Monday, September 26, 2011


Djuna and I are planning on shifting south for the winter.  One of the things I'll miss for sure will be the annual Tofino surf trip which we've been lucky enough to share with great friends and paddlers for 4 or 5 years running.

That said, one of our objectives in regards to our living situation is to end up close to the coast, with much easier access to surf.  I dream of having the surf and rock gardening so accessible that it's even practical to go for a half day or a few hours.  Dare I dream about pre-workday, morning surfs followed by a great Americano and breakfast at some modest soul-kitchen?  Of course there will also be other skilled and enthusiastic boaters to share the stoke with and push each others limits, too!

West coast, Vancouver Island surf.  Matt in his Valley Rush.

This fall will definitely have a surf trip in store, perhaps in Oregon preceding or following Lumpy Waters (a symposium created and run by Alder Creek), or south of Neah Bay--Shi Shi beach.  For this trip we'd hike in with boats on wheels, filling the boats with paddling gear, camping gear, and food.

Time will tell, as we're still a few weeks out from that piece of October, but more will follow...

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Skookumchuck, BC!

Recently, some great friends and myself made what has become an annual late-summer excursion to Sechelt Rapids, B.C.  The wave and surrounding areas is a favorite boating location for me, and this year we were rewarded with exceptionally warm and beautiful weather.  Current speeds ranged from 11.5, mid 10's, and back to 12.2 on the last day. This translated to a quick steep build, solid 1.5 hours of foam-pile, 1/2 hour of nice green glass, then a quick die-off, inspiring a quiver of sea kayaks, surf boats, and whitewater boats.

The eddy during the building flood

This trip was also a bit bittersweet for me. On the sweet side I was able to paddle. Last year I couldn't paddle down to the wave, let alone surf, due to a separated AC joint.  On the bitter: my sweet love, Djuna, wasn't able to join us on this "best ever" trip--she was missed by all.

Some of the highlights for me were:

The opportunity to paddle with Reg Lake.  This guy is so inspiring to me; it's happened a number of times now where I've been paddling in some very special and often dynamic spot, sometimes solo, sometimes with a couple other folks, and here comes this paddler from off in the distance.  Most of the time it's Reg, paddling his Reflection (his design, built by Sterling Kayaks), adorned with video equipment, and always ready to get right into the mix of things.  This time was no different; Reg put together a sweet little video, styled the wave, and raised the vibe of the trip yet another notch.  Reg let me try his boat, and it rocks on the wave!  It was a treat to hang out, and Reg gives me an example of a life well-lived--something to shoot for.

I got to try Reg Lake's "Reflection" with the wave at it's sweetest

Camping out for a couple of nights down near the wave with an exceptional crew.  We all brought gear to have the option of spending the night out and cooking up simple meals on a small island near the wave.  Usually for me, these trips have been all about wave time, and while the wave is going, that's still often the case.  But not having to paddle back to the parking lot which served as our campground meant quiet time gazing down into the clear water, exploring more of the current features in the area and sleeping under the stars.  We set up a big shade shelter, and enjoyed trading stories in the evening sun. Later I got up in the middle of the night and was entranced by the sight of the ebb sieving through these small islands and rocks,  bio-luminescence turning the water into a glowing river.

Paradise every afternoon.  That swarthy dude is Reg!


Mathew Wendell contemplates...

Mathew Wendell getting some foam-pile time
Ryan Nelson loving his Valley Rip

Paddling the P&H Airies.  I had been looking forward to trying this boat at Skooks for months, and finally did--for four solid days!  The Airies is the composite version of the Delphin, and the added stiffness of the composite hull, the lower-friction surface (gel coat is slippery!), and slightly lessened weight all added up to very sporty performance and lots of mobility on the wave.  This boat is built tough, and it also has enough storage to easily camp out of for days in a row, unload at base camp, then have a play boat for the rocks and the surf.  I'm a bit sad I won't get my own till spring.  There will be a smaller version of the Airies next season, which will be a better fit for mid-size folks like me, and be a little less boat to throw around as well.

The P&H Airies is my boat of choice in exciting water.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Lumpy Waters 2011!

Hey folks!  I'm excited to have been invited back to coach at Lumpy Waters this Oct. 14th-16th at Pacific City, Oregon.

If you are a novice paddler looking to venture out into what the outer coast has to offer, this is the symposium for you.  Last year, courses included Intro to Surfing Longboats, Surf Kayak (in short boats), Rock Gardening, Coastal trips, Paddling in Wind, Advanced Long Boat Surfing, and Fear to Fun (very introductory surf zone class), among others.

The weather and swell for 2010 LW was too good to be true, and with a healthy number of coaches from around North America, the student-to-coach ratio was excellent, for both coaches and students.  Lower ratios mean more individualized feedback, more opportunities to focus on student's goals, and creates a safer situation for risk management, and greater ease-of-mind for students to gently push their limits.

If you've been thinking about signing up for this one, take it one step further!  Contact Alder Creek or click the link below.

Please check out last years photos of the event:   

Matt Nelson rock gardening class.