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, February 20, 2013

Dihedral Paddle Face

The dihedral illustration shows the flow of water off the dihedral of our touring blade designs. Notice how the powerface is angled from the center of the blade. This angle is called a dihedral. The dihedral angle concept comes from the discovery that a curved plane gives direction to the flow of water off the blade. During a forward stroke water builds up on the powerface of a non-dihedral blade. To expel this build up, a non-dihedral blade will flutter back and forth. Therefore, by adding a dihedral angle to the blade design, water is given direction to flow easily off the blade, minimizing flutter and the gripping effort needed to overcome the flutter.

* Decreased flutter also reduces stress on your wrist and arm.

From Werner Paddles.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Freighter Wave Surfing Locations on Puget Sound

Freighter wave surfing, what??  Yep, some of us have been surfing some pretty nice waves on Puget Sound for over a decade, nearly 3-4 hours from the ocean.  Of course everyone's heard of the tanker wave surfing in Texas featured on Dana Brown's Step into Liquid. Same thing here, but no need to tow-in.

It's not known or a popular activity as many don't think it exists, are too impatient to wait for the usual freighter wave frequency - about one set of waves.  But here in Seattle, the ocean is 3-5hrs away depending on where you choose to go. Like any surf it can be flat, blown out or too big which is a bummer after a long drive.  We do on occasion get up to one hour of continous waist high waves, which is always pretty cool.

Finding where waves break in inland waterways depends on finding beaches which resemble surf breaks on the coast - point breaks, beach breaks, etc. Look for beaches which have sandy beaches which extend out at low tide. See if you area has aerial photo sites of local beaches. Google maps works as well. For Puget Sound, try this one, Here.  Then use Marine Traffic or similar sites to track shipping traffic. For us in Seattle, we need a 17-23kt freighter, container ship, and various other boats to make it happen.  Even fast moving recreational boats can put off a sweet wave.  Like any break, keep hitting it until you get it figured out, your persistence will pay off. At my favorite spot, I need a low tide, little wind. Season is late January to September.

We also surf tug waves, but those are in deep water, and that's for another posting.

Puget Sound breaks for freighter / container / Navy / etc waves...

Seattle area:
- Duwamish Head
- West Point
- Ballard - across from Ray's on Magnolia side.
- Meadow Point / Golden Gardens - waist high only.
- Point Wells, Edmonds.
- Des Moines Beach Park (north of pier).
- Point Robinson, Vashon.
- Brace Point (small)
- Boeing Pt (small)

Haven't tried it but these probably break:
Dash Pt, Saltwater St Park, Rolling Bay; Restoration Pt

Other spots I've seen break...
- Marrowstone Island - Marrowstone Head north of lighthouse; a point south of Ft Flagler.
- North Beach and Pt Wilson, Port Townsend.
- Eglon Beach, north of Kingston.
- Eagle Beach, San Juan Island.
- False Bay, San Juan Island - a friend caught a long ride here on a prone paddleboard. Most likely swell.

Those that don't work:
- Pt No Pt, Three Tree Pt, Carkeek Park, Alki Point.
- Friends in Vancouver BC say they haven't seen waves there.

Here's one of a friend surfing our Ballard wave last summer (2012).

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Seeking Instructor Insurance?

If you're seeking insurance for your paddling business, I recommend the following agencies..

Outdoor Insurance Group - Also used by PaddleFit and ASI.
Contact Michelle Jaramillo

Sports Insurance - Hawaii
Contact Dana Cagen

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Using Tow Ropes for SUP Rescues

There's several ways to get a fatigued, injured or unconscious paddler back to shore.  One of the ways is by towing.  Giving the rescuee your leash is one way to do it if you don't have a tow rope.  The downside of course is that now you're now leashless.  Carrying a tow rope means that you can stay leashed up while still being able to tow the rescuee to shore.  

Of course most regular paddlers won't have a tow rope on them, but it is a good idea if travelling far off shore, on expeditions, or for teaching classes. I've towed two students last year which included a woman who was too fatigued to paddle back to shore in moderate wind.

There's several compact two lines in the market which can be worn around your waist with a quick release buckle, or attached to your board via outfitting.  Either way, you should have a method of releasing your end in case there's a snag, etc.  Many kayakers I know make their own tow lines. I use Salamander tow ropes as they've held up in heavy conditions for years. They also make great lines for cooling your beer while camping.  

Towing Techniques..

- The best way to attach a tow line to another board is to it's bow/nose if it happens to have a leash plug or stick on loop (EZ Plug or NSI plug).  But 99% of the boards out there have no attachments in this location.  I'd recommend adding a nose loop if teaching.

- You can also have the rescuee hold the tow line end (usually a carabiner) or wrap it around the shaft of T-Grip of their paddle.  It's best to have them sit or lay prone (flat) to keep them stable while towing.

- Loop the end around the widest part of their board and carabiner it around itself completing the loop, then the remainer lines up towards the nose and attached to you (make sense?)  See Photo.  

- For whitewater, you may consider getting a throw line/bag which is thrown from shore to a swimmer or pinned paddler.  

* The rescuee's line should detach easily if there's a problem. Never tie either end in knot or permanently (unless you don't have a choice of course).

The photo is a skills class I taught with the Kayak Academy staff in Issaquah, WA in January.  

Sunday, February 10, 2013

5 Tips for Paddling Over Ocean Waves

3 Most important tips:
- Keep your speed up and don't stop paddling.
- Make sure your nose clears the wave crest by stepping back in 'surfer's stance' (while paddling).
- Keep paddling once you pass the wave, most likely there's more coming.

** There's several other tips I'll save for another post since each wave and situation is different.  Much of my experience here comes from my surf kayaking days where like SUP'ing it's nearly impossible to duck dive - you gotta get over the top.  

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Freighter Wave Season in Seattle has Begun!

Starting next week in Seattle, there will be daily low tides til early fall.  Matched with a fast moving freighter, tug, or wind waves, many locations around Puget Sound become surf breaks.

I offer a freighter wave surfing class to show you where to catch them, what to look for and can offer basic surfing lessons as well.  See my site for more info,

Here's a few from Shilshole Bay in Seattle's Ballard neighborhood two weeks ago.

Photo by Erik Sandstrom

Photo by Erik Sandstrom

Friday, February 8, 2013

SUP Racks, Part 2 - Using Extension Bars

Last summer when my summer business peaked, I was getting a lot of requests for big group classes and trips.  Many in this situation go out and buy a trailer. But I didn't want to deal with hauling that around, backing up, etc. So I got 66" long Yakima bars for the Subaru.  This extension allowed me to have two flat stacks of SUPs up to 8 boards.  We topped that off for a short in-city trip with 9 once!

Having such a stack required me to switch from being rope guy to a strap guy.  Ropes didn't allow for a totally secure load without shifting.  I used two straps per each stack.  I tie off my buckles with a quick knot with the strap in case it slips.  Then tie extra strap to the rack, just in case.

Since I paddle both kayaks and SUPs, often I have to carry both depending on where we're going.  Long before SUP, I had been carrying 17' sea kayaks on my racks often for long distances.  The enclosed pic shows how i mix both craft for a secure load.  If i had more kayaks, I'd add my Yakima Kayak Stackers, which are vertical bars.  In this case, the kayaks would go on their sides, giving me more space to add more boats.  In windy conditions we tied the nose/stern down to the bumper to prevent shifting. I'd recommend doing so if you're tying down long race SUPs as well.

My local paddle/surf shop Urban Surf graciously donated the rack pads which have worked well in replacing my former insulation pads which didn't last long.

More Useful Rack Links:

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.