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, September 25, 2014

Forgot Your Fin Screws?

Running a busy mobile SUP lesson and tour business, sometimes I forget the little things such as fin screws.  Or since I teach my students to put their own fins in, sometimes given then fickle procedure of putting fin screws in - the hardware slips off the board and gets lots in the sand.  Ever notice how sand is the same color of fin screws?

If you lose or forget your fin screws and providing I remembered to bring along some tape, we're good to go!  My ding repair tape is Foil Tape. Find this stuff in the plumbing or insulation aisle at the hardware store.  The best kind has a paper backing that peels off.  This stuff is super sticky and will attach to you board even when sandy and wet.  I carry a small strip of it in my PFD, or deck bag or a larger amount in the car.  Here in the Pacific NW the UV quick cure ding repair epoxy kits don't work too hot, so i'm more of a tape guy, thus it's great for ding repair too.

Taping a fin in requries a few pieces to make sure it's secure and doesn't rattle.  I run two long strips down the length of the fin base and one each over each end.  Sometimes I add a second layer over each to strengthen the bond.  Downside of foil tape? Sometimes its incredibly hard to remove.  Ask my ding repair guy Sean who has to get the stuff off to make a proper repair.

Wanna avoid this issue?  Get quick release fins.  Larry Allison, ImagineSurf and QR Fins are good solutions to having to carry, find and attach those annoying fin screws.

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.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Knowing your Place - Boating Right of Way

I spoke to a boater today who said 'you paddle boarders don't know anything about right of way on the water!' In some ways he's right, as kayaks, canoes and SUPs generally aren't educated on rules of navigation in urban waterways.  On the other hand as many of you know, many boaters don't seem to know the rules either, so it goes both ways.

In our area, with hot summer temps SUPs appear out of every nook and cranny in great numbers.  Some come from rentals, others appear with brand new shiny Costco or brand named boards. I'd say 60% haven't had a lesson or have any sort of education per boating right of way.  As a result SUPs rest, nap and or casually paddle a busy boating channel by our launch spot not realizing they're in a navigable waterway.  Upstream is the Ballard Locks which releases 1-4kts of current. Downstream is the entry to a busy marina and open water.

What are your rights as a small human powered watercraft?  Without going into the details, the basics is that you don't have right of way over motor, fishing and commercial boats.  Interestingly sailboats have the most rights particularly under sail given their lack of visibility from the cockpit and being under sail simply means you have less control.  Veteran boaters use the term 'tonnage over donage', meaning, if it's bigger than you and under power, its best to get out of the way.

At low tides the above mentioned channel is dredged. On either side of the buoy marked channel are two large sandbars which dry out low tides. Many boats have grounded on the bars not realizing how shallow they can get.  When paddlers hang out in the channel at low tides, boaters can't swerve, and lacking brakes can't stop. There's ample 'shoulders' or paddling space on other side of the boating channel for small craft like us, so you don't need to go into the channel unless you're going to cross it.

If that's the case, I tell my students, it's like crossing a highway - look both ways, wait for traffic, then go when totally clear giving you enough time to paddle across - while remembering to factor in the outgoing current from the Locks as well - the current will push paddlers closer to boaters thus reducing the time they thought they had to cross.

In summary, per the tonnage vs donage I don't recommend hanging out in the boating channel with a large tourist boat coming directly at you, as these two characters chose to do.  In this case the boat had to cut their power and go into reverse to prevent hitting the boarders. The guys stood there, one eventually taking his camera out to take a pic while the Argosy tour captain proceeded to blow his horn.  This happens every day in summer.  It's frustrating as repeated activity like this is what creates additional restrictions for small craft on waterways. Case in point - the Locks upstream only allows kayaks and canoes to pass through, but not SUPs.

If you want to read the Coast Guard details on boating right of way, have at it - here's a lengthly document detailing the rules.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Preparing your SUP Paddle for Night Trips

Here in the Pacific Northwest summer is waning and fall is around the corner.  Days are getting shorter and very soon it'll be dark at 5pm.  Many of us don't stop paddling just because its colder, we just wear a wetsuit.  Shorter days means doing a few night paddles, or in my case as a SUP guide, I offer a bioluminescence night tours through early October.

Night paddling is fun and can be quite an experience but is even more satisfying when your gear is ready for it.  A technique I learned a few years ago is to wrap white electrical tape around my paddle shaft.  If I drop my paddle in the water, it'll be easier to retrieve.  The white tape also helps me see my black carbon paddle propped up against a fence or tree before I drive home, (been there done that).

I wrap the tape in areas where I won't be holding the paddle, or sliding my hand up the shaft when switching hands.

Here's a sample of a recently taped paddle.  Note my company sticker on the blade too.  The sticker helps people contact me when I leave my paddles at the beach (been there..), and it's good for marketing - I tell students the powerface is the same side of the sticker.

Here's more Night Paddling Tips.

White electrical tape around my ProBolt Accent Paddle

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.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

How to Report Dead, Injured or Stranding Marine Wildlife

If you're on the water, you're most likely will come across dead, injured or stranded marine wildlife.  It's disturbing to see, but you can do something about it.

NOAA has a nationwide (in USA) network of numbers you can call to report any sightings, HERE

Here's a few tips to help the authorities when you make the call:

- List exact location you found the animal.  If tide is going out, mention where you think the animal may drift to.

- Look for any signs of injury which may of lead to death or injury.  Don't touch, pickup or take-in with you. Keep a distance, possibly take pics if available.

Here's a harbor seal we spotted on the Strait of Juan de Fuca last weekend.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Stand Up Paddle Board Flip Rescue - SUP Rescue

The flip rescue is the best way to get a paddler or other water person in distress on a board to keep them warmer, and out of danger.  It's a simple manuever if practiced often to get the kinks out.  Here's a few clips from an instructor certification class I held last week. Practice to be able to do it in a minute or less.

How To:
- Approach other board from opposite direction (boards nose to tail) to keep leashes untangled. Paddle your board as close to the victim's board as possible.

- Hand flip the victim board over so the fin is up. Doing so at the nose or tail is easiest.

- Cross over to the victim's board from your own at the center. This is faster than climbing in the water. Ask the victim (or pull them) to the middle of their overturned board facing you.

- Place paddles in front of the victim parallel to their board (between board and victim). Let the paddles float free (don't hold them). This keep them from floating away.

- Cross over to the victim's board (in the middle).

- While on your knees, grab the victims PFD straps, wetsuit under arms, or have then cross their arms and hold their hands for falling back. Fall backwards into the water (making sure not to hit your board). Using a closed loop like a rack strap can be used to create more leverage between each person. The hand (not wrist) grab is the more secure way of connection. Once flipped, the paddles should be pinned under the victim's chest.

* To get a big person out, stand on board, then step to the back of their board with your heels over the rail to get as much leverage as possible. Standing on the board is essential with someone bigger than you.

- Unlike the NRS video on YouTube, don't throw you paddle away, you may need it. Prone paddling on top of some people may not work if the paddler can't reach the water and/or the two sink a low volume board.

- Tow the person to shore, or push with your board (board to board, nose to tail) if a short distance.

Practice often to work out the kinks and be able to do this speedily.  Try with different body weights, for example a smaller person rescuing a larger person. Try in rough water and wind.

Read More:
How to Fall off and Climb Back on the Board

SUP Towing Options

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