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, October 28, 2015

8 Paddle Board Tips for Smarter Car Loading

Loading SUPs onto your car can be a difficult and daunting task.  Many struggle with this. A few years ago I came across a person in a local parking lot who was waiting for someone to come along to assist in putting their board on a car. 

A few tips for easier board loading...
Click Here for a video showing one of the easiest ways to load a board. It works for different lengths of boards and folks of different sizes.  Thule and Yakima both have rods that extend out from your rack bars which provide
Inflatable and epoxy boards on my loaner car
another option for this technique. 

- In high winds, ask a buddy to help you load your boards.  I've seen boards fly off cars, something to avoid.  Once you've put a board on the car, strap down at least one side if you're going to walk away or chat with friends.

Fin up or fin down? Surfers may tell you to go fin up over the windshield to avoid losing the board if your straps are loose. But if you check your straps for tightness, then this won't happen. I tighten each strap by falling back or down thus applying as much tightness as possible. If loading multiple boards and each have fins in, then go fins up offsetting the fins behind each or even on separate ends of the car.  If only one board, either fin up or down works fine. For my Subaru Forester, a fin down over the hatchback makes it difficult to access the rear of the car. I remove fins for multiple board stacking.  

- Have extra strap left over after tightening?  I tightly wrap loose ends around the rack towers and/or bars then secure in case a buckle fails. Buckles can fail so think as safe as possible.  Others may throw their strap ends into the car then close the door. 

Twist your rack straps while tightening.  This helps prevent straps from whistling while underway.  Check for
tightness after a few miles on the road as the twists can extend thus loosen up.

- For long distance drives, I like to make my car more efficient by pushing the boards back as far as possible above the windshield which helps with wind resistance.  

- I prefer straps from Thule, Dakine, Seattle Sports and Mile22 which have texture which prevents the buckles from slipping as much.  I don't use ratchet straps as they can get too tight and damage your board.  After I secure the buckle, I do one knot with the strap next to the buckle in case it fails or slips.  

- Watch Robert Stehlik of Blue Planet Surf tie a board to his car in 30 seconds. Note that he does a shake test of the board at the end of the video. Definitely recommended!  

Search this Blog for more tips on loading a SUP or Kayak on a car.  I have several posts on the subject.  
Inflatables deflated and sandwiched between epoxy boards

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.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Stop the Stink - Sanitizing your Neoprene

Stop the Stink!  
Now that we're in wetsuit season this also means our equipment maintenance time has increased as well. After a class I have 2-8 pairs of booties to wash and dry as well as wetsuits. As a result I've become pretty good at cleaning gear and turning it around so the same gear is ready for the next class. Here's some easy tips to keep your neoprene gear from stinking up your car and/or home.  

Washing - 
After washing the sand off I place both my booties, gloves and (inside out) wetsuits in a plastic tub of cold water infused with either Dawn or Castile soap. I swish them around in the water then let them sit an hour or so. Some prefer wetsuit shampoos from McNett or similar products which have enzymes to further clean gear. I haven't found those particularly effective but others swear to those products.  

Rinse and Drip Dry the gear to get the soapy residue off in fresh water. Castile soap leaves a saltwater looking stain if you don't rinse it thoroughly. I then let my gear drip dry for about 1-2 hrs prior to adding heat (below). This speeds overall drying time. 

Drying - 
Wetsuits - After drip drying my wetsuits, I hang them on a shower rod in my downstairs bathroom. I then turn on
an oil based floor heater and let them sit overnight. Start drying wetsuits are inside out first, then reverse if you have time. There is a fan powered hanger product you can purchase which blows air into the suit while drying in a closet. These are great for travel. Clothes dryers will break the seams of your suit down thus causing leaks. If your seams are already broken down, then go for it, watching that the heat doesn't get too hot.  

