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.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Losing Stuff? Leaving Gear Behind? Some Tips...

I can't say I'm getting old, I'll be 44 in a few weeks. That's not exactly up there.  But I am super busy with starting a SUP instructor certification organization, running my paddling business and maintaining my barely alive photography biz.

Being overwhelmed means I'm forgetting things.  I've been missing a few appointments and meetings here and there, and even worse forgetting my paddling gear in the parking lot or bringing the wrong gear to the beach. After a few months of this, I've come up with a semi fool proof system of reducing my paddle preparation blunders.  Here's some tips..

I both kayak and SUP.  I occasionally bring a kayak paddle with my SUP or forget my spray skirt when I go kayaking.

Garage / House Storage:
- Hang my sprayskirt off my kayak bow in the garage to dry.  It's always there when I need it.
- Always keep a SUP fin and a leash in my plastic travel bucket.
- Have two paddle buckets, one for each type of paddling. Downside is that I may grab the wrong one.
- Store my kayak paddle in the cockpit of my kayak.
- Lay my SUP paddle on top of my SUP.
- If I know what I'm taking the night before, set everything on or in each craft.

Car Storage:
- Leave essential yet commonly forgotten items in the car. For me - hood, booties, gloves.
- Store one or both paddles in the car especially if they break down to 2 or 3 pieces.
- Leave a checklist in the car to remind myself of my list of gear.

Prevention of Loss of Gear in Public Places:
- Wrap colorful electrical tape around the shaft of your paddles.
- Mark all items with your contract info.  I've recovered gear twice this way.
- Find a way of keeping all gear attached to eachother when leaving beach.
- Before you pull out of the lot, do a gear check under your car, etc.
- Worse case, keep a list of items in the car to remind yourself what to bring home.

Tip: Get a automatic self bailing pump for your kayak if you forget my your spray skirt often. I surfed a bunch of waves without one and had to go in every ten or so minutes to dump the water out of the cockpit.  Not fun.  Better yet, get an open deck kayak or surfski.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

17' Touring SUP Progression

It all started with an interest to create a SUP with sea kayak style hatches to carry camping gear for up to a week or longer.  SUPs currently don't have interior cargo space thus if you want to go on an overnight, all your gear has to be strapped on top.  The downside is gear shifting, wind catching the load, exposure to elements, and difficulty uprighting if the board flips over.

I also wanted a SUP which was as a fast as my sea kayak to make longer trips easier.  One could use the board for racing, fishing or casual paddles as well.  I contacted Sterling Donaldson who in turn was interested in taking the board to production once completed.  I purchased one of the first Illusion sea kayaks from Sterling and have been very satisfied with the boat ever since for all types of water.  The boat's exterior IS bombproof for a sea kayak and at 17' long is 37lbs (carbon).  I wanted that construction in a touring SUP.

I began to research SUP shapers and kayak designers. After a few bumps, I ended up with Sean Thomas, a carpenter and successful SUP racer from Issaquah, WA.  Sean listened to what I wanted but also brought in expertise from several years of racing SUPs in the Northwest.

Our first prototype was a 18 foot board we titled 'Big Blue' for it's blue toned finish.  The board is slow off the start but quickly gained speed and is easily as fast as any sea kayak. We made it 29" wide for stability since I'm 6'-5" and 230lbs.  I had issues of finding long fast boards which were stable.  I wanted a board all could use, just the most experienced racers.

After several months of tests, I surfed Big Blue in up to 5 foot surf, 35kt winds, downwinded it, upwinded it, surfed several tug waves up to 4-6' faces, raced it, and even did an epic session at Deception Pass in big standing waves.  We deciced Blue neeed some changes in order to be a successful board for me and the public.

In May 2013, Sean rolled out the Explorer, a 17' board which we presented in unfinished form at the Northwest Paddle Festival in Issaquah.  We realized 18' was too long and made the board slower. We brought in the beam 1" to gain speed withoutt losing stability, lowered the stern rocker, took some Vee out of the nose, pitched the front deck to shed water, flattened the standing deck, and raised the stern deck to add more storage.  The final design will have two main storage hatches and a 'day' hatch on the deck to access smaller items on the water.  We'll probably add a rudder system down the road.  We're currently using the Ninja fin by Larry Allison.  

If the 17' prototype is ideal, we'll use it as the plug and hand it over to Sterling to create a mould.  My hope is to be surfing it at Skook in BC alongside Sterling's other boats in the near future.

- Sean Thomas, Echo Composites,
- Sterlings Kayaks, Sterling Donalson,

17' Prototype, unfinished.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Hand / Arm Signals for Paddlers

If you're downwinding, surfing, or in rough water offshore, you may need to communicate with fellow paddlers.  If the wind and/or surf noise drowns out voices, hand and arm signals will be the only way to  connect with others.

Here's a few useful links with info on hand/arm signals thanks to the University of Sea Kayaking..


Hand / Arm Signals

Monday, May 6, 2013

Sun Block Tips for Paddlers

Avoid putting sunblock on your forehead.  When you sweat, it may run into your eyes.  Cover your forehead instead with a wide brimmed hat (Gerry Lopez style).  

Also after applying sunbock, wash your hands off.  Otherwise they can be slippery and can be an issue in holding your paddle.  

Safety note: Laird Hamilton and one other I know suggested not wearing sunblock at all due to damaging the environment and that the chemicals in sunblock may give you cancer.  For me, a guy from Irish/Scottish decent and blue eyes, I burn easily and not wearing it may give me cancer.  Choose what works for you.  I use Sol Sunguard, a Seattle based company with products which last for quite a while after being immersed in water.