requires paddling through a section of flat water.

Type 3 Vests are commonly seen tied or strapped to SUPs for rentals. This is as effective as not wearing any floatation at all. Many shops duct tape them to the boards - goodluck removing it in a situation. Have you tried the rental shop vest on, does it fit you? A shop by me puts on kids vests on all boards, probably cheaper?

Many feel PFDs are not needed at all if you're using a leash. There is some logic in that and some error as well. A SUP paddler drowned in Oregon recently after falling and hitting his head on his board, was knocked out, and despite having a leash, drowned anyway. In 2016, a man in San Diego drowned after having a heart attack on his board. Possibly a vest PFD may of helped him stay afloat after falling in.

Some argue that a SUP is an inflatable device. In rare cases, if your leash breaks, you just lost your floatation. It'll be interesting to see how these arguments shake out in coming years as the sport matures.

Pros of a belt style C02 PFD system:
- It provides the minimalist feeling of having less gear on or to deal with.

- To some, it's less obtrusive while racing, surfing, etc.

- An option for those in hot temps or humid conditions.

- May be beneficial for those with a large belly. We've seen larger folks struggle to get back on their board with a vest pfd. If this is you, make sure an inflated C02 will fit on you properly before inflation. Do this by removing it from the bag.

Yoke Style C02 Systems - 
Most commonly seen on boaters, the yoke style unlike the belt is already on your body. All you have to do is pull the string to deflate. Some paddlers feel the neck section of this style is uncomfortable.  MTI makes one that triggers once it hits the water. Downside is it may trigger too early if wet. Good article on yoke style PFDs worth checking out here.

Cons of a belt style C02 PFD system:

- Most who have one haven't test fired it.  It's not as easy to put on as you'd think.

- They don't offer core insulation.

- They may block your peripheral vision and may be difficult to swim in. Try it!  I fire one off during our PSUPA instructor certification courses on water.

-In the case of the above mentioned drowning, if a unskilled SUP paddler gets a cramp and/or is fatigued while swimming and is treading water to stay afloat and are most likely panicked, there's little possibility of them being able to use one arm to find the pull string, pull it, and put on the inflated vest (or use it as a float)?

-If a paddler has a shoulder injury such as a dislocated arm, will they be able to use the other arm (while treading water) to find and pull the string to inflate the vest?

-If a paddler falls and hits their head on the board or another obstruction and is knocked out, the deflated PFD is of no use.

-Many wear their belts loose. A few have found that the belt slides up under their arms when they fall in the water. Try inflating it from this position.

-In my area, the saltwater rarely gets above 55F even in summer. Immersion for longer than 20 minutes can lead to numbness in your fingers quickly. Many are going out without wetsuits, even in winter. It's difficult to find and pull the pull tab with numb fingers.

-A few weeks ago, I noticed that renters once on the water took their belts off and attached them to their kayaks and SUPs to be free of the belt.

Tips on using the belts:

- Don't give them to SUP rental customers with no paddleboard experience. They'll be more likely to fall off and swim in their first days on the board. Beginners can be overwhelmed with standing, balancing and basic strokes, keep it simple for them.

- Test prior to use.  Many struggle to climb back on their boards, especially 6" thick inflatables. Try to get on your board before you get into deep water.

- If you do use one yourself or allow rentals to use the system, make sure training is involved prior to getting on the water. Fire off a sample to show it it works. Explain cons (above).
Have you actually tested your belt? Pulled the string, saw how it inflated, and put it on?

-If paddling in corrosive saltwater, clean your belt with freshwater after each use. Repack the PFD once a month.

Pros of a Type 3 PFD / Vest (not tied to your board):
- Doesn't get in the way while paddling. Whitewater kayaking is far more physical than any SUP paddling. Get one that is design for whiteater such as Kokatat, Astral, Solquist, etc. I use MTI.

- Provides good insulation in colder temps.

- Assures floatation while immersed. But not always face up if unconscious. The PFDs with the floatation behind the neck are ideal for 100% upright floatation.

- Provides pockets to put energy bars in, a night light, hydration pack, a VHF radio, etc.

- Provides impact protection if surfing or paddling in shallow water.

- Great for boater or rescue visability. Some come with silver reflective strips or you can add your own.

- You can use it as a seat while on shore. Keeps your bum insulated.

Tips for Type 3 (Vest Style) Use:
- Make sure it fits properly.  Do a Shake Test.  Should be tight enough to breath but slide up to your chin while in-water.

- Leash gets in your way?  Attach it to the straps on the front or side of your vest style PFD.  We attach it there for river and some surfing use for easier access.

Problems of getting on SUP with Type 3 Vest on?
Kick your feet in the water as if you're swimming. Do so vigorously to be effective.  This will raise your body to the surface, then slide on horizontally to the board. If you don't to this, you'll be going up and over to get on, possibly catching your PFD on the board.

For our business, we use MTI PFD's, their APF vests for (fits most) and the Cascade for me (more pockets to store a VHF, extra hood, go pro, sunblock and minimalist first aid kit for teaching. Try before you buy and check out kayaking stores which usually have a better selection than SUP/surf shops.

Read More:
Paddle Board Tips for Big People - Low Profile PFDs

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

Updated 9/16