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.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Quick Release Leashes for Whitewater SUP

Here's a few options for quick release leashes for use in whitewater, tidal rapids, surf, etc.

Salamander SUP Quick Release Belt & Coiled Leash - Also check out their SUP Bag with Coiled Leash & Carry Strap.

BadFish Re-Leash - Has pressure break points which is essential in releasing from your gear.

XM Power-Clip Leash - Pulling the yellow loop detaches the ankle strap from the leash.

NRS SUP Leash w/ Quick Release

Sea Wolf PFD from Astral Buoyancy - SUP whitewater adventurer Ben Friberg uses this vest and prefers having the detachable enclosed short tow rope and quick release belt. (Green Jacket's rope couldn't be detached).  I currently use the Green Jacket by Astral for most SUP guiding and instruction work and keep the Salamander Keel Haul tow rope around my waist in bigger water as a longer tow option.

**Make sure you test your leash prior to use.  Much like inflatable PFDs, many don't know how to actually use their gear when they really need it.  

Salamander SUP Quick Release Belt & Coiled Leash (above)

Friday, October 19, 2012

5 Safety Tips for SUP Guides & Instructors

Here's 5 safety tips for guiding groups of customers on the water.

Check all gear before leaving the beach or dock.
Teach your students/clients to check each other's gear as well.  I did a corporate group trip a month ago in which a rental board's fin fell out during the class.  My co-instructor had to prone paddle it back to shore leaving me with 14 paddlers.

- Check to make sure fins are securely attached.  Bring extra fin screws/plates just in case.

- Make sure both ends of the leash are attached to the board and paddlers.  Ankle leash should be securely attached. Some students may put their ankle leash on quickly not fully attaching the velcro.

- Misc: Check paddle lengths; is everyone wearing what they need to be comfortable on the water?; Are water bottles, etc secured to the deck? Paddling at night - does everyone have a non blinking white waterproof light?

- Does everyone have a PFD - whether vest or inflatable style?  If inflatable do they know how to use it?  Is the cartridge properly installed?  Tip: Advise students to fire a cartridge off to see how it works when floating in the water.  Most have never done this.

Do a Safety Talk with your Students/Clients Before Leaving.
Discuss with your students/clients your intended route, the current weather situation, any hazards you may encounter or would want them to avoid, check gear (above).

Do a Safety Talk with your Guides Before Leaving.
Discuss your intended route, discuss hazards along the route, determine who will be in point, midway and/or sweep, confirm which channel everyone will be on for walki-talkies or VHF radios and do a radio check, determine if the group should be broken up in the case of slow or faster paddlers, and if so who will take each (or whether the group will stay together), and check to make sure your guides have safety gear such as radios, tow lines, night lights, a First Aid Kit, repair kit, and if in cold weather a 'hypo kit' (extra clothing, energy bar, flares, chemical heat packets) for students.

Bring a Tool Kit.
Extra fin screw/plates, extra leash plug string, various methods of fixing a ding: Solarez, plumber's tape,     etc, extra bungee for tie-down blow-outs.

First Aid Kit.
The size and contents should vary depending on the type of trip you'll be on.  For 1-2hr basic flat water lessons, I carry advil and aleve, bandaids, duct tape, sunblock, neosporin, and my or my students personal meds, (for me - migraine meds).  I carry the kit in a slim hard plastic waterproof box with one of those dry salt tabs.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Super Glue for Repairing Wetsuits

My 1.5 year old Xcel Infinity 4/3 is fraying at the edges and I have several wear spots and a few recent holes.  My gear tends to wear quickly despite regular cleaning as I paddle 4x times a week annually mostly in saltwater in both a SUP and a kayak.

That said I needed a quick fix for 2 worn spots before teaching a SUP class in whitewater the other day.  Being a procrastinator, it was too late in the day to find a regular surf shop fix and I was never a fan of sticky tar looking stuff surf shops sell for repairing neoprene.  I opted for 'water resistent' super glue in the garage. Taking a risk, I squeezed a few dabs on the holes, then re-applied one more dab each as some of the first soaked in a bit to the fabric.  It dried solid in about 10 minutes - good to go!

The class in the tidal rapids of Deception Pass in Washington State required swimming, climbing on the board, etc.  The glue held well and kept the water out.  I'll continue to watch it to see if it clings to the neoprene.  If successful, I'm stoked to find an affordable and easy to access product to fix gear on the road.  Marine stores often sell waterproof super glues as well.

I won't be ordering another Infinity as they don't last long and rarely does their office return my calls. A student of mine did suggest ProMotion wetsuits from Hood River, Oregon.  He mentioned they are more reliable than many larger national company suits, just as warm, but much more affordable.  You can order a custom suit for the price as a stock one.  Plus there's no sales tax in Oregon.  Check em' out..  ProMotion