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, February 23, 2012

GoPros and Such...

Companies like GoPro and Contour have revolutionized the consumer and professional video market offering affordable cameras for use in action sports and related uses. For those of us in water sports, the cameras have been useful and fun to use while surfing, paddling, etc. Each product performs similarly and have varying pros and cons, features, etc.

Friends have found the cameras so useful they're mounting several units on themselves for their activity. One has one mounted two homemade 1' poles on the bow and stern of his kayak as well as one super glued to his helmet offering 3 diferent pov's to later edit into a more professional looking video. Another mounts one on his SUP paddle and on the nose of his board. Owning only one GoPro I mount it on my helmet or on the nose of my SUP board.

A mounting pole raises the camera giving you a more interesting pov. Justine Curgeven, a UK based expedition kayaker has been using professional video in paddling for years using her custom pole mounts sometimes 2-3' above the kayak.

I happened to start with GoPro which has its' pros and cons. Main issues have been not paying attention to clearing the card and charging the battery prior to use. I've missed capturing a few great sessions due to a dead camera or maxed out card, always a bummer. Overall construction and use has been good. I lost my first two cameras due to mounting uses. One was on the tail of my board. When I fell off the leash wrapped around it and yanked it off. The second was mounted on a plastic wave ski - turned around and it was gone, oops. I usually attach a secondary anchor point with a mini leash if I can as a safety.

What's your favorite camera or mounting technique? Any lessons learned or tips?

Reg Lake surfing Skook using a pole mount on his sea kayak.
Tom Hanny using a nose mounted GoPro surfing in the Pacific NW.

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

Monday, February 20, 2012

Prone Paddling for SUP

I've always said the achilles heel of SUP is paddling upwind. Ya, sure no problem paddling in light wind, but when we're talking 20 kts plus, then it's time for plan B. There are a few out there who insist that stand up paddling means never sitting or kneeling. To me there's a certain point where common sense steps in. A friend once commented while paddling against 30 kts of wind "be a man, stand up." Well, I got to our spot in about 20 min, he took 50 min and was fried.

The place I downwind in Seattle has no legal parking, so you have to paddle upwind 2 miles to get there. Unfortantly the best waves occur at about 27 knots, a southerly, thus for me a haul to get to the start point. I usually follow my kayaking roots and sit down and use a canoe stroke which works well. Another pov is to paddle prone, like a traditional surfer. As easy as it looks, it takes awhile to get in shape for paddling a few miles or in heavy wind or waves, but it is great exercise.

Here's a shot of Chuck Patterson prone paddling in heavy wind at Steamer Lane a day before the Surftech Shootout in 2010.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Who Says You Need Ocean Waves to Surf?

Many of us love to surf but live too far from the ocean for daily sessions. The alternative is to take advantage of what you do have. Here in Seattle I surf tug, freighter and windwaves. Others further inland surf behind power boats. Starboard paddler Dan Gavere discoved sternwheeler surfing last summer near his home on the Columbia River in Hood River, Oregon. His video of doing this more or less went viral from a SUP fan perspective..

Friday, February 17, 2012

Paddling in Current, the Smart Way

When it comes to paddling, going in a straight line isn't always the easiest way to get there. In the photo below many choose to paddle from the 'L' Launch in a straight line to West Point by the 'X'. On an outgoing tide and/or strong southerly wind, the water moves north to the top of the image. When water hits the point it refracts or turns towards the shore and curves around and heads back toward the point. This recirculation of water is called an eddy, which are common on rivers and tidal rapids behind rocks or sharp bends.

Some call bay wide eddies such as this one a gyro. In this case, the easiest path to the point is along the shore with the current pushing behind you. Take the outgoing current back to your launch point. I've seen paddlers struggling to paddle directly to the point against the current making little if any headway. In summer sailboats racing use the current in the eddy to get to the point when there is little wind.

Current in eddies or gyros can in some locations be too strong to paddle against or may push paddlers away from their intended destination. NW kayaker Joel Rogers described his experience of struggling against strong current in a huge gyro in Admiralty Inlet in his book Water Trail. The inlet is a 4 mile wide channel separating the Olympic Peninsula from Whidbey Island in Washington State.

Before setting out check a tide table and in some places where current runs fast, check a current table. Both are available online. Navigational charts often have arrows showing current direction and speed in knots. Check your local weather and wind speed prior to departure. Wind and tidal current running in the same direction will build stronger eddy current which can be good if it's in your favor or not if you end up 'bucking' or paddling against the current.

2nd Photo below, a gyro (top of frame) below Deception Pass, a tidal rapid in Washington State.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

SUP Standamarans

I came across a photo today on Facebook of a SUP catamaran made by the folks at SIC (Sandwich Island Composites) on Maui. Someone commented saying something along the lines of this being a new thing. In truth, it has been done before, and I remember a design by Ron House a few years back.

Read more about this concept on

Ron House Catamaran, or Standmaran.

2010 Article & photos of an early SIC design.

Test drive video of the SIC S-16 Standamaran

SIC doesn't have this new (green) standamaran on their site yet.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

9 Tips for Paddling Safely with Tides

In late winter on Puget Sound, daytime tides begin to get lower. By May we'll have -2 tides every other week. June brings the extreme lows of -3.5 and sometimes lower. I love watching the tide drop to see what's underneath to check out the dry reefs, sandy drain channels, patterned sand, and exposed plant and sealife. And the daytime lows allow us to surf freighter waves in specific locations in Seattle 3hrs from the coast.