Booties & Gloves - Since I usually need my gear the next day, I use the DryGuy forced air ski boot dryers. You can find these at REI and related stores that sell ski gear. The dryer (see pic) has four tubes which blow hot air into your booties and gloves drying the interiors within an hour. They have a product called the Octopus which has 6 tubes if you have a lot of gear. PEET has good dryers but they're just heat which takes longer to dry, sometimes overnight, whereas my DryGuy does the job in about an hour.  

Alternatively you can stuff newspaper or a rag into your booties to remove moisture. A cheap version of a bootie dryer is a blow dryer but don't leave it in the bootie as you may create another problem.  Some inventive friends are able to build a homemade bootie dyer from PVC tubing and then using a fan or blow dryer. I'd burn my house down if I went that route. :)  Thin 2-3mm booties can be turned inside out. Thicker winter booties 5-7mm require air or heat to be blown inside. 

Drying Gear on the Road - 
Hotels / Cabins - When surfing the coast or travelling elsewhere, I carry a portable electric heater with me to warm up hotel bathrooms. Some hotels have good fans and/or heat lights but many don't. I also carry an extra shower curtain rod as some hotel bathtub bars curve over the floor, thus would make it a wet mess trying to drip dry gear.  I also carry my DryGuy bootie dryer especially in winter. In the car, I carry all my gear in a Rubbermaid plastic tub with a cover to reduce odors. I'll carry the tub into the hotel room to keep dripping down and my gear together.  

Camping - Bring rope or use your tow line to drip dry your wetsuits. Some use clips on the line to hang booties or find a tree branch to hang those from. You can attempt to dry your suit with your campfire but beware of both melting or burning your neoprene as well as receiving a smokey odor. Drying gear in your car means a stinky car afterwards.  The thought of putting a wet wetsuit on sounds super cold, but once it's on and you're moving about you warm up quickly and forget about it.  

Tip: Putting on a wet wetsuit can be difficult as your hands and feet won't slide in easily. Instead put your foot and/or hand/arm into a plastic bag then stuff that into the suit. It'll slide right in!  

Storing Gear - To maintain that lovely clean and dry smell, I'll throw in a few cedar chips or blocks with my booties and gloves (inside booties). Wetsuits are hung by thick hangers in a closet (or for me on a clothing rack) in a well insulated room. Note even dry neoprene can stink up a closet or basement. On occasion air out the room to keep it smelling normal.  

Check out this link from NRS which has good info on gear drying. Click Here

Read More:
3 Bootie Drying Tips
Fixing Wetsuits
13 Things I Learned in my First Year as a SUP Business / Shanon Dell
Tips on Keeping your Wetsuit Free from the Stink

Any questions give me a holler. Feel free to leave comments or other tips / 206.465.7167 Check out our year round SUP classes in Seattle - beginning to advanced instruction and PSUPA Certification.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Review - Kodak SP360 Full HD Wi‑Fi 360‑degree Camera

If you're looking for super wide angle views of our paddling, check out the Kodak Pixpro SP360.  I've been testing the camera over the summer and have come up with some fun footage showing 100% of my activity whether surfing, flat water paddling or viewing marine life underwater.

The camera shape is square and small thus easier to work with than most GoPro's.  The lens is a half circle dome which captures everything in it's view so nothing is missed.  Without the waterproof case they have a nice plastic dome cover to protect it.

Working the settings is easy even with a neoprene glove.  I'm not a multi-setting sort of guy but it has all the features of any similar camera, including WiFi and creative things such as split views.

The waterproof case is very durable and survived my normal drops and misuse of camera equipment. Much like GoPro the camera comes with a variety of mounts for all types of rigging from a paddle shaft, suction cup mount, helmet to a tripod mount. The camera fit easily in my PFD where I attached it to string to prevent it from falling out. I often prefer holding action cams for more custom results or to put underwater.

Click Here for Product Link 

Order on Amazon

Here's a few video clips from the camera...

                                            Underwater views of jelly fish in Puget Sound

                                              SUP paddling in Seattle's Chittenden Locks

                                                    Tug Wake Surfing on Puget Sound

                                                  SUP Tour in Seattle's Chittenden Locks