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, November 24, 2014

Safety Lasso for Inflatable SUPs

Having difficult climbing back on your 6-8" thick inflatable SUP?  We've seen this as a problem, especially for those who have little upper body strength or are under 5'-5", especially on boards 32" or wider.  Thick race boards are also an issue. Even a flip rescue can be difficult as inflatables are slippery and race boards sometimes have carved out decks with rigid raised rails which are uncomfortable to climb over.

Here's two solutions to try:

Stirrup Strap - Use the following North Water U-Link or fashion your own to attach one end to a clip or D-Ring on your board with a carabiner a or similar secure attachable loop.  Let the foot section of the stirrup sink in the water.  Place the paddlers foot in the stirrup while the other paddler holds down the opposite side of the board to keep it from flipping over the paddler. 

Try it out and see if it works. Make sure the carabiner can detach easily if necessary and that you have a place on the board or in a deck bag to store the stirrup when not in use. 

Testing this last week, I found attaching the caribiner to the leash string and climbing on the tail worked best. The narrow shaped tail less volume tail can be pushed in the water as you climb on top more effortly.  

North Water Stirrup

One of my students who is an EMT/Fireman says they always carry a loop strap in their jacket at all times for any variety of improvised rescues.  Order the North Water strirrup Here.

Wax the Rails of the Board - I learned this one from river SUP guys who wax the rails of their epoxy boards to easier grab them after falling off in moving current.  Make sure to use surf, not ski wax (sticky).  I wax the deck area just outside the traction pad along the rails and my nose area too for walking on the board.  

Have a creative Rescue Idea? Let us know, we would be glad to share it!

Friday, November 7, 2014

7 Tips for Keeping a Paddling Biz Open in Winter

Most paddling and surfing shops here in the Pacific NW have either shut down for the winter or are on limited hours.  Now that its getting dark at 5pm, it's impossible to hold evening classes. But when there is daylight, many experienced paddlers are still going.  Seeing this a few years ago I realized I may be able to convince my students to continue their paddling 'season' throughout the year.  I have to do a lot of convincing but when they see the light per se, they're hooked on off season paddling.  Obviously if you're in some places in North America or otherwise, frozen lakes and rivers will prevent from any water time!

Here's a few tips to getting folks paddling in winter.  

- Convince folks that paddling from your local waters in winter is as fun as going skiing.  I love skiing but here it's over $100 per trip these days, a 2-4 hour one way drive and just as cold and wet as paddling.  Infact you wear more clothing to ski.  No lines to get to the beach.

- Last year I had a few folks out thanks to a poor ski season.  But since I didn't have super warm booties I lost a few who got cold.  Very important to have toasty wetsuits (or drysuits), booties, gloves and hoods.  A vest style PFD builds core temps. Get suits that are 5/4mm, 5/4/3, 7mm booties, fleece lined gloves and hoods. If you're from Hawaii you'll think we're crazy. I say, if you're not surfing, no matter where you are - you're crazy. Read my article on how to choose a wetsuit.

- Keep a 1-2 gallon container of hot water in your car to pour over you and friends when done.

- Provide foam camping pads to stand on in the parking lot when changing or hanging out.  I cut up old camping pads.

- Scout out a great pub or cafe to visit after your paddle for a beer and/or hot soup, etc.

- Provide indoor pool paddling sessions - yoga, basics, rescue practice.

- Offer winter season sports in addition to paddling - surfing, wind sports and yes, snow ports.

Read my article on 30 Tips for Cold Weather Paddling in SUP Magazine, 2010

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Cool Deck Bag for SUPs or Kayaks

Most SUP'ers get into the sport because they want to do things simply. Many paddlers we see have a board, paddle and bikini or swimming trunks, not much else.  But the Pacific Northwest packs a surprise every sunny summer afternoon. At noon or sometime thereafter the high pressure rolls in creating a strong North wind.  In a few hours the fetch has created waves up to waist high. If you fall in, which most do lacking skills, the wind will make you chilly.

Solution? You can put bungies on your board and stuff in a synthetic warm layer or rash guard, or get a deck bag.  Deck bags are commonly seen on kayaks and work great on SUPs. Many are waterproof so your gear will be dry when you put it on.  Or if you get too hot, you have a place to put your gear vs trying it aroung your waist or putting it on your deck and fighting to keep it there.

I particuliarly like the Seattle Sports Parabolic Deck Bag.  Admittantly the fifth plastic clip on the end of the bag was my idea and I was stoked that they added it.  If that end of the bag is facing the nose of the board, when wave wash over the bag doesn't flip up, which can throw your forward.  The bag is waterproof, has daisy chain fabric on top to tie more stuff down and has bungy on top to strap a water bottle (we've done 3 at once) or extra clothing down.  We also use the bag on shore to store snacks and a first aid kit for surfing classes.

Note: When I give reviews it's the real mccoy.  I used to do reviews for magazines but the products were also their advertisers so nothing negative was printed.  

Product Link: Here

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Kayak Retrofit Update

In late summer, I asked my neighbor Todd, a Werner/Jackson pro kayak fisherman and kayak/sup repair guy, to cut the top off my $4k sea kayak.  Focused mainly on sup since 2010, I've been wanting to take the kayak out but haven't kept my eskimo rolling skills up to par.  Generally not an issue but I like rough water, so it's essential to have good self rescue skills. Unlike a SUP, you can't just jump back on a closed deck kayak - or at least I can't having long legs at 6'-5".

Long story, Todd agreed and the cockpit top was removed by the time we got back from dinner.  Todd  then steamed oak ribs and made a skeleton frame to lay inside the hull of the boat as a stiffener.  He then filled the remaining space with blow-in foam, then carved it out to fit the contours of my body for sitting.  Fiberglass and epoxy was added, then leash plus on the sides of the cockpit to attach thigh straps for control and rolling if needed.

I've tested the boat several times and have to say I'm having a blast.  I'm an open deck sort of guy whether on a SUP, wave ski, surf ski or kayak.  Next up is raising the cockpit below my knees to better separate out the water wells of the seat and feet. We carved out too much under my knees so since we won't be adding a scupper to remove water while underway, it's best to leave as little areas as possible for water to collect.  Then Todd will spray gel coat to protect the fiberglass and make it prettier (note gnarly fiberglass look now).

The boat did add weight with the blow foam and fiberglass.  Certainly the smartest way to do this is to create a mould of the seating area leaving the space underneath hollow or fill it with 1lb foam.  Or buy a whole new boat.  I didn't have the funds so this was our answer.  And shipping a performance sit on top sea kayak to the US from the manufacturers in South Africa and Australia would've cost more than retrofit.  Plus I like the Illusion hull.

Need kayak or SUP repairs? Contact Todd at Specialized Kayak, 206.229.3764

Almost done. Gel coat next.

Adding leash plugs for thigh straps