What does the low tide mean to us?

A Long Haul..
For some, a longer walk to the beach is required to get wet. A local surf shop which rents SUPs usually doesn't tell their customers about such things. So after a 300yd haul with heavy boards to the beach, they're often disappointed when they get there and realize the tide is low and they have another 200yds before hitting the water line.

Stranded in Mudflats..
In some coves, inlets, and bays, the tide will completely empty out leaving a mudflats. Willapa Bay on WA State's SW coast dries out leaving a almost 2 mile wide and several mile long mudflat. In France, the castle on Mont St-Michel becomes surrounded by an expansive mudflat at low tide. In the UK a few years ago, several beach walkers on an another expansive mudflat were stranded when the incoming tide came in so rapidly they couldn't escape.

Paddlers have become stranded, or rather were stuck in the mudflats in Washington State and have had to be rescued by Coast Guard helicopters. NW writer Joel Rogers wrote of timing the tides wrong at Willapa Bay on the SW coast in his book, "The Hidden Coast", where he slithered across the mud'spread eagle' to get out. Much like ice, the flatter and lower you are the easier it is for self removal. My partner Christy reminds me of an overnight kayak trip where we didn't time the tides right. We had to haul our heavy kayaks through knee deep mud much which also had a bad odor. All our gear required cleaning afterwards.

Tidal Bores..
Despite the popularity of the Turnagain Arm tidal bore in Alaska, many get stuck in the mudflat surrounding the bore. A local woman told me about several folks who were stuck in waist deep mud and required considerable work to be extracted by the Coast Guard.

Learn About Your Surfing Beach...
If you're a surfer, you can check out your beach at low tide to see why it breaks the way it does. On the Washington coast years ago, I remember former surf shop owner Jeff Abandonato pointing out a small ridge in the sand. He explained that when the tide comes in, the waves always jack up on that spot. In Gerry Lopez's book, "Surf is Where You Find It" he writes of going to Pipeline at low tide to see where all the crevices are between the reefs so he'll know how to get out if pushed into a cave or under a ledge. Friends once spotted a perfect barrel wave on the WA coast and wondered why they had never seen one there. Tired after a long day surfing, they didn't go in. Upon arriving home in Seattle they inquired about it and found that the 'reef' creating the hollow wave was actually a re-bar studded foundation for a house which had washed into the sea.

More Tips on Paddling in Saltwater...
- Always check the tide before you leave home. Tide charts are now available as apps for your phone. I use Salt Water Tides, and there's several others.

- In areas where there are mudflats, find out what the minimum tide level is before departing. Leave on a rising tide. Areas such as Willapa Bay in WA State require a 5' level for paddling. Any less means getting stuck in the mud, sometimes a mile from shore.

- Nautical charts will show where mudflats are located. Usually at the mouth of rivers or in bays, inlets, and coves. Here's a link to NOAA's Online Chart Viewer.
- Bring a VHF radio and cell phone when paddling in areas with mudflats in case you do get stuck and need to call for help.

- If you get stuck and are near shore, lay flat on the mud and crawl out, similar to the technique of moving on thin ice.

Here's a list of low tide and mudflat shorelines in and around Puget Sound. The Trip #'s are those of my new book, "Kayaking Puget Sound and the San Juans." Click Here.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Cargo Nets for Board Tie Downs

There's several ways to secure your gear to a SUP (or kayak). Recently I've been using cargo nets on the deck which is a great way to secure one or several items at once. The netting is also great great for rough water paddles or surf where gear can shift or be knocked off hte board.

I found 12" square nets at a hardware store nearby in the auto department for about $5. I've had to customize the size of the net to fit the board and my sea kayak correctly. One tip is to string bungy or thin rope around the perimeter of your netting for a more secure fit. You can also use the netting as an anchor for tying gear ontop of the net.

Attach the netting to your board via leash plugs or stick-on tie downs such as NSI or EZ Plugs.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

La Push Pummel - Feb 24-26th

Known for it's hard charging and steep hollow waves, strong currents, and even steeper beach, La Push has been a favorite Washington State surf spot to many. The Pummel, started in the early 90's is an expression session with no judging, just a gathering of folks who have come to surf or in big conditions, watch their friends get pummelled. Originally a surf kayak and white water kayaking event, the Pummel has opened in recent years to SUP and sea kayaks.

Lodging is available in the hotel and cabins provided by the Quileute Tribe by the beach. Camping is available for the hardy. Located 4 hours west of Seattle on the rugged Washington coast, the Olympic National Park's coastal section borders both the north and south side of La Push. The town itself is part of the Quileute Indian Reservation and has a Coast Guard station as well. Towering sea stacks rise above the the sand and gravel beaches.

Read my article on the 2011 Pummel in Canoe Kayak Magazine.

More Info:
Dates: Feb 24-27, 2012.


Photos: Gary Luhm Photography & Joel Rogers Photography.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Wood Surfboards from Hood River, Oregon

A few years ago, I looked up a guy I knew in college at Washington State, and found out he was making beautiful wood surfboards in Hood River, Oregon. Lars Bergstrom has made a living shaping not only pretty, but functional wood boards.

Check out his site..